(78) Taking Up Arms: The Veteran and Weapons

Molly, the service dog

Golly, Miss Molly

A blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

The Case for Weapons

I told my wife I wanted a 9 mm, shells, and a clip for my birthday. She gave me a 9-mm box wrench, two seashells, and a paper clip. Well played, honey.

Posted on Facebook, 3-26-15

This is a paraphrase of something my husband shared with me after seeing it on Facebook. With over 300,000 likes the meaning is clear—men like guns, women generally do not (unless of course, you are a female warrior, law enforcement officer, or a cowgirl). When living with a disabled Veteran, I like them even less.

I grew up with guns in the home, as both of my parents served as sworn peace officers. Mom carried her gun in her purse and dad carried his in his holster. Frequently, my father cleaned his gun on a table in the living room. He taught all five of us kids proper respect for the weapon. Monthly, my parents went to the shooting range to qualify. Guns registered as no big deal.

I never felt a need for a weapon, having worked with some of the best police departments in the nation while serving as a city manager. I always knew I could count on them.

Even though my husband acknowledges how great law enforcement has been in every city we have lived, he longs to retreat to the wilderness where weapons are the only form of defense. With that being our dream goal, I am warming up to the idea. After all, the archery equipment we bought at Christmas was my idea.

My Veteran complains that he cannot protect his family without weapons. Over the years, his desire for weapons in the home concerned me enough to talk with his psychiatrist. Figuring I would have an ally in my no-gun-in-the-home policy, shock registered on my face when he told me many of his clients with PTSD own weapons and are responsible with them.

Gaining curiosity of what being a gun owner meant, we took a trip to Cabela’s. He walked me around, showing me the weapons he carried in Vietnam. Chocking back terror with thought of anWilliam with Barrett .50 cal 18-year old carrying these weapons, I focused on hearing his story.

He made eye contact with a sinister-looking weapon on the back wall of the store. I followed, tugging on his shirt-tale. The store clerk admitted he knew nothing about the weapon, a Barrett .50 cal bolt-action.

“May I hold it?” He held out his arms.

The clerk fumbled for a key. He looked William up and down several times before handing him the weapon from the wall. “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t help you with the weapon or tell you anything about it.”

William inspecting rifle“No problem.” William accepted the weapon with respect. He locked and loaded, sighting the cougar in the display above our heads in less than six seconds of receiving the Barrett. “I’m familiar with it.”

At least ten shoppers, the clerk, and I stood with dropped jaws. His proficiency left me feeling confident in his ability to handle weapons and teach me how, as well. While we did not buy the rifle, we decided to revisit my no-guns-in the-home policy and look for home defense weapons instead.

As I pondered my intractable stand on guns, I thought about young men and women going to war. If the US government trusts teenagers with assault weapons, why is it that I cannot trust my seasoned Veteran with weapons? His DD214 proves he qualified as a Marksman with the M-14 and Expert with the M-16. His training and experience is beyond compare.

We have agreed to let the subject simmer for a while longer. My concern is no longer for his safety or ability to handle guns but more for my need to be proficient with weapons in my home. As I try to envision myself with a rifle or hand gun, all I can think of is the line, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” (And, no, William, you still can’t have the Barrett .50 cal!)

Molly’s Weight Loss Program 

Molly is pleased to announce she lost seven pounds on her first two weeks on the prescription diet ordered by the veterinarian. With 120 pounds as the goal, she needs to lose 18 more pounds. Way to go Molly. (I’d show you a picture of her in her bikini but she wants to reach her goal first.)

Post your Comments: 

Have you and your Veteran or family caregiver had a difference of opinion about weapons in the home? Please comment below. 

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

About the blogger 

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her grandchildren.