Certain questions get asked over and over again. Perhaps this is a Western thing, but many people are genuinely shocked and concerned that I have chosen not to carry a Gun. I have been offered guns, lessons in how to safely and properly use a gun, assurances by law enforcement officers that considering what I’m doing nobody is going to question my right to carry one (even without a permit) and every good reason people can come up with that I am crazy to be out alone and vulnerable in this dangerous world without one.
I am not “anti-gun”. I believe that in the right hands and under the right circumstances a gun can be a very useful tool. In lieu of a grocery store it’s a good way to procure meat when people are hungry. As a Constitutional Anarchist I fully support the 2nd Amendment and think that a well regulated militia, with regular and mandatory training sessions attended by all gun owning citizens, is a pretty good idea, kind of like the National Guard. From what I’ve read, the Armed Forces are stretched a little thin and could use the reinforcements. So, one reason I don’t carry a gun – that’s not how I want to interact with the rest of the world.
But back to the Journey, and my decision not to carry a Weapon. First, there is the problem of crossing the borders between sovereign states. Each state has its own laws and requirements regarding firearms. Permits and Licenses take time and money to acquire. I’m not big on red tape and paperwork and by my standards they’re expensive. Strike One.
Secondly, this isn’t a tool I grew up with. I practiced with a 22 rifle when I was in my early teens until I could usually hit the black circle, from 100′, while lying on my belly on a platform. It wasn’t something I enjoyed so I stopped. What did I really think I was going to shoot? If a wild animal was attacking my ponies I’d be afraid of hitting the horse instead of the mountain lion.
Third, guns are surprisingly heavy. Even small guns. I struggle constantly to reduce the load that the ponies have to carry and in terms of daily usefulness (and probably safety as well) I’d rather have a laptop. Or a book. Or drinking water. Or an extra change of clothes in case I get soaked to the skin in a sudden downpour.
What if one of my horses gets injured and I have to put it down? This is something I really don’t even want to think about. I know accidents occur and I understand that sometimes these things are necessary, but I can’t even imagine being in that position. However, I’m out of most of the deep wilderness, and back here in the more populated parts of the country plenty of other people do have guns. And vets have needles. And if it really did come down to it, I carry a knife. The difference between a gun and a knife is less than 90 seconds. In the course of a lifetime that’s not so much – if there Really was absolutely no other option.
The main reason people seem to think I need a weapon is to protect myself from “the bad guys” I’m sure to encounter along the way. Really? Really? Let’s think this through. In the past year on the road I haven’t actually met any bad guys. or gals. Never been in a situation where I felt threatened in a way that a gun would have fixed. And if the potential were there? Here I am, solo, a gun novice and really not convinced I could ever actually pull a trigger to kill another human being. I’m in a situation where violence seems imminent. Or at least possible. The “other” is probably multiple, well versed in gun use, with less qualms and better aim. Do I really want to be the one to introduce the idea of shooting each other in that situation? I don’t think I’d come out of that one in good shape. Unless they were laughing so hard because I had to lay down on my belly before I could aim and fire. Besides, if I did actually shoot somebody we’d be back in the kind of paperwork mess that would probably end the Journey – no thanks!
So no. I don’t carry a gun. I’ve found that wearing a smile and being polite and friendly work pretty well. If somebody doesn’t want me around I leave. If I need help I ask. I know that it helps that I’m a middle-aged woman (eek! when did that happen!?) traveling alone with my most excellent equine companions. Maybe I’m naive, but I really believe that even “the bad guys” would rather be friends and sit around the campfire swapping stories than get into some crazy shooting match just because somebody got scared. Wouldn’t you?
Won’t we all be glad when I get my laptop back and can put photos up again?