I grew up with guns in the house. My father, Ulysses, was a born outdoorsman. He loved hunting from childhood. In addition, part of his career was spent as a Parole Officer. I have memories of him bringing home hand guns he’d confiscated from some parolee. They’d be locked up in the safe until he could turn them over to the department. Occasionally, I’d get a peek at one but he was adamant that I not touch them. Any gun holding of mine was done with rifles by strict instruction and testing in designated areas. Like the woods in the south. Under no circumstances was I ever to disrespect firearms.
Bambi changed it all
Keep it mind, if you will, that I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. They were my friends. Still are. They all had BB guns. They’d ask for them for Christmas. They’d get them. I’ll refrain from mentioning some of the hideous childhood things we did with them. Suffice it to say, we were way ahead of Johnny Knoxville and Jackass. I still have a mark on my butt. But, I never wanted one. Because inside my house was a couple of 12-gage shot guns, a 22-gage, and my youth rifle, the 4/10. Why would I want a BB gun? Also, if my parents ever caught me with one, I’d be lucky to see the next day.
The Disastrous Hunt
Ulysses was also a fisherman. A massive passion from his childhood growing up in Sibley, Louisiana. The eldest of 7, they called him “Sib.” We spent countless hours on a boat, he had his own Mercury motor, trolling the waters of June Lake in the High Sierras, or, Lake Cachuma, north of Santa Barbara. Forever the city kid, or burb kid, your choice, I hated everything about it. Baiting the hook with that slimy worm. Eww! Waiting for hours on end for a “bite”? Are you kidding me? There’s no TV. I couldn’t use my Sony Walkman. Another key point was I’d run out of chips and starbursts. Also, I never understood why you had to be so quiet. Do fish have sensitive ears or something?
Meeting Sean Penn
Likewise, hunting with him was equally comical. Be it duck, pheasant, rabbit, or squirrel, I wasn’t killing nothing. I’d seen Bambi. I never recovered from viewing Bambi’s Moms’ violent gun death at age 6. He’d tell me to create space and walk in the scary woods at ungodly hours of the morning, parallel with him, but barely within eyesight. A twig would fall from a tree onto the ground. The snapping sound causing me to jump, thinking it was the bogeyman and my demise was surely near. Losing concentration on those tiny specs way up in the trees. He’d whisper-yell, “Pay attention, boy!” Apparently, my exclamatory movements were causing the animals to retreat. Aw. Shame. Thumper was also part of that cast you know.
How much is enough?
In the late eighties, I was cast in a play called G.R. Point. Specifically, Graves Registration Point was where the dead bodies of soldiers in Vietnam were taken to be embalmed and processed. Accordingly, it was a heavy, very dramatic piece. During rehearsals, we were put through a grueling mini-boot camp and instructed on the proper use of M-16’s. We wore helmets and flak jackets and the cast became very close during the run. One of the cast members was friends with Sean Penn. At the time, he was married to pop star, Madonna. He took us to the Beverly Hills gun club and taught me how to shoot a 357 magnum and a 9mm semi-automatic. I flashed back to my childhood and my Dad’s insistence on gun respect. A trait he and Sean shared. He took time with me, taught me the proper stance and I turned out to be a really good shot. I loved it. Still, it never fueled a desire to own one.
Tellin’ Lies will only get you by for a little while
In 89 days of 2023, there has been over 125 mass shootings in America. Mass Shootings in the US. The only country in the world where this occurs multi-daily. Gun violence is now the #1 killer of children. When I was a kid, the only school drills we had were fire and earthquake. Nowadays, kids across the country are well-versed in mass shooting drills and anxiety and fear of going to school amongst children is at historical highs. PTSD has skyrocketed. I have long said that I feel way safer outside of the United States than inside. Most of that stems from the way the world sees me as a black man versus the country of my birth. However, looking at the facts I’ve made as part of this blog, it’s not the only reason.
“Do not hinder them”
In the Bible, Matthew 19:14 says, “Let the little children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” I am so tired of seeing people in the media and on the internet defend the right to own assault rifles without a license or a background check. The lies constantly repeated by all factions that things happen and this is how we’ve evolved are pathetic. Certainly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most of my Saturday mornings not spent complain-fishing or fake-hunting with my father were spent watching Saturday morning cartoons. Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Scooby-Doo and Elmer Fudd were favorites. Watching the clip above, albeit hilarious, was an early indoctrination into gun culture by Hollywood. Look at how many War movies, cop shows and Westerns still permeate screens worldwide. Being shot in Hollywood
I don’t want to preach. I’m not here to judge. But something has to change. I believe so much of this is based in fear. A powerful emotion. We’ve lost the ability to reach each other through love. However, love does conquer all. It’s way more powerful than any fear based on a lack of feeling loved. I was so blessed to be loved by two people who only wanted me to be happy and healthy. Nothing else mattered to them. My mother, Ruby, used to play this song by the Staples Singers in our house all the time. Tellin’ Lies. It’ll only get you by for a little while. Roger Federer, one of tennis’ all-time greats and Trevor Noah, comedian, have formed a friendship through their affinity for South Africa, where they both have roots. It’s a beautiful piece and Switzerland is breathtaking. The love and friendship they have for each other is palpable. The Ride of a Lifetime preview. Forever the escapist, it’s nice to see a country handle gun ownership responsibly. Will that ever happen here? What is it gonna take? Thanks for reading.
What are your thoughts on guns?
Thanks for your patience while I struggle through the workings of this website. Hopefully, notifications and comments are working properly now.