My one and only uncle-by-marriage was an avid hunter, and I could count the number of times I actually saw him in my life, if not on one hand, then certainly on two. The only time I can remember being his house was horrifying to me, because a large trophy was mounted on the wall of his, was it a den? Whatever he called it, there was a deer’s head and a very large set of antlers that dominated the room. The first time I saw it–and I think I was about ten years old–I knew I could never be a hunter. Killing that animal, and then mounting its head on the wall, struck me as a barbaric act.
At Christmas dinner every year, my uncle would go on and on about the Nashnul Rahful Soseeashun and what a good thing they were doing for all Americans. He must have known that my family had no guns, and had no inclination toward guns, and this must have rubbed him the wrong way. Just like evangelicals go out looking for converts to their religion, my uncle seemed to think that we should all own and use guns, even if we didn’t realize it.
The last time I saw my uncle, not long before I left my hometown to go away for college, he offered to enroll me in a gun training course, and to pay for it himself. Knowing how little I actually saw him, and not being the least bit interested in learning how to shoot a gun or a rifle or anything of that nature, I put him off with some sort of an “I’ll think about it” line. And sure enough, I never saw him again, as he passed away several years later.
I thought about my uncle in the wake of the Newtown Massacre last month. Why none of the other shooting rampages brought him to mind is beyond me. But I remembered the offer that he made to me the last time I saw him, and it made Adam Lanza a bit more understandable to me. Adam Lanza’s mother had guns, and she took her son to shooting ranges with her. Guns were introduced to him at an early age, by an older family member.
I was never introduced to guns, by my father, my uncle, or anyone else, but I’ve seen what guns have done, and will continue to do, to my city and my nation. Guns have thinned our collective herd, and for some this is the price that must be paid to preserve the Second Amendment. I see it a different way, though. For all of the innocent lives lost in Newtown, and Aurora, and Chicago, and a thousand other places, we need to make our stand.
President Obama is taking a huge risk to his personal safety in doing this, but right is on his side. Doing nothing is no longer an option.