Standing up for the right to bear arms
By By Kim N. Price, Guest Columnist
The late, great Charlton Heston used to lament about going to Washington, D.C. for a couple of reasons. He served as a lobbying officer of a national gun organization and he had to go. But one of his most noted dislikes was that he did not feel as safe there as he did in other places.
He also knew Washington was the home of politicians -many who opposed people having the right to own guns, especially handguns. One of Heston’s longest running missions as part of his work with the National Rifle Association was to protect Americans’ right to bear arms, no matter where they lived.
He would have rejoiced last week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to strike down the District of Columbia’s 32-year ban on handguns.
Politicians and conservation groups across the country exalted at the victory for the constitutional rights most people never suspected they would have to defend.
Ever wonder why Washington, D.C. had one of the highest crime rates in the country? Even though it was illegal for homeowners to own handguns, the criminals didn’t pay attention to the laws, they had their own.
But not here. We have guns and use them for hunting animals, not people.
My granddaddy Price had a closet full of guns. He had an old revolver he used to keep on the top of the refrigerator on his back porch just in case any varmints came into his yard, or especially if they got into his garden. He kept rat shot in the shells, so it wouldn’t kill a stray dog, but sting it good. He also had an old single-shot .22 rifle that he could knock down a squirrel at 40 yards, clean it and eat it for supper before you could say ‘good shootin’ pawpaw.’
My granddaddy was also a security guard for Avondale Mills for decades. He had a little ole snub nose .32 caliber pistol, looked like something they would today call a ‘midnight special.’
He only told me of having to pull it once on a fellow who tried to climb a fence at the mill in the wee hours of the morning to steal some cloth that was stacked up on a loading dock awaiting transfer to the finishing mill.
He never told me if he shot the fellow or not, but my granddaddy was one of those who never got over the South losing the War of Northern Aggression. He used to tell me he kept guns around just in case those Yankees tried it again.
My first gun was a single barrel 28-gauge shotgun my daddy was given by my granddaddy. My daddy let me carry it on quail hunts when I was about 9 years old, and it took me three years before he ever gave me a shell to put in the gun. Daddy always said I would some day understand why he made me do this.
He had a gun case full of all kinds of shotguns and handguns. But it was always off limits to us boys unless he was there with us. My granddaddy had his guns in the closet and we’d sneak in there sometimes and look at his guns. He would have spanked us knowing he was not there with us too.
We were taught why guns were dangerous and what they were for – in our times it was for hunting to put food on the table. We did not sport hunt for the sake of killing something. If we shot it, we ate it. As my friend Gordon Forbus would say, “Dang shells cost too much to just go shoot something.” They still do.
We believe you have the right to own handguns or any kind of guns, as long as they are legal. That’s your constitutional right and we don’t need the Supreme Court confirming that. But we too believe guns or for specific purposes like hunting, for policemen to enforce the law and the military, not just for killing people.
That is where the problem in this whole debate comes into play. The folks who know what guns are for are not the problem. It’s the criminals who use guns for other reasons that cause the rest of us issues.
Kim N. Price is publisher of The Wetumpka Herald. He can be reached at 334-567-7811, or by e-mail at kim.price@TheWetumpkaHerald.com.