A target drawn on a silhouette of a teddy bear.
Illustration by Luci Gutiérrez

I pull my pickup into the parking lot of the Nashua Firing Line Range, off U.S. Route 3, when it hits me like I’ve been rear-ended: the memory of the time, right after I got my license, when I braked too late on Bloomfield Avenue and bumped the car in front of me, and I got out, and the other driver got out, and I apologized profusely and he said it was O.K., and then I drove home, shaking.

The range is surprisingly crowded for a Tuesday. I choose a Glock 19X Crossover, a Glock 17L Long Slide, and three boxes of rounds. Dropping the magazines into a shopping basket, I remember when I was a toddler and I stole a gummy bear from a grocery store and ate it. I later confessed to my parents, and they told me not to do it again. Now I wince as I carry my guns across the linoleum floor, wishing someone had prepared me to face this painful memory.