Please forgive the alliterative title … I’ve been paying too much attention at church (love you Pastor Tim!). But it’s true. Since childhood, firearms and fireworks have been a part of my life. My attitude towards guns and support for the 2nd Amendment is based in no small part on my childhood experience.
Some friends and I were talking about this very thing. How is it so many adults today actually -fear- guns. Not the people who might hurt them with it but the object itself. Clearly they don’t understand firearms.
We shared our experiences and how they shaped our thinking today. I thought to share a couple of my stories with you. Perhaps if more people have positive experiences early on things will be different.
It started with bottle rockets; a gateway firework if ever there was one. After stern adult warnings, we stopped shooting them at each other. For a while, anyway. We began tossing them in the air after lighting the fuse. Until someone made one spin in the air like a baton. Imagine the possibilities! Then one ignited and shot right back at us! As that was not much different than actually shooting at each other, we just went back to that.
This, when we were not laying bottle rockets in a old piece of gutter we found and, using crude elevation and rudimentary Kentucky windage, trying to hit the chimney on a neighbor’s roof. When the cops arrived, there were spent bottle rocket sticks laying in plain sight on the roof. It wasn’t a raid. No arrests were made. They shook their heads and told us not to do it again since we could catch the roof on fire. We had honestly never thought of that.
All this when we were not creeping around in fields of tall grass in the dark throwing lit fire crackers at each other like grenades.
But my best memories of shooting are tied to model cars and ships.
With the cars, we heated up a knife blade and, after putting the wheel on, flattened the end of the axle. The wheel was on AND would turn. With the model finished, we would roll it down a hill and shoot BB guns at it. By then we had learned the hard way to all shoot from the same side of the road. Bobby DeNiro in “Ronin” had nothin’ on us!
Which brings me to “the boat!” They used to make models of US warships you could put a battery in. It would float and the screws would turn to power it. We built one.
On THE day, before we put it in the water, we smeared some model glue on the superstructure and fixed a cherry bomb inside the hull. We hooked up the battery, put the superstructure on, lit the glue on fire and set the boat in a pond. Scampering around to get a right angle on our shots we were awestruck.
We saw an honest to God, US warship on fire, under power and streaming thick, black smoke as it steamed across the pond. We started firing and the BBs hitting the water recreated scenes from “Sink the Bismarck” with geysers of water spraying up around it.
My future ex-brother-in-law squeezed off a perfect shot and blew the bow off the boat which was then driven under water until it disappeared – spouting flames and smoke and leaving an oily residue behind on the water’s surface. It was AWESOME …
Did I mention we put a cherry bomb in it? Or that cherry bomb fuses are waterproof? Just before submerging, the fire must have hit the fuse because a moment after the boat hit the inky depths of Davy Jones locker, there was an ENORMOUS underwater explosion! We went crazy!! It was pure snakes, snails and puppy dog tails!
We spent a couple of years and a small fortune trying to do it again. No joy. But guns and fireworks? We were hooked and these remain fond memories. As we aged we moved on to .22s, 12 gauges and .45s. But over 40 years later the foundation remains.
Today, I don’t fear guns. They are work tools or a wonderful hobby. Perhaps if people spent time building memories instead of tearing down legacies there would be more – you know – diversity and tolerance.
But as long as gun laws are made by those who fear guns and not those who understand and appreciate them, Liberty is in jeopardy.