It wasn’t the kind of place you’d think that we would go.

When we pulled up to Blackstone Sports last week, we did so understanding the strange irony of being millennial liberals who were about to enter a shooting range.

I had never shot a gun before, unless you consider the Airsoft gun that my mom used to shoot the squirrels that would attempt, usually successfully, to eat all of the bird food in our backyard.

Sam, on the other hand, has roots in Louisiana, where his grandfather took him out skeet shooting when he was in high school. So he had fired a shotgun before but that was it.

When we walked into the shop in Charlotte, it was striking to see the diversity in clientele. Everyone from old to young, white and Black, streamed in that Saturday. We watched the safety video, got our ear silencers and goggles and checked out our first pick: a Glock 44, basically a standard handgun.

We walked into the shooting range and set up our target, a black-and-white, mannequin-like outline of a faceless figure. A safety attendant showed us the parts of the gun (there was no safety?!) and I lined up to pull the trigger. As soon as I pulled my index finger back and the part clicked against the back of the loop, I was terrified. A loud, distinct shot rang out in the range and through my ears; I can’t even remember if I hit the target.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay. The realization of how easy it was to shoot the gun, to use this little piece of machinery that is purposefully designed to kill people was shocking. And it only got worse.

The next gun we used was an M4-22, a light rifle that felt even more like a toy, almost like shooting a Nerf gun. There was virtually no recoil and the accuracy with which I could hit the target was astonishing. But also, the more I used it, the more fun it became.

Because that’s the thing: Shooting guns is fun. It’s satisfying to be able to hit the targets; t’s like a sport. But taking these guns outside of the context of a contained, safe shooting range and into the streets, into neighborhoods, schools, grocery stores, churches — that’s where the fun stops for me. Because as entertaining as it was, neither Sam nor I were there to practice shooting guns so that we could pick one out and take it home. I don’t ever want the faceless 2-D figure floating in front of me to become a living, breathing person.

And that’s why going to a shooting range made my views on gun control even more strict. We need more gun control in this country. In North Carolina, people who want handguns don’t even need permits anymore. And that’s a problem.

It’s way too easy to buy, use and kill people with guns. And that shouldn’t be the case.

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