Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm not that person any more.

I really like the way that facebook lets me have a peripheral peek into the lives of people that are no longer a part of my day-to-day existence.  With that said, it's also an avenue that brings a fair amount of outrage, indignation, and the occasional face palm to my days. 

The political season was rough.  I unfriended more than one person that habitually posted their brand of vitriol about the candidates - and this went for ALL the candidates.  ObamaCare has been rough, particularly around women's health issues.  Gun control, I'm not even sure I have the words to say how much it bugs me to see the anti-gun-control posts and pictures. 

My heart is still broken for the families in Newtown, CT and I can't make sense of people advocating that things remain "status quo" The easy access to modifications that make it possible to fire a large number of rounds in a short amount of time is not protected by the Constitution.  Armor piercing bullets are not protected by the Constitution.  These things exists for one reason, and that reason is to kill people.   I don't discount the roles that mental health care has played in the massacres of the recent years, but I also don't think it can all be pinned to the failure of our nations ability to help people with problems.

One particular face-palmy event happened on Christmas Eve.  My niece posted a picture of her 8 year old son, holding a gun, with the caption "Christmas present from Papa"

Part of the beauty of an "anonymous blog" is that I control who has knowledge of these posts, and I know that we are primarily a like minded community.  So, I can say this.

He looks like a little thug!  And what sort of an idiot gives an eight year old a gun? What the fuck are you thinking?!?!? I try to put myself in the headspace where I would think such a gift was a good idea, where I would take a picture of it, and where I would put it on the Internet.  I can't get to that place.  I'm not that person any more.

Here's an interesting back story.  I was raised a Southern Baptist, gun-totting, God-fearing Republican.  I was my great-nephews age when my dad taught me to hold a gun for the first time - we started with .22 caliber rifle.  We went hunting once, and I did not like the way it made me feel to see blood coming out of the bird I had managed to hit, so we focused on target shooting (pistol and rifle) and skeet shooting (shotgun).  Throughout high school, my Dad and I would go to the rod and gun club and shoot on a very regular basis - it was the only way we managed to relate to each other.  I applied for and received a concealed carry permit, and carried a pistol in bag TO WORK every day in my early twenties.   I knew about gun safety, I had a gun safe, I knew how to load, unload, disassemble, clean and reassemble a variety of firearms.  I honestly believed I could hold a gun in my hands and defend myself from risk to life, limb and physical property.

I am not that person any more.

While talking with my Dad on Christmas Eve, I asked him if he had bought the gun for my great-nephew.  He said no, that was my sisters (the boys grandma) boyfriends gift to him.  I asked if it was a BB gun, he said no, it's a small gauge 2 shot shotgun.

I got silent.  I had been consoling myself that it was "just a BB gun", in the time-honored tradition of Ralphie, in the movie "A Christmas Story".  With intent (or ignorance), and at short range, a BB gun can do serious damage, but, in my mind, at least it wasn't a "real gun"

"You'll shoot your eye out"

My Dad kept talking. 

"It's not like they're going to let him use it unsupervised.  That fella, Aaron, he knows how to hunt, and he's going to teach AJ.  But he won't be running around with a gun all the time."

Knowing my sister: and the chaotic shambles that best defines her life, and knowing my niece: a kid with three kids of her own, I am highly skeptical that they have any security measures in place to keep this 8 year old boy from running around with a gun all the time.  I'd put money that there is no gun safe.  I'm just hoping they have the sense to keep the gun unloaded, and to store the ammunition in a separate, inaccessible location.  But I have my doubts.

I interrupted my dad's rambling about how it was perfectly ok, normal, and right for his great grandson to be armed at the ripe old age of 8.

"Dad, I gotta tell you.  If you ever decide you want to get my son a gun of any kind - ANY KIND - you need to talk to me first.  Because the answer is going to be no."

He made an excuse.  "Well, it's not like you didn't have guns at that age.  You just teach a kid to use a gun right."

"No guns, Dad.  I'm not that person any more."

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