Does Your Friend Own a Gun?

February 24, 2018

By William Owens - usa

In 2003 I moved to upstate New York and lived there for a little more than two years.  Unlike the teeming metropolis we see in Spider-Man movies with bumper to bumper streets and sidewalks, upstate looked like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting.  Sprawling farms, miles of planted flatlands and quaint little stores. A place where you leave your coins on the counter and yell at the guy in the storeroom, “I’m taking a few extra potatoes!” The people have a few things in common too, from roughhewn hands, born of hard work and hard winters, and a plethora of guns; rifles, pistols, and shotguns.

In 2005 I was sitting at the kitchen table with the homeowner’s wife late one afternoon, eating a beef on weck and watching the sunset through the kitchen window. Her husband had been deer hunting that morning and was out later than she or I had expected. It was about 4:30, the sun setting over the horizon and in he walked, covered in deer blood from his knees to the tip of his boots, “pardon the mess, I just finished field dressing my deer, got some good venison,” he said. His wife told him she had been a little worried because he was so late. Excitedly, he ran back out to his truck and brought a rifle case back into the house. He had stopped a few miles from home to attend a gun show and purchased a now legal semi-automatic rifle.  It seemed odd to me to go shopping, literally dripping in blood, but he was unfazed.

He plopped the case down on the kitchen table and gleefully opened it and with a big smile took the weapon from its foam lined encasement, caressed it like a baby and asked me, “would you like to hold it?” I instantly felt a sense of dread, to me it was a killing machine, to him it was a soon to be, rat-a-tatting baby.  That encapsulates the debate for me. The gun culture sees every weapon as precious and any attempts to have even a meager change in their rights is “socialism” and taking away a right “granted by God” in the words of NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre.

This brings me to my question; do you have a right to know if your friend has large caliber or semi-automatic weapons in his possession when he invites you over for a beer?

The deer incident and semi-auto purchase shook my moral belief in my friend.  He was the same decent guy before and after, I thought, but I discovered from subsequent conversations, the amount of weaponry he and his wife owned. Granted, they lived in a desolate area with maybe five homes within a 15-mile radius, but they left their front door unlocked and cars unlocked because “we are safe out here.”  He even sold some of his freshly grown produce on the road that passed his home. It was on the honor system a coffee can sit on a table surrounded by baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables, you took what you wanted and put the cash in the can.

His wife slept with a .357 magnum under her side of the bed, he had a shotgun in the corner on his side, across from me in an upstairs bedroom was a small cache of guns in a second bedroom that was kept locked. So, they and I were able to rest comfortably with open doors, but I was three steps away from a small arsenal, I moved shortly thereafter. Why did it take the juxtaposition of blood and guns to make me aware and were my “friends” obligated to tell me?

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