No walk on the beach
Living some of the arguments for and against gun control
By Kevin Uhrich 02/20/2014
The sun had already started setting by the time a former girlfriend and I arrived at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades one night back in the late 1980s.
We were going to have dinner at nearby Gladstone’s Restaurant, where Sunset Boulevard ends at Pacific Coast Highway, but decided to first grab a blanket from the car and head down to the sand to watch the sun go down and enjoy the wine and snacks we had picked up at a market along the way.
It was chilly that night, and few people were out there with us, except for one young man who stood just where the sand turned into parking lot, seemingly watching our every move. After a few cups of wine I didn’t really think much of the guy, but I looked around just the same, to see exactly how alone we really were out there.
Looking back over my right shoulder, my eyes scanned the rest of the parking lot, then north, along the sand. That’s when I saw another young man, this one a short distance from us, walking slowly on the beach, not along the surf but toward the parking lot, all while looking intently at the two of us. He made some motions with his head toward the guy in the parking lot, who by this time was joined by a third man, and those two started making their way into the sand to meet their associate.
Gladstone’s was only about an eighth of a mile away, but it might as well have been miles if we had to run to it in the deep sand in order the get away. By this time, we had finished the wine, my friend seemingly oblivious to what was going on around us.
“C’mon, I think we better go,” I said, grasping the slender neck of the bottle, preparing myself to smash it across one of their heads, if necessary.
“What’s the matter?” she asked before turning around and suddenly realizing that our new friends were actually about to try something.
With that, she stood up, faced the three guys and placed her hand inside of her purse, which she then raised up slightly at arm’s length with her other hand. A look of deadly earnestness crossed her face, and she didn’t say a word. They all seemed to understand that my girlfriend was armed with a gun, and, even better, that she at least appeared prepared to use it if need be.
I gathered up our stuff and headed toward the car as she turned toward our potential assailants, never once taking her eyes off of them. They stood there frozen, apparently knowing better than to make any kind of move as we hustled back to the car, got in and drove away. We never did go to dinner at Gladstone’s that night.
Believe me, no one, including our would-be attackers, was more shocked than I was to learn that I was running around with a woman who had a loaded .38-calibre handgun in her purse. As she explained on the way home, her father, an ex-Marine, had trained her from a young age on how to use firearms. She practiced shooting with him on a weekly basis. I can’t be sure now, but she was a victim of a sexual assault once, and I think she had a permit to carry the weapon. In any case, I was sure glad she had that handgun with her that night. Who knows what could have happened to us if she weren’t armed?
We continued dating for a while, and one night I arrived late to her house to spend the night. It was just after 11 p.m. when I found the front door key she told me she kept hidden under a plant outside. Once inside the still somewhat unfamiliar dwelling, I meandered through the kitchen, then down a darkened hallway, then to the bedroom door. When I opened it, my girlfriend was sitting straight up in bed, her arms extended, her pistol pointed in the direction of whoever had the misfortune of walking through that bedroom door. I remember the blood draining from my face as I stared down the barrel of that gun — the one that had saved our lives out at Will Rogers Beach.
Like most Americans, I’m torn on gun-control issues, most of which I support. I was never much interested in handguns and never owned one. More than likely, I never will own one after that frightening episode. Accidents happen, and I almost became the end result of one.
Then again, it’s pretty hard to argue against how handy that weapon turned out to be in the right hands when we really needed it.