I read a blog post the other day where a woman discussed what she would do if a gun were lying on the ground between her child, herself, and a bad guy. Would she grab for the gun? No, she answered, she’d cover her child’s body with hers and pray for the best.

So I tested this scenario on a couple of my girlfriends to see what they would do in a similar situation. You’re facing a threat, and there’s a gun on the ground. Would you pick it up? Several said no, but mainly because they had no experience with guns and feel they are very dangerous.

This resonated with me. I kept thinking: you have the means to protect yourself! At least pick up the gun so the threatening person can’t use it! But unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world who would rather hope for the best against a murderer than handle a firearm. It’s not their fault.

It’s what they’ve been taught.

Still, I really had to think on this for a while. We (gratefully) live in a country where war happens in distant lands, and local violence is herded into city pockets away from suburbia and the land of butterflies and rainbows. Our domestic society has not been exposed to the horrors of war and violence for generations now. So the necessity for firepower and training, and therefore preparation for violence, is rarely a consideration.

At the same time, most people agree violence exists everywhere. Almost everyone has been touched by violence in some form or another in varying degrees. Pretty much any criminal activity you can think of has been found in both seedy neighborhoods and highfalutin ones. No one is immune. Guarded gates, alarm systems, dogs, bars on the windows, bubble wrap welcome mats… these sources of protection are all better than nothing, but they are only warnings, telling you to make a phone call. Quickly!

Just half a century back, firearms were commonly visible in places like the living room, vehicles, the storefronts… Kids played Cowboys & Indians, Cops & Robbers, and fought make-believe wars. They even took their guns to school, and quite possibly drew pictures of guns on their book covers, or played with pretend finger guns at recess. Guns were normalized. Nowadays if a kid’s hiccup sounds strangely like a pellet gun imitation, they’re suspended and given a psychiatric evaluation and possibly medication. Don’t you find that odd?