I didn’t grow up with guns in the house and never even knew what a gun safe was. My father didn’t hunt or feel he needed a weapon for protection. He always thought he would rely on the prompt action of the police should something happen. I respect everyone’s right to own a gun and don’t make a big issue about it one way or another; it is just not for me—now or in the future. Maybe if I hear of a nearby robbery or mugging I will feel a bit different about it. Meanwhile, my experience with guns is very limited. At summer camp, they offered riflery but I chose swimming and archery instead. The kids enjoyed the air rifles when they were old enough to qualify for the classes, but I wasn’t among them. Now it is a different tune.
I went home one long weekend with a sorority sister and to my surprise, the plan was to go hunting with her father in the woods. I balked at first since this was not my idea of a good time, but at least an expert would go along. He would teach me the ropes and help me handle my rifle. We aimed for rabbits which were overrunning the local farms. That didn’t make me feel any better, but I wanted to cooperate as I was a guest in their home. Right before the designated hour, my friend’s father opened his gun safe which was carefully locked in the basement. He pulled out three rifles that were unloaded. He said we don’t carry a loaded weapon into the fields but wait until we get to our stakeout spot. He carried my rifle and showed me the best way to distribute the weight and where to point it, even though it was not loaded. We had a quick breakfast and set out for the hunt. I was a bit apprehensive.
The day wore on and I did take a shot now and then. My friend and her father each “bagged” a few bunnies. I was glad that I didn’t. I just watched and learned, but I knew I would never go hunting again. Don’t look so gloomy, my friend said. We are going to eat the rabbits. It is not a matter of killing for its own sake. We do have an obligation to thin the population or local farmers won’t have much of a crop. I understood. It was just that I didn’t want to participate in any kind of massacre, needed or not. I was so glad when dinner time rolled around. The rifles were returned to the gun safe and I emitted a sign of relief. Let them stay there until the next father-daughter hunt. But I won’t be there. I think my friend knew not to invite me again. Of course, I was not surprised to see roasted rabbit on the table. I had eaten it many times in restaurants and why should this time be different. It was just that I saw it being killed. Yes, I get it. It was so fresh.