A Gun Story

(This is the same essay I posted on Facebook.)

This is a not terribly interesting post about a gun, which may help illuminate my views on gun control. You may think of it as a set of statistical points, if you like.

As many of you know, I spent most of my formative years living in a house directly attached to a grocery store. Various family members have been held up while running said store. Fun times! Actually, every single Fong (Susan excepted, I hope) have various fun stories about psycho customers that are much more fun than this story.

I can’t remember if Mom – who spent most of the time in the store – ever got threatened with a gun, but I know she was threatened with a knife once, because I came home from school one day to find the police interviewing her over the incident. Turns out Mom, who is a far bigger badass than I ever will aspire to in this lifetime, grabbed her own knife (we kept it around for slicing open Freezies, if you know what those are), waved it at the assailant and threatened to take his ear off or something, and sent that guy running for his life. I wish I was there that day, because I love my Mom and all but her English has never been good and in her relating the story, I suspect something has been lost in translation as to just exactly what part of his anatomy she threatened to cut off.

One sister was once threatened in the store by a person with a snarling adult German shepherd, but that wasn’t a robbery, that was a revenge scenario – and I was involved. No, you will not hear that story today.

Brother-in-law had it by far worst: he was robbed by two men with guns – ended up hog tied, face down, etc while they raided every carton of cigarettes they could grab. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt in that one. But that’s his story, and anyways I don’t remember the details about that one.

Which gets us to my story: I got held up at gunpoint once in the store. This means I get to legitimately state I’ve stared down the wrong end of a gun held by a criminal. And I was a teenager at the time: I was at most fourteen, and actually probably even younger, since this was before Rosalind moved east. It was dinner time, which took place in the room immediately behind the store; we alternated amongst the kids who got to go out to the store and man the counter, and this time it was my turn. When I got behind the counter, twitchy customer guy who was maybe all of twenty or so draws a gun, demands all the cash, no funny stuff, etc. I don’t remember much about what I was thinking, except for one weird thing: I found it really odd that the barrel of the gun was way larger than I expected. My sisters still think this means I was actually threatened by a flare gun, I still maintain I was just scared shitless and my brain was acting funny. Anyways, my sisters’ opinions count for exactly squat in this particular situation because at first they thought this was all a prank pulled by a schoolmate. As if my high school friends would ever go through with pulling that sort of stunt: cf candy cane lottery forgery incident. Anyways, I handed over all the money in the till (wasn’t more than fifty bucks), and by this point other family members were finally figuring out what was up and appearing on the scene, so the guy had to divide his attention and threaten all of us – so he gave up and ran off with his spoils.

There’s not much more to this story. No one was hurt. To my knowledge he was never caught (I did a pathetic job of description to the detectives afterwards – they even gave me photos to look at and I still drew a blank).

Two additional important points:

  • Notwithstanding the point I was under-fricking-age at the time, it has never crossed my mind that if there was a gun at hand, I would have acted any differently. First, there was no time. When there’s a gun two feet from your face, you do not think about reaching under the counter. You do not think about making sudden moves. We had an alarm button below the counter (all it did was ring a bell in the back) and reaching down to push it was the last thing on my mind. Second, I’m not that kind of person which counters lethal force with lethal force, I’m still not that person and don’t want to be that person. You may draw your own conclusions as to what kind of person that makes me. (“chickenshit” has come up before amongst drunken companions when I relate this story.. heh)
  • This took place in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. Not the nicest part of Vancouver, certainly, but also not Oakland, California, USA which is where I live now.

If you’ve actually read this far – all I will claim by making this post is that there are some fine nuances to the gun control debate which we as a country shouldn’t be afraid to discuss. I’m tired of seeing everyone spin recent tragedies into a OMG partisan moment without at least rationally considering both sides of the issue. I think you can draw points from this post to support either side of the debate (I know *I* certainly can). That doesn’t mean I don’t fall pretty firmly on one side of the issue, but since moving here I’ve always been willing to consider arguments from the other side, as long as the points are made in ways I deem credible (i.e with science and statistics and logic, not guided by strong emotion).

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