Saturday, October 17, 2015

How the World has Changed: Part 1:

The human world has changed tremendously since I was young. Since on my last birthday I turned 57 and am now officially an old-fogey, I thought I might share with you some of the changes I’ve witnessed. Frankly, quite a lot of this is somewhat bewildering to me. Though that is too be expected from an ancient such as myself when faced with the modern age.

First: Gun racks.

In the 1970s in Arkansas, and I imagine across the south, gun racks were all the rage. It would look something like the picture below, except it usually held only two guns and was meant for your…truck.

That’s right. In the 1970s in Arkansas many members of the male population carried rifles and/or shotguns hung up in the back of their trucks. I even had a gun rack, though I didn’t have a truck to put it in. Eventually I gave the rack to a nephew, I think.

In the parking lot outside the high school you would often see a dozen trucks with racked guns in the back. There was often some admiring of weapons going on by non-racked folks. This was especially true during hunting season. A lot of kids would go hunting either right before school or right after. Even though I had a car and no rack, there were plenty of times I’d put my shotgun or rifle in the back seat while at school so I could head out to hunt after.

No one shot anyone else. No one reached for a gun to settle any kind of argument. No one even accidentally discharged a firearm on school property. I wonder what happened. I don’t believe it is any one thing. Some factors that I think were involved in the changes are listed below. 

1. Everyone of us who had a gun for hunting had been taught by fathers or brothers or someone how to handle them, how to make sure they weren’t loaded, how to keep them in working order.

2. We had also been taught that if honor required a fight, you did it with your fists. You weren’t a pussy. You didn’t reach for a weapon to make you a big man.

3. We weren’t cowards like the assholes today who use guns to settle every dispute or who just decide to use a gun to take some folks along with them when they decide to die. We weren’t so afraid of every little thing that we had to bluster and blow constantly about how tough we were. And we didn’t just make up enemies, or let the media make them up for us.

4. We lived in a community where you did fear losing the respect of your peers and your family and the folks in your town. You knew, for example,  that if you did something stupid or wrong, it would get back to your family. Now that can be a double edged sword, for sure. But we not only cared what our parents thought of us, we wanted to please them and tried to do the best we could to make them proud.

I’m sure there are many other reasons for why the way people act around guns has changed over the last forty years. These are just some of my thoughts. What are yours?


Snowbrush said...

It's all so true, Charles, but I didn't realize that you're still only a kid (I can say this because I'm 66). Gun racks for the home were also popular school shop projects, and I carried pistols in my car from age 15 and sometimes got in fights at school without it ever once occurring to me to shoot anyone, although I did know a girl who shot herself in the shoulder when her boyfriend dumped her.

Cloudia said...

Thanks, a worthy read



pattinase (abbott) said...

I have never seen a gun in person.

Oscar Case said...

Like you said Charles, beating some kid up or at least trying to was better than shooting. My father told me to pick up an equalizer (a rock or a club, never a gun) to even the odds. Guns were for hunting or to use in a war.

Charles Gramlich said...

Snowbrush, I sometimes took my .357 hunting with me, or fishing so I could shoot snakes with it.

Cloudia, glad you enjoyed.

Patti, really! Wow.

Oscar, guns were tools to us really, not meant to be used as weapons against others, except, as you say, in a war.

Adventuresfantastic said...

I think you're right when you say were were taught how to handle guns safely. My father, grandfather, and uncles certainly taught me. I'll be 49 by the end of the year, and I remember when we were told in high school we couldn't have gun racks in our vehichles on school property any more. I think enough people have bought into the myth that guns are inherently evil that we've created a society where sick and/or evil people gravitate towards them because they've been exoticized. And because if they start shooting, it's unlikely someone will return fire.

sage said...

I am deeply dropped to learn that 57 is hte age you become really old as I am now 58.... I didn't take guns to school, but I do remember hunting afterwards and on Saturdays and still have a few guns that haven't been fired in 30 years.

Greg said...

Very well said. You make a lot of good points. It doesn't seem like we're ever going to head back in that direction, where family and respect and honor were things taken seriously.

Charles Gramlich said...

Keith, That makes me wonder when they officially put in the ban on gun racks on school grounds in Charleston. I'll have to see if any of my nephews remember.

Sage, 58? My goodness, man, You are on your last legs. :)

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, the outside (mine, for instance) perspective of guns in America is negative. We wonder why it simply can't be banned, notwithstanding the powerful gun lobby. In India, possessing guns is a huge offence, unless you have a licence. In any case, hunting is completely outlawed. I think you can count people who own guns, for protection, on your fingers.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Charles, you nailed it. All four reasons.
And the issue isn't guns. It's a lack of morals, values, honor, respect, and everything else of value. It's people who don't understand right from wrong.

Rick Robinson said...

I got my fill in the Army. There's only one reason to own a gun: to kill something. Target shooting is something else all together, not what 99% of gun owners ever do. Since I don't want to kill things (except maybe a slug), I don't need a gun. Since I don't think most people need to or should kill things, they shouldn't have or use guns either.

I'm sure that's not a popular belief, but I sure wish it was. I'd like to see the US adopt the Australian gun rules, at the very least, but the NRA has too much lobby power for that to happen.

Snowbrush said...

"Since I don't want to kill things (except maybe a slug), I don't need a gun."

Maybe Charles could loan you his .357.

RTD said...

Charles, this is such a complicated issue. I wish I could respond sensibly. Instead I will ponder your great posting. But there is this: change happens.

BernardL said...

I was raised in a time much like you were and all your points are valid. I would only add that the Second Amendment and owning a firearm was meant by its creators to protect the freedom of our citizens against a tyrannical government out of control. That they could be used for hunting or home defense were added pluses. As you stated, they were not meant to be handled by idiots or criminals, but if we allow our government to disarm us, those will be the exact people still in possession of them, just as in other countries that have disarmed their citizens.

the walking man said...

*meh* I am glad I am well beyond 57--that was pretty rough year for me,4th surgery on my cervical spine, the killer surgery for what remnant of an almost pain free life. No one ever taught me about guns, no one ever encouraged me to own one--never did until I was 56 and that 12 ga never was never fired until 2 months ago. It's a good old shotgun, I like it and yes I do keep one in the pipe and 7 more in the chamber. Same with my Glock 42, 5 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. I kill paper targets at least once a week, and usually at 30 feet I am in the 9 or 10 ring--10 feet and there is no X left.

I intend to move up to a .45 next year.

Why? Certainly it is not a fascination with them but as one Detroit fellow who entered a store front church with a brick to confront the pulpit pimp about getting his wife pregnant found out, you don't bring a brick to a gunfight--the preacher killed him from the pulpit. The preacher it seems will face no charges or even a loss of his CPL.

Then there is the other side as well a suburban Detroit woman seeing a store security guard fighting with a shoplifter decided to pull her 9MM out and start popping off rounds from 40 feet away, she was in no imminent danger and will absolutely be charged (no one hit) and lose her CPL.

Even as late as age 50 I would use my words or my fist to fight with, even at that I already had faced down 5 morons with a gun in my face and never gave them a god damned thing.

As you say times have changed--I probably have 1 of the 1/10ths of registered handguns in this city, and no I am not shy about having my Mossberg laying against the door frame if I am outside. I have made my house as safe for the criminals as I can, with fences, gates, a rather healthy sized dog, windows that do not open, and I am sorry to say that if they make it past all of that they will absolutely get a slug or a hollow point if they enter--the assumption here is always ill intent.

A month ago I was concerned about my dog, I took her to the vet. Of course as soon as two layers of security were gone, that was when a son of a bitch felt he could enter my property not once but twice and the second time physically assault my wife and slap her arm. (She's OK but this being Detroit I had to get a police commissioner involved to even get the detectives to file a report).

Truth be told I may not have shot the bastard had he acted like that when I was there (I doubt he would have) but I most certainly would have put the Mossberg in his face and told the dog to take him down. If I had to shoot him, I would have and I would have shot to kill him for assaulting my wife. My wife is different she had access to both guns but chose to not use them for protection, she thought demanding the lunatic off the property was as good as a bullet. It obviously was not.

Want to know what's changed since the 50's, 60's, 70's? We have become immune/desensitized to death and violence, our society has adopted either a predator or victim mentality and I personally do not carry around either, but I will react with as much force as necessary to achieve my objective. I attribute the great rift's beginnings to the treatment of both combat veterans and them who protested that war--the fabric of society began to shift and rend during those years.

Charles Gramlich said...

Prashant, our country is still coming out of a time when hunting was necessary to the life of many people. If we hadn't hunted and fished when I was growing up, we wouldn't have eaten very well. We supplemented our table almost all year around with wild game and fish.

Alex, ultimately it's all going to depend on the people, as you say. It's just amazing how the attitudes toward guns have changed so dramatically in thirty years.

Richard R., I used to do a lot of target shooting. I definitely entertained myself. I'd still say that many southerners in Arkansas and Louisiana supplement their diets heavily with wild game and fish. We did growing up and it was an important aspect of our eating. We needed it, although that is probably less the case for many today.

Snowbrush, I typically don't kill things I can't eat, including a slug. The exceptions are cockroaches. I'm at war with those buggers. I use a loaded shoe most of the time though.

R. T., absolutely. I do wish folks would realize that kinds of things change and not be so narrowly focused on just their experiences.

Bernard, guns are certainly a source of power in the world. And not something that is going away soon.

Mark, I no longer hunt because I don't need to. I still do keep guns, partially because I love target shooting, partly because of self defense issues, partly out of a tradition that I grew up in, partly because I write fiction that features guns and I want to know what I'm talking about when I write it. It is a shame that in so many places civilians need to have guns to protect themselves, but it doesn't matter whether it's a shame or not. It is reality.

Ty said...

We had the gun racks in Kentucky in the 80s, too. I had the truck, but not the gun rack. My shotgun stayed at home. There were plenty of guys who had their guns in their racks in their trucks at school, but I was never one of them, probably more because I was (and am) a target shooter than a hunter. Plus even as a teen I didn't feel the need to show off any macho side I might have to prove I was a man.

Not at school, but I do recall one friend having a revolver, though he always kept it in the glove box and we never saw it outside of there.

Heck, I was around guns more with my grandfather than anyone. He didn't have a gun rack, either, but he always had a shotgun behind the seat of his truck, and usually he had an old revolver stuffed down in a pocket of his bib overalls next to his bag of Red Man and the occasional pint or half pint of whisky. Of course the back of the truck was always full of fishing gear.

Funny, I live in a rural area now, and I never see gun racks any more. For that matter, I also don't see indoors racks too often. Lots of gun safes, but not too many guns on display.

jodi said...

Charles-that's exactly how it was in the small town I grew up in. Everyone had guns but no one got shot. Bar fights were common!

Charles Gramlich said...

Ty, I can't remember the last time I saw a gun rack in a truck. I don't know if they even sell 'em anymore. My brother Raymond still has a gun case in his house. A lot of people have gone to gun safes though, partially from fear of theft and partially to make sure kids don't get into the guns. I think at least.

Jodi, we were actually in a dry county so no bar fights unless you drove to Paris, where the closest bars were.

Riot Kitty said...


My family is from the Midwest and we were shown at a very young age where the gun to kill snakes was located (come to think of it, a hoe would have been a more humane way) and to NEVER touch it, and if it was ever left out by anyone, to go get an adult.

WTF has happened?

Erik Donald France said...

Good topic. However, I will read and listen and not render any particular opinion at this particular point in time. Musing.