Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 38 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

What My Father Taught Me About Guns

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   7 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Jesse Sublett
Become a Fan
  (3 fans)

(Article changed on January 31, 2013 at 09:54)

There was a time when the NRA wasn't so weird and awful by Nikodem Nijaki, Wikimedia Commons

The man who taught me about guns died eight years ago this month. My father was 82 years old and, up until the last six weeks of his life, he seemed unstoppable, strong as a mule, steady as a rock, always there if needed. Typically, whenever I called home, my mother would say he was outside repairing a fence, tilling the garden--or, like his very last chore, rigging up a pulley system in order to load an old clothes dryer onto the pickup bed without any assistance. This was, I should add, contrary to my mother's admonitions.

His name was Jesse Sublett Jr., but almost everyone knew him as Jake. In official documents and to my mother, he was J.E., which saved him the trouble of being confused with his father, Jesse Sublett Sr., and the embarrassment of being known as Junior. It's a common nickname in the South, but does anybody ever start out in life wanting to be called Junior?

Mom had quite a few health problems, and Dad doted on her. For him to precede her in death was kind of unthinkable. I always thought that he would go on caring for her as long as she was alive, not so much because of his physical condition, but out of sheer willpower.

Jake was country. Raised on a farm, sixth grade education, modest, soft-spoken. He couldn't play a lick, but he loved music and was a fan of my own creative endeavors, no matter how weird they must have seemed to him. After my wife and I moved to Los Angeles, he was always the first one to cry when our visits came to an end.

Thus the man of few words is often recalled in verbatim. His advice to me on avoiding narcotics: "Keep your nose clean, bub."

On his first trip to California, confronted by great the proliferation manicurist signs which said, simply "Nails," this native of the Texas Hill Country said, "I thought they were all hardware stores."

I also remember vividly his gentle presence, his large, scarred hands and quiet voice as he instructed my brother and me (and later, my sister, although I was on my own by then) in the arts of hunting and shooting, and everything about guns we needed to know in exchange for the privilege of using them. "Always be careful not to point your rifle in the direction of any person." "Never shoot unless you have a clear line of sight." "Squeeze the trigger, don't jerk." "Always know where the other hunters are sitting."

All guns in our house were unloaded at all times. The ammunition clips were even stored separately. On hunting trips, we'd gather our rifles and supplies and set out on foot from the camping site, never chambering a round until we had cleared the last gate or other obstacle. Even after that, a gun was kept on safety until the moment it was to be fired.

Jake was strict about all the protocols of handling guns, not only gun safety but cleaning and storing after use. No guns in the world could have been better maintained than the ones in our household. And there's something about the seriousness and care he embodied as a parent that still rings in my ears, even sends chills down my spine, as I remember his instructions. These days, in particular, I keep hearing him say "Always be careful not to point your rifle in the direction of any person."

When my wife and I first moved to Los Angeles, I remember encountering people who were offended at my gun history. Yes, I killed my first deer at age five (with my father steadying the rifle) and continued hunting into my 20s. I enjoy going to the shooting range now and then, and also take my teenage son along.

My father preached strict adherence to all game laws, although when he was young, the family observed a more relaxed approach, one best expressed by the old saying, "There are two hunting seasons: salt and pepper." A few times we went out "headlighting" (known as jacklighting in other parts of the country), which means going out with dogs and lights to kill raccoons and other "varmints" for their hides, which fetched, as I recall, between fifty cents and a little over a dollar.

My brother and I shot doves and squirrels and when we failed to harvest enough of either to make a meal, we'd shoot some of each and Mom would make stew. Sometimes I'd hike alone in the woods, shooting birds and armadillos, rocks, trees, whatever. I regret this last part, but there it is.

My son has lived in an urban environment his entire life and the notion that a young boy needed to learn to shoot because there were no grocery stores around and even if there were, buying meat every week for our family was financially impossible. It could still be a valid thing to teach a young person, but whenever it's something promoted by the NRA, it reeks like some rotten, bottom-dwelling creature born of desperation, greed and fear.

It was many years ago, but at one time the NRA wasn't just a gun lobby, a PR machine that relentless promotes guns and pushes them, beyond any logic except for that of fear and greed, and pushes far too many guns that have no reasonable civilian use. There was a time when you could say the NRA was about gun safety and outdoor recreation, but now it's more accurate to compare them to the corn syrup people hustle to inject fat in every morsel of our foods, particularly the young. Of course, it would take fewer words to compare them to crack dealers, but I'm sure that's been done before.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Well Said 4   Must Read 2   Touching 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Jesse Sublett Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jesse Sublett is a regular contributor to An author, ghost writer and musician in Austin, Texas, he has published crime novels, eBooks, true crime, memoir, essays and journalism. His work has appeared in New York Times, Texas Monthly, (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Escape to Civil War Land

Secession Obsession Unabated

It's OK, Honey, His Gun Has a Noise Suppressor

What My Father Taught Me About Guns

The Tower Massacre, Gun Control, and Planet n-RA

Ten Reasons Ted Nugent Was Invited to the State of the Union Address by Texas Congressman Steve Stockman

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend