First a refresher for those who may have forgotten. The Battle of Gonzales was a minor skirmish fought in 1835 between a detachment of cavalry from the Mexican Army and band of Texians from the city of Gonzales which lies about 70 miles east of San Antonio and 70 miles south of Austin. And yes “Texians” is spelled correctly. Texian (with an i) refers to citizens of Texas before it became a part of the United States, more specifically to people who supported Texas independence.
I love guns. I’m always surprised that some people discuss the subject with hushed tones, as if we are dancing around something improper or dirty. There is a stigma about guns that is altogether unwarranted and unfair, and I’d like my children to learn otherwise. Here are four things I want them to consider. First, guns are fun. It takes practice and skill to hit anything with a gun. And there is a certain sense of accomplishment when you hit your mark. Like any hobby, there is the assorted accouterments to research, collect, and share with friends. Gun owners possess a vocabulary that sounds intimidatingly masculine just by the very nature of the subject. There is a certain sense of acceptance into an exclusive club when you know your way around firearms, can hold your own on the range, and understand the related jargon and culture. In this sense, its a little like golf only when people ask you what you shoot you give them make and caliber. Second, guns are great tools. They can be used for hunting. They can be used to prevent crime. They can be used to stop criminals. You should never believe the argument that guns are evil things. Guns are merely tools. Knives, axes, spear, and fire are also tools. Tools can be misused, but that’s not an indictment of the tool itself. Firefighters often start brush fires to stop the spread of more dangerous wildfires. Gunowners may have to use guns to stop criminals who would misuse guns. The solution here is to make sure the goodguys have better guns than the badguys. Don’t buy that silly argument that “nobody needs an assault rifle.” There is no such thing as an assault rifle. If I’m neck deep in a foxhole defending my buddies from the enemy, at that point its called a “defense rifle.” Inanimate objects have no will, no moral compass, or soul. They are tools. Third, guns contributed to the democratization of the United States. American history was shaped by guns like the Pennsylvania Longrifle and Colt’s six-shooter, and the Springfield rifle. Not only did these guns bring independence to America and put an end to slavery in the South, they made it possible for people to live on a western frontier where the only semblance or law or order was strapped to your belt. This gun culture of the American West created an egalitarian political system unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Aristocracy is hard to maintain in a land where every man carries his own army. Finally, guns are beautiful. The craftsmanship of guns, old or new, is an amazing thing. The minute mechanisms that coordinate to produce an explosive reaction, the structures designed to contain that energy, and the devices that allow the user to control this are fascinating; beautiful in their simplicity, terrifying in their potential. Beyond aesthetics, guns represent the ability of men to harness nature to create something useful. Field stripping and cleaning guns provides a sort of Zen therapy knowing that you, the Master, have the ability to deconstruct and rebuild an instrument of such power. And its always nice to put the guns away, clean and shiny for next time. No, guns are not to be feared, but revered. I hope my kids will know the excitement and responsibility that comes with gun ownership. I’m working on that now.