Recently, I got to see first hand how the right to bear arms works out and what happens when you give a good guy an automatic rifle. I live on a massive working farm. It is hard to describe the magnitude of the place, but it is thousands of acres and around 40 people live here. It is a peaceful sanctuary and I am not sure if it is the fact that it is gated, or the fact that most people can’t find my house when they are trying to visit me, but I have always felt very safe here.
Then everything changed. I was driving home after midnight. This is unusual for me because I am old and lame and have no thyroid. I need my sleep. But we were out for a work-do. My husband and I took separate cars because he came late (Let’s face it, there is only so much work-do you can put your spouse through). I was driving home. A big truck was in front of me and the driver had punched in the gate code. I followed them in before the gates closed again. I followed them through the curvy roads on the massive farm. It was a dark night, all house lights were off and I actually drove past the house. As soon I realized it, I did a U-turn.
Then I saw another truck coming towards me. I’m thinking, “Wow, busy night on the farm”. The truck doesn’t move over to let me pass. It stops in the middle of the single lane farm road and blocks me. I see a shirtless man get out. He is fat and his hairy body is backlit by his truck brights. He has a huge automatic weapon pointed at me with his finger on the trigger. He is yelling something in vigilante-mode, like, “Freeze! Get out of the car!” I have no idea who he is or what is going on, but I am pretty sure that I am going to die right here. I don’t think that I have ever been more scared. I’m thinking, “Really? This is the last image I am going to see before I die? A fat, hairy redneck pointing a gun at me in the silhouette of an F250’s highbeams?” That is so disappointing. I always thought I would have a much more glamorous death.
Somehow my surgical training kicks in and I keep my cool. I slow things down. Hoping it is just friendly fire (because if it is not, I figure I am dead anyway), I open the window and yell out, “It’s Sarah! I live here! I live on the farm!” Then I see him pause and the weapon drops slightly. His female partner is out of the truck, holding a cell phone in one hand and a barking Jack Russel terrier in the other. They are all hysterical (the terrier slightly less so). I recognize her. They live here. She tells me that someone has followed their teenaged daughter and her friend onto the farm. I say, “No, it was just me, I was following them.” But they are not listening. They say sorry for almost shooting me and then start running for the truck again, gun/terrier/cell phone in hand. She is barking orders at her daughter into her cell phone. They are off to find the imaginary killer. I pull up to them and tell them that my husband is coming home behind me, describe his car and yell, “Please don’t shoot him!”
We head our respective ways. I pulled into my driveway and proceeded to have a breakdown. I then tried to call my husband but I had lost my ability to speak. Then I just sat down and cried. I was crying because I was scared and because when I looked at the redneck with the gun trained on me, I didn’t see hate, or anger. I just saw fear. He was afraid of me.
My husband got home without being mistaken for an intruder or threatened with deadly force. I resisted the urge to pack up all our worldly possessions (cat, dog, passports) and start driving back to Canada that night. The Redneck called my husband to apologize. I am not sure what you say here. “Doc, I am so sorry that I threatened to shoot your wife” I think that Hallmark is missing out on a niche here, a gun-violence line of greeting cards: Sorry I shot your spouse; Sorry my toddler shot your toddler; Sorry I almost killed your loved one; Sorry I accidently killed our son. He wanted to come over to apologize to me. My husband told him absolutely not and that I was far too upset for that. He came over anyway. Did not even stop back home to put a shirt on. A shirt would have been nice.
If I had not been in shock, I would have told him to leave and called the police, but Canadian politeness took over. I was also unsure of what the police would do in this situation, what with the whole Second Amendment, Stand Your Ground madness that is Florida. He was truly sorry. I cried through his apology. He explained that he thought I was “The Killer” and when he got out of the truck he was thinking that he was going to have to confront and kill “The Killer”. He said, “and then I saw your blonde hair and I realized it was you”. Suddenly “The Bad Guy” morphed into a blonde unarmed lady veterinarian in a Prius V station wagon with a Yakima roof rack. (This part amazes me. I know that he couldn’t see me, but surely he could see my car. Everyone knows that killers drive old, white windowless vans or big rusty trucks. My car is not a killer car. It does have the advantage of being a hybrid, so it is extremely quiet [ideal for sneaking up on people and killing them] and also you can drive for hours without stopping for gas after murdering people, which is very convenient. The Yakima roof rack is also perfect for transporting dead bodies without messing up the interior.)
He was also shaken up and when I looked right at him I realized that through his fear and adrenaline he had almost shot me. He became “The Killer” that he had conjured up in his mind. He told me that he was going to go to church tomorrow to pray. I wanted to ask him what he was going to pray for. For common sense? To be smarter? Was he going to thank baby Jesus that he did not shoot me? If he had shot me, would he just have prayed more? Then, feeling that he had completely smoothed over the situation with his apology and awkward attempt to touch me (I resisted), he told me that at least now I knew that there are people on the farm that are armed and ready to protect me. This is the least comforting thing that anyone has ever said to me.
It was like a Comedy of Errors, or a Three’s Company plotline, but set in rural north Florida, with rednecks and trucks and assault rifles. This is the mentality of a slice of the population in rural Florida, and possibly the United States of America. Fear drives everything. The teenaged girls in the truck saw a car behind them and assumed that there must be a mass murderer following them. They called their parents, who believed this scenario and then got themselves worked into even more of a frenzy than two narcissistic silly teenagers, which is really saying something. They grabbed their loaded guns and headed out into the night to catch “The Killer”. (There was another set of parents coming from the other side of the farm, also armed to the teeth to catch the killer/me.) Why would “killer on farm” be your first conclusion? There are so many other reasons that a car would follow you onto a farm. For example: the person in the car lives on the farm.
If I had been a true Floridian and not a Canadian, I would have had a cute bedazzled, pink couture pistol in my purse. And, legitimately feeling the threat of deadly force, I would have shot this man. Maybe we would have shot each other. This is how people die from gun violence. Fear and panic and feeling that someone is trying to kill you can get someone killed. No politician is brave enough to say it, and it will never happen here, but I think its time to take the guns away. Most humans can not handle the responsibility of deadly force and for being responsible to kill intruders. Less guns = less gun violence. The American experiment has shown that arming its citizens is an utter failure. The Second Amendment is the USA’s biggest lie. It is the right to feel terrified all the time because everyone has a gun and fear is not freedom. Americans are holding themselves hostage to fear while the rest of the world watches in horror.