Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How times have changed

I had a thought on how our society has changed. Or perhaps the change is in me?

My grandfather grew up on a farm, using a homemade slingshot during the depression era (in Texas, that era lasted from 1920 to 1945, it seems). They had guns, but could not afford bullets as much. He wandered pretty much where he wanted and no one minded.

My dad grew up around farms and in rural areas, and ran around unsupervised with a .22 rifle. He shot bullfrogs, turtles, and probably anything else he wanted to aim at. We are talking about a pre-10 year old, if I understand the stories right. And it was okay at that time: low population density, lots of space and lingering pioneer attitude, I guess.

I grew up with BB guns. We did not buy pellets very often, and the first BB guns did not fire them anyway. (But my dad did not let me have one myself pre-10 years old: Jerry’s dad did <wink>) We shot anything that moved, and quite a few things that did not. Including each other, when the best gun we had was the Daisy Red Rider spring gun. I’ll get into those stories another time. We also wandered wherever we could walk to.

When my son turned ten, he had never, to my knowledge, fired a sling shot, a BB gun, or a Pellet gun, much less run the countryside with one. (He HAD fired a .22 and various pistols, rifles, and shotguns, but never unsupervised) The only gun we left to his discretion is a water pistol, and not in the house!

Is it me, or have we gotten so protective that some great experiences are now lost? Sure, society is more crowded, and in this era when anyone sues for anything we have to be more careful, but why do I have a vague sense of loss about this, for his sake?

Yes, I was considering giving him a pellet gun for Christmas, but it would be locked away unless he is supervised. It is to teach him proper gun range technique and safe gun handling, not for him to range the woods like I did at his age. Of course, we do not have access to land like I did growing up (not that small matters like property ownership, vicious dogs, barbed wire fences, or armed residents ever slowed my cousins or me down…)

Maybe I simply know what CAN happen now, and that stops me from telling him to run free. I dunno. I just have a vague sense of loss over the whole situation.

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