Since we live in a very small town with very little in the way of grocery stores, my wife and I almost always drive to the larger (small) town of Marshall nearby. It normally takes us about 20 minutes because we like to take a county road that runs in a small river valley through which the Redwood River flows (more nearly the “Redwood Brook,” but folks in the Midwest don’t know about brooks). On our trips we are always alert for wildlife. A pair of eagles nests in the region year-round and we often see them and their offspring. We have also seen a great many deer, pheasants, wild turkeys, raccoons, box turtles on the pond (when it’s not dry), and the occasional snapping turtle. In addition, there is always a host of bird life. The trip, as I say, is supposed to take about 20 minutes but it can often take twice that long, depending on what’s going on in the river valley. We always come armed with binoculars and drive slowly through that area.
Not long ago we had stopped on the road to watch a group of wild turkeys. I must admit I had been driving very slowly and had failed to check my rear-view mirror because the turkeys were putting on a show and the road hardly ever has anyone else on it so traffic is seldom a problem — which is one of the reasons we take the road. But this time I was alarmed by loud shouting, including profanity, coming from a red pickup behind me that drove into the oncoming lane where the driver put down his cell phone and stopped to open his window and read me the riot act. Now bear in mind that this road is so seldom traveled that this man could sit there in the oncoming lane for 30 seconds or so to chew me out. He could have stayed longer. But chew me out he did, to my everlasting humiliation and chagrin. I smiled and
pulled out my AK-47 and shot him apologized, feeling sheepish and angry at one and the same time.
The point of this brief anecdote is to suggest that if I had an automatic weapon in my vehicle I can imagine myself sorely tempted to pull it out and at least threaten the man with it, which in retrospect would have been very stupid indeed. He was being boorish and bellicose and my instinct was to respond in kind — and I am not a violent person. I don’t like confrontation and I wouldn’t ordinarily think about shooting a pheasant or a wild turkey, much less another human being. But he was way out of line, given the situation, and at that moment I could imagine doing just that. In fact, I can see why people who carry weapons use them and it makes me more concerned than ever that our gun laws are so lax and that so many people are not only able but eager to carry a loaded weapon with them wherever they go. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that the number of gun deaths in this country will continue to escalate, to the dismay of those survivors who have to attend the funerals of their loved ones killed by a hand gun — and to the delight of the gun manufacturers who are reaping such huge profits from our collective stupidity, anger, and fear.