I decided to put this together after a a year of wrastlin' with the idea of gun ownership and my political leanings. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let me fill in some details before I go on...
I was born in the United States to a Canadian father and an American mother. My parents made the choice to live in Canada when I turned 3 years old, and I spent my childhood growing up in a small town in Southern Alberta. I'm blessed to be a citizen of both countries.
As I got older, my parents would send me down to the states to stay with my Grandparents in rural Idaho. They lived on a farm and I got to spend weeks (and later months) on the farm doing whatever I wanted.
My grandparents were wonderful. I loved spending the summers with them. One of my favorite things to do was to go shooting. You see, my grandpa was an NRA life member and was pretty motivated by the second amendment. We would go shooting on occasion, but mostly I'd just tramp around with a lever action BB gun. Mainly I hunted birds and shot pop cans.
I would immerse myself in my grandpa's extensive collection of American Rifleman magazines. To this day, I love magazines and the information I can glean from them. I'd poor over those magazines and had all kinds of ideas about how I was going to someday get my own Browning Hi-Power and Ruger 10/22.
My grandpa stored his guns unlocked in a cabinet in the room I slept in. They were freely available, as was the ammunition. I remember getting them out on many occasions and mucking about with them. Although I was always smart about handling them, I look back and marvel at the folly of the whole setup. Of course, we didn't wear seatbelts or helmets on bikes back then either.
Weirdly, I don't remember being taught much about the 4 rules of firearm safety. I don't remember getting lectured to keep my hands off. They were just there. Like hammers. Hammers that could shoot bullets.
As it is with kids, as I got older, girls became a greater focus of my attention. By the mid teen years I transitioned from summers on the ranch to working at home and my life as a teenager.
Funny enough, I don't recall Canada being much different than the US for us when it came to guns. We didn't have any handguns but my Dad had several rifles (a Ruger 10/22, a lever action 30-30 and at least one shotgun). He kept them in the back of his closet, and the ammo was likewise available. Again, pretty silly in my book now that I think about it. I do remember taking the Ruger 10/22 out once and firing it in town limits. I was pretty freaked about it, and only did it once - this happened about the time I was in grade 9.
Anyhow, as I got older, I had my own 22 rilfe and we often went shooting gophers on the ranches surrounding our town. Many of us had guns and we used them. We also had BB guns of various types and we shot with them all the time.
I remember going and shooting handguns and rifles as part of scouts as well. I remember at least once going to a scoutmaster's barn and shooting his .357 revolver. It was pretty big and had quite a kick.
But as I grew up, guns became less and less a part of my life.
I went to college in the US and pretty much focused on the things most students do. Books, classes, punk music and the opposite sex.
Interestingly, I come from a culture that has two very interesting components: self-reliance and communalism. Being Mormon immersed me in a culture where we learned to be independent (food storage, hard work) and at the same time we knew that God expected us to take care of one another. And he meant it in a very practical way, as there were many attempts by the early Mormon church to live collectively in what is called "The Law of Consecration" - where all of our bounty was given to the ecclesiastical leaders to doll out as people needed. It didn't last too long - people being people - and God got pretty upset with us and substituted what we refer to as the lesser law of tithing - where we pay 10 percent of our income to the church to help build God's kingdom and help others.
We believe that someday and we believe we'll be asked to live the Law of Consecration again though. And I think most of us hope we can do it with fairness and equality that such a decree deserves. And don't confuse Mormons with communists or marxists - we don't believe that communism was anything but a shady mimic of the law we had tried to live. It held tyrants and sycophants at the top instead of God. A recipe for failure, and that has certainly played out.
So add this background to a youth spent in Canada - land of universal healthcare and what some south of the border refer to as socialism and you find I'm very different than the average American in many ways.
In college I swung pretty far left, influenced by my soon-to=be bride. She came from the same background, but was farther to the left politically and self identified as a democrat. I'd never voted in the US, having grown up in the north countries - and I didn't take advantage of that until I voted for Bill Clinton over Bush in the early 1990s.
My wife's family was incredible. They were highly educated, had money and were very close; I loved them and fit right in.
They were very liberal in most respects - childcare was very open with no spanking etc. Guns were *not* something of interest, and most of the family believed in gun control quite strongly. Guns were not part of their lives and never had been, even though they'd spent years in Boise, Idaho growing up.
Me? I'd had guns. I'd even been a member of the NRA as a kid (thanks Grandpa) but I had little to do with them now and it was never an issue in our courtship or marriage.
Part II coming soon...