In Which Auntie Jo Weighs In On A Controversial Subject. . .

I used to own a gun.

It was a gun specifically designed to kill people with as much efficiency and as little subtlety as possible: a twenty-gauge shotgun with a barrel so short it skirted the legal limits, bought without a background check on the grey market, loaded with shells full of buckshot. I didn't buy a twelve-gauge because I'm a lady, and larger shotguns kick like hell.

If I had fired it, it would've put a huge, bloody hole in my target, the wall behind and on either side of him, and anything else within about twenty feet.

I bought it about six weeks before I had surgery, from a guy at work. I paid in cash and felt better, because I knew that in my weakened, post-surgical state, as a woman living alone, I would not be able to fight off any intruder who had gotten past shatterproof windows, steel doors, and Max.

(I still miss Max terribly. I never felt safer than when he was lying in the exact spot where he could see both the front and back doors at the same time. He was a Good Boy.)

Still: I was looking at several weeks, if not several months, of recovery from a nasty surgery. I felt small and alone and afraid, and so I bought a vaguely illegal gun that required no skill to shoot. I'm such a newbie that a friend of mine cleaned and loaded it for me and showed me how the safety worked.

Once I got better, I sold it back to the guy who'd sold it to me, for the same price, as it had not been fired. Now I have a can of wasp spray, which is both blinding and neurotoxic. In the words of my hippie massage therapist, it'll fuck a body up.

Beloved Boy owns a number of guns. He hunts, so he has guns, QED. He has one self-defense weapon, a semi-automatic Czechoslovakian pistol with a reminder to "Owner's Manual: Read Before Using" etched on the barrel. Its clip holds 18 rounds of ammunition which, if it hit you in the right spot, would be instantly lethal. If it were to hit you in the not-right spot, it'd be very messy and damaging. If you hold the trigger down, it shoots, then pauses, then shoots, which (as I understand) is what makes it semi-automatic. It's a gorgeous piece of technology and not one I'd ever want to use.

That said: I support the right of the individual to bear arms. I support the idea and practice of a well-armed local defense force, as exemplified by the National Guard. The Second Amendment and I are buddies from way back.

I do not like semi-automatic weapons with large-capacity magazines. Nobody needs them, and nobody should have them, including Beloved Boy.

Because, frankly, all it takes to kill a human is a single-shot, pump-action shotgun with the correct sort of ammo. Load that sumbitch with the right stuff, and you're pretty much done with the discussion. More than that is way too much icing on the cake.

Guns aren't meant to paint pretty watercolors. You wouldn't use one to wash your car or change a baby's diaper. Guns are meant to kill, whether it's ducks or deer (oh God oh God I know I'll have to roast a duck at some point please don't make me clean it ew) or people. There has to be a limit, a boundary, to the amount of killing any one person can do at any one time.

So yeah, I'm all for renewing the ban on assault weapons. I want limits on high-capacity magazines, because for God's sake, who's going to hunt a fucking deer with a 36-shot clip? If the Tyrants of the Twenty-First Century come after us, they'll be armed with nervines and poison gas and nonlethal weapons that'll make Star Wars look like a children's cartoon. No assault weapon is worth its weight if you're vomiting and having uncontrolled diarrhea from sub-sonic vibrations.

I wish, at the end of the day, that I'd trusted Max more, that I hadn't felt the need to spend money and brain-time on something lethal. I had shatterproof glass and fireproof and kickproof doors and a big, handsome boy with huge teeth; what more did I need? I bought a gun because I felt weak and small and afraid.

And I wonder how many other people feel weak and small and afraid in the face of what life sends them, and compensate by getting an AR-15.