Saturday, July 09, 2016

Guns

I usually don't discuss politics, religion or public policy anywhere except at home. I often disagree with co-workers, some friends and some family about issues. But, in this case, I'm just thinking out loud for awhile.
  My father's family from England were among the first to settle this land. I have several generations before the Revolutionary War even occurred.  So when I say I'm an American with no hyphen it's safe to say. While some people celebrate their family history, Mayflower families, DAR, etc.. by joining clubs, I have not.
 Despite this history, my Father found himself the oldest of 12 children, raised during the depression to a life that was already mostly poor. Scratch out a living on a mountain top, barely getting enough food and have the space for a cash crop for other food stuffs. Obviously, hunting was a big part of keeping the family alive.
  Then WWII happened and he enlisted, as most patriotic, young men did. His travels were convoluted, but it's enough to say that he started the war on the coast of Africa, through Morocco, into Italy, then onto D-Day plus 3, and on into Germany where, his finally injury was severe enough to get a trip back to the states. He was wounded 4 times, lost and survived behind enemy lines, survived a landing that is seldom spoken and on and on. He also came home "shell shocked" or what is now called PTSD that lasted for years.
  He loved Guns. He was a member of the NRA. He continued to hunt the rest of his life and he opened a small gun shop in our home. He talked about every aspect of guns and I was raised with guns in my home, easily accessed, not under lock and key and never even thought about touching one without permission, even as a small child. In fact, the two sets of encyclopedias were in the hallway, on the shelves just below the guns and we certainly were encouraged to go there.
  So, why didn't it occur to me? I knew I'd be in trouble. They were off limits and I knew it and I knew there would be trouble in the form of a whipping if I did touch them. I received a 22 for my 12th Birthday. I still didn't touch it without permission or a purpose. I went hunting with him on occasion. I saw him proud of me for killing a rattlesnake. I saw him angry at hunters who were killing birds and leaving them because they were not edible. Senseless killing. I saw first hand that if you shoot it, you eat it, even weird stuff. I saw him exasperated with me walking too loud and scaring the game through the woods, until I learned how to walk quietly.  I learned he bought cookies and candy for his trips we normally didn't get because Mom wasn't there.
  He needed the peace of the woods to survive. Society irritated him. Noise bothered him. Too many cars, people, stupid people made him irritable. The woods brought him peace and providing for us did as well.
  I wonder what he would be thinking now about the NRA. There are those in my family who believe that he would probably be still supporting them. But I wonder. Because he was against senseless killing, even birds. Because he wasn't interested in target practice, but bringing home food. But he would be interested in the swift rounds. The mechanics of the semi automatic rifles would probably be interesting enough that he's want to own one or two. But, how would he feel about putting a gun in the hands of small children? The grow with you guns? He never put one in my hands before the age of 12. The age of judgement. When you understand it's not a toy, and dangerous. I'm pretty sure he would not be in favor of that. Nor would he be in favor of putting guns in the hands of those not capable of judgement, mentally ill, and I'm very sure he saw all the killing of people he cared to see in the War.
  My thoughts are this. I understand what it's like to hunt and feed yourself from the animals you raise or hunt and the vegetables you raise. There's an effort to growing food that makes you appreciate it more. I think no child should have a gun before the age of discernment. If that's 12, so be it, but I know some teens that have none yet. It's not an age but the realization that life matters and taking a life matters more. When you take something dangerous and make it a toy, a hobby, something to play around with, you end up with grown men accidently shooting their friend, a child accidently shooting another, or being temporarily angry and doing something you regret for a lifetime.

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