Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gun rights. For the individual? Or are we talking about a “given” in American history?

Like a lot of people, I have been reluctant to write a blog or a letter to the editor about gun issues – and not proud of it; just the sense that it is a sure way to invite a whack on the nose from noisy sources. There is no question of personal concerns; too many random shootings even in random neighborhoods. Like any careful parent, I wouldn’t want my kids playing at the neighbor’s house if I thought they had a pistol lying around; this week it looked as if it was a good idea not even to let them go to the movies. We all have a concern about terrorists; the trouble is that you might be seeing one hanging over the neighborhood gun counter and examining a pistol. “Who’s going to shoot first?’ is a question all too much up for grabs.

There are some assertions that ought to be made about the right to bear arms in relationship to an organized militia; the time for stating that being in the 1780s. Folks were proud of what had been done at Lexington and Concord. Actually, the reference to the right to bear arms is a social one, just like freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of the press. Most immigrants were glad to come here and get away from guns.

Having grown up in a rural area – of which the former colonies certainly were -  having a gun in the closet or on a gun rack in the back of your pickup is more of a “given” than some sort of “right.” If your family has been in this country for a while there probably are a couple of guns in the closet; granddad’s, a great uncle’s. The subject of having a long gun was about as much one for discussion as a shovel or an axe. Its usefulness ranked right up along side that of a hoe, as I recall; more fun, though. 

We use to have a neighbor my grandmother called “Old Man Bendy.” He and granddad liked to go fishing. His one claim to fame was that when he has a deputy sheriff out in El Paso he had made John Wesley Hardin take off his gun when he came to town. I think we have just seen too many John Wayne cowboy movies and haven’t gone fishing with enough Old Man Bendys.

Actually, most of us have had some sort of that experience. I had an Uncle Ray who was invited by our mutual Uncle – Sam – to an extended hot weather vacation. Ray loved to target shoot. When he left he sold his gun, but entrusted me with the safekeeping of his very expensive rifle sight. When he came back, I returned it to him. He gave it right back to me without touching it.

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