i got a mail from a friend about the way that he, like many of us americans, was raised around guns. and i have to admit that i was too. we had a really lovely rather bauhaus-style pistol in the buffet drawer and a number of shotguns standing down at the bottom of the basement stairs. i remember peeking in the drawer at the pistol to scare myself or show it conspiratorially to some friend, but never actually daring to touch it. it wasn't loaded anyway and i don't recall any bullets in the buffet drawer, so i imagine it was quite harmless. and i also imagine it's still there, tho' i didn't check when i was home last summer.
i loved (and still do) the story about it - my mother had inherited it from her aunt, who had been married to a banker in sgt. bluff, iowa. back in the 50s, someone had tried to kidnap her - it was such a wild story that it was written up in a one of those 50s detective magazines, mostly because as i recall, aunt mimi was feisty enough to escape from the kidnappers. but afterwards, her husband bought the pistol to protect her, in case it happened again. and we ended up with it in our buffet drawer. i think my dad tried to sell it to someone at one point, but it came back shortly afterwards, so that didn't really stick.
i also remember as a kid going with my mom to trap shooting competitions - she was pretty good and could compete with the best of the men. i always thought that was pretty cool. and a little bit as my sister often says, "mom is such a boy." i spent a lot of time reloading her ammunition with the reloader we had in the back room - a little dose of gunpowder, some bb's, a cap and a crimp (probably not in that order). i quite enjoyed that as a child.
pheasant hunting is a big thing in the area where i grew up, so hunting was a normal thing to me. many a meal was spent spitting out shot bb's from bites of meat. i never tried shooting pheasants myself, but i remember both of my parents doing so (that was in the days before they were all pen-raised with little sunglasses on). my folks weren't deer hunters that i can recall - dad always said something about how it would really only be sporting when the deer had guns too, but we did occasionally get deer meat from someone else. even today, i'm by no means against hunting (we have a friend who we allow to hunt on our lake - and we thoroughly enjoyed some ducks not long ago), i just don't do it myself.
i remember some raffle or other where dad won a gun, which only added to the 3-4 already at the bottom of the basement stairs, but i don't recall those guns being used that much after mom stopped trap-shooting. sometimes against the odd rabbit that was eating the apple trees or a nasty opossom or skunk that came around. i know i never had any desire to either mess with the guns or use them or even learn about them. they were just there, a fact of life. and i had no interest in them at all.
in the second grade, i was given a bb gun for christmas. we still lived in town at that point and i was told that it was meant to be used to shoot the dog next door, who was a really annoying barker. i probably did plunk him a couple of times (he was really annoying), but mostly, i think we shot at cans with that bb gun. and it certainly couldn't have killed anything, at least not with my shooting skills.
last summer, while we were back home, my cousin took sabin and her cousins out shooting at cans and jars. sabin thought it was fun. and i think it's a fine activity as long as there is adult supervision and proper instruction, which there was.
the fact is that most americans grow up around guns. they're a fact of life, they're in people's homes. we also all know someone who had an accident with one...a kid in the grade ahead of me shot off his toe (it must have been where he kept his brain, because he never amounted to anything after that) and one of my sister's classmates accidentally shot his little brother in the eye and wrecked his vision (but fortunately, didn't kill him).
but none of the guns in our home were assault weapons or semi-automatics. there needs to be more rules surrounding the possession of such guns - because it's just unnecessary to have them. you don't hunt with such guns, there would be nothing left to eat. it seems ironic that there are more rules surrounding obtaining a driver's license than a gun permit and more paperwork for registering a car than a gun.
and completely absurd that there is more support of keeping deadly guns in the hands of people than in ensuring that they have proper health insurance. a skewed set of priorities.
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