In the county where I live there will be one man in law enforcement to monitor the entire county on graveyard shift. There are only sixteen thousand people in the county, but there is one four lane highway running through the middle of it, and at any given time, even in the early morning hours, odd things can happen in traffic. “Antler Ally” is what we call that section of road between one side of Brooks County to the other, and the one deputy might be called out to write an accident report on this. Or there might be a fight, or a house fire, or…
The odds of me needing a deputy out here are quite small. This is a home that is not easy to find, and it is far off the road. But I have been found before, and accidents do happen, when there are bad people wandering the earth. I have three dogs of some size to guard me. I have neighbors who watch over me. And I have three guns, one of which is a twelve gauge double barreled shotgun, and in these things, I trust.
Despite what you see in the movies the interior of a house is no proof against gunfire. No matter what Hollywood would have you believe, what gunfire can and will do to flesh is not damage human beings can take and then run around for two hours saving the world. If you are shot in the leg or the shoulder you are going down, and that is where you will stay, very likely, until you bleed out and die, or until someone keep you from doing this. I am not saying wounded humans cannot be mobile I am saying it doesn’t happen like you see in movies. You can die of a leg wound even if Bruce Willis never has. Gunshot wounds are serious. A bullet traveling through flesh does a lot more damage than special effects would lead you to believe.
I am acutely cognizant of this whenever I pick my shotgun up to investigate something to mutts tell me I need to investigate. The shotgun is an up close and terrible weapon that is as lethal as it is imprecise. When I fire both barrels off it will spray an area with buckshot pellets in a pattern that will expand until the pellets either hit something or lose velocity. From my bedroom door to the front door is fifteen feet. At that range the shot pattern, of one barrel, will be just about the size of a hula hoop, and inside that area will be nine thirty caliber holes. This means in the space of a two trigger pulls I can unload eighteen rounds of thirty caliber steel shots balls that will tear through furniture, windows, walls, glass, the sofa, the dogs, and anyone who is inside the blast area.
Under ideal conditions, and if we’re discussing gunfire there are no ideal conditions, it will take law enforcement no less than twenty minutes to arrive after I have called for help. This is a function of distance. If I call for an ambulance the time as a function of distance increases to nearly forty minutes. Generally speaking, you can lose two pints of blood before you’re truly screwed. The number of thirty caliber holes you can carry before you lose that much blood in forty minutes is a very small number.
I have very seriously considered the consequences of firing at a human being. I have thought about what will happen to me if I do not fire first. If someone breaks into my home while I am here, I have made the very deliberate decision to step out of my bedroom and shoot anyone breaking into my house. They are very likely to die of the wounds. It is likely they will spend the last moments of their life on my floor, bleeding out. I am totally unprepared to deal with this event, and nothing will change this.
A year or so ago, a 911 operator sent a deputy to my home at two in the morning by mistake. For a full minute I held a shotgun on the man and he did not see me, and I could not tell he was a deputy. I know now I will not fire on someone outside my home. I know now I will not react to someone yelling at me. I know now the idea of shooting someone, or nearly shooting someone, is enough to make me sick to my stomach for days. It was close. It was damn close.
In the end, after much debate with myself and those around me, I decided to keep the guns, and if need be, kill someone. This is my home. My mutts are here. I am here. It is here that I will not allow people to break in and take my stuff, and possibly kill me. I have seen what happens when bad things happen to good people, and I am not going to live in fear that one day, it will be me. I have listened to both sides of the argument, and it is this I have decided to do. This does dismay some I know. It does exclude some people from my life. And remarkably, it makes some people happy who I despise. I am not a gun person. I am a person who owns a gun, or three. I have the right to bear arms, but I doubt if the framers of the constitution saw a day we might need a law that keep a five year old from owning an assault rifle or an average citizen from owning a fifty caliber sniper rifle capable of hitting a target a mile away. I mean, really, who gets that far from traffic?
Oddly, I think there are far too many guns. I just think mine aren’t included in the count. I think that there has to be another answer to all of this, really, I do. But I sleep better at night with a weapon near my bed that is capable of tearing a human being in half.
And that is terribly terribly terribly sad.