Quite a few years ago, my uncle remarried. With his new bride came an eighteen year old son that had been raised in the urban areas of New York. The rural western United States gave him quite a culture shock. For his part, he added a little fun and diversity to the family and, being a bit outgoing, his influence grew to include this side of the state. I still think of my cousin fondly. There was however, the day that he caught the first glimpse of my uncles somewhat paltry gun collection. You see, in rural America you don’t buy a gun, you have a collection. Guns are like wrenches, they come in different sizes and they have different purposes. The only purpose my cousin knew about was knocking off the corner liquor store. When he caught sight of not just one gun but several in different sizes and shapes, he freaked. He thought his mother had married James Dillinger and Ted Bundy all rolled into one.
It took some time but eventually the lack of knowledge and the emotions were brought into normal ranges by simple education. My uncle taught him how to shoot, how to be safe around guns and what each of the guns individual purposes were. You know, stuff that us country boys know from about the time we are eight.
That brings us to one, in a rather long list, of stupidities that annoy me. With our recent Oregon shooting, as with many in the past, several in the media, ignorantly proclaim, “He had twelve guns!” Written as if it is some indictment that our shooter was in fact a crazy loon. Well, he probably was but, that rather meager gun collection is no indication of it. Twelve (it was finally decided that the accurate number was fourteen) is just about right for a set of wrenches or for a bevy of firearms.
The configuration is often very personal but most would read something like the following:
- Bolt action .22 with scope for plinking and small varmints (probably the first gun gotten for a birthday or Christmas and has memories attached.)
- Semiauto .22 for plinking and rabbits because the bolt just wasn’t as fast as those rabbits and your friend.
- Bolt action hunting rifle for deer. Usually in a medium sized caliber. (.270)
- Bolt action hunting rifle for elk. Usually in a magnum caliber. (7mm or 300)
- Bolt action, very accurate varmint gun. Heavy barreled with high magnification scope. (22-250)
- Semi-auto, high capacity, military looking rifle, just because Pres. Obama doesn’t think you should have one and they are a lot of fun. (.223)
- A .22 caliber pistol for plinking and the occasional snake.
- Two small pistols for conceal carry because, like your pants, you just don’t want to wear the same one every day.
- A medium caliber revolver (.357) with a six inch barrel for the truck just in case you see that pesky skunk at the end of the ranch access road and you want a pistol you can hit something with.
- A serious, high capacity, rapid fire pistol (.40) for combat courses and/or home defense.
- Large caliber pistol (.44 magnum) for side carry when bow hunting in bear country.
- A 30 inch barrel shotgun for ducks and geese.
- A shorter barreled shotgun for partridge and smaller game birds.
- A very short semi-auto shotgun loaded with buckshot for home defense.
- A lever action cowboy rifle because, as a child, you always wanted one and it fits in a scabbard on a horse.
I know the list includes more than twelve guns. You see, no one that I know has finished putting together his set of tools yet. You always need one more gun.
So the next time you hear some reporter (conservatives from New York are just a guilty as our neo-liberal friends) list a mere dozen guns as a “stock pile” without details on what kind of guns they are, just realize they are idiots. They probably have no idea what to do with a wrench either.
Samuel Waen Jensen