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Monday, April 16, 2012

Women and Guns In Delaware County

Dining After Dark - Conversations Overheard In Delco Denny's. 1230 AM. A Friday night. 

It was a crowded late night at Denny's. A mix of kids, date nighters, groups of women together and people like me who just stopped in for a late night iced tea and salad after taking my daughter home. It was a 'pink' crowd...mostly women. A few men with dates or with their wives and kids. I was sitting next to some PTA-types and admittedly listening to the conversation of the four women.

(When you're by yourself and forget to bring your Kindle with you to a restaurant you're reduced to listening in on conversations around you.)

Photo from the web

Two of the women sitting in Denny's that night said they were from Springfield (yeah, I'm nosy, that much I overheard, 2 from Swarthmore.) One of them was excited about her latest purchase.

OK, I'm thinking a new car, designer jeans, Jimmy Choo's, a Birkin bag, maybe even a Coach would generate this kind of excitement. So as an inveterate shopper I was curious about what these upscale looking ladies had purchased.

I was dismayed (and frankly alarmed) to hear one say she just bought herself a new ... GUN! Yes, you read that right... a GUN. Maybe I'm out of the loop, maybe this is the latest 'accessory' item. But I admit, my non-violent and pacifist soul was appalled.

Women. Guns. And the fact that it was discussed with such...excitement. Like a new toy. Or the latest jewelry. Have women, once the strongest opponents to guns, now become the newest consumer of guns?

Last year (2011)USA Today's reported Doug Stanglin wrote about Black Friday gun sales that were posting record numbers. Right up there with big sellers like flat screen televisions, fancy smart phones, tablets, and computers. Gun or new computers? Give me a computer anytime!

This morning, NBC's Today Show happened to report that 47% of Americans own a gun.  Wow! That number blew me away...! But back to the conversation...

Now they had me hooked on their conversation. I had to continue to listen. It was like a book you just couldn't put down until you found out the ending. No matter how bad it was (even though the plot was nonexistent and the characters one dimensional)

One woman said, "Well you know, it just makes me feel more secure, I mean we have an alarm but my husband travels so much, I just want to blow away anybody who comes in."

BLOW AWAY? Anybody? Hopefully not her husband returning early from his business trip or her son who is away at college who stops home unexpectedly. Or her mom who she forgot she gave a key and alarm code to. The possibilities for disaster were endless.

Her friend piped in saying, "I got one (a gun) a few years ago. My husband was messing around with someone else. I wanted him to take me seriously."

SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY? Now my jaw was on the floor. She couldn't find a better way to communicate her displeasure with him than buying a GUN?

By now I'm seriously wondering if I've happened into a tapping of the television show "What Would You Do?" with John Quinones.  I am almost waiting for the cameramen to pop out and jolly John Quinones to say to the surrounding customers "Why did you say ..." or "Why didn't you speak up?..."  And later I did wonder, why didn't I say something? Why didn't the women's friends say something? So WWYD? Would you keep quiet?  Would you speak up?  Or would you she packing it now?  If I say something will I become the next statistic?

It seems to me no matter who owns a gun or who bought it, as soon as you bring a gun into the house the power dynamics shift. Suddenly there's a potential for violence. And yes, the person holding the gun has control. But the potential for disaster has just increased exponentially.

I know some men and women carry firearms as part of their jobs. Law enforcement, military, there are legit reasons to have a gun in the house. But to bring a handgun into your house voluntarily and as a fashion accessory? Or as a psychological tool?

These ladies didn't look like people who would carry guns. They were well dressed PTA types. Not what I would think would be your typical gun toting woman. But neither are they the women you'd find in the book "Chicks With Guns" by Lindsay McCrum.

The women I overheard were using guns as a way to level the playing field.  They were using violence to fight violence (or their violent reactions to a husband's infidelity.)  Are these women typical of women buying guns? I don't know.

To be fair, one of the women said nothing. I suspect she was as freaked out as I was by the direction the conversation was heading. By friends who had gone from mild mannered PTA-ers to women with the potential for violence. 

As I paid my check I cautiously looked over... wondering how long it would be before I saw one of them on the nightly news... as a statistic or being walked into the local police station after using their newest accessory.

It would certainly make me re-evaluate my friendships if they'd been my friends. I suspect some of my friends have guns and I just don't know it.  I hope I'm wrong.  I just hope anyone (male or female) considering purchasing a handgun for use in their home will stop and think.  Think once, twice, and then again about the potential for disaster and death that a gun of any kind brings with it. 

Earlier this year, guest columnist at the Delco Times, Gerald McOscar wrote a story about the increase in sales of guns and the violence that makes you think about why gun sales are soaring.

Also think about Columbine and other disasters where children or teens get a hold of guns, either their parents' guns or one of their own they have obtained through illegal sources.  Think of all the innocent people killed.  For no good reason.  Other than someone wanted to level the playing field.  To feel they had POWER.

Are you a woman with a gun? A man with one? Why did you buy it? How has it effected the dynamics in your family? In how you interact with your friends? Tell me about it! Give me one really good reason you HAVE to HAVE a gun... why you can't survive without one. 

You won't convince me to join the NRA, but maybe you can help me understand. If you think there should be great gun control tweet #guncontrol and also leave a comment here.

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