The National Rifle Association (Eddie Izzard voice)
So … I’m a member of the NRA, and it happened by accident.
A couple of years ago, I’m tooling around on Groupon. Just seeing deals in my area, that sort of thing. Shoes, manicures, haircuts … the normal shabazzle.
An offering caught my eye — a gun safety class at a crazy good discount.
I’m a writer, I says to myself. And I sometimes write stories with guns. Also, I am currently afraid of guns, and this is not a great situation to be in.
So I bought the class, thinking I’d get a little experience in safely handling a gun. You know. Nothing fancy. I just wanted to know more than “point that end away from you and pull the trigger” as far as guns were concerned. Get some experience actually shooting a gun so that when I wrote about it, it would be more authentic than just regurgitating things I’ve read in other books.
Right? Right. So this all sounds great.
We drive out to the gun range where the class was being held, and enter what I recall as feeling like a big nice garage. There are chairs and tables set up, an old tube tv on a rolling cart, and a long table filled with different types of guns up at the top.
Pretty close to what I expected.
The room fills up pretty quickly and I thinks to myself, “Self,” I says, “That is more people interested in basic gunmanship than I thought would be here.”
Turns out, I was right on both counts.
- The class was super full because laws in Wisconsin were changing so that you had to have a license if you wanted to carry a concealed weapon.
- This was not “basic gunmanship” (I’m assuming that’s the right term. Please don’t disabuse me of the notion if I’m wrong.). This was a “concealed carry” licensing class.
So the room was filled with people who knew more about guns than I do about horses, all of whom were forced to watch painfully contrived videos about the benefits and dangers of concealed carry.
Two of us in the class stood out.
Me, because my still-ignorant self sat at the front of the room and so was one of the first people to introduce myself as “an author looking to know more about guns.” — when everyone else was like “Joe, and I’m here to get my license.”
Awareness of context clues, I do not have.
A fellow in the back who may NOT have been in some sort of mob/mafia situation … but who DID have two “bodyguards” and who ALSO happened to have a gold-plated pearl-handled something of a gun that the man leading the class requested he display because it was so cool it needed to be shared. Also, I remember something being said about either a chain of massage parlors or dry cleaning companies.
I tried not to listen too closely. There are some things I’m happier not knowing.
The Lesson Plan
ANYWAY, so the class was almost entirely “watch this series of videos,” all of which showed various situations that were defused by the hero having a concealed gun handy. A woman followed into a bathroom. A guy attacked while his car was broken down on the side of the road.
There was also a lot of advertising for various gun-themed vacation/training packages? It’s been a few years, but I do remember feeling bemused at the amount of advertising in the class.
Right. So. The teacher clearly was torn between “oh god, this young lady in the front is clearly in the wrong class” and “everyone else is so bored and is only here to get licensed” so it was a very strange vibe.
I never did actually touch a gun.
On a practical note, I did learn that the teacher strongly recommended mace as a self-protection choice, which I appreciated. Laws about gun use and concealed carry are not straightforward, but peppering someone is far less likely to lead to jail time for a victim to may or may not be able to prove they were defending themselves.
Licensed to WHAT now?
Anyway, end of the class and we were told that we now had our licenses to carry a concealed weapon.
I realize I was slow on the uptake here, so you’ll have to forgive me, but it wasn’t until THAT INSTANT that I realized … I can carry a gun. Secretly. Hidden about my person.
AND I HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY FIRED ONE.
Additionally, I found out via the mail that I was now a card-carrying member of the NRA, to boot.
Politics about gun ownership aside, I think we can all agree that unless I get some serious training, -I- should not have a weapon. Concealed or not.
Me. Tami. No guns. Checkaroonie.
Some day, I feel like someone is going to find out I’m a member of the NRA and that I have a concealed carry license, and I am going to have to answer some very serious questions.
I just … don’t know how to answer them without pointing to groupon and saying “oopsie.”