Fridays Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South
What Would General Jo Shelby or "Stonewall" Jackson Say?
When I was in the Marines, there always seemed to be more guys from the South in every unit I was assigned to. And in every unit, without a doubt, we had at least one, if not many from Texas. When I moved down to North Florida, I assumed that the place would be filled with rednecks, who would have a King James Bible in one hand and a copy of the Constitution in their back pocket. I was sure they wouldn't have had both in their hands, because they needed that other hand to hold their rifle.
Well, it really isn't that way down here. I do see a lot of cars and trucks with a "Semper Fi" plate on the front. I even have one. But to be honest, I have met lots of "born in the South," adult males who don't even own a gun.
The guy in the shop next to me was born in Florida, and he told me he gave all his guns away. The subject came up because I am working on building a gun case that will be hidden in the wall. It will have a mirror on the front that can be trimmed with the same painted molding that goes around the windows and doors of the room it is in.
If somebody breaks into your home, you don't have the time to get a gun out of its case and load up. Have you ever seen one of those gun vaults? They are nice, and yes, they do protect your weapons, but in an emergency, those locked up guns give you no protection.
What I am trying to make is a safe storage facility for whatever weapon you will use for home protection. If you don't tell anyone about this hidden gun case, you won't have to worry about somebody stealing your gun. Children won't even know it is there.
So, back to the guy next door to my shop. He isn't the only no-gun Southerner I have met since moving down here. They are all over the place, and I kid you not, chances are very good that they will have an "Elect Obama" sticker on their car or truck.
This guy got rid of his guns when he started raising a family. All I could think of was that when he finally had something precious to protect, he gave away the protection. The guy said he didn't think guns should be around children, and I agree whole-heartedly.
However, when I grew up, some time before I can remember, my father and mother taught me to respect my dad's guns. They were always in his bedroom closet, and I knew without a doubt I was never to even go in there and touch one. As I grew older my dad taught me gun safety, and we would target shoot and later on hunt together.
In truth, I can't think of even one house in Northern Minnesota that doesn't have a few guns and rifles. Not a lot of pistols up there, but plenty of ammunition. I used to make gun cabinets with glass doors. People up North liked to show off their collection, and the case would be in the living room or den. Then, after a while, those glass cases were moved out of sight to the bedroom. I can't even tell you how many people I know keep a loaded shotgun or rifle at the ready in their home. And thinking hard about it, I can't recall any children being injured with their dad's gun. Up there chances are just as good that the "ready" gun would be mom's.
I guess for some reason a lot of Southerners have bought into the anti-gun people's propaganda. Of course times have changed. I had gun safety in Boy Scouts. Ambrose Bean, was our Scout Master. At one time, he was the Sergeant Major of the Army, and had been on the Bataan Death March. Nobody made any cracks about the name Ambrose, and he was really strict on safety. I also had training with my dad, and we had a rifle range in our high school basement, with more training there.
I was in the Marines and in a war. (Vietnam) I shot my rifle some and cleaned it lots. There were thousands of other Marines and Soldiers around too, doing the same. Most guys had rifles, but some had pistols, machineguns, M-79 grenade launchers, and they all had to be kept clean so they would work properly when you needed them. Nobody in any area I was in got shot accidentally. Thousands of young guys, all under severe stress, and no accidents.
Like I said, times have changed. Now, we have a generation of fathers and mothers who didn't get gun safety training when they were young, and so they can't pass that training on. I must say that it does surprise me that there are so many anti-gun people in the South. I just assumed that the South would be like rural Minnesota. I was wrong.
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