My friend Ron Ellis and I really coveted those things. We had outgrown Santa Clause and one of us remembered his Mom saying those "awful guns" were overpriced, so neither of us was particularly optimistic. But we'd walk past that window display every day thinking how great it would be to run through the woods with such a real-looking weapon. The imaginary "Japs" lurking in the weeds wouldn't stand a chance.
The store cut prices by half on its unsold toys on the day before Christmas, and our parents relented and we got our guns. Couldn't wait to go out to the woods and hide behind trees and shoot "Japs." Did so for a day or two, swaggering like the Duke, feeling like big shots, tough guys, but ere long the simple noisemaker on the wooden guns broke, and we had to shout "blam blam blam" or something when we shot "Japs," and pretty soon it wan't such great fun having wooden machine guns, and our killing sprees ended.
That was my last infatuation with guns. Same for most of my friends. The war to end all wars ended, Johnny came marching home, there were blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover and real-life sports heroes replaced John Wayne. And then, one day, the little boys of Harrison Street were young men, striving wherever young men strove those days to be ready to deal with the Real World.
In the Real World you learned to respect the rights of others, including those of different colors or creeds. You learned to respect the law, and obey it, and you learned how to work to change the law if it was unjust or unfair. You learned about things like perspective and priorities and equality. You learned about prejudice and hate and bullying.
And you learned there were those who never did grow up, who never did outgrow the coveting of guns, whose insecurity required phallic trappings and bullying comrades. They tended to gather together, these little boys of middle age, and bring their sons and nephews with them, in places like the National Rifle Association, and ad hoc militias, at shooting ranges and in the great outdoors, toting their heat. Sometimes they called themselves "hunters" and"outdoorsmen" but in reality they were would-be murderers who mostly did their killing in fantasies. A few -- far, far too many -- fulfilled their fantasies against real people, in shopping malls, parking lots, churches, government buildings, army posts and schools.
Fort Hood. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Blacksburg.
From their intellectual puberty, these monsters of arrested development shouted their tortured Second Amendment logic, their posturing of patriotism, their utter nonsense about their "rights" to have and to use firearms, until even right wing propaganda sheets like Rupert Murdoch's New York Post called them "nuts." On the front page!
"Nuts" they are, but dangerous ones.
Ron Ellis, wherever you are, I'm grateful that we grew up. Merry Christmas.
Less Than Two Weeks
After Sandy Hook
WEBSTER, N.Y. — An ex-con set a car and a house ablaze in his lakeside neighborhood to lure firefighters, then opened fire on them, killing two, engaging in a shootout with police and committing suicide while several homes burned. Authorities used an armored vehicle to evacuate the area.
Police say he lay in wait outdoors for the firefighters' arrival, then opened fire probably with a rifle and from atop an earthen berm, Pickering said.
"It does appear it was a trap," he said.