First of all, an apology for the delay in getting this blog published. There were serious hard drive problems that took a while to solve. All is well now.
It seems appropriate in the month of windy bluster to talk about gun nuts. Not sportsmen, who pursue greater focus, concentration and accuracy, and not collectors, who value guns as interesting, beautifully intricate pieces of fine machinery with strong historical relevance, but gun nuts – people who lobby against any kind of common sense gun laws, and offer moronically ignorant solutions for the resulting death and destruction. Here’s the thing: gun nuttery is clueless, adolescent, and clay-brained, driven not by a manly defiance of tyranny, but by infantile panic at the prospect of change. It’s time someone with more than an informal knowledge of guns – someone who, say, had a dad who was a gunsmith and marksman (this dad could quick-draw and shoot the head off of a water moccasin at 20 feet, or hit a washing machine with a Colt .45 – a heavy, slow bullet – at 350 yards), someone who could, as an adolescent, disassemble and reassemble a handgun, someone who grew up with guns hanging on the walls and standing in corners – to speak up and expose gun nuttery for what it is: the blather of temporarily insane, soldier wanna-be crybabies (not to put too fine a point on it). Caveat: this is not to say that when gun nuts aren’t in thrall to their insanity, they aren’t nice people. They likely are. No one can be defined by one issue.
The following true story about a family deer hunt in the mountains of Idaho, as told by one of the participants, is instructive:
We were on Bancroft Mountain, early in the morning-maybe 7am. There were ten or eleven of us, all within a ragged 30 foot circle, all carrying rifles. It was Dad and me and a bunch of in-laws and friends. The group was planning on splitting up at some nearby preordained point ahead, but we hadn’t yet gotten there yet.
Physically we were walking along the left side of a steep valley. Immediately to our right, and I do mean immediately, so maybe 10 feet away, the mountain dropped off sharply. Almost no trees grew either where we were or on the steeply angled downhill slope, but perhaps 200 feet down, along the bottom of the valley, there was a thick grove of Aspens. The mountain on the other side of the valley duplicated our side, with a steep, treeless, uphill climb.
We heard shots to our right. We knew there were hunters down there in the valley, so the shots got our attention quick. Most of us stopped to listen. As we were stopped, a small doe literally jumped up from over the edge of the cliff, perhaps within 10 feet of the nearest of the group, immediately to our right.
I remember hearing numerous clicks and cocks, as almost everyone loaded a round or took off the safety-I didn’t do either. The deer wove around, moving very fast and zigzagging among us, passing immediately in front of me, within a foot or two, close enough to touch. I could see the intense fear in its eyes. And just like that, it was gone, leaping over the edge to our right again and running hard downhill.
We were all just silent for a few seconds, and then everyone started to talk at once! No one shot. Amazing.
As the story goes, no one even lifted their gun. The incident has lived on as an amusing anecdote instead of a life-altering tragedy. Now take the idiots (bless their hearts) who want to make campuses “safer” by arming every frat boy and coed in sight, and put them into that circle. What do you suppose would have been the outcome?
Anyone who believes that 20 or 100 or 200 guns in the hands of inexperienced users is safer than the remote possibility of one in the hands of a potential perp is either inexperienced himself or living in La-La Land. Skill manipulating video game pixels as an avatar possessing the power of routine resurrection does not correlate to skill handling real contraptions that spit out red-hot projectiles at 390 to 3,900 feet per second (267 mph to 2,667 mph). It used to be that most people who owned guns understood and respected this, largely because, more often than not, they used guns in real life – to hunt the panther that ate a favorite pet, to provide a sense of security in an isolated farmhouse, or to scare off invading bears (shooting at the bears was illegal and just ticked them off anyway). Those gun owners would have laughed out loud at someone who insisted they needed an assault rifle for “self-defense.” Self-defense against what or whom? The operator’s lack of skill and embarrassingly poor marksmanship? Godzilla? Bad guys with assault rifles? Why would any civilian with half a brain end up in a situation facing bad guys with assault rifles? And how exactly do “good guy” assault rifle carriers imagine that encounter going down anyway? A blistering, blazing free-for-all during which the baddies drop like ten pins and the heroes remain miraculously unhurt, like on TV. Please! Anybody who believes that scenario is just plain dangerous. The only reason a civilian nowadays would need an assault rifle, excepting a small handful of very serious collectors, would be to kill a lot of people in a crowded venue, such as a theater or school, in a short amount of time.
People who actually grew up with guns back in the day would have been the first ones to insist that gun laws reflect the ever-present potential for danger, and would have ridiculed whoever disagreed. They would have lobbied for limiting gun ownership to those who first, passed a comprehensive background check and second, demonstrated correct loading, carrying, firing and cleaning protocol, and for denying that privilege to the yahoos in ten gallon hats, ostrich skin boots and belt buckles bigger than dinner plates (today these yahoos wear camouflage) who purchased guns to feel manly. Gun ownership never did equal manliness. All it takes to fire a gun is a small movement of one finger. That’s what makes them so dangerous. A toddler can fire a gun, and many, tragically, have. Guns are like poisonous snakes, beautiful and interesting to some, but always – always – potentially deadly. They are not toys. They are not props in a personal fantasy.
So what happened? Did all of the real gun experts die off? Are they being ignored and ostracized by the waa-waas (bless their hearts) who apparently run the show now? Or did they succumb to the cancerous, self-destructive fear of change that underpins present day conservatism? If they really love their guns, they need to re-establish communication with their brains and speak up, because the writing is on the wall. Gun nuttery is doomed. Fewer and fewer people are interested in packing. Fewer and fewer people are interested in being accidentally shot by someone who’s packing. The moral giants who manufacture guns are now marketing to kids, offering smaller sizes and pretty colors, but a continuing decline in gun ownership is inevitable. Contrived “self-defense” arguments notwithstanding, guns are now optional, like bows and arrows, ’57 Chevys and vinyl records. Like bows and arrows, ’57 Chevys and vinyl records they are still legitimately interesting and potentially useful, but if the “they can have my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers” crowd allow many more innocents to be sacrificed to their self-righteous lunacy, the eventual backlash will make it extremely difficult for anyone anywhere to own a gun.
It’s time for everyone to get real about this.