Ma’am, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you. I read your article “Gun People and the Jagged Marble,” and I was blown away (pun very much intended!). I am a “gun person,” and to hear someone admit that they don’t like guns, but hold no animosity toward those of us who carry legally, was the perfect pick-me-up today. But you didn’t stop there. You thanked us for being willing to do something that most aren’t. I can’t begin to express to you how much your thanks mean to me and, no doubt, to others like me. I am an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army . . .
My job description is, literally, to “close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver in order to destroy or capture him.” It is my job to bring violent death to the enemies of my nation, and you are absolutely correct in your assessment that I do not like violence. Quite the opposite, I hate it. War is my job, but it is not my passion. It is, as you say, a heavy burden that I would happily lay down if I could. Violence, especially armed conflict, should be used only after all other options have been exhausted.
In my spare time, I am also an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor. I have talked with so many people who hear that 3-letter acronym, and assume that I teach 9-year old girls to play, unsupervised, with fully-automatic weapons. Nothing is further from the truth. I train the people you speak of. I train those who are willing to use controlled violence in order to prevent a greater loss of life.
People’s views on violence can be broken down into two broad categories: Those who hear of a violent act, and say “Thank God that nobody I know was there;” and those who, in the same circumstances, say “If ONLY I had been there, I could have done something.” I train that second group. They are instinctively willing to engage in violence to protect complete strangers and, even if they never have to use the skills I give them, their willingness makes them heroes.
I understand your dislike of guns. They aren’t for everyone, and that’s fine! I applaud your honest and frank self-assessment. What I want to thank you for, more than anything, is not projecting your fears onto me, and those like me. The pervasive argument is “I don’t trust myself around guns, so you shouldn’t have them either.” Someone who doesn’t want to take my guns away, in order to make themselves feel safer, is worth taking the time to praise.
I want to live in the world of which you spoke. I want to send my kids out to play, and not give a thought to their abduction. I want to live in a world where the things that masquerade as men, and call themselves ISIS, do not exist. Again, you are correct in saying that there is no such world. I live on the jagged marble. I live in a world of violence and fear and evil in all its myriad forms.
For that reason, I am willing to engage in violence myself. I want you to build your marble. I want you to build the world that all sane people want. I am willing to fight back against those who would not let you live in peace. I am willing to fight against those who would keep you afraid. When you are done; when there is peace and plenty, and the thought of gun violence has become unconscionable; people like me will be the first to lay down our guns, and rest from our constant vigilance.
Until then, your understanding of why we do what we do, and your willingness to let us do it in spite of your own fears, means the world to us.
So, again, thank you.