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I did it! I finally sold off my last two working firearms and I feel as though a burden was lifted from my shoulders. Gun use was practically a rite of passage growing up. Many of the movies we love involve gun violence. True also of the TV series we watch. These guns weren’t used for target practice or hunting unless they were a necessary detail in the script a la The Deer Hunter. No, they were used to kill people, both bad and good people. I am a member of the first TV generation. We had a television in our house in Philadelphia in 1948 and actor Pete Boyle’s father, “Chuckwagon” Pete hosted Frontier Playhouse which aired at 6:00 just after Howdy Doody. Frontier Playhouse introduced us 8-10 year olds to The movie B Westerns and their stars, Hoot Gibson, Bob Steele, Johnny Mack Brown, Ken and Kermit Maynard, Tex Ritter, Tom Keene, Don “Red” Barry, Bill Boyd as “Hopalong Cassidy”, Robert Livingston, Buck Jones, Tom Mix, and yes, John Wayne, as a single and with his Mesquiteer partners Ray (Crash) Corrigan and Max Terhune. It also introduced us to their humorous sidekicks Gabby Hays, Dub Taylor, Howard St. John, Fuzzy Knight, Smiley Burnett, and several others. Later Cowboys on TV were Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Jock Mahoney as the Range Rider with Dick West All American Boy, Gail Davis (who played Annie Oakley) Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo as The Cisco Kid and Pancho (I absolutely loved them), Guy Madison and Andy Devine as Wild Bill Hickock and Jingles, and The Lone Ranger ( Clayton Moore) and Tonto (Jay Silverheels). The crime shows had not made their impact on the small screen yet, but when they did by the end of the fifties they replaced the westerns with increasing violence.

The Saturday matinee fare offered to the 10-14 crowd included Autry, Rogers, Rocky Lane (the voice of Mr. Ed), Jimmy Wakely, Charles Starrett as The Durango Kid, Rory Calhoun, Audie Murphy, Tim Holt, Randolph Scott, Joel Mcrea and scores of others. Regular movies of the period that were also in the matinees were Red River, Streets of Laredo, High Noon, Shane, well, you get the picture. We haven’t even mentioned the cops and robber movies or the war movies of the period. It was just accepted that films featuring gunplay were what we were going to see. Even Walt Disney made a hero out of Davy Crockett (“Killed him a b’ar when he was only three”) in 1954 and his ability to shoot straight; Disney called it family entertainment. Gun use was such a part of the culture that those who questioned it were looked on as kooks and freaks.

My own father, a staunch conservative Republican even by today’s standards, hated guns. He had a service revolver from WWII but it never entered our house. I don’t know whatever happened to it and I’ve only seen pictures of it with him in uniform. I did question him when I was about fifteen about guns and he let me know in no uncertain terms that in our society (1957) there is no need to have guns. They would only be harmful. Still, at camp I learned how to fire a rifle and in the service I fired expert with several different weapons including the Colt 45 M1911 which was standard issue for my MOS. I was fortunate that I never had to use it or any other weapon in a hostile action. I was also fortunate that I never saw action from 1964 through my discharge in 1970. In the period of time I was growing up mass murderers Howard Unruh, Charles Whitman, Charles Starkweather and Carol Fugate made spectacular headlines yet I don’t recall that there was any movement to make gun laws more stringent. More modern day massacres using weapons unavailable or undeveloped in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s have prompted people to tighten gun laws, however the NRA is willing to sacrifice human lives in order to let the weapons industry make even more profits. It’s about time congress addressed the issue in an adult and responsible manner.

I’ve heard all the arguments about second amendment rights. I agree that gun ownership should not be the question; gun use, however should be regulated. A gun is merely a tool that performs a function. People who hunt to supplement their food supply, and my son living in rural Mississippi is one such person, should be allowed to hunt. That doesn’t mean that they can blatantly carry their rifles around and shoot at a prospective meal. They need to be licensed for the privilege on lands specified for just that and they should be able to show the need for such, otherwise the rifle should remain in the cabinet. Similarly, people who own hand guns should produce the need to carry them; otherwise the gun is of no use outside the home. Anyone can buy a car if they can afford to, but driving is a privilege, controlled by local and state laws that determine how, when, where and under what conditions you can safely drive. Gun privileges should be determined by similar laws. It is absolutely ludicrous to assume that anyone needs the assault weapons on the market and legally available today, unless again they demonstrate the absolute need for them or they are a known serious collector of weapons that exhibit them. Legislators have not lived up to their collective responsibility and that needs to change before others needlessly die. Let’s face it, George Zimmerman had no legitimate reason to carry a gun that evening other than the fact that he could.

I had been collecting guns of one type or another since the late 70’s, mostly for fun, target practice and pretending to be a hunter. Since I had small children I followed my father’s advice and never had them in the house. They remained under lock and key in my warehouse. That was foolish, because if we had been robbed the guns may well have been stolen too. I used to go hunting with several of my upstate Pennsylvania customers during small game and deer season and the camaraderie was more important to me than the kill. In five or six years I never fired my rifles at any living thing, but the fun was being with my friends, camping out like we were children again.

Once we opened our small theater we presented a lot of shows that required firearms, so the guns came in handy. There is nothing so phony on stage as a toy weapon, especially in a 99 seat theater where the audience is on top of you. The one stage gun we did buy was a replica .357 Magnum that did not have a real barrel or firing mechanism. It was a glorified cap gun that didn’t fire more often than it did so we stopped using it. When the theater closed I got rid of all but two guns, an 1850 cap and ball Navy Colt, and a beautiful Smith & Wesson 38 special that was manufactured for the military during WWII. Even though they were real they had been used for theater props and I kept them for sentimental value only.

I eventually realized that my father was right. Owning a gun can be harmful, especially to you and your loved ones. Wearing a gun in public doesn’t prove anything except that if shooting starts and you get involved things may get worse. You could shoot innocent people. Sure, the shootings over the last ten years, especially this new one in Aurora, are horrible, and nothing is going to prevent another mass murder from happening in the near future unless government at all levels acts now to limit gun use.

When I think of all the events I’ve covered in the last few years from the foreclosure and health care battles, the tea party interrupted town hall meetings, the Occupy Orlando ordeals and the Trayvon Martin Rally among others, I realized that I never felt as though I needed a gun. In fact, a gun in my possession could have been a liability instead of an asset. I sold my guns last month to a gun dealer. I do not regret it. The Second Amendment may give us the right to have or own these weapons, but it is federal, state and local government’s responsibility to regulate how, where, when, why and under what conditions we can pull the trigger.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sold 'em? To a scrap dealer I hope. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, jennifree2bme

    Otherwise they're still owned by somebody, seems like.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 07:02:57 PM PDT

  •  I wrote a diary about getting rid of a gun (7+ / 0-)

    the only gun I ever owned. I'm still glad I did, and I'll never own another. Nor will I ever allow one in my presence, or I'll remove myself from its presence. (I don't live in one of the encouraged hidden lethal weapon zones, thank god)

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 07:13:33 PM PDT

  •  I like this diary because it sounds like (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, oldpunk, Pinto Pony

    you're really explaining/describing your life experiences with firearms. I'd like to have a couple of those "old time" ones myself.

    But I've got to disagree with your points of regulating "how, when, where, why" they can be used. For example, do you agree with Bush's "free speech zones" that were usually set up very far away from whatever the event happened to be? I hope you don't, and I know I don't. It's the same way with firearm ownership - I don't need to be told where or why I'm using them, unless I break the law, and if I break the law I suffer the consequences. Should mental health be more of an issue when a person wants purchase a firearm or ammo? Yes, definitely. That is where attention needs to be directed, at least for me.

    •  In general (4+ / 0-)

      I would suggest that words alone have killed very few people, so I'm not sure the analogy holds up.  Guns are at least as dangerous as cars, and we have all sorts of regulations about how, when, where, and why you can use cars, as well as personal liability insurance requirements for car owners and permits that have to be renewed yearly, and licenses every four years.  Once we restrict guns as thoroughly as we do driving, then maybe we can discuss the possibility that more regulation won't be needed...

    •  Free speech and shooting people are two (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Barbara Marquardt

      very distinctly different exercises.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 08:39:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly - glad you agree! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldpunk, Pinto Pony

        I never said that "shooting people" was a right. If a person shoots someone then they will go thru the judicial system and be found guilty or not guilty, based on the evidence and be sentenced accordingly if warranted.

        I will "exercise" my right to own and use firearms as I want to, as I have done for over 30 years - the only way I can't is if I was to do something illegal (like "shooting people"), which I don't plan on doing.

      •  Especially if the government controls all the guns (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldpunk, Pinto Pony

        and decides it will control the press.

        Funny thing...having survived a number of hurricanes over the years, it was interesting to have the sheriff's department come around and tell us to protect our own property (and our persons) if we decided to stay because they didn't have the manpower and the national guard wouldn't arrive for a day or two after the storm.

        I would observe that the niceties of what we call "law" seems to break down quite frequently when a national disaster occurs.  Just ask anyone who went through Katrina or Andrew.

        4π^3 + π^2 + π

        by Boris49 on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 09:27:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There is a gun that I long for. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, Gentle Giant

      About 45 years ago our home was broken into and the rifle that my great great greats carried with them down the wilderness trail was stolen.  

      There was a time when we did keep guns in the house for defense because we lived out in the middle of nowhere and had a weekend business that drew a lot of cash receipts back before banks took commercial deposits all hours as they do now.  There were enough middle of the night problems to convince me that this was a prudent decision at the time.

      However, as the diarist points out, times have changed.  When I migrated to the city, gun owners began to scare the daylights out of me.  Many of them had picked up on this right wing stuff and did not seem to have an understanding of the tremendous burden of responsibility that gun ownership carries.  

      Oklahoma just passed Open Carry.  It just all seems so ridiculous this day and age.

      It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

      by ciganka on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 04:21:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I do. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44

    I've got a double edge battle axe that a friend got me as a gag gift because of my name, and a blowgun with lots of little darts.  Oh, and a sgean dubh and a rattan sword or two with a welded basket hilts.

    Never owned any firearms, though, and the rattan weapons are the only ones I've ever used in any sort of combat.  (I sucked at it, and lost pretty much every bout I ever was in.  Got tired of being completely soaked in sweat and covered with bruises, and said the heck with it.)

  •  Thanks for the trip down memory lane. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, blueoasis

    I watched Tex Ritter, Hoot Gibson, Jimmy Wakely, etc in the 60's after school.
    Cisco Kid, etc.
    Excellent diary.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 08:36:59 PM PDT

  •  "I No Longer Own Any Weapons" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldpunk, Gentle Giant

    You no longer own any firearms. I'd be willing to bet that I can find a good number of effective weapons in your house, especially your kitchen. I may be able to find some effective ranged weapons as well, but probably not. I understand your point, as well as your relief. I suspect that your reference to 'weapons' was meant more or less as 'purpose-built weapons'.

    If I felt that I had the need for a self-defense weapon, I would certainly want one that was built to be as effective as it could be. I would not want to rely on something improvised, or deliberately under-powered.

    Just as any other tool with the potential for harm, it would need to be properly safeguarded, require proper training, and be used responsibly. Since the damage potential of a weapon is very high, the bar for safeguarding, training, and proper use would be very high, as well.

    With the potential risks involved, if I felt that I did not need a self-defense weapon, I would certainly ban them from my home. They are meant to be dangerous, after all.

    I notice that we are both focusing on inside the home. Outside of the home, the situation is tremendously more complex. Legal, ethical, and technical considerations make for a challenging effort to come to a good decision.

    Less "WAAAAH!", more progress.

    by IndyGlenn on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 08:42:19 PM PDT

    •  Complex? Possibly. (0+ / 0-)

      But I think it boils down to ethics/morals, as in "What am I willing or able to do in a violent situation?"

      I live in a rural area. When I was working nights and my sons were wee lads, my wife expressed nervousness at my absence in the dark hours. I asked her if she wanted to get a gun and train with it. (At the time, my sister's father-in-law owned a gunshop with an indoor range.)
      She said she didn't know.
      I asked her, "If someone broke into the house, do you think you could shoot them?"
      Again, "I don't know."
      Then a gun would serve no purpose in our home. We got a very loud, very smart and scary german shepherd instead.

      Our only concern, really, was a farmer around the corner who was known to be a bit of a pervert. I helped him get his cattle back in his fences a few times in the middle of the night. I never had any trouble with him. But he made my wife nervous.
      In defence of my family, myself or a vulnerable stranger or child, I know I could kill. One more reason not to carry. I know I could.

      I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it. - Paul Krugman

      by Gentle Giant on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 07:13:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ethics, law, and physics (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gentle Giant

        I see using a firearm outside the home as a fairly complex exercise. First is the ethics that you address. "Am I prepared to take a human life?" is the first question. "Am I willing to risk making a mistake?" is the second. If I use a firearm in self-defense, automatically at least two lives are at risk; mine and the attacker's. Depending on the circumstances and surroundings, more lives may be put at risk. Is the risk to human beings worth the protection of one human being (me)? The answer one gives to that question depends on one's personal ethics.

        Then there are the legal questions. Even if my ethics allow for this self-defense, the law may say otherwise. Making a mistake means going to jail for a long time, with a serious conviction on my record. This will affect me, my family, my children, and possibly others. Not something to be taken lightly.

        Even if my ethics allow for self-defense, and I am within the law, basic physics will influence my actions. The presence of bystanders, potential environmental hazards, how much of a threat the attacker presents, all of these create a tactical situation in which using a firearm may, or may not, be the smart thing to do.

        Here's an anecdote to illustrate: As a pizza delivery driver, I was allowed to carry pepper spray, but no firearms by company policy. Carrying a concealed firearm could have been done legally in my state, and a few other drivers did. While trying to deliver a pizza in an apartment with a central stairwell, I got no answer. After about the third try with the doorbell, a young man came into the stairwell, claiming that the pizza was his. He didn't have enough money, though, and called in his friend. (about this time I became suspicious and took out my pepper spray, concealing it in my hand. I started to slowly work towards the door, back to the wall) He and his friend still didn't have enough money, and began a loud discussion. As the third man approached the door, one of them finally lost patience and swung at me. He connected with a glancing punch, and I sprayed him. The second guy approached, and I sprayed him. Running out the door, I sprayed the third guy, not knowing if he was involved or not. I got in the car and left, pizza still in hand.

        Now, if I were carrying a firearm, I would not have pulled it. I'm surrounded by apartments, in a stairwell, with thin walls. There was absolutely no safe line of fire. In my opinion, there was too much risk to use a firearm. None of my assailants pulled any weapons, so pepper spray and running were the preferred solution.

        Ethics didn't stop me, and the law didn't stop me. Company policy created considerations (lose my job over carrying), and basic physics decided this one.

        Less "WAAAAH!", more progress.

        by IndyGlenn on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 08:32:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

          Now, let's put ourselves in a theater. Let's say we're intelligent, responsible citizens and we have carry and conceal permits, so for no good reason really, we're packing, as are, let's say, 25% of our neighbors in the theater. (Some gun advocates are saying they should ALL have been carrying, but let's be more reasonable.)

          A man gets up part way into the movie and leaves by the exit door. Shortly, he returns clad head to toe in armor with one or two tear gas bombs, arms and tosses them into our theater, pulls out a semi-automatic weapon and starts spraying bullets into our crowd.

          A few who are packing are going to instinctively grab a date or family member and throw them to the floor and cover them with their own bodies. The rest of us start returning fire.

          There's tear gas in the air, people are screaming and you can almost smell the adrenyline-laden sweat. Your heart is pounding as you repeatedly squeeze your trigger aiming at the armor-clad form.

          Now what might the comparative death tolls be when bullets fly from multiple directions vs. one direction? What might be the impact of friendly fire in this situation?

          No need to even consider it. Even when the good guy gets shot, he still chases the bad guy down, says something clever, and executes him Dirty Harry style. That's always the way it works on tv.

          My GOD, am I glad I live in a state where my neighbors can't legally conceal and carry a pistol everywhere they go. There are very few people, even among those I love most, in whose presence I'd want to be when they are in possession of a gun. Sorry. Human error pervades and permeates. Let's not mix high-velocity lead within it.

          I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it. - Paul Krugman

          by Gentle Giant on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 01:32:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome to the class of willing victims. n/t (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    FG
  •  Kudos, and thank you for the diary. /nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  Enjoyed reading your retrospective. (0+ / 0-)

    : )

    The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Clayton Act, Section 6.

    by Ignacio Magaloni on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 10:31:56 PM PDT

  •  Once, I went to the ATM. As I turned two men (0+ / 0-)

    with guns demanded my purse. I gave it to them. As they were running away, both turned and fired at me, barely missing me and hitting the ATM. They found my address on my drivers license and came to my home.

    Today, I carry a Glock 9mm, along with my concealed carry license. Still don't like guns, but then I don't relish the idea of losing my life because of disliking guns, either.

    Everyone should do what is best for them! For me, I will never just stand there and be threated again by thugs with guns. No future in it.

    I am old. Too old not to attempt defending myself.

    Again, do what you feel is best for you regarding owning a gun. I ain't an NRA supporter, but then again, I learned the hard way that a fighting chance requires more than a prayer.

    Just say'n.

    Hope has a hole in it when Republicans come, bringing shackles and sorrow; branding their greed on the backs of the poor. - Wendy Connors

    by Wendys Wink on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 05:50:36 AM PDT

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