I own a gun. It's right there near me every night, always within reach in case of an intruder. My weapon is a sleek and beautiful instrument. But God help anyone looming in my unforgiving sights.
God help me, too.
When that moment comes, as one infamously did in Tucson on Saturday, there is only destruction when one person decides to shoot another human being.
Yet pundits and gun advocates continue to pontificate on gun violence with ridiculous certainty.
Liberals and conservatives prescribe different remedies to prevent a similar shooting.
Curtailing irresponsible political invective might help, but it's becoming clearer that Jared Lee Loughner was listening to one voice – the one in his head.
Gun advocates claim that the cure for Tucson carnage – six dead and 13 wounded, including a member of Congress – is that more people need to be armed to strike down would-be assailants.
Already, Arizona has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country and residents are allowed by law to carry concealed weapons. Loughner was.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Loughner's alleged target, is a proud gun owner.
John Roll, the federal judge slain in the massacre, was an experienced marksman, according to press accounts.
Yet when the bullets started flying, experienced gun owners became victims of violence like anybody else. The incident proves that guns don't make you bulletproof.
"I would have thought that if there was anywhere this was least likely to occur, it was Arizona," said John McGinness, the former Sacramento County sheriff who now hosts a radio show on KFBK (1530 AM).
The larger truth is that there isn't nearly enough anyone can do when an unstable person focuses on them. In California, those who have been institutionalized in mental health facilities by authorities are barred from buying guns for five years.
But based on the law, being creepy and making people nervous are not enough to get you institutionalized. That only happens when you are deemed a threat to yourself or others.
Loughner deserves his day in court, but someone matching his profile probably still would have been able to buy a gun in California as Loughner did in Arizona.
Moreover, to balance the state budget, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to take $861 million designated for mental health programs and put that money into the state general fund.
With California in a paralyzing cash crisis, Brown isn't being reckless or irresponsible. But his budget proposal is more than ironic in the wake of Tucson.
Since Saturday, I've thought about the Arizona shooting on sleepless nights, gun nearby, hoping I'll never have to use it.