By Alan Sorensen
Before we move on to other more meaningful topics, I do have what I hope is one last gun column in my holster. I would like to comment on a letter to the editor sent to The Daily News by a Gardiner reader. Living in a small town at the gateway to Yellowstone has probably made him the very astute observer of humankind that he showed himself to be in his letter.
The gentleman whose letter our publisher opted not to print (he is, after all, from outside our readership area and has been to Havre, by his own admission, just once: "It seemed like a nice town") hit my nail on the head. He astutely observed that Havre must have a very progressive and equality-minded newspaper "to let the Village Idiot play news editor and even write a column now and then."
I've never met the man, but I feel we've known each other for years he obviously knows me well. Village Idiot was a step down from being the town drunk, but it was a job that needed filling. There were plenty of applicants to fill my old job, which also is a very necessary piece of our social fabric.
Our Gardiner writer questioned whether I was a man or a mouse. I'm an awfully big mouse, if a mouse I be. I think he was hinting that people who don't have guns are mice and people with guns are men.
He was mildly upset that I don't consider guns a means of self-defense. I suppose if you're hiding in a bunker 100 yards from another person in hiding another bunker and you're each firing at the other, you might consider a gun a weapon of self-defense. When you're standing toe-to-toe, that same gun definitely becomes a weapon of offense.
The southern correspondent seemed to get the impression from my column two weeks ago that I ran away when confronted by knife-wielding and hammer swinging rogues. Not. I disarmed both men and won the day. Ta-da.
Of course, I still have some self-defense scars on my hands and fingers from grabbing the blade of the knife, but I did successfully avoid any dents to the head from the maul.
My point in the stories about my close encounters was to remind readers that an angry person with an up close and personal-type weapon like a knife has a tendency to get the other guy's adrenaline pumping. A gun, on the other hand, can kill without the victim even hearing the shot.
What I fear most about some "self-defense" gun owners is their idea of what the old West and the inner cities are really like. What they base their opinions on, I fear, is the Hollywood version. As a man who turned 100 in Havre yesterday said in an interview that appears in today's Daily News, most cowboys carried sidearms so they could shoot their horses before the horses could drag them to death when they fell and were caught in their stirrups.
I assume, and I think rightly so, that people who think that guns are a means of self-defense from other people have a willingness to shoot other people when they feel threatened. That scares me, because at 6'6" and 280 pounds I have a tendency to scare people when I lose my cool.
To people who argue that it is people and not guns who kill, I have a little tale that you may comprehend or not. I had this friend (and still do) who had numerous relationships over a short period of time. Each of the relationships ended abruptly and she gradually lost faith in men. In her mind, the demise of each relationship was the fault of the man.
Then one day, out of the blue, she admitted to herself that there was only one constant in all of her broken relationships herself.
I don't know when it will happen, but I suspect that one day, even the most ardent gun lover and self-defense defender will come to understand that the only constant in each instance where a person is shot to death is the bullet.
The Gardiner writer suggested that "the Village Idiots over in Harlem or Chinook can take (me) up on (my) theory." I assume he meant they should shoot me dead. I think that we here on the Hi-Line are a little too civilized to go around shooting our unarmed Village Idiots. The sorrow is, though, that if it happens and they get me with the first shot, the Gardiner guy won't get any satisfaction because I won't even know it happened. (It would beat getting stuck in the eye with a sharp stick.)
Our letter writer concludes by asking if there is a Northern Montana College of Idiots up here. If so, I hope I'm not the only graduate. But I have to warn anyone who enrolls, the job of Village Idiot in Havre is taken.
For those who were waiting for the next installment in my life with Uncle Russell, let this little bit of info tide you over until the next installment. The man never uses the same plate twice.