Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016



by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
Cartersville, Ga.
October 15, 2007
One Woman's World
LITTLE BOYS AND THEIR GUNS

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CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- Not so very long ago the horror word was Columbine. This past week it was Asa Coon, a mere boy of 14 who probably had never shaved or kissed the girl next door.

Asa got up a few mornings ago, toted a gun to his high school in Cleveland, Ohio, shot and wounded two teachers and two students, and then took his own young life.

The horror didn't stop there. The police found an arsenal in young Asa's bedroom that would have been the envy of an Iranian terrorist, and Asa's mother was arrested for not only encouraging her young son's love of "real-man" (temphasis mine) toys, she bought most of them for him.

I imagine young Asa started off with a plastic gun before he could walk, graduated to a BB gun, and then to the he-man guns found in his arsenal.

And it is there that the brainwashing of little boys begins: in the unexamined mindsets of mothers and fathers who contribute greatly to the violence in our neighborhoods - and in every direction reaching the adjoining world.

There is something very evil in the unholy notion prevalent in many homes that pretend-killing is fun, owning weapons that go "Boom!" and can kill people is even more fun, and real war-killing is absolutely necessary. and that the one with the biggest bomb wins and gets to gloat.

With minor changes, the following column was published a few years ago in the Benton County (Ark.) Democrat.

Although I wrote it primarily as fiction, there really was such a little boy, and the ending of the column was at the time invented. His BB gun was real. His .22-caliber rifle was real and, much later, his .303 bolt-action rifle was real.

The real conclusion of the story lies at the end of this current column.

His name was Joe. I called him Jodie. He was my brother.

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Once upon a time a third son was born to a proud farmer. The farmer was from "the old school" that taught a man is judged by the way he holds a gun, tends his stock, and takes care of his dogs and his pickup truck.

When the third son was about eight years old the proud farmer placed a BB gun in his hands and told him to go out in back of the peach orchard and kill something.

The little boy obeyed his father and when he shot his first blackbird he watched it as it fell through the air and landed near his feet. He had not shot the bird "clean" as his father had taught him and it took a long time for the bird to die.

The boy dug a shallow hole, buried the small, warm bird, and went into the house and handed his father his new BB gun.

"Father," he said, "I don't like killing things." And he went upstairs to his room and wouldn't come down for supper.

"What is the matter with that boy?" the farmer said to his wife. "His brothers had already killed their first deer at his age. He'll make me the laughingstock of the county come deer season, just wait and see."

And the wife of the proud farmer lowered her head and said nothing; she knew when men ask questions they don't always want answers.

She was also secretly pleased with her small son, for her own heart was soft and gentle and she loved the music of the winged and feathered creatures that lived in the woods that encircled their farm.

On the first morning of the next deer season the boy slipped out the back door and ran away from the sound of the pickup trucks in the front yard and the laughter of the excited deer hunters.

He sat all day down by Bear Creek and wrote a poem for his father and in the poem he listed the names he had given to the nine deer that lived on Bald Knob. He told his father how the deer had acted after the head of the old buck ended up above John Tatum's fireplace.

Time passed and the proud farmer had his way. The boy got over his "foolishness about guns and dumb critters," and by his 18th birthday he had his own deer heads with grand antlers on his bedroom wall and a gleaming .22-rifle in the gun rack below his father's shotgun.

Two days after his 18th birthday the Army put an M-16 in his hands and two years later they pinned a medal on his chest for blowing the heads off many an enemy boy his age.

In the months following his discharge the young man often had nightmares about blackbirds, buck deer with no antlers, and war buddies with no heads. He kept his bad dreams to himself, but one day something in his head quit working and he climbed the town water tower and started shooting people as they came out of the courthouse.

The sheriff ordered Deputy Robert Brown to take his .30-06 rifle and pick the third son off the tower. Deputy Brown had graduated from high school and gone off to the Army with the third son and he did not want to kill him but he did.

The day after her son's funeral his mother climbed the stairs to his room. From the back shelf of his closet she took a small ragged book of poems and carried the book to the wood cookstove in the kitchen. She looked long at her son's handwriting, lifted one lid and dropped the book into the live, angry flames.

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In a small town in the Ozark Mountains, on Tuesday night, June 13, 2006, my once-gentle little brother took his .303 bolt-action rifle, murdered his former girlfriend and a man he believed was his competition. He then turned the rifle on himself and took his own life.

I'll write your poems for you, Jodie. I'll sing your broken song.

AR Correspondent Elizabeth T. Andrews is a former newspaper columnist now living in Cartersville, Ga. Her own Web site, www.treefamilyfoundation.com, contains other columns and poetry by her. She can be contacted at angels@treefamilyfoundation.com or P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.

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