One of the hottest topics in the United States right now is gun control. The word control, however, is a weak substitute for what the debate is really about, which is actually a matter of extremes. It’s the way things of this nature go. Soft middle-of-the-road words for polar opposite agendas. No wants control. They either want all out freedom to own any firearm or weapon of their choice or they want an all out ban on anything even closely resembling a gun. It’s a pretty heated debate by those who are debating it while the rest of us have hidden these enthusiasts from our social media newsfeeds, preferring to see what people have had for dinner as opposed to the rude and obnoxious behavior of those fighting the fight. I think before we worry about gun control, we should worry about mouth control.
I’ve only come in contact with guns three times in my life. The first was after my grandfather passed away. My dad received my grandfather’s .38 special, silver barrel, white handle and a box of bullets. My uncle Von had several acres in Evergreen, Alabama and we took the gun out there to kill some cans. Once everything was set up, Dad took aim.
Now, the next part of the story seems like a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but I assure you, it’s what happened. Dad pulled the trigger, we heard a firecracker pop and then a puff of smoke came out of the chamber. But no bullet.
We all looked at the gun, perplexed, shrugged and then Dad pulled the trigger again. This time the bullet left the chamber. However, it gave up the ghost after two feet and just dropped to the ground.
Third time’s a charm, they say, so my dad pulled the trigger one more time. This bullet had life and flew from the chamber. Yet, it had no desire to kill an orange soda can. It dropped to the earth just in front of the can and like a rock being skipped on a calm lake, it bounced over the cans and into the woods. We packed the gun up and I don’t think it’s been brought out since.
My uncle and cousin loved guns and had a wide collection of rifles and shotguns. They also loved to go hunting and in my seventh grade year we took a trip to visit them in the fall. It was hunting season and we were going to join them in the search for Bambi.
It was on this trip that my dad bought me a 410 shotgun. I had already quit baseball, abandoning sports for the rest of my life and was creating fantasy worlds with my Star Wars characters in my bedroom and I think this was his attempt to save me. I held the gun for a picture and then they taught me how to load it, the proper way to carry it and how not to kill myself. I paid close attention to that last one.
My cousin, Junior, took me out into the woods to practice a few shots before the men were going to go hunting in hopes of filling the larder for winter. The idea was to hunt squirrel so I could get a feel for the gun. One of the reasons they bought me the 410 was because of its minimal kick when fired. That and the fact that at 110 pounds it was about all I could carry. However, when you aim the gun improperly you’re going to get a kick no matter what.
I discovered this when I aimed the gun straight up. I’ve never fired a gun before and when it comes to aim I’m not the best, hence my forsaking the world of sports. It doesn’t help that I’m wearing glasses and still can’t see. So when I spy a giant nest in a tree, I decide that’s my target. I step right up underneath it, aim my barrel straight up and pull the trigger.
And landed flat on my ass in a pile of leaves. My back screamed and my cousin laughed. I just closed my eyes and groaned.
The next day we all went hunting. Everyone split up and I found a nice spot by a tree and knelt down to wait. I hate waiting. If I had had my Star Wars figures with me or a book, I would have been content to stay out there all day long regardless of the cold. However, it was just my gun and me. I was bored. I don’t handle boredom well. Apparently, hunters do.
Finally, I aimed my 410 at a tree off in the distance, convinced that a knot on a tree was a squirrel. My writer’s imagination had already kicked in early and it was easy to slip into my fantasy realm and see what wasn’t there. I must have aimed at that knot on the tree for a good five minutes. Eventually, I just pulled the trigger and the only thing I hit was my uncle’s temper.
“You scared away every damn animal for miles! What the hell were you shooting at?”
“A squirrel. He was sitting on that tree.”
“There wasn’t a squirrel on that tree. You just wanted to fire that gun. You don’t aim for five minutes before you shoot.”
“There was too a squirrel. He was sitting on the Y of that tree. I saw him.”
“You couldn’t see a squirrel that far away!”
My dad never said anything and soon hunting was crossed off of our father/son outings. We went back to my uncle’s place and had hot chocolate by the fire place, which was where I wanted to be anyway.
It was almost thirty years later before I picked up another gun. A couple of male friends were heading out to some property on the edge of the world for some target practice. They invited me to tag along not knowing my history with guns, and so not wanting to appear to be the giant wuss I really was, I agreed. Early in the morning the next day we were heading out to play badass against some bright orange paint spots on trees. It was a tie between the trees and I. I missed half of what I aimed at, but hey, that’s what gun control is truly about, right? Learning how to aim and shoot?
I really have no interest in owning or shooting a gun. However, it doesn’t bother me if someone else does. It’s their life and their money. They should be able to do with it what they want.
And right there is part of the debate. The argument goes that people don’t need certain guns or any guns, for that matter. Yet, this Land of the Free isn’t about what its citizens need as much as what we want and people want guns. Not everyone “needs” everything they have. Oprah doesn’t need all of her money. Actors and sports figures don’t need high salaries and huge mansions. Neither do politicians, for that matter. We don’t need supersized fries, 40-inch televisions or Tom Cruise. But people want them and as long as my want isn’t hindering someone else’s need, then government should keep its expensive nose out of it.
I suppose it’s the word control. Government needs to control something and since they can’t control the bad guys, they will control the innocent citizen. We’re controlled enough - by ourselves. That’s what makes us the good citizen. We know not to steal, murder, or stick our noses where they don’t belong. This isn’t about curbing violence. It’s about putting on a show as if Big Brother is actually doing something when in fact it’s an illusion to distract from the fact that nothing is being done.
The debate will rage on, both sides being cruel and vicious in their attacks. In the mean time, I’ll just sit back and make fun of both sides until legislation gets passed about mouth control. Of course, I’m quite safe there as most politicians can’t control theirs.