Grannie Get Your Gun


Anti-Gun-Contol? Pro-Gun-Control? It doesn’t matter; there’s something funny about grannies with guns (unless they’re aiming at you!).

The gun control issue has been a hot one in this country for as long as I can remember.  According to the various media, there are two sides: rightists who think that everyone should be armed and leftists who believe no one should be. That, of course, is totally inaccurate. Like most issues that divide us, this is an issue that has many shades of gray. I guess you could call me a moderate since I do and do not believe in gun control. I believe that any sane, rational personal who wants to own a gun should be allowed to have as many as they like, and that criminals and crazy people should not. In other words, people who would use a gun to kill someone or something shouldn’t have guns, people who wouldn’t can.

There are those who would argue that gun ownership is not sane or rational. Those people are called extremists. Then there are those that cite the Constitution and the right to bear arms. They belong to the NRA.

No matter on what side of the issue you stand, you know that Americans have a fascination with guns. Our history was written at gunpoint, from the time Europeans landed on these shores through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, prohibition, both World Wars, the Wild West, and drive-bys.

There are stories in the Coe family history of a great-great-great-grandfather who worked on the building of the North Platte Railroad. At one point, he worked on a crew within a stone’s throw of a little old lady’s farm. As for accuracy, I can’t vouch for the size of this lady, or her age. For all we know, she could have been 40-years-old and 6’3”. But as so happens in so many stories, she was a “little old lady.” And this said lady sat on the porch of her farmhouse with a rifle across her lap. Should any of the railroad construction crew members take a step onto her property, she took a shot at them. Clearly, she was not in the same class as another inhabitant of these family legends, “some nice old lady.”

2843415_f520Family history, like American History, is studded with a variety of firearms. There are the inevitable Civil War stories, the poker games with pistols parked on the tables, World Wars I and II, and a variety of other questionable and apocryphal tales, the most famous of these features Phil Coe, a man determined to kill Wild Bill Hickok. While Phil was indeed “a gambler and a gunman,” it has never been proven to my satisfaction that he and I sprang from the same branch of the family tree.

I have, though, shared the American fascination with guns. Decades ago, when I first heard of the AK-47 assault rifle, I said, “I want one of those!” The definition of “want” being “that is so cool but I really shouldn’t have one.” Some people, when discussing the need for a gun, have a certain model they imagine, as in “If I had a .45 he wouldn’t be walking the earth today,” or “where’s a Glock when you need one?” For me, it’s been the AK-47. Being a typical middle class housewife, I haven’t the slightest idea how one would procure such an item. Being an intelligent middle class housewife, I’ve always known I shouldn’t have one. My reasoning is simple: guns are like toys, if you’ve got one you’ve got to play with it, and we all know what happens when you play with guns.

One evening, about a month ago, Chip came home from work and told me about a friend of his who has an AK-47. The gist of the story was that you could actually just go into a store and buy one. They’re legal. My question was, “do they come in pink?” End of conversation.

Chip and I do not exchange Christmas gifts. We are fortunate enough that when we need something we go out and get it. Therefore, gifts are generally comprised of things we don’t need. And if there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s more stuff that we don’t need. We also do not exchange birthday, Valentine’s or anniversary gifts. Name an occasion and we don’t exchange gifts to celebrate it. If I’m in a store and I see something I know he needs or wants, I get it for him. Those are the items we call “presents.”

Yesterday he went out to gas up his truck and pick up some lunch. He called me from Hardee’s to see what I’d like to eat, I told him, and he came home with the meal. He dropped it on the table and said that I should stay in the kitchen, that he had something out in the truck for me, a Christmas present. It was special-ordered and he wasn’t able to pick it up before the holiday because we were snowbound.

I confess, I suffered a moment of terror when I imagined he would come back in with a puppy. We’ve already got four cats and a dog in our tiny farmhouse. Imagine, then, my surprise when he reentered the kitchen bearing a toy—a pink AK-47 assault rifle! We’re talking pink here, pink in all its girly glamour. He handed it to me with a cheery “Merry Christmas” and I was shocked at its weight. This was, indeed, a real AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle.

I’m from New Jersey. I lived there for fifty years. In New Jersey you can get firearms but you can’t just walk into a store and buy one. You can’t even easily get a Daisy Model 1938 Red Ryder BB Gun, which just happens to be the last Christmas gift Chip gave me, two years ago (and which I also considered getting for him when I saw them displayed at the local WalMart, but thought better of it). The idea that I might actually some day own an AK-47 never occurred to me.

Surprisingly, I don’t have mixed feelings about my “gun.” Right now, my main thought is that it’s pretty cool to be a gun-toting grandma. Why, I have been elevated to the ranks of Sarah Palin! I haven’t test-fired the rifle yet, Chip did that. He couldn’t wait. I am left musing, however, what kind of sick person thought up a pink AK-47? It does go very nicely with my pink Blackberry, pink digital camera, pink netbook, and pink DS.  Pink Cadillac, here I come!

It turns out that there are lots of weapons made with the “weaker sex” (they sort of equalize the playing field, don’t you think?) in mind. I even found a “Hello Kitty” AK-47 at Manufactured by Glambo (no, I’m not kidding) it is thus described: “The world should note the hand-crocheted shoulder-stock muffler and the anodized titanium plating. This fully functional firearm fires standard 7.62mm 125 or 150 grain ammunition with a muzzle velocity of approximately 710 meters per second and a maximum effective range of approximately 300 meters. Several choices in stock wood are available.

With a limited run of only 500, buy now before they’re gone! A mere $100 extra includes Glambo’s signature wood-burnt into the opposite side of the handguard. A perfect gift for the young lady of the house.”  Hello Kitty herself appears on the stock and magazine. What really intrigues me is the “hand-crocheted shoulder-stock muffler.” I don’t have one of those.

Now, should I have a gun? Any gun. Since I’m post-menopausal, there is some question about the rationality and saneness issues. Even if it’s “a perfect gift for the young lady of the house,” what is it in the hands of the old lady of the house?

I expect that I will fire my AK-47 a few times (or a few hundred times), put it in a closet and refer to it only when I need to threaten a cat (“Boris, if you don’t stay off that table…). The idea of using it, as Chip suggested, to take out a few of the coyote overpopulation is anathema to me. Nonetheless, I suggest that anyone interested in building a railroad near my house consider that notion very carefully.

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