She’s a widow, a grandmother, and she likes to talk about her flowers. Daisies stand out.
Sherry Sherrow also says if anyone tries to break into her bedroom in the middle of the night, “They won’t get far unless they have a gun, too.”
Hers is within reach.
Listening to this retired para-educator go on about firearms, you get the impression she must be a longtime gun owner. She talks about balance, trigger pull resistance and says things like, “Take the mag out, but might still have one in the pipe.”
But, nope. She got her first gun not all that long ago when her father died at age 90 — it was the .38-caliber revolver he carried as a volunteer police officer in their small town in rural Texas.
“I’m kind of a come-lately on this gun thing,” Sherrow said.
But she come big. She liked that old gun. Liked how it made her feel. So she bought another one. One that fit her hand better — a .380 Sig Sauer semi-automatic pistol. She’s since added a few more — handguns, long guns, assault rifle — making this spry senior citizen, who laughs easily and has 16 grandchildren, pretty much loaded for bear.
Somebody pounding on the front door in the middle of the night spurred this push for security. It scared her. Turned out to be pranksters, but she got to thinking — what if it was something else? What if they’d banged all the way inside?
“It made me wary,” she said.
So for Sherrow, the decision on gun ownership wasn’t due to one of the big news stories or national trends that often provide the common reference points for discussions on guns — a mass shooting, spike in violent crime, gangs, drugs, car jackings, terrorist threats, etc.
It was personal. Her house, her door and, now, it’s her gun.
She took lessons. She target shoots regularly at Frontier Justice in Lee’s Summit, where she keeps most of her guns in a locker. Shooting is her hobby, though she admits she’s not particularly good at it. During a simulator drill that puts students in robbery scenarios, she shot a (digital) store clerk.
“Sometimes it’s best to be a good witness,” the instructor told her.
She chuckles at that story.
Quick bio: Sherrow grew up in rural Texas north of San Antonio — so rural, in fact, her father used to to encouraged to shoot lots of critters to keep them off a small runway near her family’s place northwest of San Antonio. She grew up eating a lot of chicken-fried venison “backstrap.”
Her father was a volunteer police officer and her mother served as police commissioner.
“She didn’t want the job, but there was nobody else in town to do it,” Sherrow said.
She did two years of college — thought she wanted teach. But that didn’t work out so she got a job as as a hostess for an airline. Kind of a way to get out of rural Texas. She did that for a few years until she married then later worked as a para-educator in Liberty and Lee’s Summit.
She describes herself as a Christian conservative. She calls Donald Trump a “wild card,” but definitely preferred him over Hillary Clinton.
Like most people, Sherrow knows well the mantras of America’s gun debate and thinks too much of the shouting comes from the edges. She belongs to the NRA, strongly believes in the Second Amendment and gun ownership, but not carte blanche.
“I don’t think everybody should own a gun,” she said. “I think everybody who does make a decision to buy a gun should be required to take a safety class. Personally I think you should take more than one.”
As for countries with few guns and low crime rates, she said: “Whatever works for them.”
But in the country, she said, the gun culture is too engrained. There is no going back. The bad guys will always have guns, she said.
And if they try to come into her house in the middle of the night?
“I may not get them, but with me having a gun — at least I have a chance.”
Donald Bradley: 816-234-4182