To the confusion of a few of my friends, whom other friends of mine might crassly dub “libtards”, I took my adult-age daughter to a shooting range a couple of times earlier this year. It’s not like I keep up on my NRA membership dues. It’s not that I want her to be a gun-toter. It’s only that I want her to make choices for herself. And if she enjoyed it, maybe we would bond by taking self-defense or concealed carry courses together. I want her to know that her father doesn’t pull favorites when it comes to the Bill of Rights.

We had fun. She shot better groups than I did with a 22 long-rifle revolver. I got the better groups with 9mm Glock, a pretty important result for my frail male ego. As far as I know right now, she’ll never go back to a range. At least, she had the experience.

Earlier this same afternoon, a driver came within a fraction of an inch of running over my toes. I had flatted on my bicycle and decided I would rather hoof it—two miles from a dry apartment—rather than try to inflate the tire adequately with a minuscule 6″ long emergency pump.

As I was passing by a hospital, walking across an apron connecting one of its many parking lots to the street, a man in a car pulled in front of me. I was traveling all of 2 MPH. Feeling no immediate sense of danger, I continued—assuming, albeit warily—he would see me in my bright yellow rain parka, apply his brakes, and yield to the pedestrian wheeling his bike across the village.

Well, nope! He only brought his car to a stop when it was directly in front of me about six inches from my body. If he had rolled straight through, his tires would have rolled way too close to my toes. I did the prudent thing and stopped my forward advance. Actually, I had no choice.

Then, for the sake of all cyclists on the road now and all cyclists who might venture out on the road in the future, who someday might encounter this same guy on any given day for as long as he legally holds a driver’s license, I barked out, with hearty vigor, “HEY!”.

His face was not that far from mine. It was only separated by a plane of glass, the driver’s side window. I succeeded in exciting him from an evident stupor and for a brief moment I watched as he turned his head and expressed unrehearsed shock to find me there. He had (obviously) not looked both ways. He had no idea how close he came to hitting me. I mean, what if I was going 3 MPH? It could have been all over (for my toes, at least).

On another day, if I was feeling particularly icky, I might have reasoned—as I have done many times in the past—that this guy was assaulting me with a deadly weapon. This is, in fact, a fact. I could have also reasoned that he would do it again (another fact). This is the reason why I don’t pack heat. It’s a short jump in logic, distorted by the heat of outrage, to want to plug that guy in self-defense. Worst case, I’m sure my attorney could have gotten me off on temporary insanity. It’s not like this hasn’t happened to me roughly three hundred times before in a long career of city and suburban cycling. It’s not like I’m not reasonably cautious and don’t try to ratchet up my caution year-after-year. It’s not like I wasn’t exceedingly visible in my bright yellow, reflectorized cycling costume. It’s not like I want to die pointlessly at the hands of a booger-eating moron (sorry, sir, at least I didn’t shoot you).

For the time being, I’m going to leave the guns at the range. If I was married, I would put a gun in a locker and hand the key to my betrothed. As a bachelor, no way.

Or, I might join the Quakers so I could be like that old Quaker, who padded down to the kitchen, found a robber already on the inside of his backdoor, and lowered his blunderbuss in the direction of the intruder.

Friend, he said, I would not harm thee for all the world, but thou standeth where I would shooteth.

Choice. That’s a good motto for any parent. Let them choose. Or risk, as Mark Twain once observed, they’ll go for forbidden fruit.

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