Coming Out

 

It’s still summer, but autumn felt close this past weekend. Daughter #2 has returned from camp. We were hosting a family barbecue as a sendoff for daughter #1, who will be spending the year in Israel before entering college. The crispness of fall has yet to set in, but the heat and humidity of summer were gone.

At the barbecue, we talked about my daughter’s classmates, and their plans. About half are going to Israel next year, the rest straight to college. What happened to the boy who applied to West Point? He discovered he had a disqualifying health problem. My parents expressed relief. Ilana, their friends’ daughter, was injured in Iraq, and years later she is still fighting to get proper care from the VA.

Ilana’s parents and their friends (my parents among them) could never really understand her decision to enlist after 9/11. They could follow it intellectually, but ultimately Ilana’s choice was a foreign one. My parents’ outlook was shaped by Vietnam and the draft and the idea that if only we would teach our kids to eschew violence, war would go away. My four-year-old self was over the moon when a distant cousin from Texas bought me a cowboy outfit, complete with six-shooters. He was crushed when the six-shooters mysteriously disappeared.

The cultural strangeness of Ilana’s enlistment was compounded by her marriage to another soldier, just before their respective six-month deployments. Ilana’s husband came from a family with a generations-long tradition of military service. She, a Jewish girl from New Jersey, came from a family with a tradition of rabbis and writers and teachers. No one my parents knew was surprised when the marriage broke up, though it was news to me at the barbecue.

“I’m glad I bought you GI Joe toys, so you could work out the urge to shoot things when you were younger,” my father said.

My wife and daughters broke into laughter.

“What’s so funny?” my mother asked.

I think my parents’ confusion only deepened when I confessed, “I went to the shooting range just last night. I’m applying for a carry permit.”

“Why would you ever do that?” It was more statement than question.

I paused before answering. “Shooting is the one physical thing I’ve ever done that I have a natural talent for.” The answer wasn’t the only reason, but it was a central one. And it allowed all of us to avoid discussing the other ones. My parents needed time to digest the news. I was acutely sensitive to how a parent feels when a child leaves home.

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  1. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    I gave my family subtle hints that I own guns, and then told my dad, assuming the info would trickle down to the rest of the family later, and an awkward conversation would be avoided.

    People who haven’t be raised around guns often have really paranoid fears about them.

    • #1
  2. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Son,

    Those who do not have left leaning Jewish parents simply will not grasp the situation.  You could have said you were Gay.  You could have said you were giving up your job and going to Tibet to talk to the Dalai Lama.  You could have said you are in contact with aliens (martians not mexicans).  All of these things they would have taken in stride.

    Yes the gun thing is beyond the pale for them.  Only one thing could have been worse.  I went through it myself.  One day you come home and tell them something they just can’t accept.

    Mom and Dad, I’m a Republican.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
  3. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Frank Soto:

    I gave my family subtle hints that I own guns, and then told my dad, assuming the info would trickle down to the rest of the family later, and an awkward conversation would be avoided.

    People who haven’t be raised around guns often have really paranoid fears about them.

    My wife, Amanda, hasn’t owned one, but grew up around them since she was a child. They are no big deal for her, though she’s wise enough to know we need to store our pistol safely away.

    My sister and brother-in-law and good California liberals and were shocked to learn my dad bought a pistol. Interestingly, one of my nieces always “likes” posts where I put pictures of my wife and I firing pistols with her grandfather somewhere. I need to figure out how to encourage this. 

    • #3
  4. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    In Connecticut no less?  You’ve got your work cut out for you.  Best of luck!

    My neighbors all represent different attitudes too.  The Jewish couple next door is split.  The husband (2nd marriage), a Navy vet with a son in the navy, wants to acquire a few guns for sport and defense (esp. the latter).  His wife (her first marriage) is adamantly opposed.  I’m offering encouragement where I can there, guns terrify her.

    My friends across the street are another challenge.  The husband is an avid shooter and hunter, but their kids are very young and he’s not exposed them to shooting just yet.  His wife tolerates guns in the house, but will not remain in the room with them.  I think she’ll tolerate him teaching shooting to their son, but not to their daughter.  My girls all shoot, and they do talk about it, so they’re working on her.

    In all cases, though, the best cure has been to get those rookies to the range even just one time.  They shoot once and they start to understand.  They may never go further, but their total hostility will at least crumble.

    • #4
  5. user_657161 Inactive
    user_657161
    @SimonTemplar

    Like.  Thanks for taking the time to write and post this.

    • #5
  6. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Is this technically called Coming Out of the Cabinet?

    • #6
  7. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    It sounds like Jews need an action hero. Any Jews in The Expendables 3?

    • #7
  8. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    Pencilvania:

    Is this technically called Coming Out of the Cabinet?

     Or Coming out of the holster.

    • #8
  9. Lee Inactive
    Lee
    @Lee

    Aaron Miller:

    It sounds like Jews need an action hero. Any Jews in The Expendables 3?

     Well, we’ve got this guy, though I can’t remember what sort of weapons he used:

    Hebrew Hammer

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317640/

    • #9
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    So will you be changing your screen name to Son of Callahan?

    • #10
  11. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    skipsul:

    In Connecticut no less? You’ve got your work cut out for you. Best of luck!

    My neighbors all represent different attitudes too. The Jewish couple next door is split. The husband (2nd marriage), a Navy vet with a son in the navy, wants to acquire a few guns for sport and defense (esp. the latter). His wife (her first marriage) is adamantly opposed. I’m offering encouragement where I can there, guns terrify her.

    There’s a lot more acceptance of guns among Jews in my generation (and among Orthodox Jews generally). I went shooting with two guys from synagogue, and for my CCW application, I got a character reference from a rabbi.

    The woman who notarized my CCW application is an old friend in the Jewish community. She and her husband both thought it was great that I’m doing it. Also, they had just heard that morning from their son, who was calling to say he’d completed his basic training in the Navy. They could not have been prouder, and were making arrangements to be there for the ceremony. Their pride was enhanced by the fact that their son had achieved some marksman qualifications too.

    • #11
  12. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Pencilvania:

    Is this technically called Coming Out of the Cabinet?

    Perhaps Coming Out of the Safe. This is Connecticut, after all.

    • #12
  13. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Son of Spengler: I went shooting with two guys from synagogue, and for my CCW application, I got a character reference from a rabbi.

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjQXbPBJ_1A

    • #13
  14. hawk@haakondahl.com Inactive
    hawk@haakondahl.com
    @BallDiamondBall

    Nice story, beautifully told!

    • #14
  15. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Frank Soto: People who haven’t be raised around guns often have really paranoid fears about them.

    That attitude always reminds me of Fawlty Towers episode where one of the guests dies and — through circumstances too hilariously complicated to explain — one of the tenants is briefly locked in a closet with the corpse.  Still rather hysterical afterward, she describes the incident as follows:

    Mrs. Tibbs: Why, anything could have happened in there!

    Sybil: Well he was dead, dear.

    Mrs. Tibbs: A man is a man, Mrs. Fawlty!

    • #15
  16. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    I didn’t have to come out of any closet.  My dad took us shooting when we were young; as kids, we played Army, and cowboys and Indians.  After all that, I was utterly uninterested in guns until my wife and I started preparing for parenthood.  My dad got me my first NRA membership.

    • #16
  17. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Good for you. 
    I was raised around guns.  My work calls for extensive use/knowledge of/competency with guns.

    I feel as physically uncomfortable when I have to go “gunless” as I would were I to ride around in a motor vehicle without a seatbelt on.

    A vehement objection to walking around armed is as alien and mysterious to me as riding around without a seatbelt.

    • #17
  18. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    I don’t just ‘like’ this, I love this.

    • #18
  19. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Your story vividly illustrates the difference between the liberal and conservative worldviews, SoS. The liberal asks, “Why would a nice Jewish boy want to own and shoot a firearm?” The conservative asks, “Why the hell wouldn’t he?”

    Maybe a family barbecue isn’t an appropriate place to bring it up, but, um, would the Holocaust have happened if nice Jewish boys had been trained and armed? We’ll never know. We can only speculate.

    • #19
  20. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    (by the way… I’ve got nothing to add, but I liked this post!)

    • #20
  21. user_657161 Inactive
    user_657161
    @SimonTemplar

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Frank Soto: People who haven’t be raised around guns often have really paranoid fears about them.

    That attitude always reminds me of Fawlty Towers episode where one of the guests dies and — through circumstances too hilariously complicated to explain — one of the tenants is briefly locked in a closet with the corpse. Still rather hysterical afterward, she describes the incident as follows:

    Mrs. Tibbs: Why, anything could have happened in there!

    Sybil: Well he was dead, dear.

    Mrs. Tibbs: A man is a man, Mrs. Fawlty!

    The Fawlty Towers episode is titled:  The kipper and the corpse.  It is about 30 minutes – good craic.  Google it if you dare.

    • #21
  22. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Western Chauvinist:

    Your story vividly illustrates the difference between the liberal and conservative worldviews, SoS. The liberal asks, “Why would a nice Jewish boy want to own and shoot a firearm?” The conservative asks, “Why the hell wouldn’t he?”

    Maybe a family barbecue isn’t an appropriate place to bring it up, but, um, would the Holocaust have happened if nice Jewish boys had been trained and armed? We’ll never know. We can only speculate.

     One of the gun owners in my synagogue is quite open about his motivations. He says that the first thing the Nazis did was to confiscate weapons, and if he were ever faced with a similar order, he would not comply. I can’t imagine a similar scenario in the US, but a number of Zionist thinkers were influenced by their having witnessed the wholesale disarmament of German Jews. 

    • #22
  23. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Son of Spengler:

    Western Chauvinist:

    Your story vividly illustrates the difference between the liberal and conservative worldviews, SoS. The liberal asks, “Why would a nice Jewish boy want to own and shoot a firearm?” The conservative asks, “Why the hell wouldn’t he?”

    Maybe a family barbecue isn’t an appropriate place to bring it up, but, um, would the Holocaust have happened if nice Jewish boys had been trained and armed? We’ll never know. We can only speculate.

    One of the gun owners in my synagogue is quite open about his motivations. He says that the first thing the Nazis did was to confiscate weapons, and if he were ever faced with a similar order, he would not comply. I can’t imagine a similar scenario in the US, but a number of Zionist thinkers were influenced by their having witnessed the wholesale disarmament of German Jews.

     And in the Soviet Union.  Populations are so much easier to quell when they can’t fight back.

    Speaking of which, shouldn’t Eric Holder be making inane public comments about private gun ownership right about now?

    • #23
  24. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Son of Spengler:

    Western Chauvinist:

    Your story vividly illustrates the difference between the liberal and conservative worldviews, SoS. The liberal asks, “Why would a nice Jewish boy want to own and shoot a firearm?” The conservative asks, “Why the hell wouldn’t he?”

    Maybe a family barbecue isn’t an appropriate place to bring it up, but, um, would the Holocaust have happened if nice Jewish boys had been trained and armed? We’ll never know. We can only speculate.

    One of the gun owners in my synagogue is quite open about his motivations. He says that the first thing the Nazis did was to confiscate weapons, and if he were ever faced with a similar order, he would not comply. I can’t imagine a similar scenario in the US, but a number of Zionist thinkers were influenced by their having witnessed the wholesale disarmament of German Jews.

    Plenty of Jews in the UK and Australia handed in their guns in recent memory. 

    • #24
  25. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    I have been trying to encourage two friends (both male in their 50s) to get their permits and firearms. When one friend mentioned that he was now thinking about it, a third friend (also in his 50s) mentioned that he was about to apply.

    The one who would not budge is Jewish. As has been said before, his true religion is leftism. He just will never admit that all those bubbas were right about private gun ownership.

    • #25

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