Thursday, May 31, 2007

A History of Guns: Part Two

This is the second in a personal history of guns in my life. Click here for Part One. Click here for Part Three.

The 1970s
I was born into a God-lovin’, gun totin’, Republican votin’ nuclear family (As my friend Kerry once said, "How the hell did you end up the way you are?" It's a long story.) But I guess it shouldn't surprise that I was fascinated with guns. But while guns were in my house, they weren’t visible. Dad kept his guns locked up and the only time I saw them was when he carried them from the guestroom closet where he kept them to the trunk of his car for a hunting trip. His message was always clear: guns and kids are a bad mix, so leave guns alone boy.

Looking back, I guess it seems odd (to me) that I didn’t grow up with guns. When Dad went hunting, he went with his friends or just by himself. I remember one day him tromping off in the snow into the woods behind our house to hunt quail. I sometimes wondered why I never went hunting with Dad. I used to think it was because I wasn’t old enough. Now I know he just wanted to get away from a couple of kids and a pain-in-the-ass wife. I never really thought anything about it until many years later when I watched my neighbor, a big-time bird-hunter, take his six-year-old son dove hunting with him. I was a little surprised, but that's part of the indoctrination into the gun culture that I obviously missed and maybe explains why I am the way I am. In 15 years, that kid will be one of those guys who drives around in a Tahoe with a Ducks Unlimited sticker and baseball cap. Except maybe not that kid. My wife and I thought the kid would probably grow up to be gay and the parents were just over-compensating. So maybe it's a Subaru Outback and a rainbow sticker. But that's beside the point. It kind of makes me sad looking back. I could care less about the guns and the hunting. But I miss not getting to spend time with my Dad.

Most pro-gun people are quick to bring up the personal defense angle in their defense of firearms. But using a gun to protect house and family from crime wasn’t in my Dad’s experience either. I remember one night when we were worried about a prowler around the house, I asked Dad if he need to get his gun. He looked at me as if I had asked him if he needed a hot-air balloon. He didn't need no damn gun.

Anyway, for me, guns weren’t any more real than the plastic Thompson gun I used to carry playing war games or the westerns and war movies that were the staple of my television viewing. Things didn't stay that way.

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