Monday, November 1, 2010

Well, shoot.

I'm wearing a sweater and I just updated all my calendars: it's November. Election Day is tomorrow and I'm going to vote because it's my duty as a citizen and especially as a woman - I think anyone who isn't a white, land-owning male in this country who "forgets" to vote needs to bone up on his or her history. Gotta exercise our rights, people.

Speaking of exercising rights as an American, I saw a billboard on the way home from Michigan yesterday that was advertising skeet shooting, and I thought, "I would really enjoy learning how to shoot a rifle at a moving target".

Then I spent a moment wondering why I had that thought.

Now, I grew up in a rural area, and I knew plenty of people who owned guns. Hunting season was a big deal back home - some high-school kids skipped school with their parents' blessing to go shoot deer. I recall entering a friend's garage in late fall and being faced with the sight of a fresh deer carcass hanging from the ceiling. My friend's older brother had shot the deer, and his parents were thrilled: for low-income families, deer hunting isn't just a hobby, it's a very affordable source of lean protein.

Guns, in the right hands, are tools that can be used to feed a family and cull overpopulation of deer herds. As long as people are educated about their guns and keep them unloaded and locked up around their kids, I have no problem at all with responsible gun use and ownership.

However, I can't say I've had much of an interest in using a gun before now.

A friend of mine here in Chicago had a similar impulse in her late twenties, and eventually she and her father spent a day out at a rifle range and learned all about shooting. She had a great time. Her husband was appalled by the trip, as they are both urban, liberal, crunchy-granola peacenicks. I thought it was a neat idea at the time - though not something I was interested in. Plus, a little outdoor father-daughter bonding is a good thing: I like to go camping with my dad. Heading to the firing range has its similarities.

As I was mulling through my new, more real interest in learning to shoot a gun, however, I remembered this: my friend who spent that day at a rifle range did so a few months before she became pregnant with her first child.

This morning I found myself wondering: as a woman of childbearing age, is wanting to shoot a gun a harbinger of other desires? Does interest in learning how to shoot imply a no-longer-latent yearning both to provide meat and to protect home and hearth... and, eventually, children? Perhaps craving firearm control is the first step toward craving midnight ice cream?

I want to ask my friend if she was thinking in those terms when she was shooting targets or clay pigeons. Because if shooting a gun is an early step to motherhood, maybe I should wait a little while on that trip to the firing range.

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