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Go ahead, machine gun down Bambi
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Ryan had $10 to spend at street fair a few years back.
Our grandson, who was 8 at the time, was a typical boy for his age. He wanted everything. But what he finally decided to spend every last dime on was two packaged sets of toy guns - one showcased law enforcement weapons and tools and the other was a straight-forward “rifle” that shoots the plastic projectiles with suction cups on the end.
 When he hooked up with Brian, a friend who is a year or two older, the two went into hyper drive talking about the plastic guns, making shooting noises, and detailing plans to have a “war” in Brian’s backyard. Brian ended up buying his own plastic toy guns.
I didn’t give it a second thought until a lady passing us by made a remark about how “inappropriate” she thought it was that I was encouraging the kids by allowing them to buy weapons.
The politically correct crowd’s psycho-babble about how girls playing with dolls and boys with guns only re-enforces stereotypes and encourages passive behavior or aggressive behavior stinks as much as wet chicken manure spread out on a Manteca vineyard on a 100-degree August afternoon.
The kids weren’t pointing the guns at anyone. They were just super animated talking about all of the fun they were going to have and what “if” - the stuff of imaginative play. Yet that never stops someone who is a complete stranger from interjecting their value system.
I just smiled at the lady and walked on.
I must make a confession. I played army as a kid. I played cowboys and Indians (wow, isn’t that anti-PC today?) as a kid. I owned toy guns as a kid.
I do not own a gun. I have never shot a gun. I have no problem with most guns being owned by law-abiding citizens. I do not think toy guns generate a culture of killers or violent people.
My dad was a hunter. He took me along when he went dove hunting, duck hunting and on a deer hunting trip although I elected not to go with him in the woods. It was back around 1963 when the movie “Bambi” came out and I admit that that dampened my desire to see him try and bag a deer.
Dad was a big supporter of Ducks Unlimited. One of the real reasons why there is so much waterfowl in our skies today is due to their conservation efforts in Canada and along the Pacific Flyway. My middle brother, Ron, was the one that picked up my Dad’s enthusiasm for hunting. It eventually transformed itself entirely into the sport of shooting. He’s been active in the Lincoln Rifle Club for more than 20 years at both the indoor and outdoor ranges.
Both his kids, Josh and Jennifer, grew up going to shooting matches. Jennifer eventually turned to other pursuits but Josh kept it up right along with football, computers and the other things that teens do.
Josh got so good at it that he qualified for the Junior Olympics team and eventually a partial scholarship at the University of Texas-El Paso as part of the collegiate shooting team.
Competitive shooting is a family-oriented sport. For the record, you rarely see anyone involved in criminal shootings - regardless of their age - who have a history of pursuing shooting as a sport.
In retrospect, I wish I had responded to the lady with all of that, but it would have done no good.
Every time I get the urge to respond to someone who is so self-righteous about guns in general, I just have to remember about an incident that happened to me in a Berkeley restaurant in 1990.
I was there with two friends - Jack and Gail. For whatever reasons, every time I dine with some people they have a need to explain to the waitress that I’m a vegetarian. (Actually I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian.) It was a diet/health decision I made 24 years ago. I have no beef with meat eaters. My grandparents had a cattle ranch. Nor do I have a problem with people who eat poultry or seafood.
It always kind of makes me self-conscious in a restaurant when someone I’m with formally announces I’m a vegetarian so I come back with a line of my own saying, “I’m not that kind of vegetarian, you can machine gun down Bambi for all I care.”
That is how I discovered the lady dining at the next table was a member of PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. After she literally leaped from her chair and was literally screaming my face about “how dare I call myself a vegetarian” along with some other general rantings, we exited the restaurant post-haste.
It isn’t wise to challenge the assumption of smug, self-righteous PC types - especially the ones who have no problem getting in the face of strangers to extol their value systems at the drop of a pin or the sight of a boy carrying a toy gun.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail