On Sunday I finally met with Preston Covey, the CMU professor who made me reconsider my position on guns. I had become more libertarian in general in the years before I took his class, but I had never reconsidered an emotional “guns = scary” reaction until Preston's course presented pretty compelling evidence that guns legally held by private citizens prevent a lot of crime and have very few negative effects.
I was in kind of a weird mental state when I met him at 15, since I'd had 400mg of caffeine that morning (normally I only take 200mg at most) and eaten nothing all day. I rushed over to his condo immediately after getting back from the shooting range with Mark, who had visited that weekend (I tried to convince him to come along, but he needed to get on the road soon).
We basically ended up telling each other everything. I explained my job situation (that being the reason it had been so urgent to meet with him now, which perhaps is the only reason it worked, as I'd been trying to set up this meeting for almost half a year) and told Preston a little about where I was coming from; he in turn talked and talked about his experiences (he's had a lot more time to have them than I had).
Preston's stories were enthralling. Having lost the use of his right arm to polio at age 10, he wanted to know if he could still use a gun at age 11; having been burgled three times, he decided to start taking training courses, eventually leading to a side career in police arms training, while he pursued (arguably pioneered) applied ethics specifically relating to these issues.
It was enormously encouraging to speak with someone with such strong opinions, who has been such an important (and, I think, positive) influence on my life. He gave me some ideas as well, such as the possibility of being an adjunct professor at a community college if I want to try teaching without going into academia as a career. Eventually, as afternoon became evening, it was time to leave. Preston told me to keep him informed about my progress, and as I left, he offered his advice on long guns, should I ever find the time to get into that. I left his condo practically bubbling over with energy, totally uplifted, the stress of my job and relationship situations momentarily irrelevant.