Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why I Hate/Fear Guns

(Not that anyone asked.)

I don't doubt that there are a lot of people who could say, "Well, I was brought up with guns and I think..." (opinion expressed.) Like them, I was, too.

My father grew up on a Midwest farm and most farms had some sort of firearm -- for seasonal bird shooting, having to put an animal down ..all practical purposes. My Dad enjoyed hunting and with his pals would take off for Wyoming or Colorado in deer season. My mother teased him that they drank more whiskey on those jaunts than they did "hunting." Venison is terrible, but elk burgers weren't so bad. The deer skins were sent out to be tanned and mother made us jackets. Practical usage of my Dad's annual hunts.

By the time I was six, I enjoyed the gun cleaning ritual and can still smell the gun oil, much like Proust's Madeleines. His sister and her husband lived on a farm outside of Yates Center, KS, down in southeast Kansas. We visited often. I was a curious, restless child and loved to exploring in the fields. Daddy gave me a beat-up old .22 to carry on these expeditons after he taught me to carefully slide the gun under a fence (barrel away from me,) walk a few paces away, hold the barbed wire apart and get through the fence. My mother was originally horrified, but Dad convinced her he'd drilled me in gun safety. It's entirely possible that the gun wasn't even loaded, but I enjoyed the "big girl" thrill of being ready for anything! Bring it on!

These events occurred when I was around 8 and both involved Aunt Vera and Uncle Floyd's farm. Grandma (Dad's mother) lived "in town" (pop. 1,200 maybe.) The farm was some 12 to 15 miles outside in the country and was the last one on that county road. Appropriately, Vera named it "Land's End.)

Cut to: Daddy's driving me back from town (Saturday errands/) when he spots a hawk above a field. He slams on the brakes, grabs his new .257 (247?) Roberts with scope sight, flings open the car door, takes aim and fires. Down drops the hawk and we go off to collect it. The hawk had been carrying a chicken and both were now barely distinguishable as having once been birds. Daddy was quite pleased that one shot had brought them down.

The other traumatic experience. There was a pond across the road and Daddy took me cottonmouth hunting. He was carrying a .38 Smith & Wesson. We crossed a field and were standing on the pond bank when he saw a snake's head swimming towards us -- quickly he shot at it --and in the same moment we saw another one heading for us from the underbrush. He shot it, too. After making sure they were both dead, he cut a stout stick and impaled the bigger snake on it and we headed back to the farm.

Once there, he got mother to take a picture of me, holding the dead snake out on the stick. I was terrifed (I believed that a snake wasn't dead until its head had been cut off.) Daddy gloated because the snake had been pregnant and was carrying six egg sacs.

The point of these two stories? I have seen, up close and personal, exactly the damage a gun can do and I never want any part of that.

I'll take on the NRA on another day ...

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