Kenn Blanchard tells a story of a shotgun his grandmother kept behind her wood stove. He says it saved his life. In his story he tells of a day in the past when guns were not locked up to keep the kids away from them. Instead the kids treated them with respect.
The mother of seven, grandmother of twenty-three, and great grandmother kept a loaded and unlocked no name shotgun behind the wood stove in the kitchen all of my life. The shotgun was dark rusty brown from barrel to butt stock.
Grandma’s shotgun only moved away from behind the stove a few times that I can remember. It moved annually every New Year’s Day when she celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation at midnight. Then she fired it twice after hollering “Happy New Year” into the dark cold night. We laughed every year as she pruned the large pine tree next to the house with birdshot. A huge lichen covered branch always came crashing down afterwards that added to the sound.
I noticed her gun had moved the night an angry drunken step father came to take his family home. We didn’t move that night but he did. We heard the dialogue, heard my grandmothers southern diplomacy dripping with sweetness, backed up by the unknown fact that she had a shotgun on the other side of the screen door with her.
And the shotgun moved the time she shot a water moccasin that was coiled to strike me, near the grapevine, at the mouth of the swamp where I loved to play.
Grandmas’ shotgun was like the sharpened ax that sat at the ready on the stump next to the pile of wood in the backyard of her home. We didn’t touch either of them without asking my grandparents for permission. You can still teach responsibility, honor, love and respect to your family. You don’t need the government to do that for you. I am proof of this. I have done the same in my home with my children.”