A couple of years ago, I had the chance to visit the National Firearms Museum at the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. One of the first historical guns I encountered was the “Mayflower Gun,” a .66 caliber Italian-made wheel lock carbine carried aboard the Mayflower by 20-year-old English settler John Alden in the year 1620. Standing just mere inches away from this tangible piece of history is an experience I will never forget. I still get goose bumps just looking at the photos of this ancient gun.
Three hundred and ninety one years ago, John Alden clambered off the deck of the Mayflower and into a small rowboat with this gun. I’ll bet he had it in his hands as his feet splashed down into the salty water on the beach, and that he cautiously eyed the tree line while holding this firearm as he left his very first set of footprints on the shore of the strange new land called Massachusetts.
Alden undoubtedly took this gun turkey and deer hunting to provide food for himself and the other residents of the Plymouth Rock settlement on the northeastern edge of the North American continent. Almost 400 years later, I myself was recently hunting deer, trying to put meat on my own family’s table, inside the continental nation to which the small settlement of English religious refugees would eventually give rise.
This very gun might have provided part of the meat that both the English and members of the Wampanoag tribe enjoyed at the very first Thanksgiving, a holiday I will myself observe with both my own and my wife’s family in remembrance of that original gathering almost four hundred years ago. And yes, we will eat turkey and probably some venison, although I’m not sure we’ll have any “seethed lobsters” which are listed on the original Thanksgiving menu.
John eventually brought this gun to the house he built for himself and his wife Priscilla in 1653, and it stayed there for literally centuries. In 1924, Alden’s gun was rediscovered in the wall of his house, which still stands in Duxbury and which you can visit to this day. http://www.alden.org/
In the spirit of that first Thanksgiving, and in keeping with TTAG’s bent, here are some gun-related things for which I am very thankful. Personally I thank Yaweh-Jehovah-God, but you are free to thank any deity you like, or luck, or history, or mere chance if you prefer.
- I am thankful that I live in a country where gun ownership is recognized as a fundamental and individual right, no matter what Sonia Sotomayor might write or say.
- I am thankful that I live in a place where I can, any time I wish to, go shoot practically any sort of gun that I want on my very own backyard range.
- I am thankful that I can hunt (and eat) deer, squirrels, rabbits, and all sorts of other woodland creatures, especially those that show up on or near my personal backyard range.
- I am thankful that I live in a place where I can teach my own son gun safety, marksmanship, hunting, and an appreciation for freedom without getting permission from any governmental agency, bureaucrat or authority to do so.
- I am thankful that I can legally carry a personal defense handgun most places I might go in my own state, and that my ability to carry that gun is recognized in 38 other states.
- I am thankful that it looks very likely that the number of states where I can legally carry my self-defense handgun will only go up.
- I am thankful that I live in a state where the right to defend myself and my family inside our home, with any sort of force that I deem necessary, is regarded as “a fundamental right to be preserved and promoted as a public policy.”
- I am thankful that I can order any amount of ammunition that I like through the mail.
- I am thankful that I live in a place where I can shoot pumpkins, cheap sodas, dead television sets, cans of Silly String, and other entertaining targets on my backyard range.
- I am thankful I can buy, swap, trade, barter and give as gifts guns and ammunition to and with my family, friends, neighbors, or even folks I meet in online forums, through classified ads and at gun shows.
On this most American of holidays, what gun-related things are you, the Armed Intelligentsia, thankful for this Thanksgiving?