I recently had an encounter with a local idiot that has got me thinking. I was walking back from the store, and had to turn left to get onto my street. As I started moving left, I figured the guy coming in the opposite direction would step to my right, where there was plenty of room. He did not.
Instead, with a weird screwed up look on his face, he tried to cut to my left, blocking my turn. As I turned more sharply he jumped in front of me again. Then he started screaming about how he wasn’t going to let me intimidate him, and then he threatened to shoot me. From there, he completely melted down and had a Basil Fawlty-level apoplectic fit (a reference from before your time, kids). Shaking his fists at the sky and screaming at the heavens, he started going on about shooting fags.
At his threat to shoot me, I assessed him as a threat, and thought it unlikely he actually intended immediate violence. As I am more mature than I was in my days as a young punk, I just gave him a one fingered salute and walked off, instead of literally smacking some sense into him.
On my way home, I tried to analyze what had just happened. It seemed like something I have seen before. I am over six feet in height, and broadly built, with a large beard, and in my black leather duster I can look rather imposing. Some guys, notably those severely lacking in self confidence and tending to be panicky, get so fearful when they see me that they automatically parse anything I do as aggressive. The little idiot had assumed that when I tried to turn, I was getting in his way deliberately. So from there he leaped to the worst case scenario and assumed I posed a mortal threat to him.
Which brings me to my main point: guns and cowardice. My martial arts sensei had some words for me on the subject when I was a young punk, and I have always thought them wise words. He mentioned that some fools bought guns because they were such cowards that they did not dare go out into the world without one, because they were in mortal terror of everything and everyone they encountered. He told me that such people were a greater danger to others than the most hardened gangster, because they shot at anything that scared them, and everything scared them. As he told me: “if you don’t dare go out of your house without a gun, you have no business leaving your house with a gun.”
Responsible gun ownership means more than safety training. It means possessing the strength of character to be able to responsibly possess such power. My sensei’s words are words every gun owner should live by.
And, speaking to that panicky little idiot and those like him: come on people. My 5’0” niece manages to go out into the world without such fear. Relax. It’s not really that bad a place.