As the gun control debate rages in the U.S., and continues on more quietly in Canada, one idea that keeps popping up is that you have a different relationship with guns if you’ve ever actually used one. To those of us who’ve handled them, they don’t seem so strange and mysterious.
There may be something to this. I spent four years around weapons that ranged from a nine-millimetre pistol to hand grenades to the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle during my time in the Canadian Forces Land Reserve.
I don’t want to exaggerate the experience. It’s not like we were performing nightly patrols through the war-torn streets of Beacon Hill South — this was a summers-and-some-weekends-and-weeknights engagement, at least for me. And since I belonged to a medical platoon, proficiency with guns and rifles took a back seat to how quickly you could apply a field dressing or erect modular tentage for a field medical inspection room.
In my case, that was fortunate. Firing a C1 rifle, I only once managed a twelve-inch grouping at 100 yards from a prone position — and that on the target next to mine. And for about five years after I left the reserves, I had a lump of scar tissue over my right cheekbone from holding that same rifle improperly. (It had quite the kick.)
No question, though: I became familiar with guns, and they don’t hold much sense of mystique for me.
The damage they can do, though… that still preys on me.