Bearing Arms

Our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment with scenes like this in mind.

I’ve been out of work for most of January because there aren’t a lot of PA jobs at the moment and because I’m holding out for a couple of long term job offers in early February. This has done wonders for my blood pressure and has allowed me to catch up on all the episodes of Community that I’d only seen once or twice before, but it’s taken its toll on my blog. That’s the reason I’ve been late to update the past few days – I don’t want to write a boring update, but there’s no way to spin ‘I spent an hour reading and then thought about vacuuming for awhile but ultimately didn’t’ into something interesting.

So when my roommate walked into the kitchen last night holding a 9mm pistol in one hand and a box of organic kale in the other, my first thought was, “Yes. Now this I can write a blog about.”

I was not aware, up until that moment, that our apartment had a gun in it – sort of like when you open the hall closet and find that the previous tenant left an ironing board there, only it’s a felony to transport this ironing board across state lines if it’s loaded.

“So what’s with that?” I said through my sandwich, as nonchalantly as possible. Yeah, I see guns all the time. I’m from Portland, remember.

“Oh,” he said, looking at the box of kale. “This stuff’s really good for you. It’s, like, a superfood.”

“Oh, yeah. I heard that, actually. It’s loaded with calcium, right?”

He nodded, consulting the label on the clear plastic box. “Yep. And Vitamin K, and Vitamin C… I think I’m going to steam it.”

“Good choice. My cousin steamed up some kale a couple months ago with some red beans. Delightful.” I finished the last of my sandwich. “So I see you’ve got a gun in your hand, there.”

“Oh! You didn’t know I had a gun?”

“It’s really my fault for not asking.”

“Yeah, well, I do. I keep it in [LOCATION REDACTED], loaded, in case somebody tries to break in.” He said, looking at the gun admiringly. “I’m filing for a concealed carry permit and I had to get my gun out to get the serial number for the papers.”

“And somewhere in there, kale happened.”

“I was hungry.”

Loyal readers will remember that a couple of years ago I took a rather controversial stance on gun control in my column in the Oregon Daily Emerald, wherein I stated that I didn’t think students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus, to which a number of conservatives responded by enlightening me about how much of an idiot I was and the fact that several of the facts I stated were not, in fact, facts.

In the years since I ignited a firestorm of controversy with my lazy journalism, my position on gun control has changed to the same sort of apathy I feel towards religion. I don’t own a gun, nor do I intend to own one unless some sort of apocalypse makes it necessary and totally awesome to have one, possibly with a girl’s name.* But I recognize that gun ownership is a Constitutional right, and I really don’t take any issue with people owning them so long as they don’t wind up being used on me.

*Shortlist: 1) Christina 2) Bronwyn 3) Evelyn 4) Chloe 5) Rashida Jones

However, in developing that hard-fought apathy I’d never lived in a house where there was an actual loaded firearm on the premises. (That I knew of, at least.) Now that I know we’ve got a loaded gun on the property, I’ve spent the last few hours utilizing the insurance industry training bred into me by my parents to envision every possible situation in which I could wind up getting accidentally shot.

One night in November, for instance, I made the mistake of watching several Breaking Bad episodes right before bed, resulting in yet another one of my hilarious night terrors in which this time around I was convinced that the DEA was about to break into our apartment.

I stumbled out of bed and into the hall and started hammering on my roommate’s door, mumbling something about the DEA and the need to hide our blue meth. By the time he opened his door I was awake enough to be embarrassed, but knowing what I know now, I’m lucky to have made it through that night without a trip to the hospital.

I would wager that there’s more chance of the dream DEA breaking into our apartment than a legitimate, dyed in the wool bad guy, because I really can’t tell you enough how safe our neighborhood is. We’re across the street from an elementary school, around the corner from an upscale retirement home, and down the street from a church and a frozen yogurt shop that’s currently under construction. Watch Boyz n the Hood - there isn’t any froyo in that movie.

What I’ve noticed about a lot of the gun owners I’ve met is that their gun ownership is rooted more in a desire for peace of mind or just a general love of guns than it is in an actual sense of danger. When I saw my old roommate Cameron around Christmas, he proudly showed me the multiple loaded firearms he had stashed in our old house, which is in a sleepy neighborhood full of middle class stoners and mice. He assured me that he’d be ‘ready’ if anything went down, but until it did he seemed perfectly happy loading, unloading, and checking the sights of his various weapons and enjoying all the awesome clicky noises those activities made.

My roommate, I think, is the same way – he has a gun because he likes guns, the law allows him to have it, and he’s been nothing but responsible with it as far as I’ve seen (I should point out that it was unloaded and safetied during the kale conversation). So long as I don’t wind up getting shot – and by my calculations, Mom and Dad, the chances of that happening are pretty low – I’m really not that upset to share an apartment with a gun.

At the end of the day, gun ownership is just a hobby, and like all hobbies it looks sort of eccentric and weird from the outside. I guess writing a blog in which you dissect everything that happens to you looks pretty eccentric too – although I doubt a crackhead would quit robbing our apartment if I pulled out my blog and told him to leave.

Truman Capps wishes he could start every blog with a guy walking in holding a gun.