the wake of recent mass shootings, President Joe Biden managed to
avoid being blown over by a gentle breeze in the White House Rose
Garden to announce several marginal executive actions on gun control
that were met with tepid applause from the left and bulging forehead
veins on the right.
My intention here is not to wade into the brain-eating-amoeba-infested
waters of the gun control debate, but, instead, share a few anecdotes
related to my own embarrassing history with the second amendment.
My earliest memorable encounter with a "firearm" was in the 1970's
when I was creeping around in the backyard hunting birds and squirrels
with my Daisy BB rifle-while strategically camouflaging myself in
a pair of Sears Toughskins jeans and a Muppet Show t-shirt. The soil
of the surrounding area is still contaminated by the thousands of
BBs from my missed shots, but I did occasionally hit my mark and bring
down a specimen of the fierce and deadly East Texas house sparrow.
I may or may not have cried every time I killed one.
Speaking of hitting my mark, as a kid with crooked, Coke bottle glasses,
I wasn't exactly the Doc Holliday of pre-pubescent dweebs-more like
a myopic Barney Fife. However, I did experience one surprising victory
in the world of sharpshooting when my dad took me to a local hardware
store that was holding an annual turkey shoot for youngsters. I remember
being a little disappointed that there were no actual turkeys there
to shoot (or pet), but I did somehow hit a paper target with the accuracy
required to take home some Grade A frozen poultry. (I'm pretty sure
I sneezed when I pulled the trigger.)
My feelings of triumph were cut short, however, when I confidently
challenged my big brother to a backyard BB-gun duel. (What could possibly
go wrong?) After we positioned ourselves behind a couple of small
bales of hay, the contest lasted for exactly five seconds and consisted
of one volley from my crack-shot brother that landed dead center on
my partially exposed right love handle. My wails of anguish were only
slightly eclipsed by my brother's repeated desperate pleas that I
"Don't tell Mom!" Despite his appeals and my own fear of punishment,
I did bravely confess the incident to our parents-shortly after I
I didn't have many experiences with firearms during my teen years,
other than my parents (and my girlfriends' parents) fantasizing about
putting me out of their misery. But when I began dating my wife, my
future father-in-law introduced me to the wonderful world of sitting
out in the woods at dawn and trying to avoid ticks otherwise
known as deer hunting. It only took two outings of sleeping in a rickety
aluminum lawn chair and being driven out into the wilderness on a
four-wheeler at 5 AM to be left for dead for me to prove that I just
wasn't hunting (or fishing, or camping . . .) material, and that he'd
have to find some other way to get rid of me.
Today, I possess two firearms, a .38 Special and a .22 rifle, both
on loan from my dad out of pity, I think. And I only get them
out to brandish around my teenage daughters' boyfriends, who usually
ask why they're so dusty. I should probably take the guns down to
the firing range and see whether they still work if I can figure
out how to get the safety off.
Who knows where the American gun control debate will take us in the
next few years? I tend to think that gun violence is as much a matter
of the heart and soul as it is a matter of the law, but what do I
know? For now, I'll stick to watching "Tombstone" and reruns of "The
Andy Griffith Show."