Friday, July 27, 2012

The Gun

Well, I'm taking a big step today. I'm handing my most prized firearm over to a gunsmith. I would be more willing to turn my wife over to a witchdoctor, but I digress.

Back in 1972, my dad's old Datsun pick-up was near death. He had put more than 200,000 miles on it and decided it was time to be sold so he could get another one. It was still somewhat red, but over the years it had faded a bit. He sold it to an old boy for $100 and an M1, .30 caliber semi-automatic Carbine. The U.S. military had bought more than 6 million of them in the '40's, and for a time my dad had carried one in the Pacific Theatre during World War II as a United States Marine. It came with a five shot clip and two ten shot clips. He gave it to me and told me how it was just like the one he had when he was in the war, minus the sling and the oiler.

I killed my first (and only) deer with that gun. An eight point buck that dressed out 103 lbs. I shot him right between the eyes at 71 yards with a peep sight, at dusk and without my glasses on. Lucky shot? No doubt.

At the time, we lived way out in the country, more than half an hour's drive from near-civilization. Our dog was a huge german shepherd we named Zeus. He was a great dog. I loved him like a human being. Back then, there was no effective prevention for heartworms and he got infected. For the longest time he showed no ill effects, but eventually began to lose his equilibrium. Once a dog got heartworms back in those days, it was a death sentence. I came home from school one day while mom and dad were still at work. I found Zeus on the front porch. His lungs had ruptured from the damage of the worms. When he would inhale, all you could hear were gurgling sounds. When he exhaled, blood poured from his mouth. He was suffering terribly. This was before cell phones, and it would take either one of my parents more than an hour to get home. I had no money of my own to take him to the vet for the purpose of putting him down. Being such a big dog, I was afraid to use a smaller weapon to put him out of his misery, so I chose the Carbine. I cried for hours afterward.

When I worked for the Sheriff's department in a rural county, my partner and I conducted a felony stop of two men who were considered armed and dangerous. It was after midnight and we were on a lonely, country road. They pulled over and jumped out of the car, yelling..."What the f*** is your problem?" Once they saw me crouched behind the passenger door of the cruiser with the Carbine laid over it and trained on them, they suddenly got real respectful for what our problem was.

I've never checked to see how old the gun is. From what I see on the internet, it can sell for anything between $850 to $1350. You see, it's considered a collector's item, now. Being a gift from my dad, who died back in 1999, and with it having so much personal history behind it, I am reluctant to let it out of my gun safe and into someone else's hands. However, my being in Europe and Africa over the last four years has meant its neglect. The action is very sluggish and the casing ejection mechanism is failing. I need to have it repaired, cleaned and oiled, and brought back to its old glory. I guess I would sell it if someone paid me enough to retire and make sure my next three generations were taken care of. Anything less wouldn't be considered.

So, I guess I'll keep the gun. It reminds me of a dad's generosity, the thrill of the hunt, sometimes doing what a man has to do, and how at certain times it can protect me and those with me from harm. It's a piece of history that can remind me of what it took to make sure our country remained free from tyranny. It's the epitome of life lessons and historical perspectives. How can you put a price on that? I sure hope this guy takes good care of it. I won't relax until I get it back. As a sidenote, I've ordered a sling and an oiler to mount on it so it will look just like one of them did back in the war. After that, it will go back in the gun safe, under lock and key.

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