Words are the windows to the world. One word can take us on a fascinating journey within our minds. A single word can transport us to far-away places, through time, past and present, conjuring images of events, places, people, and things we’ve never dreamed of. Today, the word I awakened to is no exception.
The word I woke up to today is “safe.” No, not safe like a runner in baseball reaching the base in time and the umpire shouts “safe”. A safe like the steel door contraptions you see in the movies in a wall behind the Monet or in the floor under the oriental rug. A safe with a combination the thief is “cracking” with a stethoscope, ever so carefully, in perfect silence, listening for the slightest click of the tumbler– got it. That safe!
In the old westerns, the town bank kept the town’s peoples’ savings in the bank safe. Strong boxes were used to transport money on the Wells Fargo stagecoach from town to town. That is until the bandits robbed the bank or caught up with the coach and relieved them of the contents of the strong box, or both. Today safes are used in the homes of average, ordinary people to store their valuables. They place guns, money, jewelry, and important documents in safes for safe keeping.
I was awakened to the thought that it’s very likely that the majority of my neighbors own safes, and in those safes are guns– lots of guns. In fact, I believe, if major sporting goods retail stores like Academy, Dick’s and of course Walmart, are any indication, gun storage is the primary use
for in home safes. The thought of it didn’t make me feel very safe. Statistics of steadily increasing gun sales, and the rise of January 6th style domestic terrorist groups, leave me feeling quite unsafe.
I grew up in a home where I never once saw a firearm of any kind. What occurs to me now… never did then, we had no use for a safe. Safes are where gun owners store their weapons. Weapons they keep on hand to protect themselves and their families from me. Ironic? I handled a weapon for the first time in basic training when I learned to fire an M-16. Kids in America grow up with guns. They hunt with rifles and practice firing handguns at practice ranges and I never actually saw a gun until basic training. How is that possible?
For many of us, America is a dangerous place, and I grew up in Brooklyn– a dangerous place. In our house, however, there was no sense of danger. How could that be? We never discussed danger. My mother set out for work not long after daybreak five days a week and returned after dark and her safety was never discussed. Did she ever worry about her safety? Did her faith in God provide her a with a constant calm and sense of safety?
This morning I thought about guns and money, two things a person would store in a safe. We never owned guns and we never had enough money to need a safe. How could I grow up in America and my father not own a gun to protect his family? How could I go to sleep at night knowing there was no gun in the house to protect us from danger? I never thought about it. Even
when someone tried to break into our apartment through the kitchen window in broad daylight, getting a gun never crossed my mind, only securing the window gate did.
I never kept a safe full of guns in my home to protect my family. Why not? Is there something about God, that front door and ADT, that rightly or wrongly makes some of us feel safe? Ironically, I don’t feel safe driving, I don’t stay out late, I don’t feel safe when I think about how America sees me as a Black man. I don’t feel like I can properly protect my family and keep them safe. I live in a Stand Your Ground state and don’t own a weapon. How is that possible? Do I suffer from a false sense of security or am I just dumb? For the record, I applied for my Concealed Weapon Permit last summer, 2020. Slow mail, I suppose.
The question is, will I feel safe with my permit and with firearms in my possession? I can’t say for sure! Do you feel safe? Here’s my final thought… what if Trayvon was carrying a weapon?
That’s what’s on my mind!