SNL, Amy Schumer, and My Great-Great-Grandfather

What Saturday Night Live and gun control activist Amy Schumer meant to be a mockery made me nostalgic instead.

Photo by Saturday Night Live

 

For those who have never heard of Amy Schumer, she is a comedian of sorts. Not my sort of sort, but some people find her obscene monologues entertaining. Saturday Night Live is apparently in that camp, having invited her to host the show Oct. 10. She and the cast joined forces to put on a skit about American gun culture, and while they think they made a powerful statement, they actually made me feel nostalgic and happy.

You see, Schumer is the same Schumer as Chuck Schumer — the senator from New York endorsed by retiring Harry Reid to succeed him as the Senate Minority Leader, and Amy’s second cousin. The two joined forces to call for stricter gun control measures after a fatal shooting took place at a screening of Amy’s movie, Trainwreck, in Louisiana. The SNL skit was an extension of her views on guns and those who have them.

The video can easily be found online but will not be linked here. A short summation of the roughly two minute “parody” is that gun owners can’t celebrate important events — the birth of a child, a romantic evening, or even a jog in the park — without including a firearm in some way.  According to the narrator, guns “unite us, comfort us, bring us joy,” and evoke a host of other responses that guns supposedly shouldn’t. It ends with the text “Guns: We’re Here to Stay” typed across the screen.

Because gun ownership is crazy, and guns aren’t fun; so if you think having a gun is fun, you’re crazy.

For perspective, Piers Morgan and Michael Moore both tweeted that the clip was “brilliant.”

One of the scenes depicted was a grandson and grandfather looking through a photo album. The grandfather leaves and returns with a revolver, the sight of which causes the grandson to grin wildly. The two proceed to handle the gun, carelessly snapping the cylinder closed like Hollywood thinks is standard operating procedure. The cast thought they were mocking America’s gun owners, but it made me remember happy memories instead.

 

I never knew the story of my grandfather’s Smith & Wesson Model 10 until I was on the verge of buying my first handgun. I had seen it, even shot it, and seen him with it countless times, but it was just Pop’s gun. I didn’t know he hadn’t purchased it new, or that his father hadn’t either.

It was just the handgun he carried when a drunk staggered onto our property one evening, scaring my childhood self in the fading light like Frankenstein’s lurching monster. The man was stumbling like an idiot and thankfully couldn’t cause Pop any harm, but if he had been, the revolver was there.

It was just the gun we shot targets with in the garden after he had brought in green beans and squash. I don’t mean just disrespectfully. It was just his; no one else’s.

We never sat on the couch with a photo album twirling it around like the scoffers at 30 Rock. We were behind the house, carefully loading the cylinder with five rounds and one empty chamber, when he told me how his grandfather before him had guarded his country store with it. He told me he was a good man, always willing to help anyone and everyone. He never had to use it for self defense, but it had been behind the counter with the boxes of shoes and what would now be considered an antique cash register just in case.

It felt strange to stand there shooting the Smith. Generations removed from me, a face I would never see, my great-great-grandfather had once bought it and kept it so well-oiled that even after the intervening years I could still read the serial information clearly. He never snapped the cylinder closed, and neither did I. My family is responsible and respectful like that, contrary to our portrayal as emotionally unstable and idiotic gun owners by Schumer.

The old store stood 100 yards or so from my childhood bedroom, but its log walls were gone long before I even knew it had existed. Though his store isn’t standing and his bones are buried, my grandfather’s grandfather had taken special care of the Smith. His foresight allowed his descendants to have a memory few Americans — and even few gun owners — have today.

 

I turned off the video, gritted my teeth at willful ignorance, and sat down to write this before I lost it. So many people want to take my guns from me: to pacify me, to control me, to “protect” me. Whatever their sundry motives may be, what they will never be able to take away from me is the memory of standing a few feet away from a dirt berm, learning to line up the front post in the notched rear sight, pushing .38 slugs into the dirt as fast as I could cock the hammer. I have the memory of shooting a gun my ancestors carried and cared for decades before my birth.

Guns can unite us; they can comfort us and bring us joy. They have and do for me, and I suspect they do for others as well. There is a fascination with firearms in America, but it’s not a dirty or deviant thing like others claim. Lord-willing, my great-great-grandson will one day experience that same reverential awe for his ancestor’s Glock 17 like I did for a Smith & Wesson years ago.

 

 

About Taylor J. Pardue

Taylor is the Associate and Online Editor of Sporting Classics. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University (wildlife biology) and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (communication studies). Email him at taylor@sportingclassics.com.

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