By Cindy Herman
-- The death of my sister in 1989 was the beginning of a belief that guns should never be a part of society, except for the military and police who protect us. I believed no one should be able to own a personal weapon of any sort.
My sister was murdered by a robber at the convenience store she managed. She was shot multiple times with a semi-automatic handgun, killing her instantly. We were told she never knew what hit her. (This was the only comfort we got, knowing she didn’t suffer.)
Two trials later and the beginning of a long healing process of losing a sister, watching my mother progressively give up on her own life from the pain of losing her daughter, my sister’s children being left motherless, and her only child left at home being raised by her sister is more than any human should endure.
When a family goes through a tragedy of losing someone from a weapon of any sort, it is hard to see anything different other than hate for what caused that tragedy, and then looking for something or someone to blame. I wasn’t familiar with guns, and my lifestyle didn’t include them, so why would I ever think that someone I loved so much would die to a gun?
My sister’s death opened my eyes to the realities of the world: a world of violence, a world where anyone can obtain a gun, a world in which if someone wants what you have, all they need to take it is a gun.
You watch the news, read the newspaper, hear how someone died from a gunshot, but you don’t truly know the pain of this kind of incident until it happens to you. I simply hated anything that was related to a weapon.
In 2000, I married an avid hunter who showed me what I’d hated for so many years wasn’t what killed my sister. He told me, it wasn’t the gun that killed her; it was the person who pulled the trigger. It was tough trying to accept that the gun is as good as the gun holder is.
Over time, hearing my husband share his love of hunting and seeing what it meant to him secured my trust in him to show me what hunting was all about. He showed me that the gun wasn’t the enemy.
I wasn’t required to take a Hunter Safety Course because of my age, but I did. It was one of the best things I could have done. I was on my way to what my husband so much wanted me to enjoy with him.
I started out target practicing with a muzzleloader. I sat with my husband as he showed me what nature and hunting was all about. I didn’t think I could pull that trigger knowing that something was going to die, but I did.
On my first deer hunt, a giant buck presented himself, and I experienced what other deer hunter’s experience, an excitement beyond controlling your nerves.
I raised my muzzleloader, looked for reassurance from my husband that I was aiming at the right spot, and pulled the trigger.
The cap fired, but the powder didn’t ignite. I didn’t know what to do, but my husband told me to recap quickly. I did, but the buck was walking away. It stopped and was licking tree branches.
My husband said to shoot, but I didn’t feel comfortable with the shot. The last thing I wanted to do was to injure an animal and cause suffering. So I didn’t take the shot. It was one of one of the many lessons I was going to learn. (But I can tell a story about the big one that got away!)
My second deer was a nice 8 point with half its rack missing. I didn’t know that the buck had half a rack until my husband showed me how to follow the blood trail and I found my deer. That has become a joke with my husband and kids. The hunter’s name that followed was "The Half Rack Hunter."
It took quite a few times out before I felt comfortable being left alone in a stand or a tent by myself in the dark. My husband gave up a lot of his hunting time to teach me the love of hunting.
I have been hunting now for many years, and finally in 2006 I shot a nice 10 pointer. I have learned a lot about guns and hunting, and I’m still learning. But what is best is that, when God took my sister to His heavenly home, he also gave me the best thing that ever happened to me: my husband, an avid hunter. And now I’m an avid hunter, too.
Out of bad comes good.
A gun is not the killer; it is the killer behind the gun.