Just a few weeks after one of my fraternity brothers and his girlfriend were both abducted and gunned down by an armed felon I was given a special gift by a good friend. David Lee Odom knew I was nervous about passing by the murder site every Thursday night on my way to play a weekly gig – I was a professional musician at the time - in Tupelo, Mississippi. So he bought me a box of .38 re-loaders and invited me to shoot his Model 19 Smith and Wesson as his special guest at the Starkville Gun Club.
The results were predictable. Soon after spending a Saturday afternoon plinking with that Model 19, I was hounding David to take me back to the club to put a box of .357 magnum rounds through that rugged blue-steel revolver. After a couple of times out at the range, I bought the gun from him and he replaced it with a new .44 magnum.
Years later, I would pass the gun bug on to my wife. She was terrified of guns until I put her through a little systematic desensitization – probably the only practical technique I ever learned as a psychology major - that culminated in a trip to the gun range. First, I had her pass an empty gun case to me. Next, I had her pass a gun case with a .22 packed inside. Then, I asked her to look in the case to make sure the extra magazine was inside. Then, finally, I asked her to take out the unloaded Ruger Mark II and hand it to me.
Shortly after she started to handle firearms she realized they don’t make loud noises unless you load them and pull the trigger. In other words, my wife was ready for a trip to the gun range with that little Ruger, an empty Coke can, and a box of Remington .22 Subsonics. Although she pretended she wasn’t having the time of her life, my wife soon begged me to take her back out to the shooting range. It was on that second trip that she got to put some 110-grain, .38 caliber hydra-shocks through my snub nose .357 magnum. From seven yards out, her first shot hit the 10-ring. Her second shot went through the same hole. She later nicknamed that Smith and Wesson Model 640 “Smithy” and now claims it as her own. In fact, she won’t let me shoot it without her express permission. The days of her irrational fear of firearms are long gone.
Just two days ago I set aside a few hours to convert another gun-less friend into a gun lover. But this time I added a new twist to my usual routine. Before we hopped into my car – packed with a 12-gauge, a 30-06, a .357 magnum, a .45 ACP, a .40 S&W, and a .22 semi-automatic – I wrote him a check for $200.