He’s up in arms over 2A Sanctuary status

By SCOTT SAALMAN
Guest Columnist

When my grandfather on my father’s side passed away, his shotgun was passed down to me.

Perhaps this gun has passed through the generations. I really don’t know. There wasn’t much gun talk growing up.

My grandfather hunted, though not religiously, until his shotgun lost favor to a golf club. He set his sight on birdies instead of squirrels. In 1999, when he died at 84, I asked someone to safely store the gun bequeathed to me. I was parenting two children then. I did not want them and the gun under the same roof.

I have not seen the gun since. I have never held it, heard it, or felt its kick. I have not seen the way it can kill, nor even so much as lay waste to an empty beer can propped on a stump — the poor man’s skeet shoot. The distancing between me and my grandfather’s posthumous gift does not bring even the slightest discomfort to my conscience. If I’ve learned anything from my family, it’s that it's OK to be yourself.

I held a few grownups’ guns as a kid, a shotgun, a rifle, even pulled some triggers during target practice, but I never took pride nor comfort in the act of shooting. It did not make me feel any bigger. It hurt my ears. It hurt my right shoulder. It taught me that I have aimless aim. It did not make me feel like a man. It did, however, make me feel momentarily dangerous. I did not trust myself with a gun, but that’s because I did not trust guns.

I got a Daisy BB gun for Christmas and then graduated to an air-pump pellet gun — gateway guns to weapons of greater destruction. I killed one robin with a pellet. I remember the moment the brown-breasted bird dropped from the limb and hit dirt with a soft thud a few feet from my bare feet. It happened fast. It happened slow. It happened over and over. I could tell by my dad’s eyes that he was unimpressed. It was my Opie Taylor moment. I type now about the guilt still felt for the senseless gravity storm triggered 50 years ago. The dying bird’s thud seems like a hand grenade’s blast now. On that same day, I retired the pellet gun, and there came the shaping of a sensitive heart unable to hurt another animal.

I didn’t graduate to the next level of firearms, despite having close cousins who did. My father possessed a shotgun, though he never hunted. Hunting was never expected of me, nor denied. My parents let me choose. I respect the rights of those who legally hunt local game. I just can’t partake.

I hate the suffering that guns create, either out of accidental trigger-pull, self-righteous intent or sheer insanity.

My grandfather on my mother’s side once found himself staring into the double barrel of a shotgun in the parking lot of a tavern in Derby, Indiana, on a drunken Saturday night. I’m not so convinced he didn’t deserve the view. Luckily, his son cold-cocked the gunman before the trigger was pulled. My crazy gene most likely came from my mother’s side.

I have loved ones licensed with handguns for self-defense — smart people, responsible people, kind-hearted people. I trust them with their guns. I envy the sense of personal security guns provide them. There are times at night in bed when a strange noise makes me wish for a handgun. Once, my grown son paid an unannounced visit, startled me awake when opening my bedroom door, and I felt very fortunate not having had a handgun then.

Several years ago, my father’s handgun was stolen from a hotel room down South. Later, he was notified by law officials that the serial number on a gun used in a crime in Chicago matched that of his stolen gun. No other details were shared. Was his handgun used for murder? It’s not that farfetched of a fear.

The older I get the heavier guns weigh on my mind, mostly due our country’s mass shooting epidemic. Guns represent pain, not progress, for society. Our country was born from war and remains weaned on violence. Politicians created “the right of people to keep and bear Arms.” I believe in this right — but in its most basic sense, in its original intent, not in the way some gun crazies today have morphed the amendment’s meaning to fit their selective, self-serving definitions and save their gun collections. The common Joe or Joanne’s belief in the freedom of ownership of automatic assault weapons and other arsenal overkill, without legislation, is belligerency in the baking, a full-frontal assault on the safety of all. There’s no such thing as too many guns or too dangerous of a gun. That’s my interpretation of their thinking.

On the heels of the recent mass killings in Atlanta (eight casualties), Springfield, Missouri (five casualties) and Boulder, Colorado (10 casualties) — it could be our town next — it is dispiriting to know that our county officials have been asked to declare our county to be a 2A sanctuary county. Paranoia does strike deep in the heartland, indeed. I already can see the blood-red lettering on our bullet-holed welcome signs: “A proud 2A sanctuary county.”

Gun sanctuary — a most disturbing oxymoron.

One person’s sanctuary is easily another person’s hell.

Keep morality, not politics, in scope on this one.




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