Please forgive the theft of lines from Johnny Cash and Buffalo Springfield.
I’ve never gone out walking with a bible and a gun, but I own and know the value of both. I was raised on them, taught to respect them, shown their strengths and weaknesses and then given the freedom to decide what they meant to me. They don’t define me, though. Only my actions can do that.
When President Obama won election for his first term, I joined the NRA. I’m educated. I’m empathetic. I’m aware of the pain that easy access to guns has caused to countless in this country. However, I don’t believe that the guns themselves are the problem and I am troubled by some of the legislation that has been enacted in recent years that make it harder for good people to get guns and, more importantly, to get to their guns quickly when they are needed most.
You can share statistics about the likelihood of a gun in a home being used to prevent a crime verse it being used to, accidently or otherwise, harm a family member and it won’t change my stance. The world is a dark and tragic place and bad things are going to happen. It is because of that truth that I still want the option of defending myself and my family with the same tools that could be used against me.
Plus, in my heart, I’m a cowboy. I may not ride a horse or work the dusty trails with a gun on my hip. But, I fight for those I love and take care of my community. I stand up for what is right and don’t expect anything in return. I take responsibility for my mistakes and try to improve myself to keep from making them again. I’m a poet with my head in the old west, in the romantic taming of this great country.
Sadly, I can’t actually pull off the cowboy hat look. However in my imagination, one is always there, with the sleeves of my shirt rolled up, dirt on my jeans, and a weathered revolver in the leather holster slung low on my right side.
There’s a man with a gun over there, telling you you ought to beware, but it isn’t me. I’m over there minding my own business, trying to do right for my loved ones, trying to build a better community. I’m living by the codes of conduct I took from the bible in my youth: respect, patience, forgiveness, and belief in the potential in us all. We can be great. I believe in us.
That doesn’t mean that I trust all of us, and I am ready to take care of trouble should it find me.