Interview on Sunday Night Safran

Earlier this week, I was interviewed for the Australian radio program, Sunday Night Safran, on Triple J. It’s broadcasting live at the moment–it’ll be available as a podcast tomorrow. When the podcast goes live, I will update this post with a direct link to it.

Edit: The link is up! Check it out here. My interview begins about twenty-one minutes in, and lasts for about fifteen minutes. If you have the time, listen all the way through. The guest before me had a fascinating story.

Recap: I was interviewed because of my position as a pro-gun-rights feminist.

Correction/Clarification: In the interview I said one could not own a handgun until the age of twenty-one. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!) A person over the age of eighteen may own a handgun if it was given as a gift, but may not carry it until they reach the age of twenty-one. Edit: Felons are also prohibited from buying and carrying.

Other Comments: The other guest, Sofia Stefanovic, said something at the end of the segment that I would very much like to respond to: she said she’d be afraid, were she to own and carry a gun, that she’d grab it and point it at someone when she was irritated or frustrated with them. She used as an example how she’d lobbed a pen at one of the hosts when he said something that irritated her.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond to this, because I’m sure it’s a very common fear.

When you carry, you are very acutely aware at all times of your weapon. You are aware of its power. You are aware that you can frighten, hurt, and kill someone with your weapon. Your handgun is not a thing you ever treat lightly–certainly (and obviously) when handling it, but also when carrying.

I can only describe it as there being an invisible bubble around your weapon. Should I get the urge to throw something at an annoying friend, my hand would never stray to my weapon. I’d be more likely, should I get the urge, to grab for the pen. However. When I carry, I am also very aware of my behavior, my body language, my facial expression, my language, and my actions. I am extremely careful not to do or say anything that may be construed by others as being a threat to their safety. I am more reserved. I moderate my hand gestures. I watch my tone. I am careful to be polite. If my favorite song plays while I’m grocery shopping, I’m less likely to be silly and dance to the beat. I make eye contact and smile. I avoid resting my hands on my hips.

Being a responsible gun owner begins before one ever purchases their first gun: you reflect, considering your own maturity, impulsivity, and temperament. If you find yourself unable to be completely, 100% sure that you will handle your gun with all the respect it demands, then you don’t purchase a gun in the first place.

That self-reflection doesn’t end there. It’s a continuing process. It’s something I do every time before I reach for my Ruger. Carrying a gun is an enormous responsibility. It is a heavy weight on one’s shoulders. If I find that I do not have the strength to carry that burden that day, I leave my weapon at home. I close my eyes and hope I don’t need it, every time I decide to leave it at home. Because you know what? Some days I just want to pretend that the world is safe. I want to be a carefree 20-something woman. I want to be silly and dance in the produce section at the grocery. I want to be passionate and accompany my speech with grand hand gestures.

But if, during one of these reflections, I ever found that I might pull my weapon in any situation that does not threaten my life and my safety, I would sell my gun–because I would no longer be trustworthy or responsible enough to call myself a gun owner. I hope that day never comes. But it is something I must ask myself, in order to honestly call myself a feminist, responsible gun owner.

All in all, I had a fabulous time on the show–and I’m absolutely delighted and very grateful for the opportunity. I can’t wait to discuss it with my readers!

Logistical note: When the podcast goes live, I will post the time stamp marking when my interview begins. I will also do my best to get a transcript up as soon as possible, which will also be edited into this post. Edit: I plan on working on the transcript tomorrow. It is rather late here at the moment!

I may also add other comments (or edit ones already written) once I can listen to the broadcast. Memory is a funny thing, after all. I’ll note any changes and edits for those who may read the original post and return later!

Tales of a Feminist Gun Owner: Fear

For a variety of reasons, when I carry, I open carry. My handgun is there for all to see as I walk around. I do it mostly because I haven’t gotten my concealed carry license yet, but also because I want to be an example of a good gun owner.

That burden that I mentioned in this post, that is, the heavy responsibility that comes with choosing to carry a very dangerous tool, and the need to be sensitive to others’ reactions; to put them at ease–is a heavy one. I’ve chosen recently to keep my Ruger at home rather than take that burden up. Monday, I took it up again.

I sat in my car outside the gas station, debating whether or not to put it in my glovebox while I picked up a pack of cigarettes. It was a sunny Monday afternoon–but I know gas stations seem to be a favorite of thieves and armed robbers. I don’t want to frighten the gas station attendant. Finally, I decided to keep my Ruger on me, and my cheerful, sunny disposition coupled with my Southern manners will ease the tension brought by my gun.

It didn’t. I could see her glance down at my hip. She was nervous. I kept my hands on the counter or behind my back. I smiled. Please and thank you. I offered my ID. I did my best to put her at ease. The fear in her eyes did not go away. I returned to my car. I felt awful.

I wanted to toss my Ruger in the glove compartment and rush back inside and apologize over and over again. I fought that urge, because me rushing anywhere was a bad idea. Instead, I unwrapped my cigarettes and lit one up.

She was afraid of me. All I wanted was to escape that fear myself–and in so doing, I was inflicting it on others. I drove to a local coffee shop. I purchased an iced mocha and a grilled sandwich. I ate inside then moved to the patio to smoke and read. I was in Hemingway’s WWI Italy, but the gas station attendant’s fear haunted me still.

What could I do? Should I have said something? Was clasping my hands behind my back a bad idea? Probably. Does everyone who open carries feel this way? I texted a friend and asked.

There’s a reason for  concealed carry.

I felt uncomfortable with that answer. It didn’t answer my questions. It didn’t make me feel better.

I chose this power. I chose this burden. I chose to take back my fear. Here was an in-my-face example of how I might be inflicting that same fear on others: what was I going to do about it?

Put my gun away? I couldn’t–I won’t expose myself again. Get my concealed carry license, and conceal my gun, and know that others would be afraid of me if they knew? I don’t know.

I can only keep doing what I’m doing–be aware of my surroundings, of the feelings that my gun inspires in others, and be sensitive to that. Keep going out of my way to put others at ease. Be a good gun owner. Be a feminist gun owner.