By Kirk Butts
Guns have been a part of my life since I could realize that I was, in fact, alive. From an early age I was taught by my father about firearms; how to handle them, how to shoot them, how to clean them and most importantly, how to respect them. We lived in the Indiana suburbs and never had the luxury of going shooting whenever we wished, but that love for guns stayed with me during those long gaps between the range. It grew throughout my childhood and into manhood. Squirt guns became cap guns. My ancient (and broken) Daisy BB gun gave way to a Crossman air rifle. In college, I purchased my first “real” firearm: a 1966 Yugoslavian M59/66A1 SKS. I am a proud conservative gun owner who comes from a family of proud conservative gun owners . . .
My girlfriend’s story doesn’t quite mirror mine. If she played baseball, her position would be so far out in left field that she’d be on the other side of the foul line. She grew up in New Hampshire where shooting guns wasn’t even a consideration, let alone a hobby. After graduating college, she traveled to China and taught science there for a year. Even today, she speaks about that country’s version of communism with esteem. When we started dating in our mid-20s, she had never fired a gun. She had never even held one in her hands. So imagine my surprise when one day, she told me she wanted to go shooting.
Obviously, my response was that of absolute glee. In our four years of relationship, we have enjoyed countless discussions about politics, healthcare, abortion, capital punishment and the economy. We come to near-universal disagreement on just about every topic. But as a liberal dating a conservative gun owner, she never objected to my constitutional rights and event went as far as supporting them. So when the time came to take her shooting, my excitement could hardly be contained.
After a few lessons at home about procedure and safety – covering everything from eyeglasses and ear protection to which direction to aim the guns – we were off to the range. We spent two hours shooting two rifles: the aforementioned SKS and a ratty old WWII-era Mosin. After a few magazines of 7.62×39, she wanted to step up to the 54R. We worked the stock firmly into her shoulder to prepare for the extra recoil. She chambered a round, lined up the sights with her target and pulled the trigger. After a cacophonous “BOOM!” she laid the rifle down on the table and turned around to look at me. Her open mouth slowly transformed into a satisfied smile, and she said simply, “I like this one better.”
That was three years ago. In those past three years, my gun collection has grown a little more with the addition of another rifle and two shotguns. Earlier this month, we added our very first handgun to the mix: a 9mm I gave to her for her birthday. It is anodized in her favorite color, pink (go figure, the commie). After shooting it, the second thing she wants to do? Enroll us in a concealed carry course. Enter more glee.
We may not agree on many topics of importance, but we do share two things that are essential to a happy relationship: we love each other, and we love to shoot.
Indeed, opposites attract.