I’ve shot a gun. I’ve lifted a barrel, aimed, squeezed, and felt that kick that just about knocked me off my feet.
My dad was a fan of guns. He was a hunter from the time he was a young man. He loved being outdoors. He wanted to be a big-game hunter. He wanted to be at home in the wilderness.
He got as a close as a kid from the Bronx could get.
He also had a Walther PPK handgun. James Bond had one, I believe he told me. So it was cool. He and his cousins all had a thing for cool guns.
He used to love to go Numrich Arms in West Hurley, which I gather, from a quick Internet search, is still in business. He collected guns that people who like guns tell me are pretty special.
I wouldn’t know. But he did try to teach me to shoot. He hung a paper target in a tree when we were far away from anyone, or even any animals, and he showed me what to do.
I did it, but I can’t say I much cared for it. Too loud, too dangerous.
He was a responsible gun owner. He had a locked cabinet. He taught me to respect those guns, and to stay the hell away from them unless he was right there, supervising me carefully. Dad was a big guy with a deep voice. I listened.
He was also, I am certain, a member of the NRA. He would have considered it a group comprised of like-minded people. Dad was a Republican, and a conservative, but this was before those two things required someone to lock their morality and conscience in a closet to belong.
In later years, he grew to regret the hunting he’d done.
“I wish I’d just taken pictures,” he said. “I was out there because I loved animals.”
He’d be even more appalled at the corruption that has rotted the NRA and his Republican party.
Dad was a guy with an incredibly strict sense of right and wrong. He wouldn’t have been able to stomach a Republican president like this one. He’d have defended him at first, but the evidence would have overwhelmed him by now and he’d be voting Democratic if that’s what it took to sweep a con man out the White House.
I think the charges against the NRA would have led him to turn his back on them, too.
He didn’t like liars and cheats. And he would definitely not send his money to swindlers.
Dad and I didn’t agree on politics, but when it came to basic standards of human decency we were on the same page.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.