I want to talk about the guns.
He grew up around them. His father put guns in his hands at a very young age. There's a picture of him at around age 3-4 holding a dead duck by the neck. The duck was about as big as he was. Many parents in this country do these things--put guns in their kids' hands. We see how well that goes, what with a 9-year-old girl accidentally shooting her instructor with an Uzi. What could possibly go wrong when putting weapons of death into young hands?
Okay, I digress. I have strong opinions that I'm not going to get into here. The focus is on him.
So yes, he knew his way around guns. He hunted as a young boy, he shot skeet, he enlisted in the military out of high school, so was around them constantly as an adult. He knew how to put them together and take them apart, of course, as part of his training.
When I met him, he had more guns than I've ever seen in my life. Well, I guess I'd never really seen guns in anyone's home before; we never had guns in my home growing up, and I don't recall seeing guns in any friends' homes either. I'm assuming if there were any, they were put away and out of sight. He had a glass display cabinet full of hunting rifles. He also showed me his shot guns and hand guns. He was a bachelor at the time, no kids, so none of them were locked or stored safely.
There was a shot gun under the bed.
I didn't like all those guns, but in all honesty, given what he told me about his history with guns and with the understanding that he was military and guns are part of their culture, I accepted it. I didn't like it, but I accepted it as a part of being with him.
Obviously when I was moving in with my young child, I requested that he get trigger locks for the guns that weren't in the display case. He did, but wasn't happy about it. He didn't like the idea that he'd have to struggle with a lock should an intruder come in. I'll give him credit though; he did do research on various trigger locks and gun safes in order to store them safely yet still be able to access them quickly. I know one of the safes was a quick combo and one required a fingerprint to open.
I give him the credit, but now I'll take it away. Because those locks didn't remain on the guns. He took them all off eventually.
There's no controlling a sociopath.
He'd clean them in front of me. He thought it was funny to play with the laser on the hand guns. He knew I hated the guns, yet was always asking me if I wanted to hold them. He informed me that he'd be teaching our son to shoot--and know his way around guns--for his safety. He said he'd start teaching him by age 5. I really didn't have a choice in that matter. I did feel helpless.
Fast forward to early 2012. He had left Florida again to go back up to the DC area. I was moving back into our house. The photo below shows what he left behind in our bedside table for me to find.
All his guns had been seized a year earlier by the police when I was granted the original restraining order.
Yes, that's KY Jelly. I guess he wanted me to think he was banging someone in our bed. But he also wanted me to know he was armed again.
Now fast forward to September 2012. After he had gained back unsupervised visits, he had my son for visitation at a condo where he was renting a room.
My son re-told this story to me yesterday. He's a little older now and is able to tell more details. He said Tom showed him his gun at that condo. He said Tom told him that he was going to teach him how to shoot it. He said he didn't touch the gun, but that he felt scared something would happen.
He said it was the same gun Tom used to shoot us.
Note: So even though all his weapons were seized, he was still able to legally purchase a new one in the state of Florida. No matter what your stance is on guns in America, I think we can all agree that guns need to be out of the hands of domestic abusers and we need to close loopholes that allow those with abusive pasts to get guns.
Love and Support for Kate Ranta and Family