I’ve been staring down the barrel of a gun

I grew up in a house with guns. My Grandfather (I called him Papa) had a rifle in the closet, and I used to open the closet door, stare at it, and even once or twice reached out and touched it.

I never played with it. Why? Because, quietly rebellious punk that I thought was, I knew my ass would be spanked, hard, if I was caught with it.

I shot the gun a few times a few years later. My Dad & I took it into the desert so I could try to kill a few peaceful creatures for a college Biology project. I was supposed to stuff and mount 3 small mammals. Oddly enough, in 5th grade, I had checked a book out from the Bookmobile called, if I recall, “Practical Taxidermy”. Of course, at that age, it was a giggle, a schoolboy fascination with things gross and icky.

I truly had no idea how gross and icky it was until I shot the head off a desert squirrel. Seeing blood sport, and tiny broken bits of bone was jarring. And frustrating, because the animal had to be whole for the display.

I finished the project a few weeks later with the help of a hunter friend shot shot a couple of rabbits for me. I never shot a gun again. That was in 1967.

I hate guns. I recognize their sad neccessity, for law enforcement, and soldiers. But I have absolutely no comprehension how a human can enjoy killing a creature and call it sport. Some of my beliefs I am willing to call personal failings. I recognize that some may legitimately enjoy professional wrestling, whereas I think it’s idiotic. But I own my feelings about guns. No one is going to change my mind.

I regularly hear from folks on an email list, many of them conservatives and libertarians, that guns are lovely pieces of engineering and should be appreciated. They prattle on about various loads and calibers. I think they are certifiably insane.

From the NYTimes today:

Lawmakers appear to be on their way to fixing one glaring flaw in the law-enforcement system as a direct response to the massacre at Virginia Tech. But another change that is vital to public safety is facing heated resistance from opponents of gun control who seem to have trouble drawing a line between the right to bear arms and using them in crimes and selling them to criminals.

The bill would provide money to states to update the national database that gun dealers use to screen prospective buyers, adding more criminal records and mental health information. This advance for public safety was the product of weeks of negotiations between senior Congressional Democrats and the National Rifle Association.

. . . At issue is a pernicious gift to the gun lobby known as the Tiahrt amendment, after Representative Todd Tiahrt, the Kansas Republican who attached it to the spending measure in 2003. It limits the ability of federal officials to release data showing the path from manufacture to retail purchase of a gun that was recovered in a crime. Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, and Representative Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, are expected to seek its repeal.

All the arguments by people who want to keep guns in their houses fail even casual scrutiny to me. Statistics, while open to interpretation, show far more danger from those guns than any perceived benefit. To me, it’s a bit like any addiction: one will torture logic to support the addiction, no matter how harmful. These people just want to have guns around.

I think that’s crazy.

Some interesting reading on gun control issues can be found in these Wikipedia articles:

Gun Control

Right to Bear Arms

Gun Politics in the United States

United States v. Miller(1939)


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About SteveAudio

Recording studio technical support in L.A.; political blogging.
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6 Responses to I’ve been staring down the barrel of a gun

  1. O.K. I concede your personal distaste for guns. Fine. Don’t buy one. Don’t restrict my right to do so. Unless you are a vegan, someone goes through the process of preparing your meat. I hunt not for sport, but as a source of meat for my table. I own 25 acres, grow my own veggies, and raise goats and pigs and fish. If I didn’t add deer and squirrels to my larder, they would eat my corn and oats.

    While I realize I am inflicting pain when I kill an animal, it is part of the cycle of life and much more humane than the slaughterhouses that feed the general population. I offer a prayer of thanks to the spirit that gives of itself and has live free till that moment and pride myself of the expertise I’ve acquired in a lifetime of practice. It has been over forty years since the last time I required a second bullet to perform the task.

    What you find distasteful, I consider a right and an opportunity to know where my food comes from. An added benefit is that my local law enforcer knows better than to come through my door unannounced.

  2. theTexanCyclist

    My grandparents raised, grew, hunted or fished for all the food that went on the table for thier family of 9 in depression era Massachusetts.

    Personally I can’t even manage to stick a worm on a hook to fish, but for those who hunt for food and utilize what they hunt for, I respect that. Hunting for the sake of hunting is a different story in my book.

    And likewise, as you noted, the whole corporate slaughterhouse/corporate faming system by which we get most of our food these days is not at all appealing.

    I do on the flip also feel that making it harder for people to get guns is a good thing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

    And thank you Steve for posting this.

  3. Being from southeast Louisiana, I grew up hunting and fishing. When I killed something, it got cleaned and dressed and found its way to the freezer. Period! I have never mounted anything to put on display. I have always found it to be repulsive. I grew up respecting nature, and us kids had the woods behind our homes to use as a playground. The only critters we did kill with reckless abandon, was Nutria. Not just for the furs that used to give a way to earn, but the fact that they eat up the vegatation and assist in coastal erosion. They are very destructive creatures when it comes to that.

    We used to be able to hunt and use it to help supply food. We did however, have to take it to Grandma’s to be cooked. My mom would not go for the wild game. Grandma would wait for us to get enough game together, and then cook a meal for everyone. She looked down on killing just to shoot the guns. We were showed how to be responsible and have respect for nature. We left early in the morning, and you better not even think about taking more than 3 to 5 shells with you. When we got back, the catch would be cleaned and put in the freezer.

    My personal view of guns, is that when used in the proper manner, they can be a good thing. Self defense does come to mind too. BUT, I don’t think that a person really has the need of a rocket launcher to defend his home. That is the part that baffles me. For the rabid backers, I just have to shake my head. There is a way to have that protection, and still have gun control. If you really think you have the need of a fully automatic assualt rifle to hunt or defend your home, then you need to rethink your hunting abilities and your place of residence!

  4. Darrell Prows says:

    We’re blessed. We have the luxury of discussing this issue from a number of perspectives, but not from that of people in places like Darfur, etc. Or in the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw in WW II. Many is the genocide that would have been prevented with access to firearms. Gun carrying persons actually fighting for life or death turn out to be a very formidable opponent. Unarmed, they all too often turn out to be very dead very fast. It seems like this would have to be a very differnt world than it is before it would make sense for us to get together and say “Why don’t we all just disarm?”

    On the other hand, I’d be very happy to work toward that day.

  5. Ginny Cotts says:

    The use of guns for hunting has not been in much danger that I know of. As Donnie says, hunting game does not require automatic rifles or weapons that can shoot XX bullets per minute.

    Guns in homes are 28 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than an attacker.

    There is plenty of room for a multifaceted approach here.

    The data base needs to be updated as the bill would mandate.

    The stuff that helps criminals, that the gun companies got through Congress, needs to be repealed. Like the one Steve cites, these do not affect hunters or the general public that is not trying to form a militia of their own.

    Better education on shooting, storing and caring for guns can be promoted by some kind of public – private program. To drive, you have to register the vehicle and all drivers have to pass a test to be licensed.

    And for those who are going where they need some specialized guns to protect themselves from grizzlies, polar bears, cape buffalo, tigers, etc.; go with a guide that has the guns and the training.

    Darrell, I wish part of the answer to that is stopping some of the international weapons sales. Not going to happen because of the financial advantages for the powerful. What remains is when do other nations step in to disarm the perpetrators, and/or arm the victims?

    Mostly what we get from that is a bloody mess. Other ideas welcome.

  6. Darrell Prows says:

    Create “freedom rifles” and issue one to every poor bastard on the planet? At least then everyone would either be left alone or have the freedom to fight for their own freedom. (Smuggling them in to places like China could be problematical.)