Little Rock At dusk we rode to an abandoned area miles from people and highways and placed targets on old logs nestled up against a large hillside berm. The uncle and brother-in-law had been a gun safety instructor in the National Guard, and carefully explained to each one of the novice shooters who had never fired pistols and hardly ever touched a shotgun, how to load, where to carry the firearm, and how to work the safety, before they pointed down range and took their shots. Later, across a patch of indented valley, everyone took shoots at the skeet, until they were able to hit one in the air. And, everyone learned something, including how much of living and dying is luck, and, let’s tell the truth, they all thought it was both fun and exhilarating.
The National Rifle Association, the fabulously right wing NRA, and politicians of the same persuasion were highlighted recently for running raffles to harvest names of potential supporters by giving away tricked up shotguns, and then using the names of the losers to launch their foaming at the mouth fundraisers. There’s nothing illegal or unethical about that. My brother-in-law, sometimes sympathetic to their pleas, has never swallowed that bait or joined the NRA, not trusting what might happen, and that’s probably smart as well. I was a gifted member as a boy, given a membership free for a year after having taken a gun safety instruction at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico when I was 13 years old.
Watching one movie after another and TV series of every description, guns seem like toys and part and parcel of some kind of magical realism, where death becomes more colorful than real. In our cities, the OG’s, rap culture, guns blazing, is part of the constant comment. Wildly, various legislators want to arm teachers and pretty much anyone and everyone else wherever they are and whatever they were doing for reasons unknown with abilities untested.
How do we put all of this together, rationally?
People need to understand how dangerous guns are. Simply being afraid of them isn’t enough. They doesn’t quite dispel the exotic or teach the respect, and defeat the mystery, which can be compelling and attractive. People need to feel the kick, and reckon with the fact that they have so little control on the course and direction of the bullets, even in the best of situations.
And yet, the issue for the gun folks is the desire to either carry a concealed weapon or to brandish one openly. What warped romanticism imagines in a modern, high tech society that an atavistic, Thunderdome world of armed and dangerous people would make anyone safer?
Wilderness skills, hunting and gun safety, and similar competencies are invaluable, but our mothers were right, “there is a time and place for everything,” and contrary to the fear deep in the heart of so many, that’s not in either cities or public places, where the armed, become mainly the dangerous, and the truly dangerous are perhaps still able to distinguish the amateurs from the professionals, and life and death are important to keep very separate in harmony and balance, none of which works down range.