Thursday, January 31, 2013

Me and Guns

Ron the Skunk Hunter - I'm not really a hunter - I just play one on TV


The first gun I had was a Daisy air rifle, also known as a "bee bee" gun.  The year was about 1952, and like some of the cooler kids on my block of Washington Avenue in Downingtown, PA, I wanted a bee bee gun.

I don't remember the circumstances of if someone bought me a bee bee gun or loaned me one.  But this is what I do remember.  As soon as I got my greasy 12 year old paws on that bee bee gun I went outside of the apartment building that we lived in the white trash poor section of Downingtown and took aim at a solitary robin who was perched on a telephone line outside our apartment building.

I put one of these out of its misery when I was only 12 years old

"BANG!"  Actually, it was more like a "SWOOSH!"  Bee bee guns don't "BANG!"  

I looked up and saw the robin fall from the telephone line, where he/she wasn't bothering anybody until "keeping up with my peers" self ventured out into the street to end that bird's life.  Guess what happened?  I didn't feel good about what I just did.  Where was the fun?  Where was the excitement?  Wasn't there folks.  Just didn't happen for me.  For sure I was gay even then.  

But wait!  My cousin and my much loved uncle, (who never married, come to your own conclusions) were devoted and avid hunters.  And both were very nice men.  What's up with that?  

My beloved Uncle George with his kill

My father was a hunter.  I think all of my father's ten brothers were hunters.  Ironically, neither I nor my two younger brothers were hunters.  We just never expressed any interest in killing animals for the "sport of it."  Not that there is anything wrong with that (actually there is but that's a subject for another whole blog posting).  

I think my brothers had their Come to Jesus Moment with guns when my one brother accidentally shot my other brother in the back with a 22 rifle.  Yes, they were teenagers messing around. The rifle went off, ricocheted off of one off of our father's shack and the 22 caliber bullet lodged into the small of my brother John's back.  Nice move Isaac.  They were 14 and 15 when this happened.  John had the bullet removed and, as far as I know, they never got into our father's gun cabinet again.

My brothers John and Isaac Tipton - still here

In fact, when my father died in 2000, our Mother said we could have the guns.  Split them up, there were about six of them.  No assault weapons, just your regular deer hunting rifles which could kill a teenage boy playing around with it as easily.  We told a neighbor he could have the guns.  They're gone.

My father and my uncle with their kill

In the years since both me and my brothers, who are fiercely, till they die, conservative, have not owned any guns nor do we intend to own any guns.  For you see, we're of that ilk who depends on the local police for protection.  You won't see us at the front door, with a 30 clip assault weapon, defending the family from intruders, and the latest made up threat, those black helicopters. 

My friend Bob and Me in Provincetown with our best Village People impersonation - 1974


  1. Really enjoyed reading your post and like you I can not stomach the idea of killing animals for sport. I am not so kind to flies and spiders though so there probably is a flaw in my thinking. Thought your photos enhanced your post. Thanks for your comment on my cycling post!

    1. Paul,

      Like you I don't see the "fun" in killing animals. Just not my thing. Sport? Hardly. I don't like to kill anything but I do kill flies and mosquitoes but I draw the line at spiders. I pick them up with a tissue and "relocate" them.

      You're a good-looking guy. You should post a photo of yourself on your profile so when you make a comment everyone can see your handsome face.


  2. Anonymous2:50 PM

    Hey Ron,

    I've kept quiet about some of these polarizing issues. I wish everyone would take a deep breath, step back, and use some common sense.

    Isn't it funny, though, that not all of these issues are black and white? I am by no means a gun nut. None of my family hunted, so I didn't grow up with guns. Guns are not toys. Period. They're not something to be trifled with... at all. Can they help dissuade some punk from committing a crime against you or your family? Certainly, if you have it handy. Are you in a position to have a gun handy all the time? Not likely. Could the U.S Military be used as an instrument of tyranny against its citizens? It's possible. Would the average armed US citizen be a match for the full might of the US armed forces? Not a chance. Are there people in gov't who would like to lord it over us, and abuse power, and take away all our freedoms? You bet! Will they be given free reign to do so anytime soon? It's unlikely. (Thank you Lord for checks and balances.) If you had a weapon, and someone was trying to kill you or your family, would you use it? Most likely.

    I will say that we have some friends that live out in the country. There was an incident last year where they were being physically threatened. The wife was able to "convince them to leave" by having her shotgun in hand. It may have gone badly for this family otherwise.

    The biggest problem I have with any type of blanket gun-control legislation is that I don't think it does anything to protect the average citizen from armed criminals or the criminally insane. Criminals don't follow the laws of the land. (Duh!) The criminally insane are going to do whatever the voices in their head tell them to do, regardless of the law. It's just a bunch of grandstanding so people can fool themselves into thinking that they're safer now.

    Absolute 100% guaranteed safety can never be legislated. It's just not possible. Also, most legislation introduced by our esteemed leaders likely has hidden agendas, and is not really in our best interest. (Yes, I'm a little cynical.)

    The real roots of the problem are multi-facted. Lack of mental health awareness in this country is a big part of what's eating us right now. That and a lack of good role models for kids, especially boys. (A person's ability to be a role model has nothing to do with anyone's sexual orientation in my opinion. This is where I have to part company with Evangelical Christianity in this country.)

    OK. I'll get off my soapbox now. I've bent your ear enough.

    P.S: I hope you'll still be my friend. OK?

    1. Sean,

      If only one life can be saved by outlawing assault weapons then it is worth it. Do red lights prevent all traffic accidents? Do speed limits prevent all traffic accidents. Do people die by knives? Are people strangled to death? Common sense has to prevail and the availability of assault weapons has to stop and backgrounds checks have to increase. Will it stop all crime? No, but maybe, just maybe one life will be saved. And I don't buy the "slippery slope" argument. That's an argument used by the NRA who now represents only the gun lobby who is only interested in making as much money as they can. Blood money. Citizens arming themselves in their households because they're afraid of the black helicopters (government coming in and taking their precious guns away) just doesn't make sense either. Even if a citizen were to arm himself to the hilt, does anyone thing they really stand a chance against the firepower of the U.S. Government. We really have to get serious here, the government is not going to take away hunting rifles and handguns. Just not going to happen. But background checks? Yes. Will it catch every nut? No. But it will save more lives. Common sense.


    2. Anonymous10:43 PM


      You'll have to excuse me while I pull my foot out of my mouth. It ends up there... a lot.

      I actually am in agreement with you on this issue. I am in favor of banning certain classes of weapon. It probably didn't come out right through all the other "spouting off" I was doing. I'm working on my communication skills. (It's a work in progress.) Have a good night my friend!

    3. Sean,

      The government is not going to come in black helicopters and take away your guns. President Obama's proposal is actually very modest, prohibit the FUTURE sale of any assault weapons. Again, if this saves one life, child, teenager, or adult; it is worth trying.


    4. Anonymous8:13 AM

      (Humor warning.)

      Got it! No black helicopters. They'll be camouflage! (Chuckle... giggle... guffaw!)

    5. Sean,

      President Obama got into a lot of trouble with his "clinging to their guns and religion" comment but he said the truth. There is a segment of our society who is paranoid about conspiracy theories and thinks the government is going to take their guns away from them. They are delusional. I feel sorry for them.


  3. Ron, my story is incredibly similar to yours. I had a pellet gun when I was twelve and soon became incredibly adept at using it. One day I shot a big blackbird that was sitting on a telephone line. After it fell, I was overcome by a surge of guilt. The sissy part of me took over. I cried and vowed I'd never shoot another living thing as long as I lived. So far I've kept that promise.

    A friend of mine had his eye shot out by a BB gun when he was ten (his brother accidentally did it) and that incident contributed to my dislike for guns of any kind.

    Incidentally there were no hunters in my family.

    1. Jon,

      Incredible! Yes, we have very similar stories. I too was overcome by a feeling of tremendous guilt. What right did I have to take that bird's life away? I think the "sissy" part of me took over. I'm sure that's what my father thought. To his credit he never forced me or my brothers to hunt. He was big on us learning how to cut chickens heads off though. That was horrible.

      I think guns in the home pose a much greater danger because of accidents than is offset by the need for safety. We have to get real here, if someone has a home invasion, how long is it going to take someone to get the gun out and at the ready? Same with arming school teachers. What? They're going to wear holsters with guns? Around kids? I can see that working with a classroom full of 16 year old boys.

      As I said in my blog, both my brothers dodged a big bullet (an apt metaphor here for sure) when no serious damage was done when Isaac shot John in the back. He had to go to the hospital to have the bullet removed. That was close.


  4. Anonymous4:18 PM

    I respect everyone's opinion on gun ownership, and think that a well thought out and reasoned opinion such as yours is the type that means something. Personally, I'm a gun owner. Mostly for sport. Shooting at a thick stack of wet phone books with a large calibre handgun is just FUN! As to hunting...I have mixed feelings. At least for white tail deer, of which there are more of now in VA than when the white man invaded, hunting is the only form of population control short of starvation, disease and vehicles. But pure sport and "trophy" hunting bothers me. Oh, and I don't own any "assault style weapons", just sporting firearms.
    Peace <3

    1. Jay,

      We're in agreement on the white tail deer. When Bill and I first moved to our 7 acre "estate" in the woods of southeastern Pennsylvania back in 1980, I used to put out apples for the deer in the winter. A few years before we moved I had given permission to two Amish brothers to bow hunt for deer on my property, they were that numerous. They were literally eating all of my shrubs, even during the daytime, right under my kitchen window while I washed the dishes. My father and uncle hunted for the deer meat which they loved. My father also like the trophy aspect and had three mounted deer heads in his knotty pine lined living room. When he died in 1980 my Mother said "Pop wanted each of you boys to have one of those heads." They're still there, not interested. Can you imagine me having a deer head in my house here in Delaware?
      I don't have a problem with hunters, just the assault weapons which are intended only to kill large numbers of people. And I don't believe in the "slippery slope" argument. I think the NRA works only for the gun lobby which, of course, is interested only in making money. Blood money.


  5. Anonymous10:13 PM

    Oh yeah, an open, honest and most important...A CIVIL THOUGHT PROCESS!!!!!

    Ron, in this area, they come up on your deck and eat the flowers!!! I say "shoot 'em!" HAHAHA

    Jon, I missed the whole BB gun thing, and my dad gave me my grandfather's shotgun and rifle when I was in my early teens, and I learned not to do THAT when I was taught gun safety, though I view no one who did it with any contempt...geeze, you were boys, sh!t happens, and usually a lesson is learned!

    Sean R., there are always stories of guns saving lives. Unfortunately, they are in the minority, and make up a far less statistic than those illegally killed with guns. But that is another side of the argument, and I prefer to err on the side of caution, thus the 9mm pistol within reach while I am home, and many times when I am out and about. This weekend, I will carry it for two full days as part of the security for an event I run that deals in cash - $30k-40k worth. There will be many others on my staff equally equipped.

    There are always two sides to every story, and nuances that add many more. I am so thankful to have found a place where reason takes hold over FANATICISM!


    1. I am in agreement with you Jay!



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