The Guns of My Heritage

J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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14 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    Outstanding. One of the finest posts on guns I’ve ever read, anywhere.Report

    • J.L. Wall in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Thank you. I’m always worried when writing about myself that it’s not going to interest anyone other than me.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to J.L. Wall says:

        This is a great post. I actually like it better than Tod’s gun post from forever ago, and that is saying something.

        This is exactly the sort of thing I was going to write up for my second contribution. I’m behind Mark on the first post, and you on the second.Report

  2. Mike Dwyer says:

    I enjoyed this a lot. For sentimental reasons I enjoyed this the most:

    “I learned how to fire a rifle when I was seven or eight, a .22 caliber at Camp Piamingo …”

    My kids have been regular campers at Piamingo for 10 years now. My oldest was a counselor last year. We absolutely love that place.Report

    • J.L. Wall in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Piamingo is one of those places that I like to THINK I can still walk through in my mind — but if I were actually there, I’d probably be hopelessly lost. I think I spent parts of 3 summers there — and that doesn’t include the twice-annual outings my family took as part of the not-quite-PC “Indian Guides.” Lots of good memories — I think I even enjoyed the group ice-breakers there, and I never enjoy group ice-breakers.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to J.L. Wall says:

        I was a Boy Scout so I never camped there but my wife was there for several summers in the early 90s. She says it hasn’t changed much at all since her day. Same old cabins, same old mess hall. The pool is new though and very nice. And they spoil the kids doing the equistrian program. There’s something about Kentucky and horses…Report

  3. Mike Dwyer says:

    And this: “…what I knew of guns, of warm Kentucky summers and beer can targets and cigarette smoke always hovering somewhere in the background.”

    That paints a happy picture for me.Report

  4. This was outstanding, J.L., and it’s taken a lot of steam out of the post I’ve been working on. Damn you!Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      There’s been a few of these sentiments going on during the Symposium, and then when you post what you come up with anyway, somebody else says the same thing.

      I guess that’s supposed to be encouragement, not “well, don’t bother, somebody else will write what you were going to write anyway now that somebody else wrote what you were going to write, first”.Report

      • J.L. Wall in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        I had a few moments like that, myself — the title, especially of Michelle’s “What my time at the DA’s Office taught me…” post made me worry, though it turned out we only kind of glanced on similar things.

        So — I certainly didn’t mean to knock the wind out of your sails, Jonathan — and I won’t mind if you wind up, retrospectively, doing the same to me.Report

  5. Jess says:

    Maybe I’m an ass to point this out, but my father, grandfather, and every firearms instructor I’ve ever had would be more disappointed in the firearm safety practices of your father than in those of your grandfather . The first rule of firearm safety is that “every gun is loaded”. I really hope someone taught to shoot at camp would know this, but maybe I’m younger than you. Maybe that camp was operated by fools.

    More precisely, the only gun you can treat as unloaded is one the chamber of which you have opened recently to check, and which has not since left your possession. You only make such a reckless assumption when you must, e.g. when while storing or cleaning the gun you must take your eye off the open empty chamber. This rule, “every gun is loaded”, may not seem logical, but it prevents near-tragedies like the one you describe. Pilots don’t assume that their aircraft contain the proper amount of fuel for the flight they’ve planned; they check the levels themselves. For the same reasons, gun users don’t assume their weapons are unloaded, ever. I can’t imagine taking a gun out of a drawer and not immediately checking the magazine and chamber. Far less can I imagine not doing the same before placing a gun in a drawer.

    Actually I can’t really imagine storing a gun directly in a drawer anyway. There are numerous containers which are specifically designed for the safe storage of firearms. None of these are available at furniture stores. Throughout the “Symposium” I’ve noted an undercurrent of “what’s to be done with these inbred gun-loving yokels, the very fact they choose to touch guns is proof enough they can’t be trusted with them?!!” This attitude is a complete cop-out. Safety begins with you. If you wish to support gun safety, start by not writing articles that undermine firearm safety best practices. Every gun is loaded.Report

  6. Matt says:

    I cannot comment on your “Peter Singer is Wrong” article for some reason, so I’ll leave that comment here.

    First, using a set of imaginary beliefs in an imaginary being is never justification for anything, let alone violent torture practices. Whether or not Judaism requires such torture practices for its rituals is irrelevant, as this belief in an imaginary being is not sufficient justification for you to cause harm to others.

    Regarding humane slaughter practices, I think you misunderstand the concept. I am a biologist, with a degree in psychology, and we know the physiological mechanisms that underpin suffering from pain and fear. We know that these animals have these mechanisms as we do. You may argue from delusion of grandeur, as some psychologists do, that humans are consciously superior to other animals. However, this does not stand up to critical analysis and is little more than assuming a fictitious pretence on which to base your later argument.Report

  7. Matt says:


    And, not only do these claims fail to stand up to critical analysis, they are irrelevant. The capacity to suffer from pain and fear is present in these creatures, and you cannot overlook this fact by saying “oh but some humans can do math problems and think about what mountain they are going to snowboard at next weekend”. The argument misses the point.Report