Personal reflections are stories from our community that take a look at aspects of owning and shooting firearms that may not always get the press coverage they deserve.
I grew up with the notion that guns were bad…evil. They were weapons used in terrible events: war, homicides, gang violence, the list goes on.
Maybe I felt this way because I’m Chinese. Maybe because I’m a woman that was never raised around guns. In any case, I never cared to shoot or own a firearm.
All that changed when I met my husband.
He is what you might consider a red-blooded American: born and raised in the South and passionate about the Constitution. That, of course, includes the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms.
I distinctly remember the first time I went shooting. The anxiety of being near the firearm, the fear of somehow messing up, the anticipation of pulling the trigger, and finally the glee of sending a bullet downrange.
Oh, and of course the terror of accidentally muzzle sweeping those around me after turning around with joy. That day, my mindset changed from never wanting to have anything to do with guns to understanding the passion my husband had for firearms.
Over the course of 10 years, my life changed. What started as a handful of firearms my husband owned slowly grew into an ever expanding collection of shotguns, assault rifles, pistols, black powder revolvers, etc. that we owned together.
My husband constantly encouraged me to clean and field strip each firearm in an effort to help me become more comfortable with and familiar with the weapons. I also found myself engaging in dialogue about various bills being passed ranging in topic from weapons bans to the right to self-defense to gun show loopholes.
And when I decided I was ready to select the handgun I wanted to carry and use for self-defense, I read articles, watched YouTube reviews, and visited my local gunstore. In the end, I chose the 9mm M&P Shield.
At the time, I was 3 months pregnant with our second son. So, I fired it a few times, LOVED it but didn’t want to cause any unintentional hearing problems for the baby, and stuck it back in the safe for when I could actually carry it concealed. A week after giving birth, my husband asked me if I wanted to practice cleaning and disassembling our pistols.
Despite being exhausted, I agreed. At our kitchen table I went through the familiar, though not so recent, motions of removing the magazine, checking the chamber, pushing the takedown lever, pressing the trigger, and removing the slide. I then quickly reassembled the pistol.
It was then his turn. I half paid attention while wondering how much sleep I might get in if I laid down for a nap shortly. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the magazine was in the pistol.
Before I could open my mouth to remind my husband about the safety rule of removing the magazine, I heard a loud bang and felt a sharp searing pain rip through my arm.
The next few hours both felt like it passed by quickly but also extremely slowly. When I finally emerged from surgery the doctor shared the results with me and my husband: the bullet had torn through my arm, shattering my radius and landing in my thigh. He was able to repair most of the muscles and tendons, put in a plate and screws to stabilize the arm, and expected with extensive therapy that I would eventually gain 95% of my arm and hand use.
To this day, I wake up every morning with the following thoughts:
One: I am extremely fortunate to be alive. If the Hornady Critical Defense bullet had done its job or the angle had been slightly different, I may not be here.
Two: I thank God my children weren’t in the room when the accident happened that day.
While I might actually have a solid case for arguing why guns are bad now, I still view them as a tool. Just like one might view a chainsaw or tablesaw. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a newfound anxiety when I think about my children around firearms. However, my fear for what might happen if caught defenseless and unarmed outweighs those anxieties.
Three: never in a million years would I have thought that I would be the victim of an accidental discharge…not to mention at the hands of my own husband. He was the “expert”…experienced, familiar, comfortable. Maybe just a little too comfortable.
So for that I will forever actively impart my experience and wisdom on others:
- Safety, safety, safety! – you should ALWAYS remove the magazine, check the chamber, point the barrel towards in a safe direction. Follow all the gun safety rules at all times.
- Everyone should have a healthy fear of firearms – especially those who are most familiar with them. Don’t allow yourself to become careless as you become more experienced and comfortable around guns.
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My wife and I bought a shotgun for home defense.
One day she was in the bedroom and I was in my man cave and she asked "is the shotgun loaded" and I replied "I don't think so but check the..."
Before I could get the word "chamber" out, FLABOOM!
I ran into the bedroom to find the gun on the floor, my wife in tear's and a huge hole in the wall.
She wanted to practice dry firing.
This really brings the safety aspect home. I honestly think you're onto something about the "too comfortable" aspect. I once saw a carpenter run a circular saw right into his thigh. And he knew better. But he did it. He'd been handling Skilsaws for 30 years. Took five seconds to put him in an ambulance.
The one thing to remember is how important it is for your kids to understand firearms safety. Go look at the YouTube videos where they put groups of kids in a room where they discover a firearm. Every time, the ones who at a minimum don't touch the gun, or in most cases go find an adult are the ones who either grew up around firearms or at least have had some basic safety training. The rest of the kids waved it around like a toy.
Thank you for sharing your story, as well as your take-aways. It served as a strong and sobering reminder that the margin for error is razor-thin, and it reinforces the need for relentless vigilance in the use if firearms. God bless.
Thanks so much Tom!
I agree, safety, safety, safety... Always
remember to treat ALL weapons like they are loaded, even if you know it was unloaded when you put it away.