When I was scared, my gun-owning neighbors helped me feel safe

Last summer I was targeted with online harassment after an essay of mine was published. For weeks afterward, I was afraid to be home alone. My liberal friends reassured me that I’d be safe. That I was brave, tough. That I was loved.

My neighbors? They taught me how to shoot guns.

They made a day of it. Two men came over, along with three boys and one teenage girl, and set up swinging targets in the field behind my house. They brought probably 10 guns between them, ranging from a revolver to a semi-automatic. We fitted ourselves with earmuffs, and one of the men, who’d built a number of the guns himself and kept a home arsenal of at least 60 firearms, carefully showed me and the boys the safety features of each gun: touch here, never here. Treat every gun as if it’s loaded. Arms strong and straight. Wide stance. Fire.

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