Archived Story

Traditional gun owners a rarity [UPDATED]

Published 8:30am Thursday, August 9, 2012 Updated 12:36pm Thursday, August 9, 2012

He came into the hardware store one day. I didn’t know him. He wore chore clothes filled with dairy barn fragrance, a smell I find reassuring, remindful of growing up on the farm.

He was tall, straight-thin, maybe went 175 pounds, until you looked again. Then, over 200, no doubt. The kind of guy you want to show up when you’re moving the piano.

He spotted one of the guns in the rack behind me, raised his eyebrows in a may-I-go-back-there expression, moved quickly back there, which was when I realized how tall he was. He plucked the gun out that he had spotted, and shouldered it, swinging it back an forth. That’s when I realized how tall he was. I hardly had to duck.

He began kind of an on-going conversation with himself, with me as an audience. He said: “I thought at first this was a single-shot .410 tapped for Weaver scope mounts. I had one of those when I was a kid. Dad would give me two shells for it and tell me not to come back empty-handed. We knew what empty-handed meant back then, but that gun didn’t.”

He continued. “I remember walking across some greasy plowing one fall, stumbling, running the barrel into the dirt, pulling the trigger. Blew the sight bead right off the end of the barrel. Didn’t need it anymore, I guess. It shot just as true.”

He swung the barrel my way. Okay. I ducked a little.

“This is a single-shot .243, ain’t it. Made just like a shotgun, only drilled and necked down for that ought-six casing. Best deer caliber ever invented. I stepped outside my barn one evening, second day of the season last year, over by the edge of the woods stood the second biggest buck I’ve ever seen. I got my .243, put those iron sights about six inches over his shoulders — he had to be close to 300 yards — because that 150-grain bullet drops about that far at that distance.”

He went on. “I was thinking about pulling the trigger when it came upon me that it won’t be long at the rate these lawn-farming city politicians are going before I might have to hide that gun up in the haymow. You know, it’s getting so voting don’t matter much, does it.”

“Those liberals ask: How many guns do I really need? I tell ‘em, two for each window, in case I see’em coming”

And he went on. “I always vote, even so. They wonder why so many of us are angry at the government, well, that’s easy. How about that term limit? Seventy percent of Americans in favor of term limits, Congress won’t even bring it up, too busy voting themselves a pay raise and better medical insurance.

That ain’t bad enough, now I got people driving in my yard telling me my cows are polluting a slough I’ve wanted to drain for nine years but can’t. They say they want to protect endangered species? Who’s paying the taxes on that slough? I am. Solve three problems: Drain the slough into the one next to it, have twice the number of ducks and geese, and no cow pollution.

“But that’s too simple. I’d like to do more hunting when I retire, but heck, I might not be able to retire ‘til I’m too old to move anymore, but if I wait too long, there may not be any social security fund left.

“You know, don’t you, that almost one-fifth of us work for the government, and have their own retirement plan, don’t pay into Social Security. It ain’t good enough for them, but it is for us?

“I was in Vietnam. Any one of us has been there can tell you how good the government is at managing anything, wouldn’t know up from down if it wasn’t in some job description, they’re more worried about their month of paid vacation than about anything else.”

He put the gun back, said: “That’s nice, I’ll get the boy one of those come fall.” And then he left.

The store seemed a lot emptier without him.

Talk about endangered species …

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