My wife spends most of her time at work behind a desk. It’s that little bit of time that she doesn’t that gets interesting. It can be hard to reconcile the high school girl I met over a peeled cat in anatomy class, with the person who straps a gun on a few times a year. My wife is not in the military, the reserves, or with the police, so she doesn’t face the kind of danger many people do. Even so, it’s kind of weird to see her go off into the night dressed like a TV drama cop dressed for a raid. Usually it doesn’t bother me, but the other night I was standing next to her when she retrieved her handgun from it’s locked hiding place. I stood there while she loaded it to capacity, each round having one purpose: to kill someone.
She’s never fired it anyplace other than a shooting range, and I don’t think any of her coworkers have either. Still, it’s hard to look at that thing we keep locked away and not see what it represents. It’s hard not to imagine the reason she carries it, and why she might need to use it.
If it gives me pause to see my wife leave home armed at night, to make sure folks on probation are where they’re supposed to be, how much more difficult must it be for the families of those who leave home certain they will have cause to fire their weapon? Sometimes I hear about the cavalier attitude others in her department have. Sometimes there’s a joke involved when she leaves. Sometimes I think there isn’t anything funny about it at all.
It’s been said that our capacity to make war has gotten too easy, that too few of us need to make any real sacrifice. A mostly annonymous few place themselves in danger while the rest of us carry on untouched, as if nothing has changed… except the stickers that adorn the backs of our cars. I thought about it again as my wife slid her handgun into it’s holster at her side, and said “bye,” in her customary, tender way.
I wonder what is more absurd; my flair for the melodramatic, my wife having to carry a gun, or a world that requires it.