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Alex McRae Columnist

Published Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back to the future, part whatever

Each week I get literally dozens of forwarded emails from folks passing on political advice or columns they think I would like or hate. Most of them go unread, but a few I enjoy. Especially the ones about what people my age call the “good old days.”

I normally don’t use these as column ideas, figuring if I say something about a topic, readers deserve to get my original thoughts. But this week, as the mass murders in an Aurora, Co., movie theater continue to dominate headlines, I’m going to make an exception. The email isn’t about the Colorado shooting, but says a lot about how our attitudes toward firearms — and many other things — have changed over the years.

This email was forwarded by my friend Terry Daviston. Terry is in the funeral business but you won’t find a happier fellow anywhere, especially if he’s talking about the latest barbecue joint he’s stumbled across. We agree that anyone under age 50 may be astonished that things like this ever happened in America.

The original email began with a personal story from the sender about bringing his brand new 30-06 rifle to school so everyone could admire Santa’s generosity in 1952. After the class had a peek, the principal took a look and declared it a “mighty fine rifle.” Then the weapon remained in the classroom closet until school was over.

No one was shot, no one felt threatened, no one called a lawyer. No one raised an eyebrow. Different times, different attitudes.

The rest of the email related several other situations — some similar — under the heading “School: 1957 vs. 2011.”

Here are some samples:

Scenario 1:

Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun.

1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2011 - School goes into lock-down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2011 - Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3:

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.

2011 - Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.

Scenario 4:

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.

2011 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations.

Scenario 5:

Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.

1957 - Ants die.

2011 - ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism.”

Interesting comments about the way we were.

Anybody who ever saw water fountains and restrooms labeled “White” and “Colored” will tell you most things are better now than in 1957. I’m one of them. And I’m a longtime supporter of the right to bear arms, but it becomes more clear every day that while guns haven’t changed over the years, shooters certainly have. I sure wish somebody could tell me why.


(send your email comments to alex@newnan.com)

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