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Being thankful.

"I'll be back in 15 minutes." So said the emergency room doctor as he left me sitting in the examining chair. The 15 minutes stretched into an hour as he had far more serious cases than mine to take care of. As I sat there, I realized the clock on the wall, except for being battery driven instead of electric, was a near dead ringer for the clock in Miss Simpson's 11th grade, 8th period English class. As I watched that clock 50 years ago the second hand moved so slowly as to be almost standing still.

This newer second hand moved so fast it could serve as a fan if the glass facing was removed. The clocks were the same, the second hands were the same, but my perspective had changed. When most of our life consists of the future, time often seems to stand still. When the vast majority of our life is behind us, the opposite is true. Everything depends on our perspective and attitude.

Since it was November, our pastor had spoken earlier in the month on being thankful. Thankfulness is an attitude, a chosen attitude, which like so many other attitudes has a great effect not only on our daily living, but often on our health as well. The positive individual looks at an eight-ounce glass with four ounces of liquid and calls it half full, the negative person looks at the same glass and calls it half empty. Then there is the unfortunate individual with the ability to look at a full glass and call it empty. Life must be very tough for such a person. Thankfully, such folks are balanced by the very fortunate individual who looks at an empty glass and still sees something.

Being thankful is easy to do when everything is going right. However, the pastor didn't stop there, instead admonishing us to be thankful in all things. Now that, my friend, is very hard to do! However, I decided to take the speaker's advice and half jokingly whispered to my wife I was even thankful her family was coming to spend 10 days with us. She must not have believed me as I got an elbow in the ribs. The following Friday found me heading to the airport to pick up the in-laws. My being thankful in all things started to wear thin as I pulled into the parking lot. All of the closer spaces were gone (grumble, grumble) and I had to park far away. As I went up to the arrival area I found a lot more people there than normal (grumble, grumble). In fact, there were so many people there was no place to sit down (grumble, grumble), plus there was a large semicircle of about 50 folks taking up most of the standing area (grumble, grumble). We don't get many celebrities in our relatively little airport, but obviously something was happening.

Feeling Small

I was not doing very well with being thankful and then I saw it. At the far end of the group was an American flag, and I then noticed several National Guard uniforms in the group. I felt pretty bad about my lousy attitude as I realized a soldier was coming home. As he came through the doors the whole airport, me included, erupted in cheers and applause. He was limping noticeably and pushing his wheelchair. It was quite obvious he was proud to be an American and proud to serve this country. I felt very small for my grumbling and at the same time thankful to be an American and exceptionally thankful for such young men as this one.

My thankfulness did not stop there. I thought of all the young men who had sacrificed so much so I could be

here, so I could be free. During my lifetime so many young men have given their all in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and two wars in Iraq. Without the sacrifice of lives and limbs by the American servicemen, I would not be here to write this now and you would not be here to read it. We would all be slaves. The majority of the media reporting on the war in Iraq is a slap in the face to all the brave warriors in this war and all preceding wars to keep us free. Every serviceman I have talked to gives a much different picture of what is happening in Iraq then what we normally hear. I am so thankful to have witnessed this soldier's homecoming.

As Americans we have so much to be thankful for and as shooters our cup literally runneth over. I recently did a piece for Gun Digest covering the 60 years of sixguns since the first Gun Digest. In the late 1940s, very few new handguns were available. Only Colt and Smith & Wesson offered centerfire handguns, however, they were very difficult to obtain. The first catalog contained only a couple pages with very large pictures. Compare this to the 60th Edition with over 20 pages of handguns illustrated with very small pictures to cover everything. The latest GUNS Annual has over 135 catalog pages of firearms. We can be thankful not only for the great selection, but also the fact the vast majority of them are quite affordable.

GCA 68

Those readers who have passed the half-century mark may well remember the passage of The Gun Control Act of 1968. Like most legislation, this had unintended consequences. I remember one representative, who wanted to ban all firearms, actually saying within 10 years of such a ban, all existing firearms would be broken and non-operable. He should tell such a thing to my original 1860 Army and other sixguns from the 1880s. They still work and work well. I wonder if a representative who knows so little about firearms knows as little about other things being legislated. We can be thankful all legislators are not as ignorant.

Many of us expected the GCA68 to be the death knell for firearm production. Mail order firearms were stopped and all firearm dealers had to be licensed and follow a long book-sized list of regulations. I was concerned enough to go purchase a couple of guns while I still could. The 2nd Generation .44 Special Colt SAA and the Colt Commander .38 Super are still performing quite well.

Consider what as happened since 1968. Never have we had such mind-boggling decisions about what sixgun to purchase between pocket .357s, 26-ounce .44s, and such new calibers as .480 Ruger, .460 and .500 S&W Magnums.

Not only did the GCA68 not destroy S&W and Ruger, several new manufacturers arrived. Dan Wesson brought forth his revolutionary line of switch-barrel revolvers, Freedom Arms began producing the finest single actions ever. Thompson/Center gave shooters and hunters a superbly accurate single-shot pistol in myriad calibers, Taurus became a major factor in handgun production, quality replicas of 19th-century are available to shooters and the list of semiauto manufacturers would fill a page. Add to this the fact our sister publication, American Handgunner, also arrived. I can't say for sure all of this is an unintended consequence of GCA68, however I'm surely thankful for the profusion of great firearms over the last 35-plus years.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out exactly what anti-gun legislation is supposed to accomplish. Most of it is not gun control but rather people control. We have survived the infamous Clinton gun ban and the 10-year ban on high-cap magazines. The vast majority of states not only have passed CCW laws, it is now possible for me to travel coast-to-coast with my Idaho CCW permit if I carefully select my route. For all of these I am thankful.

Finally, looking at the terribly empty glass following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we can also find something to be very thankful for. The whole country has seen the only one who can protect you is you and the spotlight was also turned on illegal gun confiscation. After 9/11 a whole lot of folks went out and bought guns for personal protection. The aftermath of Katrina is probably having the same effect. As terrible as both 9/11 and Katrina were, we can still find something to be thankful for.
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Title Annotation:CAMPFIRE TALES
Author:Taffin, John
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Words:1378
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