(reprinted from January 27, 2015 MW issue)
Born in the late 40’s, I grew up in a family of hunters. Fair shots most of them, I remember standing next to my father when a spooked buck crossed our path at a dead run. Dad shot twice, hit twice, and the buck went down. It was near Hatfield, in central Wisconsin.
Dad’s rifle was an old, iron sight, pump action, 30 Remington. It has killed (we kill deer – corn and oats are harvested) a few deer since my father died in ‘94. My sons have used the rifle. It was never a popular caliber and bullets are no longer manufactured for it. I have about 35 left – should last me until I no longer hunt. The rifle is a treasure to me.
It is easy for an “elder” to wax eloquent about the “good old days.” Often as not, they weren’t. But there were values we were taught as young men back then that seem to have been lost.
We would have been severely reprimanded had we ever referred to our deer rifle as a “weapon.” We hunted around men who had fought in World War II. A few of the elders had seen World War I. They knew what a “weapon” was – prayed their sons would never carry one. They would have been appalled at the (now common) sight of a hunter entering the woods with something that looked like an assault rifle. There was no place for “Rambo” where they had been.
My father, my elders, would have been disgusted by the concealed carry legalization that has metastasized across America, embarrassed at the sight of a grown male strutting around in public with a firearm, thinking it made him a man. They would have been sickened by the toxic versions of masculinity that now permeate our society.
My elders would have viewed the current National Rifle Association as a near-terrorist organization, a mutilated version of its original good sportsman self, spreading fear and venomous hatred throughout America. They would have been saddened at how our young men, our youth, have been misled, at how responsible citizenship and caring for one’s neighbors and community have been replaced with some macho-driven fantasy of male adulthood.
I suspect my father and my elders would also have understood that the gun rights legislation sold to state legislatures by the corporately funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was never really about gun rights. That was the emotional bait. The real purpose of the ALEC sponsored gun “rights” legislation was to install fear and mistrust in average people. The real purpose was to turn friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor. The real purpose was to “divide and conquer” . . . and it has been very successful.
We are watching as our nation, our state, our communities, our freedom and our democracy itself are being taken over by the rich and corporations. They are being taken without the firing of a single shot. The very legislation supposedly enacted to give us the guns to “defend” ourselves, is but another Trojan horse tearing us apart and keeping us from understanding how the wealthy predator class is our only real enemy. Our democracy and our economically dependent freedom are already gone. They will never be regained with guns.