Friday, December 4, 2015

"I Grew Up With Guns"

The above is a phrase commonly used in the Flyover States from which I come.   It is shorthand for:   my Dad/brother(s) hunted, skeet shot or practiced target shooting or all of the foregoing.  Guns, in these contexts, were an everyday thing.  When Dad brought out his new rifle to show his brother-in-law, no family members screamed and ran from the room.

We didn't use guns on each other.   In fact, great care was taken to keep guns away from children - the hat shelf over the parental clothing closet was a favored place.

Why do I hate and fear guns?  Because I've seen first hand, up close and personal what a bullet can do.  

Example #1    My Dad and I were driving back from Yates Center, KS, to my Aunt Vera and Uncle Floyd's farm "Land's End" after running an errand "in town" (pop. maybe 1,000).  I was 8 or 10.  Dad spotted a chicken hawk (they exist outside of prisons) who had caught a live chicken which was struggling in the hawk's grasp. 

Daddy slammed on the brakes, whipped his new .240 Roberts (rifle) out of the back seat, aimed and fired.  Down came both birds.  Excited, we ran across a plowed field --and there we found a mess of gore, loose feathers and two birds whose species were now unclear.  I had to mentally count feet to know it was two birds. 

Example #2  Daddy decided to go for a walk across the road to the field and pond owned by a neighbor.  His sister, Aunt Vera, had told him to be careful as the pond was full of water moccasins.  So he took a pistol and me and over the road we went.

Walking around the perimeter of the pond, we spotted the triangular head of a large water moccasin swimming straight for us.  Daddy quickly shot it only for us to hear thrashing in the bushes some 20 feet away.  It was the snake's mate or squeeze - we'll never know - but it was clearly on the attack.  Daddy shot it several times as it was clearly vengeance minded.

When no more snakes threatened, we took at look at the dead snake in the grass.  The one in the pond had sunk.  It had been pregnant and had several - 6 probably - egg sacks now visible.  Daddy grabbed a branch, stuck one end through the snake's head and dragged the whole mess back across the county road and make me hold the stick (and snake) up while he took a picture   I have been terrified of snakes ever since. 

I would undoubtedly become nostalgic though if I caught a whiff of gun cleaning oil.  I used to visit with my Dad while he cleaned his guns after deer and elk hunting in Wyoming.   We ate what he shot, too.  I can tell you from personal experience that deer is inedible and elk burgers are very dry.

Based on all of the above, I get to despise the National Rifle Association. 

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