Sunday, February 7, 2010
Boom. Part I...
Nothing prepares a novice for the sheer sensual assault brought on by a gun range. Auditory violence...even with ear protection....fear/adrenaline response with each witnessed round of fire...the flash of fire exploding from the muzzle....shell casings popping...paper targets mortally wounded. Boyfriends and girlfriends on a date going round after round...laughing, happy. Loaded guns being discharged over and over and over. (cue accelerated heartbeat audio proceeding to flat line sound).-------------------------------
Yesterday I attended and graduated from a gun safety class. Since I am minor-ing in Criminal Justice, yet have no real experience of guns, this was research pure and simple....if I'm going to form hypothesis (hypotheses?) and conduct studies, well it makes sense, right? Personal experience in science is okay, but prone to bias. For me, personal experience is necessary if I'm going to open my mouth to say anything.
Prior to this class, my only experience with guns was a date with Hub at a range. Again I was operating on a knowledge is power (read killer of fear)principle. He has a .22 Beretta. He is a good teacher. I left the experience knowing NOT to wear a V-neck sweater as hot casings fly out of the gun and can end up in your bra. Who knew? Not I. I had no idea that flying casings happened. I never noticed them on those tv shows.
Appropriately attired in a buttoned up henley, jeans and leather boots, I opened the door and walked into class. Of course I had done some research about women and guns and knew that I wanted to fire a Ruger revolver as well as a baby Glock. These two guns were supposedly "manageable" and "a good place to start". The class was a great mix of people from all walks of life, including an impressive representation of women over 50...over 60. I can handle classroom...Majoring in psychology and with a past in journalism, people and content and perception and motivation are my thing. Why are you attending this class? Have you ever fired a gun? Why do you own a gun? What does it mean to own a gun? Do you think you would use it? What about accidental/unintentional death of say, a loved one? Etc. etc. It is easy for me to hide behind my intellect and genuine curiousity about most things in life.
Our instructor was a retired Marine who had seen combat in four wars. He served as a sniper. He was brilliant and funny and compassionate...how could this be? He definitely knew his stuff and knew how to teach, but as I sat in my chair I wondered about his demons and how he is able to reconcile his past with the present. Did his past experience enhance his interest and apparent love of people and guns? I thought that it made people callous and sometimes paranoid and sometimes crazy. So much for not having a bias? He was kind and gentle and serious and funny. I saw him place his hand on older women's shoulders....yet there was no double standard...no innuendo...no good ol' boys attitude....just a steadying hand and encouragement and teaching. I could sense a locked box behind his eyes, but it did not affect him or us. The only measurable link was his tendency to say "as you were". As a professor told me, in psychology, intuition to empirical. Assumptions mean nothing. Data is everything. Ok. As we were....