Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Lesson

Trundled out to JCO on Teuku Umar this evening. First time I've ever been here at night. Seems like a fur piece in the dark, and it is also a rather 'exciting' ride, given that one is traveling on Teuku Umar, otherwise known as Lunatic Lane.

I was thinking about firearms today, those having been variously in the news of late, and remembering my own fairly humble experience with them. There were no guns in my family, simply because no one was interested. My father was a fisherman. He hunted fish, a fairly safe hobby, though not completely without danger. One had to be aware of his surroundings, lest he hook the tree on the shore, or perhaps his fellow fisherman's nose. We were instructed, therefore, to watch what was behind us and to our casting side. One had to be careful of his footing as well, in a swift river, for instance, or in a lake with a false bottom. My father showed us these things, and we learned them. But of course no one has ever been shot by a fishing pole.

On the other hand, many of our family acquaintances owned rifles, which they used solely for hunting. Most of these men had also served in the military during World War II, and were rather intimately acquainted with guns. In short, they had a very sure appreciation of how deadly guns could be.  I remember Ed Upton, a veteran of service in France and Germany, taking us out to learn to shoot. We were more than ready, of course, at 10 and 12 years of age (although my mother wouldn't have been had she known). Gimme the gun, where's the trigger, right?

No, not right. For as it turned out, this morning of shooting was consumed mostly in instruction on how to hold the gun, where to point it, where NOT to point it, for Christ's sake, how to load it, how to unload it, how to make SURE it was unloaded (again, for Christ's sake), and what the damn thing could do if you made a Goddamn mistake. Ed was always colorful and definite in his language. He was a fearsome, 6 foot 2 inch cedar tree of a man and I never saw him smile in my entire life. In fact, by the time he was done, we weren't smiling either. We were petrified. Shooting a rifle seemed at last significantly less than fun. Only one of us, his son, went on to be a hunter, and that may have been only because it was expected of him.

The point is, I'm not so sure that people these days have the proper, and sober, idea about what guns do. I'm not so sure that they really appreciate that they are holding a murder weapon in their hands. I'm not so sure that they understand that death happens just as fast as the bullet travels. There's no do-over, no second chance.

As Ed Upton said, once you put your Goddamn finger on that Goddamn trigger you'd better damn well know what you're doin and why and what's gonna happen when you do it. Otherwise, you're gonna end up killing either yourself or your best buddy, or maybe even someone you don't even know.

Thanks for the lessons, Ed. You see, I haven't forgotten.

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