"You're kidding, right?" he said when I told him I did not own a gun.
"You probably have a Louisville Slugger though."
I shook my head.
"So what are you going to do when they bust down your door and come in for your TV and bikes?" He asked as he crossed his arms.
"If that happens, I doubt having a gun will change much."
"You're a babe in the woods, probably some liberal too."
"It boils down to this," he said, "You either are in front of the gun or behind it, either the one who fights or the one who gets killed."
I didn’t know what to say to that. He was right on both the babe and the liberal charges. The other logic left me with no refutation, but I wondered about the either/or thinking. There had to be some middle way. Maybe one could stay out of the situations in the first place. And the likelihood of violent assault seemed low, if not negligible.
It had been years since I even thought about owning a gun. In those days, I had many, too many. I had a shotgun, a deer rifle, a couple of 22s, a bow and arrow, and a BB gun from old days.
I had been arrested once for reckless endangerment when some friends and I were "blasting" in the woods. We shot at anything that moved, chipmunks mostly. I loved those guns and reveled in the power of bullets. I was a good shot, and prided myself of being able bring down animals.
Then, one day, and I don’t know why, I gave all of the guns away. I walked away and didn’t look back. It may have been that skinning a squirrel revealed a musculature that was a scale model of a human anatomy. It may have been the death of a friend in a drunken, gun-ready argument. It may have been that I just got tired of it.
True or not, I have observed that walking around unarmed has a way of disarming situations that might otherwise escalate. I knew a Venezuelan guy, for example, in Mexico, who traveled with martial arts weapons in his backpack. He often ran into trouble in the market, in part, because he conveyed an aggressive, in-your-face persona. In the same situation, I had no trouble. (I am also male, pretty big, confident, "in my body," and capable of defending myself. That counts for something. I am not saying that one should have no situational awareness or set one's self up to be victimized.)
Yes, I know the world is an opportunistic place where people are out to rip me off. I have felt it acutely lately. I know it is naïve to trust people, but would rather be wrong once in a while than on-guard all the time.
The radical stance of trusting someone until they are trustworthy is not a popular or practical philosophy. And I will likely end up poorer because of it.
That said, I prefer to walk into the rest of my life naked, moving backward into innocence, shedding things, onward toward the end, naked as the day I was born.