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By Pat Lisi/Southern Utah Vets Aid

I always thought that guns ruled and that anything could be settled by the Law of the Gun.  That’s why when I returned from Vietnam and eventually found my life again in Madison, Wisconsin I always had a firearm of some sort nearby.  Whether it was a .22 rifle or .22 pistol, a .41 or 9mm pistol, a 12 or 20-gauge shotgun, a .300 magnum or 30-06 deer rifle, or my .223 AR-15, there was always a gun within very easy reach.

The feeling of security is one of the most common things Vietnam veterans need to have at all times.  And, it probably will never go away.  It’s one of the true signs of PTSD in us veterans whether you’re from Vietnam, The Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is feeling secure, because taking security for granted was something that was stripped from us long ago while we were in combat areas.  I’m willing to bet that most military veterans who spent time in unfriendly countries feel a great need for security now more than they did before they went to war, and I’ll bet the vast majority of us have guns in the house.  And I don’t mean for hunting.

One time back in the 70’s when we lived in Madison, Wisconsin I was home alone while my (first) wife was at work and the kids were at school.  It was mid-morning when I heard someone hollering from across the street and banging on a door.  It was obvious that the person on the other side of the door, namely my neighbor across the street named MaryAnn, was not about to let this apparently unwelcomed guest into her home.

I went into my garage where I could get a better look at what was going on.  On the way I grabbed my Remington 12 gauge shotgun which was pre- loaded with 5 rounds of deer slugs.  The garage door was open and the man on the front stoop of Mary Ann’s house was obviously irrate and anxious.  He kept pounding on her door and shouting, “I know she’s in there, I want her out here right now!”  (He was looking for his wife, who was really in the house next door to me getting her hair done).

After a few more rude attempts by this man to get Mary Ann to answer her door, I moved into the archway of my 2-car garage so the guy across the way could see me; I had the shotgun positioned behind my back and was holding it with my right hand.  I called out to him, “Get the fuck out of here, you bastard.  Can’t you see there’s nobody home over there?!” (I knew Mary Ann was at home, because we had just talked on the phone minutes before this all started).

With that he wheeled around and challenged me with a volley of cussing of his own, and then he came down from Mary Ann’s front landing and started heading my way.  When he got to the middle of the street, I brought the shotgun from behind me and came to ‘port arms’, and then I pressed the release button underneath the magazine well which slammed a deer slug into the chamber and closed it with a resounding “Clack!”  I never pointed it at him; I didn’t have to, but I was prepared to do so if he forced me.

The man, who I never did get his name, stopped dead in his footstep in the road.  The look on his face was absolutely stunning.  His expression was like he had just seen a friggin’ ghost.  His arms flailed out to his sides and his jaw was thrust forward and open.  I could tell he was scared shitless, which was exactly how I wanted him to feel — just like Mary Ann felt inside her house, hiding behind a couch.

I gave the guy one more warning, “I told you to get the fuck out of here asshole, why are you coming over to my house?  You want some of this?”  I raised the shotgun up a few inches, still not pointing directly at him.

“Fuck this, I’m calling the cops” he snorted, and then he walked down the street to the intersection where his car was parked.  He got in and drove off.

I waited in the garage for a few minutes and then put the shotgun back in the corner where it was originally.  I was just going to head over across the street to talk to Mary Ann when a police car pulled into her driveway.  Two police officers got out and went to her door, and she let them in.  A minute later, the three of them were coming across the street to talk to me.  I explained what happened and that I was the “Neighborhood Watch Captain,” which I was. 

The police seemed to accept my explanation and, moreover, my behavior since I had not pointed the shotgun at anyone.  One cop was on his radio calling the situation into headquarters.

Whoever was on the other end asked the officer, “Was the intruder at the wrong house?”

And the officer responded and said, “Worse, wrong neighborhood — this one’s protected by a Nam Vet!”

It’s the Law of the Gun, and there’s nothing wrong with it if you don’t let it get out of hand.  Was I prepared to shoot that man?  Yes, but only if he would have displayed a gun first and threatened me with it.  Had he come all the way to my garage and accosted me I would not have pulled the trigger.  But, I probably would have used the shotgun as a defensive tool, somehow.

The feeling of insecurity is easier to explain.  You feel naked and completely vulernable.  And it isn’t going to happen to me.

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