As you make have read here, I have a creepy ex-husband who has certifiably (with legal paperwork and everything) lost his mind since our divorce 15 years ago.  Over the intervening years, in response to the insanity my ex has inflicted on us, we’ve come up with a lot of creative solutions to addressing the sometimes violent – always frightening – situations.  Despite all the troubles, the one solution we have never availed ourselves to is gun ownership.  Until now.

I am fairly conflicted about guns and gun laws.  I am not all that enthused about just any person owning a gun as I do not feel that most people are benefited by the use of a gun.  I am highly dubious about a militarized State that disenfranchises weapons for the proletariat so I agree with the 2nd Amendment’s provision in securing that right against a militarized government. Where I run into problems with guns is the ease with which a  person can become a gun-owner, and the relatively limited intellectual capacity of some (NOT ALL!) gun owners themselves.  I sorta understand the dilemma as the difficulty in leveling the playing field in a conflict that could be resolved through social/intelligent means and yet because one party is lacking in these areas beleives they need to own a gun to establish a  ‘fair fight.’  My ex certainly falls into this category of gun owners.  And he was able to easily attain a gun at a gunshop with a background check because when he had to mark the little box that references his mental health status he only had to believe he was mentally stable at the time he marked the box, he did not have acknowledge any previous lapses from reality that might impact his ability to master future gun-owning responsibilities.

So because of the ex’s insanity and his sincere death threats against me, I just recently earned my concealed weapons license.  And for those of you who might misunderstand, let me make this clear; I am now a pistol-packin-bitchin-mama.  I am not happy about this and when I visualize having to use this tool of death, I can only muster up one image – my ex coming to harm me and my kids.  Then, I am all over that pulling-the-trigger-in-a-crisis-kinda-feeling, outside of that scenario I cannot fathom harming anyone.  It’s momma-cub feeling that takes over when I ponder having to use my weapon.  So, heretofore, I have not much mingled with the gun-ownin’ tribes, even though I live in a very very pro-gun state. Because I have never wanted my children around guns, I have tended to shy away from folks who might have them laying about. I also feel the strong need to clarify right here; I am repulsed by Sarah Palin’s gun-toting Mama Grizzly Feminist Movement which I think is a nasty co-opting of feminist ideals for the purpose of subverting the actual real-world success of feminist ideologies in popular culture.

So where do I fit into this gun-owning community?  On my concealed weapons license that I must carry with me at all times, I noted a most unusual phrase, “Courteous Vigilence.”  I decided to try to figure out how that phrase related to the concealed weapons permit in the hopes that it might shed some light for me on this whole situation.  I started by trying to figure out how these incongruous words could be stuck together to make meaning – because someone thought they did as it’s the phrase in bold letters right at the top of the card and throughout all of the permit application materials.  Here’s what I found in the English Oxford Dictionary: 

Courteous (cour·te·ous)  Pronunciation:/ˈkərtēəs/  [adjective]  polite, respectful, or considerate in manner. Origin: Middle English (meaning ‘having manners fit for a royal court’): from Old French corteis, based on Latin cohors ‘yard, retinue’ (see court). The change in the ending in the 16th century was due to association with words ending in -eous

Vigilance (vig·i·lance) Pronunciation:/ˈvijələns/  [noun] the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. Origin: late 16th century: from French, or from Latin vigilantia, from vigilare ‘keep awake’, from vigil (seevigil)

Weird, huh?  Just as I suspected these two words ARE incongruous when placed side-by-side.  I get why you might want to be vigilant in gun usage or ownership so that makes a whole lotta sense to me.  But courteous gun ownership means what?…that I won’t stick my pistol in someone’s face?  I should hope not, that seems counterintuitive to the whole concealment process.  Could being a courteous gun owner mean that I keep my gun neat and tidy, cleaning up after I’ve used it – like say the communal kitchen in a workplace?  Seriously, what on earth is the idea of courteous supposed to mean in relation to vigilance and guns?  The nature of owning a gun is either to protect oneself or to harm someone/thing.  There is no other use for this weapon as a tool.

In my frustration, I did some research into the agency that delivered my concealed weapons license to me and discovered that they have an “idea” (and I use that term loosely) about what they think “courteous vigilance” means.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent; and that would be me:

Courteous Vigilance is the HotShade’s Department of Public Safety’s motto and guiding principle, which reflects the pride of the Department. We provide quality, reliable and respectful service to the citizens of HotShade while being vigilant in the enforcement of the laws of the state. The following are our core values, supporting the tradition of Courteous Vigilance:

Human Life:  We value, respect and protect human life and the rights of all persons.

Integrity:  We are honest and truthful, recognizing integrity is the cornerstone for all that is done by DPS employees.

Courage:  We demonstrate moral and physical courage in the performance of our duties.

Accountability:  We accept responsibility for our actions.

Customer Service:  We consistently deliver exceptional assistance.

Communication:  We share factual information in a timely manner through various mediums both internally and externally.

Leadership:  We set examples which influence excellence in personal behavior and job performance.

Teamwork:  We respect and cooperate with fellow employees, other agencies and the community to identify and achieve common goals.

Citizenship:  We are involved in activities which improve the quality of life in our communities.

Was any of this information helpful to you in answering my questions?  I didn’t think so.  So why is this motto emblazoned on my permit card?

Because I cannot really glean any answers to my questions, I am now left pondering how I am going to proceed about my dailiness of life while carrying a weapon.  After all, I am the president of the local PTA;  I am a swim/soccer mom;  I am a feminist — of the non-violence-as-a-strategy-order.  I have kids with me at nearly all times and if not, I am en route to pick up those children.  Even if I am courteous with my weapon, no one is gonna think it’s so awesome for me to have it at all times.  

The decision I’ve come to about this is: I’ll be courteous enough not to have my weapon loaded around your children, but all times I will be vigilant about the safety of myself and my kids against my ex’s attempts to harm us.

a bitchin feminista mama at the intersection of political quagmire and real life.

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