Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Me and guns and Joni Ernst


I once shot a goose from the back of a motor scooter. Seriously, I did. I wasn't trying to show off, never guessed I'd hit it. We were riding along the Lake Michigan shoreline, putt-puttin' on the wet sand, late October probably, when a lone goose came by. My double-barrel, 16-gauge was loaded, so I aimed--sort of--let loose, and down came the goose. 

I'm not making this up.

We hunted crows with a phonograph. This old friend of mine had a record with nothing on it but a gaggle of crows gaggling. All that racket from the turntable would haul in crows from hither and yon, we thought, and we'd shoot 'em. That was the plan. Didn't happen, but we had fun. 

I hunted pheasants and deer and once upon a time got woefully lost in a Kettle Moraine forest hunting ruffed grouse I never once laid eyes on.

A day or two after JFK was killed in Dallas, a friend and I walked in a woods just outside of town, lugging our shotguns, supposedly hunting rabbits. Didn't come home with a bunny, but the two of us, not yet 16, had a memorable conversation about state of the union, as did the whole country.

In my Wisconsin childhood, I spent more time with guns than I did eating cheese. I learned to love the lakeshore woods by following an neighbor who walked as carefully through those pines and hardwoods as some Kickapoo might have a hundred years before. He taught me to love trilliums and buttercups and jack-in-the-pulpits. I watched him shoot a possum that stumbled into his trap, the first time I'd ever seen an animal die.

I've got my own treasured past with guns. I understand the attachment. I do.

On Wednesday night, a commentator on Fox News told the host that when he was a boy, he had a .22; but he never, ever entertained thoughts of shooting anyone. He was as dismayed as the rest of us, as perplexed about a problem that worsens with every passing month--18 school shootings already this year, eight inside the walls. In Florida, thousands are mourning 17 students and teachers who are dead.

I know what that guy was talking about. I shot a goose from the back of a Cushman motor scooter, but it never entered my mind to turn that 16-gauge on anyone else. Never. 

But then, I never carried an AR-15 either. Couldn't have. Wouldn't have thought of it. 

If the President can blame Democrats for the deaths of people killed by undocumented immigrants, shouldn't he also tag Second Amendment Republicans for the deaths of seventeen people this week in Parkland, Florida?

And shouldn't Joni Ernst, the hog farmer from Iowa, return the three million dollars+ her campaign blissfully received from the NRA? Shouldn't John McCain give back the seven million? Shouldn't the President himself fork over the $21,000,000 he got from a group who idiotically argue that Nicolas Cruz, a broken, parent-less, misfit 19-year-old, should have the perfect right to own a combat weapon as much like my 16-gauge as that Cushman scooter was to a Sherman tank?

What is wrong with us?

12 comments:

Rachel TeGrootenhuis said...

Amen

Joan Curbow said...

Thanks, Jim, for your thoughtful essay. I can't begin to fathom how the word "guns" has become our nation's sacred cow. How can it possibly be ok for any citizen to have access to an assault weapon? Why can we not make distinctions when we talk about guns? Unlike you, I've not owned a gun, but I have no wish to take away someone's hunting rifle. I can respect the sport of hunting. I do struggle with whether people should own handguns, but I don't struggle with whether or not a rank-and-file everyday citizen should ever own an AR-15. I'm completely mystified why there is no nuance in the conversation about guns.

Anonymous said...

"If the President can blame Democrats for the deaths of people killed by undocumented immigrants, shouldn't he also tag Second Amendment Republicans for the deaths of seventeen people this week in Parkland, Florida?"

What a quantum leap of logic. Since when can a Second Amendment advocate be held accountable for a pulling a trigger? Undocumented immigrants do pull triggers you know. This was not a thoughtful essay.... it is left wing talking points... are you by any chance a ghost writer for Rachel Maddow?

Larry said...

Sir Jim:
Your logic is is unbelievable. What does the NRA and the Second Amendment have to do with the tragedy in Florida? Guns don't kill people. People kill people. I've carried and shot many rounds through an AR-15 only when I did it It was named an M-16. The banning of weapons will not decrease violence. When citizens are banned from owning guns only the criminal element will have them. I feel the breakdown in the home is the root of most of the problems. To defend ourselves more people should maybe carry. Just maybe a gun safety course and weapon familiarity should be required for teachers entering the class room.

Delores Keizer said...

So lets issue AR 15s and a few clips to all classroom teachers along with their laptops just in case. At least then everyone will be equally protected. Right?

Anonymous said...

Yes. thank you, Jim. And Larry, yes, people kill people, but with semi-automatic or automatic guns they can kill a lot more people a lot faster than otherwise. Las Vegas should have taught us that. And even for hunters, what sport is there in killing animals with what amounts to a machine gun?

Anonymous said...

"The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart." - Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, victim of the Columbine High School shootings

You wrote, "And shouldn't Joni Ernst, the hog farmer from Iowa, return the three million dollars+ her campaign blissfully received from the NRA? Shouldn't John McCain give back the seven million? Shouldn't the President himself fork over the $21,000,000 he got from a group who idiotically argue that Nicolas Cruz, a broken, parent-less, misfit 19-year-old, should have the perfect right to own a combat weapon as much like my 16-gauge as that Cushman scooter was to a Sherman tank?"

James, you are wrongfully conflating those who support the second amendment with the evil found in the heart of man which God identified in Cain. You want to blame someone or something for the irrational killings of innocent people. You claim to be a Calvinist. I think you are over-looking a basic tenant of your own faith, TOTAL DEPRAVITY.

Anonymous said...

"people kill people, but with semi-automatic or automatic guns they can kill a lot more people a lot faster than otherwise. Las Vegas should have taught us that. And even for hunters, what sport is there in killing animals with what amounts to a machine gun?"

Wrong... simply wrong! A handgun can kill as fast as an AR-15. You need to get your facts straight... A semi-automatic does not operate as fast as an automatic. You need to get your facts straight...

jdb said...

We need reality check. Our murder rate is 6 times that of Canada, 30 times that of Australia. The US murder rate stands out in developed nations. Australia had a series of mass murders resulting in changes to gun laws some 20 years ago. No mass murders "down under" since. (defined as 5 or more deaths in a single incident) Some would say the US gun culture is unique. Can it change? Should it change? Do we really need to stand out in the developed world in terms of our murder rate?

Retired said...

Australia confiscated guns. They do not have a 2nd Amendment. USA has become increasingly Godless. The issue is NOT guns, if that were the case Chicago would be murder-free. We have a spiritual problem.

Retired said...

Are you able to muster any outrage toward aborted babies?

Retired said...

Who did you think you were? Peter Fonda? Shooting a honker from a scooter qualifies you for the Easy Rider Cushman Award. You need to report to the Wisconsin DNR Office to belatedly pick up your certificate and a lifetime membership in the NRA.