Friday, January 8, 2016

My Gun

I’ve never bought a gun. I do, however, have one that I’d rather President Obama not come take away from me.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say right up front that I own two guns. One of them is a .22 caliber rifle. Sometime around 1970, my father and I went into my Uncle Cuz’s liquor store in downtown Macon and, for some reason, he gave Daddy that rifle. He said that someone had pawned it and never came back for it. Somewhere along the way I lost its seven-round clip. I need to get another one for it. My cousin’s son recently reconditioned the gun for me and it’s very nice.

But I have no real attachment to it. So if the President wants it badly enough, he can send someone to get it. It’d be good for shooting mice around the Smithsonian or something, I guess. If the President wants to come get it himself, we’d love to have him stay for dinner. We’ll serve him pork and give him a beer, and he’ll eat it and drink it, because if he’s a Muslim, he’s the worst one ever.

I do wish they’d let me know if they want it before I spend my money on a replacement clip. The government can afford it better than I can. They can take it out of Wayne LaPierre’s taxes.

But my other gun, my Stevens 311 double-barrel 16 gauge shotgun—well, now, I really want to hang on to that one. It’s the one that I consider to be my real inheritance from my father.

I don’t remember a time when that shotgun wasn’t around, so I reckon it’s older than I am, and I was born in 1958. I didn’t actually see it very often, since Daddy kept it in Mama’s and his bedroom closet except when he went hunting, which he very seldom did. I guess he didn’t have time, given that he worked a lot and spent way too much of his off time at the church. Plus, Mama had cancer for a long time.

I went quail hunting exactly two times in my young life, and that’s all the hunting I’ve ever done. Both times, Daddy and I went with Preacher Bill, the beloved pastor of my growing up years, and some other men. I liked following the dogs around. I could take or leave the rest of it. It seemed like a lot of trouble when chickens had more white meat and you could get all you wanted at the grocery store or the Big Chic restaurant (although at that time, I much preferred the broasted chicken at the Dari Delite).

On my first hunting trip, the men said that they wanted me to take the first shot of the day. So when the dogs flushed the first covey (that’s quail hunter talk), I swung my gun around to shoot. Everybody hit the dirt. On my second trip, I fired into a just-flushed covey along with everybody else. Several birds fell, and Preacher Bill proclaimed, “Mike killed two with one shot!” I don’t know how he could tell which ones, if any, I killed. If I did in fact kill two, they were the only two things I ever killed while hunting.

On that second trip, they let me take a shot at a rabbit. I was glad I missed. I felt like Elmer Fudd.

On both of those hunting trips, Daddy’s Stevens 311 double-barrel 16 gauge shotgun was the gun I used. He borrowed one of Preacher Bill’s many guns.

It became my gun when Daddy died in 1979. It’s been moving around with me ever since.

And it hasn’t been fired once in all those years. You see, I don’t hunt. Now, I have nothing against hunting, especially if you’re going to eat what you kill. I have eaten venison that hunters have given me. Why, just the other day I had some Brunswick stew that had venison in it. Come to think of it, I’d love to have a mess of grits and fried quail.

I just don’t like killing things. Go ahead and point out the hypocrisy of my eating meat; I realize that it comes from slaughtered animals. (By the way, I could provide you with much worse examples of my hypocrisy, if you really want to go after me.) But I have no desire to get a living thing in my sights, pull the trigger, and watch it fall. Lots of people do. I don’t.

Truth be told, in all the years I’ve had Daddy’s shotgun, I’ve not had any shells for it.

That changed recently. We moved to the country last July. I’m told that there are rattlesnakes and copperheads around us. I know there are coyotes, because sometimes in the middle of the night, they sound like a bunch of wild preschool children engaged in a cage match. We don’t live all that far from Senoia, so there may be zombies, for all I know. One morning around 2:30 some genius drove from the field behind our house and down our driveway, just like it was a public thoroughfare, which it’s not. Only Ruffins are allowed, and there are plenty of them. I neither need nor want anybody else coming through.

So I bought a box of shotgun shells. I’m ready.

I hope I never have cause to shoot that gun. I’m happy just to know that it belonged to my father and that now it belongs to me. It would make me very, very happy to go another thirty-seven years without shooting it, by which time I’ll be ninety-three and probably shouldn’t be handling a loaded gun, anyway.

My gun means something to me because it was Daddy’s gun. Other than that, it’s just a tool to keep around in case I happen to need it, although I hope I never will. You know, like a toilet wrench.

I do have a bit of an attachment to my gun. But it’s nothing like the one a lot of people evidently have. The way they obsess over their guns, you’d think they were their children. The way they respond to any effort to regulate the sale of guns, you’d think somebody was trying to take away their right to breath. Some folks seem to have more loyalty to the NRA than they do to their church. Sometimes I think that if some folks were playing the Jeopardy category "Three Letter Words Beginning with 'G'" and the clue was "What You Place Your Ultimate Trust In," "Who is God?" wouldn't be their first response.

As for me, I don’t want anybody to take my gun (remember, I have two, but they can have the other one if they want it) away from me. It was Daddy’s. And if a rattlesnake comes in my yard, it’ll be the last yard it comes into, assuming I can hit it.

But it suits me just fine if the government does everything they can do to require universal background checks. It suits me just fine if the government places restrictions on assault weapons and on other weapons of mass destruction. It suits me just fine if I have to obey laws that remind me that my right to swing my fist ends just short of where it meets somebody else’s chin. Frankly, the fact that we have so many armed people running around makes me a lot more nervous than the thought that I might not be able to purchase an assault rifle (which I admittedly don’t want to do, anyway).

I’m all in favor of the second amendment, by the way. So if the feds ever try to disarm our well-regulated militia—the Georgia National Guard—I’ll oppose that move.

So that’s my gun story.

Now if it only had a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time . . .

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