Thursday, November 29th, 2012
On the last day of the second grade, my dad picked me up from Ewing Lane Elementary School. I was happy to see him. He worked long hours as a policeman and was rarely around. I treasured our time together. As we walked to our house, he said, “You got good grades this year, and I bought something for you.”
I really wanted the three-story Barbie Dream House. Instead, my dad announced, “Here’s your first gun.” It wasn’t a doll mansion, but I liked guns just fine. I was excited as I carefully held my Bearcat Revolver under his careful eyes. We spent the afternoon at the old Ellingsworth Farm shooting doves.
Please keep in mind that this was the early ’80s in an Indiana town on the Ohio River. Back then, fathers kept their rifles on mantles, and I don’t remember seeing many gun cabinets–let alone locks. Hunting was a family past time, and my dad and I would take our beagles to round up rabbits on the weekends. He did the shooting while I helped with the hounds. The skinning part was unpleasant, but eating the bunnies was delicious.
Today, gun safety is a much more serious issue, as it should be. Responsible owners lock their firearms away from children. Adults and kids must take gun safety and hunting courses in most states to get their permits. Thank goodness this isn’t the 80s.
This post isn’t about the hot-button issue of guns and all that goes with it. It’s not about being for or against them. I’m writing about how my dad and I bonded over hunting and shooting, and how the sport shaped my young life. I don’t own guns of my own, but I do encourage my dad to get them out and talk about them to my kids when we visit him. I want them to know about gun history, craftsmanship, engineering and culture. My dad is a true expert who can take any gun apart and put it back together again. He is a living encyclopedia and an artful treasure.
That’s why I’m reading The Gun Book for Parents today. It brings back good memories. While I probably won’t own guns myself–I’ve settled for shooting with my dad when I’m in Indiana–other parents out there will. This book is for them, and it is exceptional. The authors are experienced gunmen armed with knowledge that’s as rich as my father’s. They explain everything gun-related in easy-to-understand detail, from basics to safety to hunting and so much more. The book is written precisely for parents to introduce guns to their children in our modern world. Safety and respect are the goals. It’s a companion to the equally exquisite book called The Gun Book for Boys. If you’re interested in firearms at all, these books are must-reads. Now they just need to come out with The Gun Book for Girls. Girls can shoot, too.
Did you grow up with guns? How did it shape your feelings toward them now?