My twenty-two caliber rifle is almost as important a tool on our garden farm as my hoe. I need it to dispatch overpopulating wildlife that would otherwise make our way of life almost impossible. You don’t need to agree with me on that to get a laugh out of the irony that is presently facing us. We went to town yesterday for a box of rifle shells and there was nary a one to be bought. All the stores that normally sell them were sold out. Even Walmart. The regular gun store had plenty of other shells but not .22s.
Had the anti-gun lobby or some organization for the protection of animals decided they could win their point if they attempted to keep .22 caliber shells out of gun owner hands? Surely not. Twenty two caliber rifles are only a little more effective than paint guns. As a social statement, buying up armor-piercing shells would make the point better.
Want I learned was that gun owners, or at least bullet owners, were hoarding the shells. Why? A gun store proprietor rolled his eyes and shrugged. It didn’t make sense to him either. A sort of panic is in progress. Some shooters are taking advantage of it, buying up .22 shells in bulk and selling them by the box at inflated prices at gun shows. Many of the buyers really believe the government is going to take away their guns and ammunition. As insane as that might seem to some of us, if that were really the case, hoarding twenty two caliber rifle shells would be about as effective a way to stop Uncle as stocking up on slingshots. The hoarders should be thinking rockets and rocket launchers if they really believe what they say they believe. Please, freedom fighters, have mercy. If it’s the principle of the thing, why not hoard peashooters so at least property owners like myself can defend society from a real danger: raccoons.
When I was a young man, I loved guns and hunting. I got fairly good at shooting a pistol from the hip. Practicing my fast draw, I almost shot my big toe off. Even in the seminary a group of us supposedly pious students were dubbed “the sonuvabitchin’ Davy Crockett boys” (you can read about them in my novel “The Lords of Folly” if you can find a copy) because during free time, we avidly roamed the Minnesota River valley pretending to be great white hunters. The only thing we ever actually killed that I remember vividly was a steer that had broken out of a barn and gone wild.
But so help me, not once in all those wonderfully crazy years, did any of us ever have any notion that we were learning how to protect ourselves from bad guys. Carrying a concealed weapon was as foreign to our thinking as carrying bazookas over our shoulders. The issue so much argued today about whether to allow guns in churches or bars would have brought howls of disbelieving laughter from us. Even in the wild west movies, the sheriffs learned to make the gunslingers check their weapons when they came to town.
I can see what’s coming. The walls of church vestibules will soon be dripping with handguns during services while the preachers give sermons on loving thy neighbor.
I opened up an advertising flyer from one of our local stores recently and found pictured there, right before Mother’s Day, a pink pistol for sale. I thought at first it was a toy. No. It was a .380 Ruger handgun. $299.00 please. When I asked about it, I was told in all seriousness that nowadays a woman needs to consider protecting herself by keeping a gun in her purse. Really? My experience trying to find stuff in women’s purses is that I’d be robbed or raped twice before I could even fish the pistol out, much less shoot it accurately. A spray can of insect repellant would be cheaper and a whole lot more practical. A society that thinks it has to carry pistols in purses for protection has already lost the battle.
P.S. For the record, a few days later I beat the hoarders to the gun store and got a box of shells. I bought two, not knowing when they might be available again so I was adding to the hoarding fever. They were five bucks a box. Back before insanity gripped us, they were two bucks a box.