Photo of a granny with a gun
I never wanted to own a gun. In the early 1960’s, when my wife and I lived on the lower east-side of Manhattan and gang violence and drugs had started to take over, I didn’t feel the need buy a gun.
In 1966, I was stationed at Selfridge Air Force base during the Detroit riots. Even though we were located 30 minutes from Detroit, their inner city violence was spreading closer and closer to our base. I still didn’t want to carry a firearm.
In the 1970’s and the 1980’s, I witnessed first hand, the horrors of NYC’s drug scene, violence and it’s ever rising crime rate. Our town’s impending bankruptcy symbolized our complete downfall. Even then, I didn’t feel the need for personal protection.
But, two years ago, at the age of 70, I changed my mind. Was it watching my neighbors, friends and patients die on 9-11? Was it seeing the kid’s faces at Columbine? Was it watching the slaughter of unarmed solders at Fort Hood? Was it old age? Who knows? But one thing was for sure . If I ever had to step up to the plate and protect my wife, children and, now my grandchildren, I would be ready.
Our new journey started when my wife and I, two 70-year old retirees, took a gun safety and home security course, given by an NRA instructor. Our liberal friends in Great Neck and Roslyn thought that we had gone mad. Therapy, medications or institutional care, were suggested for our “irrational” behavior. But now in spite of all the looks and comments from most of our friends and ALL of our family, the NRA now had its two, oldest “new” members.
If you knew more about our upbringing, you might understand how unusual this behavior was. Being born and raised in Brooklyn, in the 1940’s and 1950’s:
- Hunting consisted of throwing rocks at some stray dogs or cats.
- Fishing was eating Gelfite fish during Passover.
- Camping was sleeping over in my cousin’s apartment in the Bronx.
- The out-of-doors consisted of playing in the schoolyard across the street from our apartment.
- Every summer, our parents decided that we ought to see nature for ourselves. So off we would go, packed in a 4-door 1956 Chevy, to a tiny bungalow in some remote town upstate. We were introduced to some ridiculous-looking plants or flowers and in return, all we got out of it was allergies and poison ivy!
- Viewing the landscape , was sitting on our ” stoop”, or if you had one, climbing up to your own fire escape.
- Lakes and streams? You must be kidding! The only beach we ever heard of was “tar beach”? For all you non-inner city folks, that was the tar roof of our tiny walk-up apartment.
National Geographic it wasn’t!
So you now see, considering my upbringing, guns had no recreational value whatsoever. Using a gun for protection was never even a consideration. It would have been an admission that your strength, intellect, common sense, and education all had failed you. “Street smarts” always kept us out of trouble. Self defense was limited to your two fists and a pair of sneakers, Of course, our own tough guys always defended “our street” against any intruders. Our front door was never locked and we certainly never had a key. We all knew who the “troublemakers” were and problems were settled between guys, families and neighborhoods.
Guns you see, were totally unnecessary in our society. and should, and did, remain in the hands of the police. They were only found in gangster movies – 9/11 changed all of that.!
So, there we were, two self- conscious, retired “old geezers”, nervously applying for a senior-citizen, discount pass at our local Nassau County rifle range. But, now the problems really began. Attempting to fire our new 22 without hitting anyone else in the building was certainly a tactical problem. Hell with the targets! Just avoiding injuring ourselves became quite a challenge.
In my mind, I was Butch Cassidy and my wife was either Thelma or Louise. I still couldn’t figure out which one. Maybe Laurel and Hardy would would have described us better.
It also never dawned on me that I would have to actually clean my own rifle. Me? A retired dentist, clean a rifle? You should see me do it now.
The range was freezing in the winter and really hot in the summer. The sounds of the “real guns” were deafening. I tried blaming the gun-range for my hearing lose but my wife insists that I have not been listening to her for years.
The lessons of home security and self protection coupled with gun safety, gave us the quiet confidence that we had been looking for. We began to respect the “gun culture” and the 2nd amendment. I began to read everything I could about our country’s early history and our great Constitution. We were also meeting new wonderful people and we began to view this “new” segment of our society in a totally different way.
When Colorado’s Democratic State Senator, Angela Giron, and John Morse , President of Colorado’s State Senate instigated and then pushed through a bill which limited some of Colorado’s long held gun laws, the New York Times rejoiced. Any gun restrictions caused an immediate celebration. As Mayor Bloomberg said, guns should be permanently banned.
Lost in the emotional controversy, at least here in New York, was that someone who carried a gun, and was properly trained to use it, could have prevented some tragedies. Also overlooked, was the misguided belief that our mayor knows what’s best for everyone else, like those folks living in Colorado. “Unsophisticated rednecks” should always consult with our elitist mayor, before they make any decisions on their own. Right? ,
But then, something amazing happened. Some local Colorado residents decided to really test our constitutional form of government. After all, the Western persona historically is based on individual freedom, self reliance and independency. No one, especially the East coast liberal elites, were going to tell these folks what to do. What happened was truly remarkable. They decided to try the impossible and to recall and replace these two state senators who didn’t represent them well.
The anti-gun lobby, with an initial $350,000 donation from our own Mayor Bloomberg, and a 3 million dollar war chest, were convinced that only their opinions counted, and they challenged the recall.
The results came in. Colorado 1, New Yorkers – 0. The two Colorado State Senators were given the boot and they were replaced by two local Republicans. Way to go, Colorado!
I ask all you anti-gun New Yorkers, one simple question:
What would you do if some folks from Colorado came knocking at your door, and passed a new law permitting hunting, fishing, and camping in our own Central Park? Or Christopher Morley Park? Or Kings Point Park?
I ‘m sure you would not be very happy.
By the way, did you know that Illinois, home of the ultimate liberal – Barack Obama – became the latest state to pass a concealed-carry law? I’ll bet many of you in New York, don’t even know what that is. Even then, I am sure you are against it anyway. Starting next year, the law will allow workers to bring guns to their office parking lot! Another example of Americans deciding their own fate.
“These united colonies are, and of right, ought to be, free and independent States.
~John Adams July 1776
“…… the right of the people to keep and bare arms , shall not be infringed,”
~U.S. Constitution, 2nd Amendment