Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 6, 2013

Abacus Column: The T-states and gun control

By Larry Backus
Sun contributor

CROSSVILLE — The T-States are Tennessee and Texas; linked in brotherly bond since early days. The two states came to a mutual conclusion at the Alamo, that high calibers and repeating rifles would become a necessary ingredient of survival; after the need unfortunately, but nevertheless a priority. There were several interesting results from this conclusion. Not surprisingly there was a huge increase in privately owned firearms. No one really knows how many guns there are in the T-States, however a guess of 3 to 6 per resident beyond the age of 15 might not be exorbitant. One might expect the federal government to have a handle on the real number, until one recalls that the government is not too clear about how many illegal immigrants are on board our ship of union.  

Another less recognized result of the proliferation of firearms is Southern hospitality. Southerners are invariably friendly and hospitable. This attribute owes its impetus to the fact that nearly everyone south of the Mason-Dixon Line is carrying a concealed or visible weapon. Being unfriendly or rude is not conducive to good health or a long life in most southern states. This is not to imply that “notheners” are intrinsically unfriendly or rude; despite their deportment during that un-civil war. We have had neighbors from Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and upstate New York who are invariably friendly, with the possible exception of a northern mid-western rivalry during any Ohio State vs. Michigan game. I qualify upstate New York with friendly inhabitants as opposed to former residents of Manhattan, lower Long Island and northern New Jersey. These unfortunate souls have been indoctrinated with “The New York Minute.” This is a disease of extreme impatience that may lead to rudeness and result in bodily harm or even death. Consider the following example that happened several years ago here in Fairfield Glade:

Mr. Archibald Dunker, a widower from Manhattan, had retired to Fairfield Glade about eight years ago. Archie was loud, rather than friendly, rude rather than polite and was totally unaware of the trouble his adherence to the principle of the New York minute could cause him. He was an early riser and enjoyed driving to Wal-Mart to sit on a bench and people watch or shout, “Move along lady, you’re blocking traffic!” to elderly ladies struggling with bags of groceries or a faulty-wheeled cart. On one Monday morning, as Archie came to the stop sign at Lakeview and Peavine Road, he came to a halt. His was the third car in line for the left hand turn, as cars whizzed by in the morning rush hour traffic. Barely pausing, Archie began to toot his car horn as the two drivers in front turned to glare with undisguised disgust that might lead to malevolence if not for a timely break in traffic. The very next day, as Archie came to a halt in the traffic line he was the sixth car from the intersection. He began tooting his horn almost immediately, and the crossroad traffic was particularly heavy that day. Despite so many cars in line, no one came forward later to identify who was there or what happened. Archie was found later that day beside his car. His body was riddled with more than 200 pistol, rifle, shotgun and three rock impressions. The Sheriff later surmised that the rocks came from a sling shot. There were so many bullets and shells in evidence that the Sheriff soon realized they would never be able to track down the killers. When it was revealed that Archie was from Manhattan the Sheriff and coroner agreed that Archie’s demise must have been a suicide.   

My grandfather’s farm was a veritable armory of firearms.  My older cousins had 30/30 lever action Marlin rifles; there were 22 caliber rifles and a plethora of shotguns. My mother would not allow a gun in our house. Therefore my BB gun was housed on the farm when I was 9 or 10-years-old. One day, I aimed at a barn swallow more than 75 feet away on a telephone wire. I hit it dead center, and it fluttered to the ground. I was surprised I hit it, but when I saw how beautiful the bird had been I was extremely remorseful. I have never owned a gun since. However, I have added high tech protection to our property. There is an electronically controlled mine field around the house. Golfers need not worry because it is only activated at night. There were problems at first. The weight required to set off a mine was too low. This resulted in the demise of several skunks, a raccoon, a cat and a dog. There were no remains, but I am sure it was not your cat or dog. The other electronic device is our death-ray laser system. It is extremely effective within a few feet of the house. The squirrels and chipmunks have learned the hard way. Don’t mess with Mr. and Mrs. Abacus. 

This column embodies my recommendation to Congress and our president on the issue of gun control:  

Encourage Southern hospitality throughout the land because nearly everyone owns one or more firearms. Any rifle or firearm with a magazine carrying more bullets than Sergeant York used to win the Medal of Honor should be outlawed. More bullets in a magazine merely brands the shooter with terrible marksmanship or being a lunatic. Lunatics, both temporary and habitual, are a completely different issue than gun control. I have no expertise in this lunatic area despite my wife’s objection. However, I believe it is very important to keep any firearm out of the hands of a lunatic or someone who does not adhere to Southern hospitality. Anything congress can achieve in this direction without dumping more debt on my grandchildren would be appreciated.