Opinion: Remembering Sandy Hook, changing priorities

And to think, all this time I was believing that it was just the extreme left-leaning liberals who looked at guns and gun owners with disdain. I may have been wrong about that–but only just slightly.

During a telephone conversation on Saturday afternoon with a former colleague (who was at one point a fierce advocate for gun ownership in the United States), he mentioned that he had grown “weary” of collecting rare firearms from around the globe, and wanted to know if I’d be interested in acquiring any of them.

Well, duh, yes! During prior visits to their home in upstate New York, he would watch ever-so very carefully as I was given the “distinct good fortune” to be allowed to even touch any of those aforementioned firearms. But now, “As long as you have the cash,” any number of them could be mine.

So what happened to him from then to now? Where to begin…

First, let’s head back.  He and I went through much of the same training together during the mid-1960s. Fort Meade, Langley, Quantico, “The Point,” and the unofficial-sounding place called “The Farm,” were all parts of that. We went overseas together, swapping places from time to time, he being the spotter, then me at the helm, then the other way around. And when he got severely injured I was at his side at the Naval hospital at Subic Bay in the Philippines, and then at Walter Reed. Two years later, we was visiting me in the hospital.

But through all of that, and much more, we trained together, and much of that training involved the use of firearms. That was the way it was back then. But in the last couple of years, he’s seemingly gone off in a different direction.

Three years ago he was informed that he was suffering from incurable cancer, with a six month life-expectancy time frame. He, true to the reputation I knew, is apparently proving the doctors wrong, and that makes me extremely happy. Two and a half years after being told he should have been dead, he is still going strong. He and his wife are truly wonderful–people who would take the shirts off their backs for you or me.

When he first expressed to me his change of heart, I was worried that my good friend had made some seriously wrong-headed decisions regarding firearms and, by extension, our Second Amendment rights.  I couldn’t help feel that he was mirroring a handful of Democratic senators, folks like Joe Manchin, Mark Warner, Harry Reid, and John Yarmuth, who purported to be advocates of gun ownership at one time, but then changed direction after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but after bringing all this up with him, I can confidently say that I was completely wrong. It isn’t disdain that drives him, it’s more akin to a refocusing of priorities.

Anyway, during our last visit to their home in New York, he produced an early Revolutionary War musket from the refrigerator-sized gun safe in his ornate library. The metalwork on that weapon is a somewhat haphazard collection of scavenged and salvaged bit and pieces from very early French weapons, and the body, according to him, was a hastily carved slab of extremely dark cherry wood that was more than likely issued to a soldier the moment it began to function as a firearm.  If you were to look closely, you can barely make out the “US” on the barrel of the musket. It may not be the most valued piece in his collection, but, because of its historic significance, it’s his most cherished weapon.

I saw the look in his eyes when I was holding that musket, a familiar look I’ve seen on others … something along the lines of unexpectedly losing one’s best friend. Even though it was offered and I could manage the price tag, there was no way I’d take it from him.

But it’s available, “as long as you have the cash.”

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.