clint_eastwoodIt started with this article from about a shortage of ammo as gun owners stockpile in the fear that Obama will ban guns or tax their ammo. Turns out President Obama has no public plans to do either (and probably has a lot of things on his To Do List before he gets to the issue of guns.) But it got me thinking: what if there were a fundamental shift in American policy and suddenly it wasn’t as easy as going to a gun show and flashing some ID to get a gun. I never really thought about getting a gun, being a San Francisco Liberal and all. But then, I always assumed I could get one pretty easily if I wanted to. Now that I’m living part-time in the country and now that there is a hint that I might not be able to get a gun, I suddenly want one.

My British friend, Rob, has been urging the purchase of firearms ever since we bought the place in Sonoma. As he puts it, “You have to get a gun. It’s part of your culture.”

Here’s my dilemma: I can’t really think of anything I want to shoot. But I still want a gun. It seems like a cool thing to have. I’d be sort of like Clint Eastwood. Except for the whole being 5’2″ and a woman part.

It should be noted that I'm less interested in the Dirty Harry urban gun above and more interested in an Outlaw Josey Wales gun.

It should be noted that I’m less interested in the Dirty Harry urban gun above and more interested in an Outlaw Josey Wales gun.

I realize this is a very frivolous approach to a very serious purchase. And before the Interwebs jumps down my neck on this, let me assure you that, if I get a gun, I will go to the nearby rifle range and learn to operate it responsibly. Which doesn’t mean I’m not going to be practicing that badass twirling thing the gunslingers do. (The first and best example is the opening shot of John Wayne as The Ringo Kid in John Ford’s Stagecoach.) Then there is the holding the reins in your teeth and shooting two guns at once trick. (Also perfected by John Wayne. See True Grit.)

As you can see, my tastes are leaning toward the cowboy. But that does leave the question of what I’d shoot with it. We don’t have many cattle rustlers in these parts. And I don’t have any cattle. We did have an ATV stolen once, but the excellent Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department recovered it quickly. Apparently no shots were fired.

So again, what to shoot? The most dangerous thing around here is our resident Mountain Lion. But he’s rarely in evidence and we’ve evolved to a state the old Soviets would call “peaceful coexistence” with him. We don’t go running around on his hunting grounds at night and he doesn’t show up and kill us in the day. Besides, we’ve named him Joaquin, which practically makes him a pet. Nope, I won’t be shooting him.

If I had a gun, I'd name it like Davy Crockett named "Old Betsy".

If I had a gun, I’d name it just like Davy Crockett named his rifle “Old Betsy”.

The second most dangerous thing on the property, then, would be rattlesnakes. But ours seem to be very gentlemanly. When we meet (which is infrequently), we have a short stare-down, then I back up, and they slither off. All very civilized.

I’m certainly not going to be shooting the deer. (Which I think is illegal around here anyway.) Besides Joaquin the Mountain Lion shows up periodically to cull the herd, so there is no need for ballistics.

That brings us back to the rustlers, or our modern day Sonoma equivalent. I’d have a hard time pointing a gun at a person, even if he looked like what the Westerns used to term “a no-good, sidewindin’ varmint.” Since the evidence shows that our “rustlers” seem to be kids bent on fairly harmless vandalism, they probably won’t be targets either.

But maybe I’m focussing too much on “game”. There are other reasons to carry a gun — even if you are an East Coast educated Liberal. Ever watched Jimmy Stewart in  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? I rest my case.

Sonoma even has what could pass as a saloon on the square. Well, Steiner’s Tavern COULD stand in for a saloon if you squint your eyes, ignore the TV screens blaring sports and just concentrate on the stuffed animals on the walls.

Watch out card sharps!

But not Maverick. The REAL Maverick gets a pass from me. The fake Mel Gibson Maverick who better watch out.

But not Maverick. The REAL Maverick gets a pass from me. It’s the fake Mel Gibson Maverick who better watch out.


And nobody better be a-botherin’ our Sonoma version of Miss Kitty.

Although the real Miss Kitty always seemed capable of taking care of herself.

Although the real Miss Kitty always seemed capable of taking care of herself. I bet the Sonoma Miss Kitty is too.


Soon I’ll be standing by to keep the peace. With a gun!

This is me. Really. No, it's not Annie Oakley.

This is me. Really. Not Annie Oakley.


NOTE: I’m not sure why I chose this title. This post is obviously about guns with very little if anything about money and lawyers, although there are times when both are nice to have. But it does give me an excuse to include this excellent version of Warren Zevon’s song, here covered by The Wallflowers.