I’ve only seen a real gun up-close three times in my life. The fourth time was a vicarious experience; my mum saw one and she told me about it. The first gun encounter was in California where my late uncle resided. He led me and my family to his garage where he kept his shotgun and showed us how to make bullets. While he made the bullets, he rattled on about his rationale about keeping a gun in the house – for safety reasons, it was legal and getting a license wasn’t difficult.

The second time was when an ex-boyfriend showed me a birthday present from his father. It was a handgun – I forget what type – that had a nice black case. He was seemingly thrilled while I was completely perplexed. “A gun for a birthday present? A bit much, isn’t it?” I mused to myself

The third incident was when a driver drew his firearm from his belt and aimed it at my father and me through his car window. My father had the right of way on the highway but he, inebriated driver, thought otherwise when my father didn’t yield to him. Our cars met up at a stoplight and when I glanced his way, he had drawn his gun and was aiming right at us. I placed my across my father’s chest, which, on hindsight, was a symbolic gesture of protection, but a futile effort against dodging a bullet. I wasn’t imbued with spider senses. Fortunately, the mad man’s girlfriend – am assuming it’s a girlfriend but it could have been either his wife, mistress or just a friend – tugged at his gun-arm and stopped his madness while miming an apology to us. The drive home was a quiet one until my father broke the silence, uttering, “I was afraid something like that would happen.”

Right there and then I made up my mind to have a gun of my own. But my mum put her foot down. “Buying a gun isn’t the solution to problems,” she said and that was the end of that conversation.

My mum’s gun encounter was with her old college friend who did a Show-and-Tell with her gun that fitted snugly in her hand (my mum’s friend’s hand). The handle was exquisitely “bedazzled” with pearl. She cajoled her, making getting a gun seemed like buying a loaf of bread at a convenience store, which probably was the case. But no dice – my mum was adamant of no guns in the house or in her purse.

My mum was right. Stories still abound about accidents and deaths resulting from the use of firearms.  The illusion of power descending on the gun owner is more than enough to fill his/her head with megalomaniac ideas of playing God. Eeenie meenie mi nee moe – to live or not to live.  To this day, I wonder if the people I knew who owned guns ever pulled the trigger. Conversely, how would I have behaved with a gun in my hand?

Owning a gun in the Philippines is commonplace that I took it for granted that it’d be a similar situation in other countries. That wasn’t the case obviously. For example, only police officers carried guns in Singapore said a Singaporean friend of mine. As for Indonesia, a conversation on guns, an offshoot of the news on TV about the massacre in Maguindanao and the arrest of the Ampatuan family an Indonesian colleague watched the night before, had us both dumbfounded.

Pagi Miss. What happened in the Philippines? Why do they have guns?” he asked in complete disbelief when I entered the administration office one morning to ask for red spidol (marker in local parlance).

Pagi Pak. People in the Philippines can own guns,” I answered nonchalantly.

He stared at me, his jaw dropping to the floor.

“Isn’t owning a gun in Indonesia allowed?” I queried.

“No, only the police can own guns,” Pak Nova answered matter-of-factly.

Seeing the look on his face, I stopped myself from relating more guns stories such as the one I couldn’t get out of my head. A man died because of a tussle over a parking space. The owner of the gun lost his temper and pulled the trigger because the dead man had taken his parking space. Or the story of gun-owners firing into the sky as part of New Year merry-making in the Philippines, and that a bullet missed the head of my high school buddy’s brother by a few centimeters. I didn’t want to fill his head with the idea that it was the wild wild West in the Philippines. It’s too loaded a picture.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks a bunch for the blog. Ive been digging around for info, but i think im getting lost! Yahoo lead me here – good for you I suppose! Keep up the good work. I will be popping back over in a couple of days to see if there is updated posts.


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