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  • Writer's picturekerrieonward

Have Gun, Will Travel

"Is that a 9 mm?" I asked the woman behind the counter at the Buzzards Belly General Store, pointing to the gun holstered on her right hip. "Yes, it is," she reported. "Springfield. I'm a woman out here alone for the most part, and you've seen the area. Imagine the crazy nut jobs that end up hanging around here. I'm not the type of woman who's about to let anyone intimidate her or try to take advantage. I'm loud and noisy. Troublemakers get to glimpse the hip."

"Are you carrying?" she asked, looking me up and down and gesturing in the general direction of Stevie.

Jean operates a quirky little general store in Cisco, UT, which is a remote area. Wow! It's remote. To add nuts to the cookie, Cisco is also a ghost town. It's allegedly re-inhabited by a handful of artists, so I hear. Except for Jean, I didn't see any residents/artists during my 2-day visit, although I did see some creative structures about the place (see the Cisco photos), in addition to a compound surrounded by electrified wire, razor wire twirled above gated, camera'ed entrances, Trump flags waving amongst American AND Confederate flags (I know! JC.). So, the town apparently does have living residents or maybe creative ghosts... Anyway, with the exception of the occasional folks heading to Moab or Canyonlands, stopping by the store for the advertised ice cream (and then delightfully discovering all the secret treasures Jean been collecting for years and is now selling), Cisco is alone. If Jean were to call out for help, I don't know that anyone would hear her.

Jean recounted an experience she had with a guy and his wife who were down on their luck and had somehow made their way to Cisco, presumably due to all the free-living BLM land in proximity. They visited her store for provisions, and it was obvious they needed a little help. Jean kindly gave them a few supplies, and this lead to reoccurring visits from the couple for more of Jean's generosity. She's a smart woman and knew these folks are the ilk that take advantage of kindness. She cut them off. Well, the guy wasn't too happy about this and expressed his unhappiness by aggressively entering her store after a report from his wife, insisting Jean allow him to use her phone, to which she had repeatedly told him no. He became more and more agitated and tried to climb over the counter to get into her safe space. This is the moment she unveiled the well-holstered 9mm on her hip and in a loud, clear tone, instructed him to leave her store immediately or suffer the consequences. He left. She called a BLM representative to report the matter. Turns out that guy and wife have committed all sorts of crimes on the people's land and know they are not allowed on BLM property ever again. The BLM representative promptly arrived and removed the pair.

Jean admitted that this was one of the more mild cases of aggressiveness she sometimes deals with, always from men.

She and I then launched into a kindred discussion about how as independent women, often assumed to be alone and vulnerable, we've been targeted by the types of men who keep at least one eye peeled for easy prey to attack - that prey being mostly unaccompanied women, who have been trained since birth to always smile and look pretty, always be kind and cautious of hurting someone's feel (even if that someone is an absolutely creepy asshole), always stay calm and soft voiced, always give the benefit of doubt, and never create a scene.

(Side-street note here. Females: The book Gone With the Wind, while one of the most racist tomes of American literature, is also prestigiously sexist. I highly recommend you read it, because it has the best description of what a "lady" should be, of course as a standard we should all strive to achieve. I hope after you get through the well-written atrocity, you will see the term "lady" is no compliment that we've been duped into believing. In fact, for our own safety and independence, we should strive for the opposite.)

I responded to Jean, "Yes. I have a Walther P22 in my trailer. It's no 9mm, but within the small confines of my trailer, any intruder would get the point."

Before you get upset at me about how in these times of so much gun violence, why I choose to carry a gun, let me explain something to you. First of all, I'm not toting this thing around on my person. It's tucked away just under my platform bed in an inconspicuous, yet accessible spot. Secondly, the gun is not my primary form of defense. I installed moveable motion-sensor security cameras on the outside of my trailer, connected to an app on my phone that alerts me to any detection of movement, with video and sound. I can speak through the cameras via my phone to warn anyone (or thing) away, if needed. Next, the door is fitted with a lock and an alarm. If an intruder chooses to ignore my threats through the cameras and manages to get through the locked door, the alarm will scream its ass off. If the sound of the alarm doesn't repel the intruder, he'll get a face full of bear spray. And, if that doesn't stop him, I can be fairly certain at this point he isn't stopping by for a cup of coffee, and he'll get to experience the sensation of a speeding bullet through his right eyeball.

I'm not interested in hearing from anyone about my good ol' Second Amendment rights, not any good-for-yous. I'm also not interested in listening to any lectures about the evils of guns. My possession of a gun on my adventure isn't about either of these things.

It's about the reality of violence against women.

Get ready for a big generalization (that I believe to be true): Men carry guns to threaten that they have the power to kill. Women carry guns for protection.

Prior to leaving on my adventure and during my adventure, I've been asked several times if I'm afraid of being attacked, hurt, killed. The obvious factor for this question is that I'm a female traveling alone. If I were male, I doubt anyone would ask me this question. I've listed all the precautions I'm taking, and this list has been met with doubt by my inquisitors.

Here's something: I don't want this gun in my trailer! Every time I touch it, I use extreme caution, because I'm terrified of shooting myself. I also have no desire to shoot-to-kill anyone. Killing someone, even someone who means to kill you, results in all sorts of no good.

Taking someone's life, I can imagine I would feel absolutely devastated, no matter the circumstances. Then there are the on-going criminal and legal issues, which are lengthy and costly. The guilt, the second guessing. My family. His family. What would my life be after killing someone?

However, I also don't want to be harmed or killed by some psychotic asshole who thinks he can do whatever he wants to me, because as a female traveling alone, I'm a seemingly convenient and deserving target.

Stranger-on-stranger attacks are rare, although I have been attacked by a stranger (male) before, and I have also witnessed other strangers (men) preparing to attack me (I escaped). Given this, still, odds are I'm not likely to become a victim on my adventure. But, I'm not taking any chances. Taking such a chance doesn't seem worth it, because what would my life be like after being killed?

I still have dreamy thoughts about my adventure, and I'm continuing on. But, I will feel a sense of relief when I return home and put this gun, unloaded, back into its locked case inside the locked gun safe.

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