The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Friday, January 25, 2013
By CHARLES BOOTHE -
I knew I was in serious trouble with Aunt Ebb.
It was an unfortunate happenstance, but, still, that lever-action .22 single-shot rifle she had let me use was my responsibility.
I had not thought much about it after realizing I had left it at my cousin's house on that Saturday night.
After all, I had been hunting whistle pigs and had stopped by to chat, setting my rifle in a corner in the living room. In a rush to get home for supper, I had completely forgotten about it.
As fate would have it, his doggone house burned down that night.
Yes, she was furious, and went over every reason why I had been wrong, with her usual gusto. Responsibility, she kept repeating, it was your responsibility.
Granted, I was young, about 13 or 14 at the time. But age had nothing to do with it. If I was mature enough to use a gun, I had darn well better be mature enough to take care of it.
This little story doesn't end here, and I will finish it.
But I thought this may be a good point to digress a bit, and try to explain why this gun control thing simply escapes my comprehension.
Many gun control advocates, I suspect, may cringe when they think of a 13-year-old (actually, I learned to handle and shoot a firearm when I was about 10, maybe younger) hunting alone with a rifle. I had a BB gun at a much younger age.
Keep in mind that guns have always been very much a part of my culture, my heritage.
I grew up around guns and most people, even many of the women at the time, knew how to use them.
Guns were as much a routine part of my life as a fishing pole or a pocket knife. I have always felt just as comfortable using a gun as using a fork.
We hunted (always making sure the game never went to waste), and we shot at targets. Both were routine activities. We talked about guns, we compared guns, we bragged about who was the best shot. We also respected them, and knew how to handle them safely.
In fact, when I was growing up, I never knew anyone who was in any way against guns, which were routinely bought, traded and sold. I had never even entertained the concept of "gun control."
Most of the people I have known in recent years who are gun control advocates have never owned, shot or really ever been around guns. They don't understand them, and that's where the fear must come in.
Are guns sometimes used for evil purposes? Of course, they are. Always have been. So is everything else, from rocks and knives to fists and spears.
The idea of banning or somehow "controlling" guns as a means to stop those evil actions seems so, well, naive.
Okay, that's off my chest, so now back to my story.
Move forward in time about 10 years or so after the gun incident. I was visiting that same cousin who I had not seen for a while. After the fire, he had moved to another town, so he was no longer in the routine loop of family visitations.
We were sitting in his living room and I looked above his fireplace and, lo and behold, hanging on the wall between the mantle and the mounted head of a 10-point buck was, I was sure, that little .22 rifle that had supposedly been ruined in the fire.
Rumors had swirled through the family that my cousin had burned down the house to collect the insurance, but I had never thought too much about it.
Some family members had never liked him very much, including Aunt Ebb, so I thought it was just gossip.
Yet, there was that little rifle, the loss of which had caused me a considerable amount of grief.
Aunt Ebb still brought it up on occasion.
I said to my cousin, "Man, that looks exactly like the little rifle I left in your house when it burned to the ground."
He looked at me for a few seconds, appearing to be a bit confused, then stammered a few words.
"Oh, oh, I had forgot all about that gun," he said. "No, no, I bought that off of a feller over in Athens a couple of years ago."
But as soon as he said it, I knew he was lying.
I knew that was the gun, which he had removed from the house, along with anything else of any value, I suspect, before he torched it.
Although Aunt Ebb was right about him, and he did, in essence, steal the gun, she was also right about me and the fact that he took it made no difference.
The gun had been my responsibility, regardless.
Maybe this little story does in a way address what I don't like about the idea of gun control.
It's a matter of the government telling me I am not responsible enough to own any kind of gun I please, with large-capacity ammo clips if I choose.
I just don't see how the guns I have is any of the government's business as long as I am a law-abiding citizen.
Besides, who exactly is this "government?"
Ain't anybody I know.