Guns

imagesrg67 (1)Many are we who own guns. Some of we even tote ’em. Why? Because, unlike those who do not own, much less carry, guns, me, myself and millions more have gained a glimpse of what is “out there.” 

At some point in my spin on this mortal coil I have seen the face of evil . . . raw, soulless evil . . . and it is a frightening face to behold, indeed. In my life alone I have looked into the dead, empty eyes of those who would kill you as quick as they would eat a potato chip. Remorseless, regretless, soulless . . . there is no conscience behind those eyes. The fact that these eyes belong to people who have committed no crime yet–or, at least, have not been caught yet–and who are running loose right now among us matters not; they are the eyes of cold-blooded murderers nonetheless. They have not committed the crime yet because the opportunity has not availed itself; but the capacity to do so is certainly there. These are the eyes that would break into your home some dark night–or sunny day, for that matter–truss you up like a pork roast, raid the fridge, hunt the house for your valuables as they chomp on a chicken leg, then, when finished, fire one or more hot bullets into your brain as their own way of saying “goodbye, and thanks for the memories.” I do not ever plan, awake or asleep, to allow the owners of these eyes to get the drop on me even once.

I am not one to react to anything. I proact. I don’t close a barn door after the horse has escaped. The door is always closed on my ranch, so to speak. Forewarned + forearmed = forbidding; that’s been my motto for decades now. I am a Kansan. I am a product of my environment. No Kansan with my carbon dating can ever forget November, 1959. That was the night two murderers-in-waiting passed from theory to practice. Hickok and Smith . . . Hickok and Smith . . . Hickok and Smith . . . those two names still have the power to raise the goose bumps right down every Kansan’s back, as do the words, I-n C-o-l-d B-l-o-o-d. It is a crime we Kansans can never forget. We have a state bird, state mammal, state song, etc., and if we Kansans had a state book, a state movie, or both, In Cold Blood would be ours. For me, the most horrible part of the incident was when the killers-to-be simply slipped through an unlocked door that night and entered Herbert Clutter’s bedroom. When they shined that flashlight into the rancher’s sleeping eyes, that was the end of any potential resistance. The wife and children in bed above were now totally at the mercy of these cold-blooded beasts. This is what I mean about being proactive: I made it my mission in life to never experience that flashlight in the eyes as Mr. Clutter experienced in those, his final moments before his throat was cut.

What brings on such morose words as the above? It comes with the territory. As mentioned yesterday, I once wrote a true crime book. To prep for that story I visited some scenes of the crime–the home where the young mother was kidnapped one bright day while giving her toddler his first haircut, the perpetrator’s home where he took his victim and raped her repeatedly on a Winnie the Pooh blanket, the palmetto jungle where the victim was murdered and buried in a sandy hole. Just like every other book I have written, after a short spell I begin to live the story; begin to know and identify with the characters; begin to care about them and experience something of what they experienced. Of course, it is too late to help the victim of my true crime book. But if I told the story well enough, in all its grim and graphic horror, then maybe a few things have happened as a result: Maybe there was a dramatic rise in the sale of small caliber pistols here in South Florida, the kind of handguns that fit nicely into a purse, fanny pack or a woman’s hand; maybe there was a rise in the number of “conceal/carry” permits issued; maybe there was a rise in the number of valuable lives saved. Equally, I dearly hope that the book was so terrifyingly personal that it resulted in the on-the-spot termination of many useless pieces of garbage who are bent on abduction, rape and murder, just as the monster in my book should have been terminated.

(below, Richard Hickok on death row)

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