Saturday, September 24, 2016

my son buys a gun

In the midst of it all ... in the midst of a sickening drumbeat of slaughter and depredation in the Middle East ... in the midst of random and not-so-random killings in the U.S. ... in the midst of some quietly-pleading and worn-out voice that says, "Make it stop!" ... in the midst of the fact that my wife is off to New Jersey today to visit with a sister whose daughter's two-year-old son has been diagnosed with leukemia ... in the midst of a saddened and saddening matrix within ... in the midst of all that, yesterday, my younger son purchased a pistol.

"You OK with that?" my older son asked in an even tone. And the fact was that I really didn't know. Pistols are for killing people. They are possible. The difference between an hypothesis and a pistol on the hip is far less of a stretch than is often portrayed. My son had taken all the legal steps to assure that the pistol was within the law. He showed me the pistol. It was surprisingly light. In his purchase, he had crossed a line between theory and fact: Everyone's got a killer instinct -- it's what they do with it that counts. Denial is not an option. Will my son make a mistake? I pray not. I pray that he will not be forced to confront the fact that hurting someone else is wounding oneself, sometimes grievously. I pray and yet failure to man up to the killer instinct, to own what you own ... it may be nice not to have to confront it, but not confronting it is cotton candy.

No, I didn't know what I felt. Was I OK? Well, everyone walks on his or her own road, no matter how hard they may pose on someone else's road. I was glad my son owned a pistol in the sense that in a confrontation with the 'lawful authorities' I suspect may be brought to bear against American citizenry ... well, a little push-back is not a bad idea ... or rather, it's a lousy idea but sometimes there is nothing left but lousy options.

I am ashamed that my generation has come up with no better than a gun-crazed citizenry. I am sorry. And simultaneously I know that I might kill someone else with the hammer I used for so many years to drive nails. My son will have to be his own kind of grown-up and I suspect that my implicit losing of parental control is part of my dust-stormy confusion about a pistol. I am proud of him for seeing the matter through and I pray -- as with all prayers that get answered in the affirmative -- that it will not be too painful an affirmation.


  1. When i was a state humane officer, i was required to have a service pistol. Our choice was a Ruger .357 revolver. Revolvers are more dependable, require less maintenance than an automatic. And the .357 is essentially a .38 with a longer casing, more powder pushing it harder. That was needful for the skulls of livestock and pitbulls. But i also had handcuffs and a book full of animal regulations for the state of California. And with the possibility of needing to draw down in a hurry i always kept a snake load in the first chamber. Being a wheel gun i could change chambers as time allowed.

    I also have a couple rifles and a couple shotguns. I don't hunt anymore. But bobcats and rattlesnakes sometimes turn up too close to home or the chooks. The bull pretty much takes care of the cattle.

    There's a few people i'd like to shoot, but i've always managed to think better of it so far. I think our culture has produced a sort of macho notion that owning a gun is manly and important. But i've found that just avoiding certain places, situations, etc... is generally more protecting than a gun. DOJ statistics don't agree with the NRA assertions of arming for safety.

    I keep my tools where they belong rather than carry them around. And i evade jobs i don't want to do. So i feel no need to have a carry permit. I don't need one in my home. And unless there's a specific threat, i don't take it out of the house. So far only one rattlesnake has come in the house, and i chose to wallop it with my walking stick rather than patch a hole in the floor.

    Your son must maintain it and keep his skills practiced. He must fire it often enough to keep fresh ammunition which isn't cheap. All ammo goes bad before eventually. You fire it and it travels some 20' beyond the barrel, short of the target. If neglected to that point, throwing a hammer at them would be more effective.

  2. Just curious, did he feel threatened?

  3. Charlie -- I don't think so. I think it's more his desire to be part of a tribe.

  4. I understand. My service revolver is kept fresh for no purpose other than to be purposeful in the unlikely event of need, reachable from the headboard of my bed, that being it's only imaginable role.

    Some folks keep 'em for decoration i guess. I was given my first rifle at age 10. I was impressed with a reverence for the care of the life guns represent, preserving or taking, the clean kill, the background awareness. I suppose there's a tribal mystique to that, the responsibility of membership.

    I'd urge him to NOT be like Cheney. Don't carelessly shoot a friend in the face. He should have fallen on his sword in shame. Sadly, and thanks to the NRA, guns are like asshole's. Everybody's got one and a lot of them stink from lack of proper care and use.

  5. I cannot own one, and it is also not on retail. The most recent bank robbery in Singapore took place without even a knife but just a paper note, "this is a robbery".

    Charlotte is big news here in Singapore. Instead of a hammer I own a variety of Japanese farming i.e. agricultural tools instead, they are decent for grass cutting but they used to be ninja weapons during the samurai era.