By Kenn Blanchard, http://kennblanchard.com/
Have you ever remembered details about someone later in life that didn’t mean anything to you at the time? The first gun owner I knew was my grandmother. I have mentioned her a few times on my podcasts. I smile every time I hear of a woman joining the firearms community. It doesn’t matter if it is for competition, to hunt, for self-defense or to relieve stress. My grandmother’s shotgun saved my life.
Mary Goodman was the matriarch of many in her Whaleyville, Virginia home near the Blackwater Swamp Refuge area of Virginia. The town, near the border of North Carolina, no longer exists. It was a place of refuge for many, especially me. The mother of seven, grandmother of twenty-three, and great grandmother kept a loaded and unlocked no name shotgun behind the wood stove in the kitchen all of my life. The shotgun was dark rusty brown from barrel to butt stock.
Contrary to the hyperbole now told to the public, this shotgun was not used in the commission of a crime and it didn’t endanger any of the children that grew up with her. Grandma’s house was the place where all old junk went for safe keeping. There were old televisions, baby supplies and furniture from every family. It is where you could get temporary stuff to supply your home. When you had your first child, there was a stroller or bassinet somewhere you could recycle. It was the place of refuge. When there was a family problem, kids and adults went there until they sorted things out.
Grandma’s shotgun only moved away from behind the stove a few times that I can remember. It moved annually every New Year’s Day when she celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation at midnight. Then she fired it twice after hollering “Happy New Year” into the dark cold night. We laughed every year as she pruned the large pine tree next to the house with birdshot. A huge lichen covered branch always came crashing down afterwards that added to the sound.
I noticed her gun had moved the night an angry drunken step father came to take his family home. We didn’t move that night but he did. We heard the dialogue, heard my grandmothers southern diplomacy dripping with sweetness, backed up by the unknown fact that she had a shotgun on the other side of the screen door with her. I noticed the gun had moved when she was fixing us breakfast. I was one of the refugee kids that stayed there more than the other grandkids. There were three or four of us refugees there all the time. I stayed with her during every school break more than three days long from kindergarten to high school. It was like my second home. I didn’t realize my mother sent me to stay with my grandmother for my own protection until recently. Domestic violence is a relatively accepted term today. I am a child survivor of it.
The shotgun moved once when strange hunters crossed her one acre property surrounded by Georgia-Pacific land we used. This was not the usual people whose dogs and pick-up truck would stop and chat with my grandparents, share venison and hunting news.
And the shotgun moved the time she shot a water moccasin that was coiled to strike me, near the grapevine, at the mouth of the swamp where I loved to play.
Grandmas’ shotgun was like the sharpened ax that sat at the ready on the stump next to the pile of wood in the backyard of her home. We didn’t touch either of them without asking my grandparents for permission. You can still teach responsibility, honor, love and respect to your family. You don’t need the government to do that for you. I am proof of this. I have done the same in my home with my children.
My grandmother is gone now, and the house has been destroyed by time but the memories are still fresh. I appreciate all the women who seek to learn about firearms for themselves in spite of the lies from politicians, people with body guards, clergy or organizations that want preach banning everything as if we can’t responsibly own a firearm safely. Be wary of those that insult your intelligence, gender or family in the name of child safety. My grandmother wasn’t a scholar but she made more sense than most of the people I meet today. The times might have changed but people haven’t.
I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for an old black woman’s love, and her gun.
Kenn Blanchard is a voice over actor, speaker, pastor and runs the Urban Shooter podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher radio. You can find out more about him at http://kennblanchard.com. Editor’s Note – Kenn is also a Marine, Semper Fi