My family moved to northeast Texas from California when I was ten. That move was at least as far culturally as it was in miles. We had a pickup truck but it didn't have a gun rack. We had a .22 rifle and I had fired it a few times at targets. No way could I comprehend shooting at the deer I'd see on the ranch in the early mornings. They were beautiful. Nor could I shoot at the coyotes who were clearly smart and had families. There wasn't much quite as foreign to me as the way school seemed to be open or closed depending on the dates of various hunting seasons. Didn't go to church either, didn't hunt and that tended to set me just a little apart from my friends. "He don't hunt?"
There was one other gun and I won't ever forget it.
I didn't know my grandfather as he had died when I was a baby. I only knew that he had been a county sheriff in northwest Arkansas. The gun had been his. It never came out into view but I knew where it was, in the right side of the top drawer of the dresser in my parents room. I was a ten year old boy that morning and everyone else was gone somewhere, so I did what a ten year old boy would do. It was heavy, very heavy, and had bone handles on the grip. There was a little bag with it and it was full of bullets--they're big and heavy too. I pointed it at the various targets in the bedroom and figured out how to release the cylinder so I could put bullets in it.
And I loaded it and aimed some more. That got old so I emptied the cylinder, aimed a little more and decided to try pulling the trigger. I was lucky that morning because the only thing I killed was the dresser. The noise was loud. The smell was strong. The room was full of smoke. I put the gun away and never saw it again. I then made an epic attempt to cover up what I had done, quite successfully in fact, spraying room deodorizer, filling the three holes in the dresser with wax, using shoe polish to match the color, and digging the slug out of the drywall. Wasn't noticed for years. But I was lucky and it could have so easily gone another way. And I would have missed a pretty good life.
I don't like guns. I'll never have one and I'm not comfortable being around them. I support what President Obama is proposing, despite my personal wish to go much farther. I wouldn't get in the way of a hunter's right to hunt, but I do not see much value in handguns or their bogus self protection argument. I hope something gets passed.
There is a postscript to my story too. When my father died years ago, I was away and the descriptions of why he had died were vague at best. A small life insurance check arrived a few months later and the death certificate in the envelope was less vague. He had died from a self inflicted 45 caliber gunshot wound to the head. I know the gun that he used.