Commentary: Run on guns makes no sense

We were struck by the pioneer spirit one day. It was 20 years or so ago, up around the foothills of North Carolina, I believe, when a long-time buddy who's a writer with a vivid imagination said, "Hey, let's go buy us some guns."

So off we went, to some big variety store and the sporting goods section, and there, for about $75 apiece, we found shotguns. Mine was a long single-barreled thing, a 12-gauge, designed to bring down the big stuff, the salesman said, everything from a deer to a bear. Although, as I recall, he recommended not using it for "possum or squirrel, because ... well, there's nothing left."

This seemed like a good fit. Where I live, inside Raleigh's Beltline, most possums and squirrels are sent to critter heaven with Chevys or Toyotas (or in other neighborhoods, with BMWs or Range Rovers, la-dee-da) and so I figured the gun would only be needed should a wild bear appear in a nearby mall during the after-Christmas sales. Or perhaps I would be called upon to pose for some kind of outdoor catalog, on account of the gun would give me kind of a John Wayne thing, if you know what I mean. As it turned out, the shotgun remained only partially assembled during the entire period of ownership.

I am a man not unfamiliar with weaponry. My grandmother kept a pistol, loaded, in a chest of drawers in her home in Shelby for 50 or 60 years. It had belonged, I recall, to her grandfather, who had left the comforts of home for a place called Gettysburg. I think my Uncle Jim came and got it one day and disposed of it, believing it was more of a hazard to her than it might have been to an intruder. I did at one point get a deer rifle from a cousin, but it merely gathered dust. (As mentioned, I was more of a bear man.)

I even had competitive credentials, once participating with a lady friend in a turkey shoot somewhere near Greensboro. A friend of mine and his wife were the sponsors. The lady friend was from the mountains and won a turkey. When my turn was done, my friend said, "Well, you didn't win anything, but here's a free Coke because you'll need it to ice down your shoulder."

So given my vast experience with firearms, it is with some interest to note that since the election of Barack Obama as the next president of the United States, and even for months before, gun shops have experienced a run on heavy-duty weapons, selling them to enthusiasts who apparently think an Obama administration will ban guns, or something close to it.

Look, not to put a damper on gun sales, we of this space being all for American commerce and small business and having nothing against guns, but Obama has actually said quite the opposite. He says he believes people have a right to own guns, a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution, which is something his alma mater, Harvard Law, takes fairly seriously. Unfortunately, the gun rights lobbyists tend to spread the word that the Democrats, who are notoriously contentious with one another – and couldn't harmoniously organize a tackle box – are somehow going to put together a nationwide confiscation of all guns. It's not so. In fact, it's preposterous.

First, Obama wouldn't do it. Second, even if he wanted to do it, Congress wouldn't go along. Now, might there be some reason to clarify and clean up what gun laws do exist? In the words of famed moose-hunter Sarah Palin, you betcha. The laws are multitudinous and confusing, and it appears that in some states there are loopholes that somehow allow people to obtain weapons they shouldn't have.

But that's a far cry from the government's going door to door to take people's guns. Yet apparently, some folks believe the speculation, which is why more of them have been in the stores and in search of these assault weapons or guns that are like assault weapons or whatever the classifications are for these military-type firearms.

I don't think that everyone who wants an assault rifle is a "gun nut" or that people who enjoy collecting weapons are all survivalists retreating to the woods to live in permanent isolation. That's ridiculous and unfair. But it does seem a little strange that in a world that regulates the use of rare tonewoods in guitars there would be such a never-ending fuss over any change in laws pertaining to guns.

Ah, well, not all contradictions can be understood. For now, I'll just keep my powder dry and my trigger oiled. Turkey shoot season is upon us, and with a break or two, I could win a case of Cheerwine.