Among my many memories of my Dad, was him and his gun collection (which is ironic considering that’s how he died, but I digress). He had 5-7 of them, and sometimes he would pull them out and clean them. My brothers and I would sit and watch.He would take them apart, put them back together. Sometimes, he would sand down a stock and refinish it. My father’s guns were beautiful. Pristine. He built one shotgun, made from three different guns. It was a showpiece for certain, and he built it for me. Cherry stock, copper in the middle, and a black barrel. The first time I got to use it was for rabbit hunting.
Through life events, my mother ended up with a majority of Dad’s guns, including the one he made for me. My stepfather loaned my gun to his grown son to go hunting. It was never returned. His son would claim that he “lost”it. Later, we would learn that he pawned the gun for money. My gun was lost forever. I own nothing that was once my father’s. And when I think about it, that there is this thing out in the world that my father built just for me, and I don’t have it, my heart aches.
In light of the shooting in Orlando, I don’t want to get on a soapbox and argue the case for gun control. Firstly, the box is already crowded with much louder voices than mine. Secondly, we lost the argument for control long ago when Second Amendment Fanatics decided that dead children were a price they were okay to pay for their right to own assault rifles. (Apparently, AR-15 are not technically “assault rifles” because that label is meant for military use guns that are automatic or semi-automatic, but for $299, you can easily convert it to one!)
There’s so much about this country to be proud of, and we celebrate it often. Yet we have so much to be ashamed of and too full of hubris to know we should be. That we live in a society where mass shootings are common, and the best we can do is blame extremist views that are not Christian and hold candlelight vigils. I look at Sandy Hook. I look at Orlando. I hear the rhetoric of the gun nuts whose only defense of resisting common sense gun laws is, “Bad guys are going to get guns no matter what we do, so we just won’t do anything and keep waiting for that good guy with a gun to come and fix everything.”It breaks my heart, and it makes me ashamed to be an American.
I’m a gun owner. I have a beautiful shotgun my husband gave me for Christmas. My little brother refinished it for me, just like Dad would have done. We also own a handgun. I still lament the loss of the gun my father made for me, and I wish I could have it. But you know, I would gladly give it all up if it meant that I could send my daughter to school, or to the movie theater, or anywhere else and never have to worry if she will be gunned down that day.