The News Pauper: When I Was Eight

By W.B. Dunne

The News Pauper jumped into his time machine for this bit, inspired by the rebellious America portrayed in the recent expose of gun show sales ignoring background check laws.

I grew up in the military; I was trained from an early age as to the seriousness of guns and bullets. The sound of gunfire was so familiar to me in my youth, I could identify caliber and direction. The weapons I handled ranged from a small nickel-plated .38 six-shot revolver, .22 rifles, 12 and 410 gauge shotguns (breach and pump), and an M-16fully automatic. By the time I was ten my father had taught me enough that I became the gun roadie for the band of hunters he slew pheasant and geese with.

I went to the firing range a million times when I was a kid. My fathers sniper and marksmanship trophies filled the many homes we traveled through as I grew up. Before I ever even fired a gun I had been taught about stance and recoil, and mostly how goddamned dangerous they were in the wrong hands. I was also left with the impression that the most important thing of all was to realize the wrong hands might be your own.

My eureka moment came when I shot a hole in my kitchen wall after cleaning my .22 baby revolver I had bought from a guy in Missouri back in the early ’80s. I never carried it for protection; I could throw a punch that had more velocity than the bullets in this rusty thing did. I kept it in my house unloaded and once every year Id get it out and clean it, throw a round in each chamber to make sure they all came out of the gun nice and shiny and free from residue or dirtthen put it back in the box where I stored it.

My soon-to-be wife had called me on the phone during one of these cleanings, and when I finished talking to her I hung up the phone and picked up the pistol. Mistakenly thinking that I had finished the task of removing all the shells, I cocked the hammer to check the pinyou can guess the rest.

The family had a rule, you get to have one fuck-up with a firearm, and from then on you were done with guns. I took that pistol out to the garage and sawed the barrel and the grip off, and then disposed of the parts in four different dumpsters. The ammo I gave to a locksmith buddy of mine.

Coming up October 26 is the anniversary of the death of Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., an eight-year-old boy killed when the Uzi he was firing recoiled and an errant round hit him in the head — at a gun show.

Every day in America is an anniversary of many such deaths.

I feel lucky that my firearm failure story was repaired with some spackle. The weapons people are glorifying only possess that glory when they are silent. When these metallic icons speak it is usually with deadly results and laments follow soon afterwards. Im just saying that owning a gun is the most fearsome responsibility an individual can take upon himself. The reason there are so many gun deaths in this country is because many who would defend themselves are actually killing themselves and their loved ones through negligence of that great responsibility.

We all know deep down when were getting played by deviant pols or hucksters to distract from the real issues of the day that affect us all. Im sure that the ACORN folks can testify to sensationalists pointing out one hidden camera video in order to take down an entirely respectable enterprise. Im sure that someone cheered when the group beat that kid to death in Chicago, that video helping those hoping to decrease the success chances for the city to host the Olympics. Im happy to see someone surreptitiously taking video of those flaunting the laws meant to protect innocents from the irresponsibility involved in selling guns to people that cant get though the background check. I support the prosecution of those parties that see fit to act so irresponsibly.

This is The News Pauper, signing off.

Contact the author at WBDunne@ltsaloon.org

2009 W.B. Dunne. All Rights Reserved.