It wasn’t always this way. You used to have a rifle and maybe a shotgun for hunting. Some folks had a pistol – usually a revolver. Boys had a .22 to shoot bottles and vermin. Maybe a few guys bought a gun that their wife didn’t know about and hid it in the attic. A few “collectors” had some rare pieces. You might have some extra ammo around. No one had an arsenal. No one kept 1000’s of rounds of ammunition in their garage or basement. Some men and a goodly number of women liked owning a gun, but it didn’t go much beyond that.
Somewhere that changed. Red can’t exactly pinpoint it, but maybe it was in the late 70’s that the gun lust started to build.
After college, Red was living in an apartment up in Northwest Hills with his friend Tom. He didn’t own a gun, but there were some fairly well-to-do country boys who lived next door. Red thinks they were taking the 5.5 year route to a degree at UT and enjoying their time in Austin before heading back to God knows where. Tom was much friendlier with these guys than Red who was working pretty hard to make ends meet. But when Red would go over to visit, the guns were always out. And as Tom put it, these boys wouldn’t just handle their guns – it was like they were fondling them. You almost expected them to put their lips up to a .45 and give it a long loving kiss. It was a love affair. Red’s not sure but between the three of them, they probably had 20-30 weapons in that apartment. You’re probably wondering like Red did at the time, “why so many guns, gentlemen?” Because other than that, they seemed like fairly normal country boys. Except for this. They were virulent racists. As they more or less indicated, they were armed to the teeth because at almost any moment “the niggers in East Austin” were sitting there plotting how they were going to rise up, sweep into Northwest Hills (or any other white part of town) raping, pillaging, killing, looting and most importantly stealing all the guns. They weren’t about to let that happen to their little corner of the world.
This was the first time Red encountered true naked gun lust. Yes many of his friends had guns, but Red did not at the time. Red’s daddy had been through the worst of it as a medic and ambulance driver in a battalion aid station in France, Belgium and Germany in WWII. Red could only guess at how many wounded and dying soldiers he had seen. He wanted nothing to do with guns or hunting. He did let Red have .22 and shoot bottles out at the ranch, but that was about it.
But still, the gun lust in Red started to grow. He started hunting in his 30’s and found that it was an enjoyable experience. Not so much the shooting and taking of game, but the outdoors experience and camaraderie. And everyone had a nice deer rifle but Red. So he bought one and then a shot gun and then he wanted more and more. The lust was taking hold. When Lil’ Red came of hunting age, he got a rifle and a shot gun (both nicer than Red’s by the way). But was that enough. The lust was strong and Red couldn’t even tell where it came from. It made no sense really. Red believed that there should be some restrictions on gun ownership, that nobody needed a semi-automatic weapon or stockpiles of ammo, that there should not be loopholes for background checks and that some other ideas might be useful as well. Yet, the creeping lust was there. Red would always check out the gun counter at the local sporting goods store and think, “It would be nice to have one of those.”
Finally, Red said enough was enough. He kept the two hunting rifles and shotguns because they were actually used for hunting and a .357 because his father-in-law gave it to him and sold everything else to someone in whom the lust was still running strong. Yet, it still makes Red a little proud somewhere deep inside that he is a “gun owner.”