By Joseph H.
Coronado Island in San Diego is a great place for a business trip. As a new employee I was recently sent there for some training in how utility companies set rates (I think there is another blog somewhere where you can send your nasty comments). As is customary during these things there is usually one evening where everyone gets together for booze and dinner (mostly booze). Since all of the attendees were from the utility sector I found myself at a table with three lawyers from DC, Virginia, and Indiana, as well as a Public Utility Commissioner. The conversation between myself and the attorney from Indiana turns to deer hunting in Indiana, to predator hunting in Arizona, to firearms in general . . .
Then from across the table the Commissioner lobs this little gem while fingering the label of his empty beer, “I hate guns, there is no point to owning them, and no one should be allowed to keep them in their home.” I don’t know why but everyone stopped talking and turns to face me…why?…I have no idea.
What a blanket statement! No argument, no facts, just in your face opinion. As the blood starts pumping, I think of all the ways to respond to such a statement.
“Why?” I asked, trying to pull emotion out of the discussion.
“They are too dangerous and unpredictable; besides, you have young kids, and they will probably get into them, and kill themselves.” This last doozy was punctuated by a big drink from another beer bottle.
Wow, what a class act. Ok, you can share your opinion, that’s cool, but now you are attacking my family! I was getting upset, but we are in a public setting with contacts, and colleagues all around. Cooler heads must prevail.
“All my firearms are locked in a safe and kept separate from the ammunition, which is locked as well, besides, why would my kids want to get into my guns?” I could tell my question stunned him.
“Because kids are curious, and want to get into dad’s stuff, you can’t deny that they go through your things while you are away.”
“Oh, I’m counting on it. I love their curiosity, and their questions, and you better believe that my 4 year old wants to handle everything he sees dad handle. So I let them.”
“You let your kids handle your guns?!”
I could tell he thought I was crazy.
“Yes. I try to take the mysticism away from my firearms so they are as commonplace as my truck, the knives in the kitchen drawer, and the dog. I teach my kids to respect things rather than fear them. Of course the handgun is checked by dad, and by mom (which is awesome!), and the rules of safety are always obeyed. The kids get to touch, handle, and point firearms inside the safety of our home. I let them pull the trigger, and explain how the gun works.”
I thought I had won this round.
“Is that how you teach them about drugs, and alcohol? By letting them see it, and handle it, and experiment with it.”
“Uh….no. Aren’t there laws about that? That stuff is addictive and can seriously mess up a kid.”
“What, a bullet can’t mess up a kid? Yeah, there are laws, and there should be laws about owning guns for that exact reason.”
I guess my Kenny Logins dance montage will have to wait.
“There are laws that prevent certain people from obtaining guns, and legal regulation to jump through to obtain them.” I realized this was a week retort, but I felt attacked and had to do something.
“Yeah, but what about in the home?”
I could tell he thought he won.
My knockout retort came to me in an instant, “You want government to start regulating what can and can’t be taught in the home?”
I wanted to jump up and perform an elaborate touchdown dance.
“I guess you’re right about that, but I still don’t like guns, and the thought of kids having access to them makes me upset.”
“I promise never to force you to buy a gun.”
The Commissioner started to laugh, and ordered another beer. It was at this time that I realized he had been drinking this whole time! He was drunk (and he still nearly kicked my ass in this informal debate!). He will probably never remember this conversation ever happened. He’ll go back to his room, pass out and wake up the next morning never realizing what happened. What a waste!
Or was it? Remember, the three other lawyers?
Wait, the sleazy part was in the bar? I thought that was what the beach volleyball was for.
I might not have been able to convince the commissioner about anything, but the way I handled the situation spoke volumes to these other colleagues. Later at the Kansas City Barbecue Bar (the one where Top Gun was filmed) each of these attorneys made encouraging comments about how I handled the situation, current legislation on gun laws, and how they wanted to get “more into guns.”
Cue the touchdown dance.
It was a great learning experience for me. I was so worried about not being able to defend my beliefs that day, but I would have felt even worse if my unseen audience saw me act in way that was not in harmony with those beliefs. Alway, be aware of your unseen audience. They are the ones whose opinions can be changed.