On Leaving America – part 12

The Laws
My wife is a psychotherapist and I’m helping her get rid of some books she will not be taking with us. Sometimes I scan them out of curiosity.

From:
Core Social Values Among Scandinavians
From: Ethnicity & Family Therapy
Giordano/Pearce

“Scandinavia is a law-making society in which a great deal of respect for authority pervades, paradoxically, there is a natural suspicion about it. It is accepted that respect for authority is what maximizes one’s freedoms, and yet there is the typically pragmatic Scandinavian acceptance of the fact that laws are made by humans who or capable of error. So a companion believe is the rules are made to be broken—or at least bent.”

I have noticed this on my visits to Sweden. The people are much the same as we are here, but there is something about respect for the law that I don’t notice here. It’s a very subtle difference and difficult to explain.

They do not allow guns in Sweden. It’s not impossible to own one, but not easy—requires a lot of paper work, and joining some kind of hunting club or target shooting range. Probably even more difficult for an incoming alien like myself. I’ll have to give up my guns.
I’m not a collector, but I have a beautiful Browning 16 gauge shotgun. An anniversary model—called ‘Sweet 16’. My dad got if for me on my 16th birthday. I’m 74now. In the last 30 years I’ve used it twice—skeet shooting. It’s in perfect condition, but old and kicks like a horse. The newer shotguns have almost no kick at all, very smooth. If I was a serious skeet shooter or a hunter I would buy a new shotgun. I’ll probably never use the one I have again, but still it’s hard to give it up. I’ve no idea how to sell it . . . to collectors I suppose. I thought I had it sold to a collector who was visiting a neighbor. He came over to look at it.
“Very nice,” he said. “But I already have 5 of these.”

I own a 22 Marlin lever action, rifle. Had it since my teens and in my flaming youth could shoot half dollars out of the air with it, not every time, but sometimes. I haven’t fired it in 30 years and doubt I will never use it again. There’s been a serious love affair between me and that gun, but that was a long time ago. It’s in good shape—barrel needs re-bluing. I can give it up . . . . or maybe even give it to a friend.

But here’s the rub. I’ve got this Colt 45, 1911. And I love it, had it 40 years and fired the thing less than 100 times. It‘s an elegant piece of equipment, flawless design, easy to take apart . . . and big. Using it is not what counts. It doesn’t matter if I ever fire the thing again. It’s there  if I need it. If some weirdo breaks into my house I will have options. This happened once in San Francisco. I was living single in a three room second floor apartment with a frosted glass front door. I had this wonderful easy chair and had fallen asleep in it. Something woke me at around 3 A.M. I looked at the frosted glass door and saw a moving silhouette. The doorknob was turning . . . v e r y slowly.
I picked up the Colt which was in easy reach and loaded and I sat there with it aimed at the door, wondering if I had remembered to lock it. Sometimes I forgot—not often. It was good to know nothing very bad was going to happen to me. The 45 is big. It’s showy. An intruder would need be nuts to do anything but leave in a hurry, and if he chose to make a move, I had the difference in my hand. As it turned out I had remembered to lock the door. He gave the knob a few more slow twists then gave it up and left.
I have been walked in on twice in my life, once in Chicago and years later in San Francisco. On that last close encounter I was single again and sleeping on a low bed, just a foot or so off the floor. I woke up looked up at this guy who seemed 7 feet tall. It was hard to tell in the shadows cast by a street light outside. I sat up very fast, not knowing what the hell to do but that whatever it was I knew it would be better to not be lying down.
The guy says, “Are you the manager?”
“No. I’m not.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he says walking out. “Must be the wrong apartment.”
Right. I checked a clock beside my bed, little after 3 A.M. Prime time for big city apartment building browsers, looking for that unlocked door. I bought the colt a few days after that.

It feels good to have a gun. I don’t like giving it up. I want protection. Probably I won’t need it, but many people have needed it. I remember a tale my grandmother told me. Her husband was a guard some place, some factory. He was working nights and someone, she thought maybe a drunk, began beating the hell out of  her front door, pounding and kicking it. She stood on the other side of the door and said,     “Mister, I’ve got a gun in my hand and if you come through that door I’ll blow your head off.”
She did have a gun and she would have shot him. no doubt about it. She was born on a farm and knew how to use one. He left. She had defended herself and her child—my dad. It feels good to know you can defend yourself against someone bigger, younger, stronger . . . meaner.
Some of you will disagree with what I’ve said. I’ve debated  Swedes about it, a mental bad-mitten of words, and opinions. Pro and con both have merits and I fully understand the other point of view. I read the news. Shit happens all the time and everywhere, not just the big cities. You read about some asshole who shot a bunch of Sikhs because they thought they‘re Taliban or whatever. And the guy who shot up the movie theater . . . some kind or Army rifle—100 round clip. Nobody needs that. I’m not sure anyone needs 5 Browning 16 gauge shotguns, but I don’t mind if they do. When people start buying military grade assault weapons it makes me nervous.
I am sure their argument—should I dare to suggest someone does not need an assault weapon with a hundred round clip—would be much the same argument I’ve given you—about protection. It’s a matter of how much protection you need. I guess that’s hard to regulate, but this move has solved my problem. Still, I hate to give up this gun. The right to bear arms is an impressive freedom, rare I think. It will not feel good to give that up.     Maybe I should Google for a crossbows.

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About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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2 Responses to On Leaving America – part 12

  1. catnipoflife says:

    Bruce, what a great post! I am not into guns but my husband (Jim), of course, is. . .you know, the man thing! There is a pistol in the nightstand beside the bed but I doubt I could ever shoot it. Then, of course, if I can shoot a shotgun, I guess I could shoot a pistol. The shotgun days go back to my dad. He taught me to shoot and we went hunting dove and quail on numerous occasions. Did go duck hunting once, but that is a different story. I know it is going to be hard to part with those that are such a part of your life. Just a few months ago, Jim gave the shotgun he has had since his 18th birthday to our nephew. Perhaps there is someone in the family that might appreciate their history. Sounds like they are true treasures. . .

  2. Sorry you have to give up a keepsake. I, too, am 74 and I have some things I want to save. However, I’m so glad guns are hard to come by in Sweden. Too bad it’s not the same in the U.S.
    In all my years, I’ve never needed to shoot anyone to protect a single one of my rights.

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