If you look really closely at the above picture, you’ll notice a patch on my Dad’s jacket that says USDA. It may seem strange to think that the USDA has anything to do with guns, but it actually has a Predator Control Program, which you can learn more about here. My Dad was a part of that program for a long time, until my former Stepdad got him fired, but that’s another story for a different day. Basically what they do is they find out where predators such as bears, wolves, coyotes, etc, were killing the livestock of the locals. It’s around here that people start to get all bothered and up in my face about animals rights. That’s when I tell them a story.
One time, when I was visiting my Dad in Wyoming, I was out working with him. It was getting close to the end of the day, which, for us, meant around noon. The last thing we did before going home was gathering the dead animals the coyotes had killed the night before (My Dad worked merely with coyotes but has been called in on many, many other predators). I saw a lamb lying in the grass not far from me and went over to grab it and drag it to the truck. As I reached, his head turned towards me, but he didn’t look at me. He couldn’t. The place where his face should have been had been eaten away until all that was left was a dripping, fleshy cavern.
Gross, I know, and it took me a long time to get over it, but I also stopped crying every time my Dad bagged a coyote. It was his job and he was damn good at it.
Each day I was with him we would rise at 3 am. I would sluggishly put on various layers of camouflage that I could peel off periodically as the sun rose, along with the temperature. We would get in the broken-down, government-issued Ford and head into the wilderness of Wyoming. Above my head, there was always a rack holding 4 guns. I don’t remember what they all were, but my dad still has his .220 swift and 3030. There was also two pistols between the seats, one of which had a built-in silencer and had subsonic rounds.
I would often fall asleep in the truck and wake up when we left the paved roads. Sometimes there were no roads to where we needed to be, so we would create our own. This was a bumpy business and, even as I sit on my couch, I can feel the sting in my sides the constant bouncing caused. Eventually we would get out to the spot where we would be calling and approach low and slow.
Then, we would use a small radio-like contraption to use various sounds to bring the coyotes in closer. Once they were close enough, my Dad would shoot them (His longest shot on a moving target is 800 yards; Non-moving is 1000 yards). He would never take a shot unless he knew it would kill it instantly. My Dad’s not interested in torture or pain. He respects the animals, especially coyotes. Then we would check or set traps and snare lines. If we had any animals in the traps, we would remove them and reset. If we had animals we weren’t trying to catch in the traps, we would let them go. My Dad let a mountain lion go once because he was looking for coyotes.
Sometimes we would had dogs that would go out and help draw the coyotes in. Pal was the dog that my dad had the longest, who actually just recently died of old age after going into retirement with my Grandma Patty. They would basically just go and fight them, though Pal always had a hard time focusing when I was around and giving him love.
Basically, this is a really long way of saying I’ve grown up around guns and I know what I’m talking about. With these facts in mind, I want to talk about gun control. I am very, very, very, very for gun control. Hear me out.
I want people to be able to own guns, as long as they are responsible and worthy. Yes, worthy. If every gun owner in the USA was as amazing with guns as my Dad, we would not have a gun violence issue. Sadly, this is not the case.
Here’s my stance on guns… I don’t give a fuck. I think people should be able to own anything from a pistol to a tank.
“But, Lauren, I thought you said you were FOR gun control!”
Well, I am. I think that if you want a gun you should have to pass a basic background check, have to train for a specific amount of hours, and go through a waiting period after you’ve purchased your weapon. I also think that we would benefit from a gun registry, much like we do with cars. Another step, too, should be to require a license to be able to own a weapon and owning said license would indicate that you’ve completed classes and in situ training. Seem crazy? It’s the same as being able to drive a car.
So no, I don’t give a fuck about guns, but what I do care about is lives. I am a teacher, so each time I see another school shooting, I see my classroom. I see my students. I see me, having to decide if I am willing to live or die for these little lives in my protection and I am sick of it. I am sick of people dying and I am sick of children suffering.
When my students participated in the National Student Walk Out, I walked with them. When they called for speeches, I was the only teacher in my school to speak out and tell them that I will do everything in my power to protect them. I mean that, too. If it takes getting rid of all the guns in the USA to end mass shootings, so be it.
I don’t want to hear gunshots in my hallways. I don’t want to cower with my students in a dark closet like we have practiced over and over again, just in case. I don’t want to have an empty desk because one of my kids is now in a cemetery. So, I don’t care what it takes. Change needs to happen and it needs to happen now before I’m in the ground, too.
I am the Coyote Trapper’s Daughter, and I am fucking done.