Friday, April 15, 2011

“This is my rifle, this is my gun, This one’s for business, this one’s for fun.”

Yes, there are distinctions to be made in the “gun rights” discussion. Personally, I fall on the militia preference side of the argument. “You just have heard too many post traumatic stress disorder stories – and that is all too true. There are some other factors, too. When I was a pastor years ago in “Bloody Tangipahoa” Parish down in Louisiana; you could tell who was in a current feud by their wearing no coats and their shirt tails out regardless of weather.

Actually, I grew up with guns, as one might expect in West Texas. When Annelie was about to take on a hi-risk marriage with me, I took her home. On Auction Day we went to the Cattleman’s Café for lunch. She was so enthralled by all those guys in their pickups and guns in the racks that she couldn’t eat. She told me afterwards it felt like being in a movie; I told her they were just folks who had driven in from out in the country. I didn’t see anybody lock their truck. Probably some of them didn’t lock their house when they came in if they didn’t think they would be gone long.
My most precious memories of my father are of our hunting trips as I was growing up. I have never been able to make sense of not differentiating a rural life style from some folk’s need to carry a concealed weapon in their urban setting. The way of life is so different. It’s like comparing apples and – and watermelons.

Part of this questioning is because I am old enough to remember Mr. Bendy. He was just an old guy living up the street that my grandfather liked to take fishing. His one claim to fame was when Mr. Bendy was a deputy sheriff in El Paso. There was a city ordinance against wearing a pistol and he had made John Wesley Hardin take his off and give it to him until he left town. If you can make jokes about how the West was “tamed” maybe you have seen too many John Wayne movies.

Then there’s my Uncle Buck. He lost five tanks in the course of the Normandy Breakout and wound up with a headache for as long as he lived. After the war he joined the Border Patrol. Toughest man I ever knew. In those particular olden times, whenever a patrolman got shot out of his saddle Buck got transferred in. He always hated carrying a gun and I think the happiest day of his life – like some other peace officers – was the day he unbuckled his pistol for the last time.

Personally, I suspect a lot of the “right to bear arms” relates to us abolishing the wartime draft – and letting it get evaded by some. When my uncle “Runt” got back from four years in the South Pacific I asked him if he didn’t want his beloved .22 rifle back. “I never want to touch another gun as long as I live,” was his reply.

We seem to have plenty of war times, and we seem to have plenty of men who long to carry weapons where ever they go. If we could just overlap that, maybe we would get greater intellectual clarity in the gun rights debate.

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