Dept. of Alternative Facts: ”Don’t take your guns to town, son”

(To my readers, I wrote this the weekend of the verdict, but decided to hold onto it until after the new year, as I thought it’s topic not relevant to the holiday season. And in the meantime, two other trials on similar themes have been completed with their verdicts, but the same issue… then again, maybe this is what Christmas is all about… There would be little need for Jesus coming if we were without sin)

Our local, country station likes to play a Johnny Cash song, about a young farm boy who goes into town to the local saloon. As he leaves, his mother admonishes him, ”Don’t take your guns to town, son”

A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm
A boy filled with wanderlust who really meant no harm
He changed his clothes and shined his boots and combed his dark hair down
And his mother cried as he walked out

“Don’t take your guns to town, son
Leave your guns at home, Bill
Don’t take your guns to town”

Following the news about Kyle Rittenhouse killing of two people, and injuring a third, last year in Kennosha, WI, this song comes to ming. The implication of the song is that if you take your guns to town, you are likely to use them. Mr. Rittenhouse took an AR15 to a protest. The outcome was that he used it. In his trial, no one tried to claim that he did not. He readily admitted that he killed and injured the people. He just said that he did not want to do this. He believed that he had to do this to protect himself.

He laughed and kissed his mom and said, “Your Billy Joe’s a man”
I can shoot as quick and straight as anybody can
But I wouldn’t shoot without a cause; I’d gun nobody down”
But she cried again as he rode away

Don’t take your guns to town, son
Leave your guns at home, Bill
Don’t take your guns to town”

The farm boy displays what I anticipate would be Mr. Rittenhouse’s youthful attitude. I would agree that he probably did not intend to use his gun. Maybe he thought that having it would deter protesters from threatening him, or those who might have looted local business from committing crimes. But, when circumstances turned, literally thanks to the police firing upon the protesters, he decided that his weapon was his solution to his dilemma.

When talking with 2A oriented folks in my area, a question I pose is whether having a gun to protect someone compels them to consider this a solution of first resort, rather than last resort. Often, when they ponder this, they actually come up with examples in which they did not have a gun, found other solutions and survived without themselves or someone else being injured or killed with the weapon they did not have at the moment.

I have had a couple of neighbors tell me stories of how they pulled guns on each other, in circumstances of mistaken identity, but fortunately, escaped the situation before anyone regretted what might have occurred. They learned of their mistaken identities only days later, as these events happened a night, in the dark, on unlit rural roads.

He sang a song as on he rode his guns hung at his hips
He rode into a cattle town, a smile upon his lips
He stopped and walked into a bar and laid his money down
But his mother’s words echoed again

“Don’t take your guns to town, son
Leave your guns at home, Bill
Don’t take your guns to town”

Another question I ask those who believe that they need and have a right to self-defense with a gun is, ”Are you willing to live with the memory of having killed someone, for whatever reason?” While most will justify killing someone in self-defense as a concept, rarely have they actually consider what that memory will do in their lives.

While escaping an attack, real or perceived, will leave a traumatic memory even when no one gets killed in the process, at least someone can reconcile that horror with everyone being able to continue with their lieves.

Once someone kills someone else, nothing can be done to better the situation. Typically, the killer will spend their lives justifying their behavior, while being haunted by the memory.

He drank his first strong liquor then to calm his shaking hand
And tried to tell himself at last he had become a man
A dusty cowpoke at his side began to laugh him down
And he heard again his mothers words

Don’t take your guns to town, son
Leave your guns at home, Bill
Don’t take your guns to town”

A final question I ask, given that most of the people whom I conversing with also profess Christian beliefs, is ”If your are justified in killing someone for self-defense, where does forgiveness fit into this situation?”

My point is that, if someone attacks one and they find a non-lethal solution, they have the opportunity to contemplate the situation, repent and forgive each other. If someone ends up dead, the killer cannot forgive. This raises a final question, ”Could you forgive yourself for killing someone.

Filled with rage then Billy Joe reached for his gun to draw
But the stranger drew his gun and fired before he even saw
As Billy Joe fell to the floor, the crowd all gathered ’round
And wondered at his final words

“Don’t take your guns to town, son
Leave your guns at home, Bill
Don’t take your guns to town”

Kyle may believe he is vindicated by his acquittal. He may find supporters on the 2A circuit in talk-radio, conventions, and on-line media. But, once the notoriety wanes, he will be left with his doubts about whether he could have found a different solution to the situation; whether he could have forgive those whom he perceived threatened him (and who enticed him to come to that place that night); and, can he live with the memory that he killed people.

Johnny Cash will remain the Man In Black as long as our society continues to dig graves. If Jesus were country singer, he would have a had a Johnny the Baptist Cash as his opening act.

About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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3 Responses to Dept. of Alternative Facts: ”Don’t take your guns to town, son”

  1. Hi Oscar,
    I hope you had a good Christmas. There is no better moment to post about this, then now.
    I agree with all here. Like you, I wonder how can someone go on living, happily, with the fact that they have taken someone’s life.
    Blessings to you! ❤️ ❤

  2. Thanks for this thoughtful piece, Oscar. It works on a number of levels. Wishing you and your family a healthy new year.

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