BALANCING THE APPEAL

It is nearly sundown. I’m following a snake of a driveway several hundred feet long. It gutters out at the top of a hill, changes directions, turns to dirt, slops down into a hollow filled with “Bird Sanctuary” signs and bluebird houses.

Native trees have been planted all along this 10-acre property. As the driveway bends back up toward a handsome log house set alone on a modest hill, birds swoop in front of the windshield.

It’s a long way from Brooklyn Handbags & Wallets, where Jim Lambiase and his wife grew up.

*

“Pick that up,” Lambiase says. “It isn’t loaded. It’s never loaded.” He places the Ruger down on the wooden table.

The Ruger is heavier than I thought it would be. Its barrel, built for .357 load, is short and wide but not a snubnose. A black finish glistens in contrast to the dark walnut embedded in the rubber grip. The Ruger has an almost-liquid feeling to it for something so solid, like it’s constantly in the midst of its own phase change from something safe to something deadly.

Deadly to safe again.

I like the weight. I like the balance.

“I like the weight. I like the balance Hoodies & Tracksuits,” Lambiase says casually, as if he’s reading my mind. “And I like old tools,” he finishes, placing a 200-year-old tomahawk on the table next to the Ruger Duvets & Duvet Covers.

“(Ones) that have a heft to them, as well as a function.”

Like me, Lambiase did not grow up around guns.

“A friend of mine … had a farm in upstate New York Sweaters, and he and his brother did a fair amount of hunting. That was pretty much the first time I handled a rifle. It was fun. I enjoyed varmint hunting.

“Now I don’t hunt. I like firing a handgun or a rifle now and then — for sport.”

Lambiase Shorts, along with several other gun owners I spoke with, is aware of the Staunton couple wanted in connection with an Augusta County shooting and robbery earlier in the week.

“Every time we hear (something like) that, I think ‘Do I want to load the gun?'” But he understands the odds of that couple showing up at his door are astronomically slim.

And anyway, his first weapon of self defense is the tomahawk.

*

“I collect pottery, too, and a good piece of pottery is both form and function,” Lambiase is saying, waving to a nearby wall lined with shelves containing ceramic items.

Lambiase is a Democrat, not an NRA supporter, but feels that a gun is a wise thing to have. “If you can look at yourself and say, yes, I can use this…you need to make that decision I think before you buy a handgun.”

Lambiase doesn’t see the need for the more modern weaponry. “It does puzzle me,” he says.

“But I think it’s maybe a way for people to send the government a message. Maybe a form of protest is to go out and buy another handgun. ‘My protest is quiet, but this makes me feel better.’ There is a situation I can’t control, so I will control this situation.”

I let this sink in. I’ve drawn a bead on metal target and paper target alike in the last few weeks, but I’m drawing no conclusions.

Just holding a gun has an impact, I tell him.

“It does,” Jim Lambiase says, a collector of form and function who looks carefully at the gun in his hand, then at me.

“It’s both an enjoyment and responsibility.”

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