One of the first things my father did when he returned to Oklahoma was to buy a Browning automatic shotgun, a beautiful gun with a dark walnut stock and the famous Browning humpback design. He promptly took up quail hunting and it became his only recreation.
Quail were in abundance in northwestern Oklahoma during the 1940s. The quail hunters had all gone off to war, and the countryside had been depopulated during the Great Depression when a lot of my father's relatives became Okies and went to California down old Route 66. There were literally millions of bobwhite quail in the brushy country on the Kansas border, and you could kick up a hundred or more just by wading into a random plum thicket.
My father was a minimalist when it came to upland game hunting. No fancy Gortex rain gear, no Orvis sportswear, no pricey equipment from Cabella's. When my dad went quail hunting, he took his shotgun and a cardboard box, which contained a cheap, faded hunting vest and two or three boxes of shotgun shells.
When I was about twelve I began to go quail hunting with my father, and I saved up my paper-route money and bought my own shotgun--a used Remington Model 11, another beautiful firearm made in the pattern of my father's Browning. I kept my shotgun in the closet with my Dad's.
For my dad and me, shotguns were not weapons; they were sporting goods--something like a fishing rod or golf clubs. Many of my teenage friends had shotguns, and it never occurred to any of them to take a gun into a school and start shooting people.
But times have changed, and now people can buy assault rifles with extra-large magazines. And these guns are fairly cheap. You can purchase a new assault rifle for anywhere between $500 to $1500. And the sporting goods stores sell assault-rifle ammunition in plastic tubs that hold a couple hundred rounds.
Now the politicians are talking about a nationwide gun buyback program designed to get firearms out of private hands--assault rifles mostly. Senator Joe Biden and some other presidential contenders endorse this idea.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, Senator Biden, but the guvment ain't never going to get all them guns out of people's closets. We now have more guns in the United States than we have people. There's a gun for everybody, even the little babies and toddlers. And people are not going to give those guns to the federal government.
Senator Joe, Beto O'Rourke and Senator Warren might get people to sell their dusty old shotguns rusting away in the attic: their bolt-action .410s, their single-shot, 16 gauge Savages. But if they bought an assault rifle or a 9 mm pistol, they are going to keep it.
And any politician who does not understand that is not smart enough to be President.
|The Browning automatic shotgun: A beautiful thing to behold|
Note: The title of this essay was partly inspired by a passage from a book by James Howard Kunstler.