From Our ReadersThe Gun Control Debate: Live and in My Bedroom (A True Tale)From Our Readers

After going on four dates with Alex, I decided to invite him over for a casual and cozy Sunday dinner on a cold January evening. He had wined and dined me during our initial outings and I thought it would be a nice change of pace to be in a more relaxed atmosphere, my apartment.

Upon arrival, I was relieved that he had an innocent little buzz going from the engagement party he had just left and since my nerves were getting the best of me, I was already a glass and a half of wine in as well. He loved the dinner and we ate and drank while chatting away about our weekends and upcoming work activities. The conversation was flowing very nicely as it had over our past several dates and then, in the middle of my bite, he dropped a bomb, “I have to tell you something.”

There is probably nothing more frightening than those six words when you are newly dating someone. Of course, since my mind works through movies and television shows, I thought of two of my favorite fictional scenes similar in nature: Sex and the City when Carrie learns that her high school boyfriend, who she started seeing, is actually spending time in a mental institution and in Fever Pitch when the girls are discussing how one of them once found a bag of hair and nail clippings from her date’s entire life (because all guys have “something” wrong with them).

I settled in, prepared for the worst – a kid, an ex-wife, a criminal record. Then he said it – any time he goes out in public, whether he is showing a house to potential clients, meeting friends (or me) for dinner and drinks in the city, or simply out and about, he always has a gun on him. Equally frightening. Yes, you read that correctly. A.Gun.On.Him. Strapped to his ankle, as if he lives in the projects and not his upper middle class suburbs. I was stunned, just as stunned as you are to read this right now. A gun. I’ve never even SEEN a real hand gun.

He explained that he doesn’t take it to private residences, aka the engagement party or my apartment, and has never used it or has intentions to use it. I listened attentively with my jaw on the ground and trying to remember to blink.

This good looking, real estate agent who hangs out with his toddler niece and nephew and volunteers on a regular basis is packing heat?! Yes, he had the gun on him the two times we went out in the city. Yes, he is fully trained, licensed and competent with it. Yes, I am still freaked out.

Maybe I am getting older and wiser, or maybe I am realizing there are very few single, good looking men with great jobs and well-rounded extra-curricular activities out there, but I am not ready to blow him off quite yet. I need more information and I told him just as much. I need to let it really sink in as to what this means and how it will affect our relationship moving forward.

I don’t even know how I feel, deep down, about gun control, should we be allowed to carry a concealed weapon? Would impeding this right eliminate recent violence in schools, amongst the streets? Should everyone have a gun with them in the name of protection? I don’t know the answers to these nor do I really understand many of the laws. First step for me will be some serious research (goodbye work productivity). What do you think? Do I stay with this otherwise qualified and great person? Or is it a deal breaker?

Why must there always be a bag of hair?

You can read more from Sarah Bruckner at YesWithAnH.wordpress.com.

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  1. I own a fire arm, most people I know own one. I live alone and have a child. My dog would do her darndest to protect us, but if something happened, I feel a lot better knowing that I have back up.
    I grew up around guns, honestly, I think I would be more freaked out if a guy did not own a gun – but that is because I like men who hunt, fish, are outdoorsy, etc.
    I think it just really depends on how you grew up and are raised. Guns aren’t bad. They can be used for bad deeds, but the majority of people who own them are hardworking, decent, sane people and to think otherwise is completely ridiculous. And you have to appreciate him telling you about it. That shows common sense and the realization that he is aware not everyone feels the same as him.

  2. Hello,

    I found your article intriguing. I would like to say that my long term boyfriend has guns and we are in a great relationship. I used to feel intimidated by guns, a fear that pushed me to consider eliminating guns from the American population. However, after learning about how guns function, the proper handle and use, I must conclude that for responsible loving people, like my boyfriend, to be armed, is OK. I know that if anything were to happen he would be there to protect me, and, not only that- I’ve learned how to protect myself (although I am no expert). I was fearful before because I had only shot a gun two or three times before, but learning more about it will definitely make you less hesitant towards people who carry guns, and guns more generally.

  3. I’m Spanish so this sounds weird to me. I’ve never seen a gun in my entire life (just old ones in museums) so I don’t know how I would react. I think I might be so scared I would probably start laughing. For me it would be a deal breaker, I wouldn’t feel save around a weapon, but I guess this is something cultural. So if you think the guy is worth it, give him a chance.

  4. First of all. I grew up around guns and to counter some other people’s arguments, I am not any more comfortable with guns that it sounds like you are. If anything, seeing how quickly you can kill or harm with a gun makes me doubly uncomfortable. I do not want to see, hold or be near one. And in general the idea that someone carries a concealed weapon makes me uncomfortable. I would say two exceptions being police officers or military whose level of training on guns is far above most other peoples. If you had to take as much rigorous training in gun safety as either of those professions to conceal carry then I would be more ok about the whole thing. And people may kill not guns but guns make it MUCH MUCH easier to kill. :-(

  5. I also find it very interesting the points of view from people who have lived in gun culture and people who have not.

    For those immersed in gun culture, guns are a normal part of life, a source of family bonding, protection for one’s self and family, and a way to teach your children to be responsible.

    Those outside of gun culture can’t imagine a possible reason why anyone would need a gun. Once again, there are many people living in developed nations who have never felt any need for a weapon. The insistence of those educated, perfectly sane gun owners to stop criminalizing guns seems as crazy as wearing fur coats during a heat wave. These people believe that it is a very sad state of affairs that anyone would need to go to the extremity of owning a gun to feel safe. They would say something like, “you should move” or “you should work on making your community a better place.” Owning a gun is akin to the idea that “good fences make good neighbors”. That doesn’t sit well with the people that want to live lives without fences.

    Either way, the difference between these two groups in mentality when it comes to guns is severe. It’s almost like being angry at fish for not being able to fly and bird for not being able to swim. I doubt a bird thinks a fish is crazy or vice versa, but I’m sure both would like stay exactly where they are.

    Personal note:

    I know plenty of decent, law abiding, sane, intelligent gun owners. They taught me how to shoot and educated me on the subject. I’m actually an excellent shot. None of this has stopped the feel of a gun in my hand from making my skin crawl. This is because I know that one wrong move and I could be the cause of someone’s death. If it was self defense, I could live with it, but I would never get the image of that person’s face out my head for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be in that position. No amount of practice or education will ever change this for me. I will find other ways of protecting my family, bonding, and teaching my kids responsibility.

  6. The gun topic is always a weird one, but the people that have posted here have tossed out a lot for you to think about. *The main thing is figuring out what kind of guy he is.*

    There are people out there that have seen slow response times from law enforcement during scary situations or have just scene/read too many reports where horrible things happened with the mention of “no one did anything until it was too late.” For those people, carrying a gun on them feels like a safety blanket for that big “what if” situation. It’s just there and it’s really not a problem. But then there are the people who just really like guns, collect guns, all they can talk about (if you let them) are gun related topics, and do gun related activities. I’m not saying that would make him a crazy person, I’m just saying that makes for boring, one sided conversations where you might end up using one of his guns on yourself. And then he could be the guy that is secretly creating his own bunker for when the government attacks. This is for you to assess.

    Do your homework, keep an open mind, and weigh how you feel about guns against how you feel about him.

    And in regards to Miss Leila Wyatt’s comment:

    Our author might be naive, but on the other hand she just might be incredibly lucky to have never lived a life where she had to seriously consider issues of safety which would lead the idea of carrying a gun to be ludicrous.

  7. A real estate agent from the suburbs carrying a gun in the name of “self-protection”? Hahaha what is he compensating for?

  8. I hope that this experience helps you realize that guns are not inherently bad or scary. Of the people who own and carry guns, the vast, vast majority of them are normal people who are well-trained, responsible, and like to be prepared. I couldn’t help but laugh a little when I read the article and the ensuing comments… I had no idea that people were so scared of guns! Having grown up around people who both own and carry, I’ve never been afraid of *dramatic music* A GUN. I know basic gun safety, I know how to handle one myself, and I know that just because my dad owns a few guns, my uncle has a concealed carry permit, or because my fiance owns a handgun doesn’t make them bad people.

    It’s ignorance and fear-mongering that leads people to want to give up their basic rights to feel more “safe.” I for one, feel more safe knowing that I, or my family members, could protect me in a crisis and I wouldn’t have to wait those crucial extra minutes for the police to show up.

    Guns are not to be feared. Bad people are to be feared, and–surprise!–bad people don’t follow laws, whether those laws say “Don’t murder people” or “Don’t own a gun.” I’d rather be a step ahead of those bad people and in turn, less dependent on the government for my personal protection.

  9. This is CRAZY. This would be an absolute dealbreaker for me, though here in London nobody feels the need to carry a gun (even if they were legal). I’m so genuinely shocked at all the comments here from educated middle-class women who are advocating gun ownership, I’ve never met anybody who had these views before so am quite shocked that so many on here do.

    • The more I read these comments, the more I’m genuinely shocked at the sheer offensiveness of some of these statements. You state: “I’m so genuinely shocked at all the comments here from educated middle-class women who are advocating gun ownership…” So, to advocate for gun ownership, you have to be a low-life uneducated woman. So judgmental! When I traveled to London in 2011, I was amazed that the bobbies did not carry firearms. They were amazed that the police officers in the States (including my husband) do. I think what we’re seeing a lot of here is a huge difference in culture. It does not in any way reflect on one’s intelligence or social group and to insinuate that is CRAZY!

  10. I’m not quite sure how to respond to this article. I’m not stunned at all. I own a firearm. I have a conceal carry permit. Would I stop seeing a guy because he also did? No I wouldn’t. Even if I didn’t own or carry I wouldn’t. But I respect someone right to not be comfortable around a firearm or not want to date someone who carries. I think, if he is a good guy, it is a foolish decision but it is her choice. I think what bothers me more is the attitude coming across, the comment about where he does and does not live especially. I’ll give the writer the benefit of the doubt and the shock of being told because she has no experience with firearms at all but she still comes off very condescending. My suggestion is to talk to him about it, let him know you aren’t familiar with firearms and yes do some research. Read up on BOTH sides of this debate. And it is NOT a sign of deeper issues or paranoia.

  11. I agree with Candace. It makes me sad that he felt he had to word it like that. And it also bothers me that people will bring up the issue of gay marriage and say that it’s about human rights, but other human rights, such as gun ownership are evil and bad and don’t count. If you’re going to be a human rights activist, then shouldn’t that apply to all of them? It seems to me that it’s the exact same way of thinking, just applied to different areas. I think bottom line you have to go with what you’re comfortable with, and get to know him as an individual, not necessarily a gun owner. It sounds like you have the emotional maturity to base your decisions on your own instincts and beliefs, as well as being open to exploring ways of thinking and living that may be different than what you’re used to, which I believe is what’s most important in situations like this. I do my best to remain teachable and open to changing the way I see things, and understand and respect that everyone has their own life experience that drives their actions and shapes their beliefs about the world. Good for you for being open to looking at something differently.

    • Um. I can’t really get behind your comparison of gay marriage and gun rights. Hand guns are manufactured to kill people, no other reason. People carry them in order to feel safe from physical harm. I live in a city where a 6 month old was shot with a hand gun last week and died. Gay people deserve the right to legal marriage…….where is the comparison there?! I almost find that to be offensive and I think you’re confusing human rights and Constitutional rights. They’re not the same.

      • You just made my point. If we’re talking about “rights” constitutional or not, and respecting them, respect all of them. Not just the ones that make YOU comfortable. I’m not making a comparison of the two, just pointing out that people do. Which you just did.

  12. Yes, of course he could be robbed in the suburbs. But it’s still DIFFERENT. Many of my friends have been jumped and robbed here on the Northside of Chicago and at our state school in Central Illinois. But a GUN changes everything. Getting robbed sucks, of course. But would you rather kill someone than have to give up your wallet? Isn’t pulling a gun on a petty criminal really changing the situation? Maybe he has a gun, too. He wouldn’t have used it, but now YOU pulled your gun. The concealed-carry issue is one that has been heated here in Chicago, as they’re hoping to legalize it soon (we remain one of the only states in the country without legalized conceal-carry). Personally, as a woman aware of the fact that rape is a possibility, and also as a liberal social worker, I have always stood by the opinion that guns are not the answer to less violence, and I don’t think they’re the best option for self-defense or protection. Having a handgun locked up in your house…that’s another thing. But being ‘strapped’ at all times because you’re that afraid for your safety? I think that’s a signal of deeper issues than just a realistic awareness of our troubled times.

  13. I couldn’t help but laugh at the line, “I was stunned, just as stunned as you are to read this right now.” Ummmm… that’s a huge assumption to make of all the people that read your article. I wasn’t stunned at all. Being that my husband is a police officer, I am very used to my husband carrying a weapon on and off duty. I actually feel very safe whenever we go out, even if we are in the “middle class suburbs”. The fact that you think crime doesn’t happen in these neighborhoods is laughable and completely naive. You also seem to think it’s crazy that a man that would carry a concealed handgun would enjoy spending time with the children in his life and volunteering. It seems like you may have some very skewed pre-conceived notions about people that carry concealed weapons. I promise you… besides my husband, I know a handful of great family men that carry (and they’re not police officers). I just don’t get this article at all…. definitely think you need to research, educate yourself, and get rid of some judgments it seems you have already made.

  14. I think it would be a deal breaker for me. But living in a small Canadian city I cant really say that I need that sort of protection. However, since he has never actually felt the need to use the gun he may not know how he really feels about it until he does. It may make some people feel safer, but are they really going to shoot someone who’s only trying to rob him. Even if I had a gun I think I’d just hand over my watch and wallet and let him go rather than shoot someone. Also, if American television has taught us anything it’s that when two people are pointing guns at eachother, someone’s gonna die.

  15. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker; in fact, I don’t even think it’s frightening (now, I should caveat this by saying that I’m in the Army and a certain level of comfort around firearms comes with the job). I don’t know if something has happened to him or to somebody he knows in the past that has made him feel that he would be better prepared with a handgun, but the fact that he has taken the time and effort to become trained, licensed, and competent with it is enough to tell me that not only is he responsible with it, but that he has no intention of using it. Yes, you read that right–the better you are with a weapon, the less desire you have to actually use it. Besides, homes for sale, especially empty homes for sale, can easily be areas of badness. Carrying a weapon while showing homes is probably a wise thing to do.

    I’m guessing that your discomfort with the issue lies from the fact that you don’t have experience with guns, so here’s my suggestion: get some experience. Ask him to take you to the firing range, or sign up for a basics/beginner’s/familiarization course. The added benefit of this is that it will show him that you care about what’s important to him, and he’ll probably reciprocate by showing interest in something important to you :)

  16. Speaking as a female who has her concealed carry license and several guns of her own, I think this is the furthest thing from a deal breaker or “bag of hair.”

    I’m intelligent, educated and feminine and it’s still ok that I have a gun and carry it when I see fit. Of course, I’ve been around guns my entire life and know how to use them and what they should and shouldn’t be used for. The concealed carry classes required to carry a gun legally, along with the background check to purchase a gun legally are very thorough. And in many cases, people committing crimes with guns, don’t obtain or own them legally (just a thought).

    This guy DOES have his legally and TOLD you about it. I think he deserves major props for that – though the fact that he felt he had to come to you with this in a “I have to tell you something” kind of way makes me a little sad. The media has made people who aren’t familiar with guns terrified of the mere mention of them.

    But for him – especially as a real estate agent – I think it’s smart. He probably shows properties alone and in sketchy areas. I’m a graphic designer so he has much more of a reason for owning one than I do. 

    Yes, do your research…but don’t only read about the bad things people with guns do-not the actual guns themselves. Keep in mind that’s mostly what you’re going to see when researching on the internet.

    Ultimately, I think you should go with him to the shooting range and have him show you how to use it and then fire off a few rounds at a target. It’s really very empowering and enjoyable. And isn’t this much preferable to a criminal record or a kid??

    • Although I’m personally veeeery uncomfortable with guns, you posed some very good points–namely, the fact that he was open and honest about it, and the fact that he’s a real estate agent. Although, the fact that he continues to carry the gun while out for dinner and drinks, etc., makes it sound like he has a bit of a superhero fantasy going on the side. And yes, I’d probably rather date a man with a gun than one with a criminal record (actually, my boyfriend of 4 years technically has one, but he was a punk and loved bar brawls so it doesn’t count) or with a kid. But guns are just so scary! I’m from a European immigrant household and I never even held a gun until a trip down to southern Illinois in my early 20′s. They’re so foreign to me!

      • Eva! Although I’m the opposite and very comfortable with them, I enjoyed reading your points also. I definitely wouldn’t want to shoot someone over a wallet. Yes, I’d hate to lose my wallet, but I do value human life above material items.

        I live in Oklahoma and last November legislation was passed to expand our concealed carry to open carry “as an individual sees fit.” Personally, I would NEVER openly carry a gun. I just feel like I’d be seen as more of a target in doing that or some kind of challenge. Not sure how all that is going to play out. (I’ve also never seen anyone openly carry since it was passed so people may not want to do that even though they have the option.)

      • But that’s exactly the point–you’re scared because guns are foreign to you. Gun control and what that means for constitutional rights are huge issues in this country right now, and saying you don’t like something just because you don’t know anything about it isn’t going to solve any problems. Take time to educate yourself–truly educate yourself, not just learn how to list examples of what happens when irresponsible people get their hands on guns–and maybe it won’t be so scary for you anymore.

  17. “as if he lives in the projects and not his upper middle class suburbs” because crime never happens in the suburbs. How dare you imply someone might rob an upper middle class person. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, and while I don’t like guns and wouldn’t even date someone who carried one, I think you are quite naive.

  18. It would definitely be a deal breaker for me. I’m British, and our attitude towards guns is a lot less tolerant than the majority of Americans. If I was in the US and dating a guy carrying a gun, I’d question his motivations to do so. It makes him sound uppity and paranoid. Like someone is out to get him or he’s been watching too many films and wants a chance to be a hero. It’s odd!!

  19. Frightening? Yes. Deal breaker? No. The weapon is concealed on his ankle and is there for protection, not in a holster for the world to see. Doing your research and deciding how you feel about gun control is wise, but don’t let his personal values about guns ruin a potentially great relationship. There may come a time when you drop those six little words and he has to compromise something he feels strongly about to continue the relationship. Once you are more familiar with hand guns, you may feel more comfortable. Knowledge is key. And who knows maybe you can take a trip to the gun range and really become acquainted. The media fills us with so many negative reports from crazy people with weapons but they never share the stories of how they have protected the “fully trained, licensed and competent.” Cheers. :)

  20. I dated a guy who carried a concealed weapon… it didn’t bother me at all because I completely trusted him and I firmly believe in his (and everyone’s) right to bare arms. I think you should go with your gut. If you’re always going to be nervous about it, it wouldn’t make for a very good relationship.