I have always been attracted to guns. Beyond their capabilities, I like the engineering of them, their beauty and craftsmanship. I don't have the education necessary to delve deeper into the attraction, but I do think it's largely a man thing.
I know women who love and appreciate guns, but I think it's different for men. Historically, men have had the role of provider and protector thrust upon them, and guns as a force multiplier have elevated their ability to do that.
Charlton Heston once said that there is no such thing as ''good'' or ''bad'' guns, there are only good and bad people, and I suppose he's right. If I engage in a little introspection I believe that I value guns because of the protection they can provide, but I'm sure that there are people in our society who value them because of the things they can get with them.
I remember when I was in Vietnam that I had some very big guns. My main weapon was a light tank that sported twin 40-millimeter guns. It could fire 240 rounds in a minute, each of them with an explosive head. Each round (bullet) was about as big around as a beer bottle and a little longer.
We also had an M-60 caliber machine gun that fired nearly 600 rounds per minute, and each crew member had his personal M-16.
Our tank was only light armor and, as unbelievable as it may sound, it had no top, or roof, just a turret that came to about our waists. Nonetheless, we felt very powerful and nearly invincible, which in a short time we found not to be true. But I'm getting sidetracked here.
In Vietnam, my gun became a part of my attire, as important as my pants, and I knew if I got attacked and didn't have my pants on, I would have grabbed my gun first. Though the entire time I was there I never had my pants off except to change them of course, which wasn't often.
When I came home, I remember an overwhelming feeling of being naked and unprotected because I wasn't armed. That feeling never quite left me, and as I got older and random violence became more prevalent, it intensified.
Not long after Ohio passed its concealed carry law, I became a permit holder and I have to tell you how it felt. It was as though I was holding my breath for 40 years and could finally let it out and breathe normally the first day I walked out of my house with my gun.
I know that many people will see that admission as overly dramatic, but people who have been in a combat zone will understand. When I was in Vietnam, days and sometimes weeks would go by without violence, but you could never allow yourself to think you were safe, because events taught you that in seconds a sunny placid day could turn into killing grounds.
You got used to never accepting peaceful surroundings as safety because you knew that when violence came it wouldn't be like in the movies, preceded by ominous music, or cut scenes of the enemy creeping up. It just walked in and started its work.
That mode of thinking stays with combat vets, but I understand that people who never experience it tend to take their safety for granted, which is OK of course, but they should recognize that they are kind of playing a reverse lottery: If their number comes up, they lose.
When I served in Vietnam, I always kept in mind that we were there to protect the people, and that thinking carries over as well. I feel those of us who carry weapons have a duty to use them, should the need arise, to protect innocent lives.
As the saying goes, ''When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.'' I bet it's safe to say that 100 percent of police officers wish they could be there when innocent people are being gunned down, but of course that isn't possible. Just look at the recent shooting in Colorado where 70 people were shot with 12 of them dying. The police were there in about 90 seconds, but that's enough time for an assailant to fire over a hundred shots.
I would like to know if that theater had a sign on the door prohibiting the carrying of firearms, and I would also like to know, if it did have such a sign, how many law abiding people left their guns in their cars. I know that had I been there, I would have been shooting back. I know the gunman was well protected, but that also tells me that he was a fearful man, who might have fled had a few bullets been returned.
If there were a magical button that I could press that would get rid of every gun in the world, you'd have to break my arm to keep me from pressing it, but in lieu of that I'll have to stay armed. As Sen. Phil Graham once said, ''I long for the day that the lion will lie down with the lamb, but when that day comes, I still want to be the lion.''
Moadus is a Girard resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org