Firearms are not a part of the Canadian culture the same way they are in the States. The right to bear arms isn’t codified in our constitution. You certainly can’t just go into a WalMart and buy ammunition, let alone a rifle, the way you can here in Tennessee. Even owning a handgun in Canada requires you to pass two safety courses and apply for a different type of licence. (I’m sure you can illegally pick something up on the streets but I don’t want to go into that right now.)
As you might expect, no one in my family owns a gun. Of course, my upbringing isn’t representative of all Canadians, but it’s a bit of background that coloured my perceptions and experience. I hadn’t even held a gun until I was 22 years old. When I started dating my husband he was a US Marine and made sure to remedy that situation right quick.
Since then I’ve shot rifles, shotguns, and pistols. And I must admit… they’re quite fun! As long as you treat them properly, I have no problem with guns.
What I do have a problem with is keeping a loaded gun in the bedroom. I remember the first time I visited Tennessee and meeting M’s parents when we’d been dating for less than a year. As we were heading off to bed, M’s dad said, “Oh wait a second son, here you go, for the guest bedroom,” and handed him a four foot rifle that he was meant to prop up against the bed.
“Uhh, sorry whaaat?” I stammered, standing awkwardly in the hallway.
“You’re the first bedroom when you come into the house. In case anything happens,” he replied.
“No fucking way,” I said to M as soon as he closed the bedroom door. He just laughed but knew not to push the issue. (The gun made its way into the closet that night and out of the bedroom for the rest of our visit.)
Now that we’re back in the States and temporarily living with M’s side of the family, we have access to a lot of firearms. Fast forward to the night I returned from Panama. M was back a month before me and had done a ton of work to fix up our new place. As he opened the door and proudly showed me to the bedroom, I couldn’t help but notice his pistol and attached scope just hanging out on the dresser.
“Yeah, I don’t know about this,” I said as I picked up the gun. “Let’s put that away for now,” and tucked it into one of the drawers. Obviously this was only meant to be a temporary solution given that it was one in the morning and I was exhausted from an entire day of travel. But you know what they say -- out of sight, out of mind -- and a few days passed before I even thought about it again.
A couple days later M cleaned his rifle and his pistol and both of them somehow found their way into the bedroom yet again. This time he put them in a case in the opposite corner of the room, out of arm’s reach from the bed. And you know what? I’ve slept just fine every single night since I’ve been here. In fact, we recently had to move the entire gun cabinet into our garage apartment. Between my husband and father-in-law they have about 20 guns in their collection which are now sitting in the closet off my living room.
And here I am, that Canadian girl who still barely knows anything about firearms, living with all these guns in the vicinity and I barely think twice about it. Granted, we don’t have to worry about any little ones getting into our stuff, which certainly makes it easier.
Would I prefer that we not keep guns in our bedroom? Absolutely. Of course the obvious question is what if someone breaks into your house, what are you gonna do? “Um. Not shoot them and call 911?” I reply, which my husband teases me is a “very Canadian” answer.
But I’m married now, so there are two of us, and some compromises must be made. Not that I will be shooting anyone anytime soon! Ha. But M has grown up around guns all his life and just because I’m uncomfortable with firearms doesn’t mean that my preference automatically outweighs his.
I feel like this summer in Tennessee has warmed me up to the idea of keeping a gun in the bedroom, something I was dead set against a few years ago. I thought I would have a lot stronger of a reaction to be honest. If it were up to M, we’d probably have his pistol stashed under our bed or in the night table. That I don’t see happening. But as long as the gun is put up and out of reach, I seem to be fine with it.
I’m curious -- do you keep a gun in the house for personal protection? What do you think about keeping one in the bedroom?