One of my earliest memories is of a dead deer.
I think it was a deer. Might have been an elk.
Anyway, big dead animal. Hanging suspended from the garage ceiling, its blood draining into a bucket below.
Smelled pretty bad. My mom wasn’t thrilled. That was the spot, after all, where she was supposed to park her car, and my dad killed this critter, dragged it home, and was now preparing it to be made into sausages. Stew meat. Salami.
Plus a taxidermy head, to be mounted on the wall in the living room.
Dad had bagged this thing and we were gonna use every inch of it, because that’s what you do with something you kill. You eat it, or wear it, but you sure as hell don’t waste it. You respect it, and the process by which it arrived in your driveway, your freezer, your belly. Somebody earned that.
I thought about that deer watching hundreds of assclowns parade around downtown Richmond, VA comparing extremely mild firearms regulations to Jim Crow laws, heaving their camo-coated butts up and down the streets in front of the statehouse wearing riot shields against, I dunno, a run on the Applebees salad bar or something.
It was the kind of protest where the organizers had to beg people not to wear Nazi shit or carry Confederate flags, lest someone come to the conclusion that a big group of pasty pantloads in MAGA paraphernalia was in some way racist. Some people, of course, brought Confederate stuff anyway. Others just went the “racially tinged” route and stuck to teabagging.
And they’re all so exhausting. These fucking toolsheds, pointing loaded weapons in the air and at each other, with the trigger discipline of 8-year-olds in a video arcade, in their Kevlar vests with the plates all removed so they could stuff snacks and water bottles in the pockets. The tactical vests on the service dogs. The night vision goggles in broad daylight. The way the ammo belts stretched and strained.
I saw a lot of people calling this stuff cosplay. Calling this international exhibition of braggadocio and dumbassery cosplay is insulting to cosplayers, who generally a) care about the accuracy of their costumes b) wear custom gear that fits them c) make sure their weapons are clean.
Then there was all the yelling about tyranny. Just fucking … just stop. The American Revolution was not a reaction to wife-beaters being denied their fourth Glock. Crispus Attucks and co. did not die so that you could open fire on the wicker reindeer in the Christmas section at Menards.
Those guys were fighting the entire British Army with four sticks and a bucket of snowballs, you don’t get to put on their clothes, not when you duck and cover every time somebody in your cube farm makes microwave popcorn. Samuel Maverick called, and he said your mom has musket balls.
But back to the dead deer at the beginning of this post.
You see, back when I was growing up, the guys who went hunting and ate what they killed mocked the kind of urban cowboys whose trophies all had powder burns. Buy some deer meat from a guy, that’s fine, but sit in a tree drinking beer all day waiting for a buck to wander underneath so you can shoot down on it, or worse, go to a “preserve” where you can kill it in a cage, like screw you, pal. Work for your supper.
Hunting for food and shooting for sport were presumed to be actual pursuits, engaged in deliberately. You go to the range or some deserted area to practice. You have a rifle for deer, handgun for bear or mountain lion when you’re camping. You lock them up away from your kids. You sure as shit don’t keep them loaded. And you don’t jaw on all day in public about what guns you have and where. That’s a good way to get robbed, or worse.
At some point in the past 30 years these guys who knew how to handle their weapons made common cause with a whole bunch of other people, who were loud and scared and stupid. The latter group weren’t into shooting for food or for fun. They were into it because it was life and death, them or the brown hordes, and in order not to die, they had to arm themselves however they saw fit. As was their inalienable right.
When people who actually did deal in life and death, like officers of the law or members of the military, pointed out that their weapons were subject to processes and procedures, the people who saw a buck to be made lobbying legislators ginned up the usual phony “savages coming to steal your white women and children” nonsense and suddenly everyone who wasn’t a member of the NRA was a wine-sipping communist puss.
That we can’t see that it was about money, that people benefited from this fear and rage and it sure as shit wasn’t the ordinary hunters and sportsmen, will never fail to make me crazy. As much as I make fun of those guys up there, those angry morons, they’re only buying the bullshit. The NRA and gun manufacturers and the GOP are shoveling it, and they don’t even have the tiny shriveled sack to stand on the street for it.
They leave that to the men and women who, really, should be home with their kill, making salami.