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Guns Now And Then

May 26, 2021

I remember as a youth of 15 going into a liquor store (now called mini market) after hunting in rural California to buy a Coke and some chips while having a .38 revolver strapped to my side. I would wander the aisles a bit, find what I wanted and go to the cash register and pay for my purchase. The cashier could see that I was carrying a sidearm but no one got upset. It was legal and accepted behavior at the time and nothing out of the ordinary at all. In fact, there were hundreds of us hunters and target shooters that regularly did the same without as much as a frown.

Try that today! Someone would scream “gun” and you would be dropped like a bowling pin in under a second. We are talking about a huge change here in the way Americans perceive guns. The pitch has gone from calm to plain nutty.

When I was a child, I can’t remember ever hearing about a murder in our small town. There may well have been some but they certainly didn’t make the evening news. Likewise, I never heard of anyone shooting a thief in a home invasion although I am sure there were plenty of thieves back in the day. And I never heard of anyone shooting anyone else just for the hell of it. So what are we talking about here, facts or perceptions? It is probably a bit of both.

Some sixty years ago, there were fewer guns and yet they were more openly presented as opposed to being hidden away in closets. Today there are way more guns but practically no one wears a sidearm in the open with the exception of law enforcement personnel. (Here in North Carolina, we have an open carry law.) There is way more gun related crime now, even on a per capita basis than sixty years ago yet everyone wants to hide their weapons. These are the facts.

Now the perceptions. Six decades ago, people weren’t particularly afraid of guns or gun ownership. It was a part of the American West that carried over into the twentieth century. Guns were considered a normal piece of family life in America. Sure, there were the exceptions but nobody seemed to get upset at the idea of gun ownership. Then came August 1, 1966. In Austin, Texas, Charles Joseph Whitman, a former US Marine, killed 16 and wounded at least 30 while shooting from a University of Texas tower. Police officers Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy shot and killed Whitman in the tower. Whitman had also killed his mother and wife earlier in the day. This was a pivotal day in the perception of guns in America. Guns were now feared. America had long forgotten about September 5, 1949, then it came back in an instant: In Camden, New Jersey, 28-year-old Howard Unruh, a veteran of World War II, shot and killed 13 people as he walked down Camden, New Jersey’s 32nd Street. His weapon of choice was a German-crafted Luger pistol. He was found insane and was committed to a state mental institution where he died at the age of 88.

Today we fear guns as we have seen what they do in the hands of the insane or terrorists. People get shot everyday in America and unfortunately it is viewed as a normal occurrence. Often these shootings are over petty disagreements. Criminals who use firearms illegally put a huge burden on the shoulders of law-abiding gun owners, resulting in the gun hysteria we have seen in recent years. All gun owners are now painted with the same “bad guy” brush.

It is time to take the mystery out of guns, severely punish those who use them illegally while preserving our heritage and rights to own and correctly use firearms. Voices have to calm on both sides of the gun debate. Perhaps both the facts and perceptions will change for the better.

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  1. Timothy Price permalink

    Those were the days my friend when alcohol, tobacco and firearms were available at the local market, long before the government agency took over the name, of which they have since added explosives. Painting all gun owners as bad guys is the same tactics used to dehumanize people and races that are on the list for extermination and genocide. Generalizations, falsehoods, made up statistics, outright lies all told enough times by the partisans who control the media, often end up working the way they want it to. Gun ownership in the US has been very troubling for the anti-gun people. But they they keep at it because the partisans have to disarm the general population before they can have their revolution. It’s the same tired old stuff that we see time and time again, and people never seem to catch on.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Back in the day”, I went to a High School that was in the city. During deer (gun) season, the students had shotguns in their cars (IN THE SCHOOL PARKING LOT) so they could go hunting as soon as classes were over for the day. It was NOT unusual to see teachers mingling with the students at lunch with each checking out the others weapons. A number of years later I was working for a large industrial company, and the employees parked on company property with shotguns and rifles in a gun rack, in the rear windows of their trucks. (In clear view)

    In ALL cases never was anyone threatened, hurt, shot at nor intimidated. It was normal life.

    I weep at what society has become over the past 40-50 years!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am personally not someone who would ever own a gun. I have shot them on several occasions and I know people who own them. I am not against the idea of people owning guns. I am against the idea that some gun enthusiasts have that there should be no limit to the number of guns they can buy, or getting rid of the cursory background checks that there currently are. When someone who is not ok can drive 30 minutes to cross state lines to get a gun without any resistance there is an issue. There is also a misconception that without background checks or safety protocols in place, “crazy” people just wouldn’t have guns. That is not true. In many cases, psychological disorders do not appear until later. The average age for men to be diagnosed with Schizophrenia is late teens to early 20’s with late onset occurring around 30. Women it’s later, late 20’s to early 30’s. Let’s take a man. There is no family history of schizophrenia, and he’s 21, living in his own and buys a gun. Nothing weird there. But at 25 he starts to show signs of schizophrenia. Where do we draw the line? He already owns guns. Does he get to keep them until? Or is it possible that maybe if his family see the change, his guns should be confiscated until he is cleared of violent tendencies or gets the psychological help he needs?
    And at what point does the argument in favor of guns fail? Is it after 50 schools are attacked by armed gunman? 100? Maybe 150 or 200? How about 284? That’s the current number in the USA since Columbine. Honestly, I think some rational thought on both sides would be extremely helpful. But I think it needs to happen yesterday. 284 times we have heard the words “thoughts and prayers” after a gunman entered a school and kids died. 284 times groups of parents heard those hollow words as they lowered their babies into the ground. There was a time, a long time ago, when Columbine happened. I was on the side of letting people keep their guns because some children shot up a school. Now, 22 years later, people are still shooting up schools. The odd adult goes in and shoots children, but mostly it’s children shooting children. Children who should not have access to guns. Yet I still hear it’s an infringement on people’s rights to put safety features on the guns or the lock boxes. What about the rights of the children who are muddling through and don’t stockpile grandpa’s shotguns? Do they have rights? Do their parents?
    The only way a real solution can happen is if BOTH sides sit and listen. I don’t want to take away your guns. I want to take away the chance your guns can kill someone without your consent.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Vsii permalink

    Allen,It is not guns that are the problem, more the underlying immorality and crudeness that pervades our society today. Our media constantly reflects immoral behavior as normal today. Kids from an early age are playing very real like video games that involve killing. Our family structure has been undermined by government good intentions with unintended consequences. A major contributor was when it became more important to have kids play sports on Sunday morning than spend quality time with family or go to church. I could go on. Challenge – many now do not appreciate the gift of life.Nello

    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You make excellent points
    Too bad nobody wants their brilliant insights diluted with wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

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