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Essay: Buying The Glock Was Easy, Getting Rid Of It Is The Hard Part

The Glock semi-automatic 9 mm handgun Miner bought in 2007.
Barbara Miner
The Glock semi-automatic 9 mm handgun Miner bought in 2007.

After the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, Lake Effect contributor Barbara Miner wanted to know what the process of buying a gun was like.

She wrote an opinion piece about the experience of buying a gun for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel then. But now, she wants to get rid of the gun and is finding it’s far more difficult to do than it was to purchase it. Here’s her essay about the experience:

I’m sitting at my desk, staring at my Glock semi-automatic 9 mm handgun. I am scared of the gun. But it also mesmerizes me. I admire its beauty, its sleek design. I want to pick it up, feel its heft, enjoy the authority it bestows.

And then I remember. There’s no reason to own a Glock unless you intend to shoot people.

I bought the gun in May 2007, shortly after a Glock was used during the murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

I struggled to understand the Virginia Tech shootings, and I wondered. How easy is it to get a Glock in Milwaukee? It seemed a possible opinion piece, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was interested.

I found out, unfortunately, that it is absurdly easy to buy a Glock, easier than buying penicillin at Walgreen’s. The more difficult question, is how to get rid of it.

When I bought my Glock at a local gun shop, I brought along a friend to help ease my nerves. The sales rep mentioned that if I had children in the home, I should keep the Glock’s clip separate from the gun. Other than that, he didn’t say much about safety precautions. Nor did he ask me why I wanted a Glock. The background check was instantaneous and, it seemed to me, almost a joke.

Before we left, my friend and I shot at few rounds at the firing range in the back of the store. I loaded the bullets into the clip, put in earplugs, and shot 13 rounds at a mock human being. Unexpectedly, I hit the chest or head on all but a couple of shots. I was immediately smitten by the excitement of owning and shooting a gun.

When I got home, my husband brought me back to reality. I showed him the bullet-riddled target and he responded, “Oh great. You killed somebody.”

For the last 14 years, the Glock has been in a locked box, hidden deep in my closet. But the time has come to make a decision.

In a few weeks, our two grandchildren are visiting. The oldest is now 4 — both curious and smart enough to get into unexpected trouble. My daughter has made it clear: get that Glock out of the house.

But how does one get rid of a Glock? It’s not like I can throw the gun into a Goodwill box, next to old dishes and outdated sports equipment.

And I don’t want to sell the Glock and then have it used in a violent crime.

I could turn it in to the police. But I’ve watched too many Law and Order episodes where guns and drugs mysteriously disappear.

I think back to when I bought the gun, when the Virginia Tech shootings shocked the entire world. Today, that mass shooting is almost forgotten. It’s been overtaken by the 49 people killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016 and, in what remains the worst mass shooting, 58 people killed in 2017 at a concert in Nevada.

Then, as now, there were calls to end America’s love affair with guns. But not much has happened. In fact, there are more guns and more gun deaths in Milwaukee than ever before. And with Wisconsin’s passage of concealed carry in 2011, gun control is even-more elusive.

In 2007, when I bought my Glock, there were 105 homicides in Milwaukee, the overwhelming majority by guns. In 2020, here were 193 homicides, making it the deadliest year in Milwaukee’s history. This year, we are on target to surpass that number.

Once again, I am confronted with my dilemma. What to do with my Glock?

Most recently, I’ve thought about throwing the gun into the middle of Lake Michigan. Or finding a welder who can turn the Glock into an anti-gun art project. For now, however, I am taking the easy way out. Tomorrow, the Glock goes off to my friend’s house for safe storage, my final decision delayed.

Clearly, it would have been best if I had never bought the gun. Or if someone, somewhere, had made it even a little bit difficult.

Barbara Miner is Milwaukee-based journalist, photographer and producer. Her work has appeared in news outlets ranging from WUWM to The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Milwaukee Magazine and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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