Some weeks ago I was sent (by the boss) back to my home town (KC MO) on business. All expenses paid. That was rough. But since my return home here in Fairbanks (that's in Alaska) I haven't been able to sleep at night. Oh, I sleep fine during the day but not at night.
Well, I sit here tonight (wee Am) with a single highland malt over domestic ice and ponder the present world of guns and shooting. It has changed so much.
For me, my first love, not counting my sixth grade winch, is blue steel and walnut. That is such a rarity these days. It seems we must have shiny stainless steel and some new color and texture of synthetic, of plastic. They shouldn't make stocks of plastic.
I think of the days in the late 1800's when a man would move his family westward with the hopes of a better life. In his very expensive canvas covered wagon were all his worldly possessions. If he was a fortunate man he had with him a good repeating rifle by the likes of Winchester and possible an English made Greener shotgun, 10 gauge preferred, and possibly a revolver. Maybe even a recent make of a Colt cartridge gun. From the simple perspective of a gun nut, he was a rich man. A 10 gauge Greener hammer gun with a poke of brass shells could certainly be used to gather food on the trail, in the form of prairie chickens and such. A Winchester model 1873 would be just the item for an occasional deer or antelope and would be a God send for defending ones self from the perils that lurked over the next rise. If he had the wherewithal and knowledge he may have invested wisely in a Colt revolver of the same caliber. I can almost here his doubting wife. "Wouldn't it be better to spend that money on food and an extra water barrel than just guns and ammunition?" Well, no. Because the guns and ammunition are food and so much more.
I suppose there was some woe-be-gone family who left Boston with no guns and no means to defend themselves who actually got to where they were going. (Yeah, Illinois) But I doubt that any one crossed that great perilous expanse without divine guidance and a good rifle.
So where would we be without the gun? I think of the great contributions by the companies of Winchester, Colt, Sharps and Smith & Wesson. There were many more who would feed the utilitarian need for a gun. Those that are gone now for various reasons but still added to the tools of survival of the American pioneer.
These were people with a dream and a desire to have a better life. People with a need to fulfill the urge for adventure and to provide the basic necessities of life for themselves and their families. The gun played an essential role in that venture.
Today we view the gun in an entirely different light. A toy, a sport or a hobby. There are still many who view the gun as a necessity of life. Both to provide food for the family table and to ward off the ne'er-do-wells and evil doers who prey on the weak. But mostly we think the gun is here for our enjoyment. It is that, it is a source of enjoyment and recreation for many of us but it is so much more.
For me a gun has been a survival tool. It has been the tool to provide food for the table and it has been the very essence of existance for me on more than one occasion. But the driving force that pushes me well beyond the bare necessities of life is a passion. A passion deeply rooted in the ways of the westward traveling adventurers. Of the pure pursuit of steel and wood and the engineering marvel of the gun. Where would we be without the works of Paul Mauser, John Browning, Horace Smith, Samual Colt, Alexander Henry, Oliver Winchester, John Garand and Eugene Stoner. We all know of many more who contributed to the roots of our passion.
I reflect on my many travels and the part the gun has played for me. I'm proud of my contributions to the craft, however meager they have been. I am greatly appreciative of the efforts of those who contributed so much more for it has been that effort that produced this marvelous tool, the gun.
A new year is upon us. A year in which we will elect new leadership for this great nation. We will collectively decide our future, once again, and the future of the gun. Though this isn't a political satire, we must be vigilant. The preservation of the gun is not assured. A great nation dies from within. It will not be an aggressor that will cast all asunder but the inner workings of a political system that will assure the ruin of our existence.
I want my grand children to acquire the love of the gun. I want my passion to be understood and passed down to their grand children. I want them to understand why the gun is a part of us and why our founding fathers wanted to preserve for posterity the private ownership of the gun. I want most of all to preserve what this country is about and this way of life.
Blue steel and walnut. I am a bit giddy about the fact that on my country home, a hundred and sixty acres in southern Missouri, I have many black walnut trees that someday may become gunstocks for good American made rifles. It is, in a small way, a means of carrying on a tradition. A way to contribute to this way of life, this passion, this American tradition that can never be cast asunder. May we always be free to choose our destiny, brave enough to accept our plight and strong enough to persevere for this worthwhile cause.