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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Aunt Tess takes on the NRA ...

Aunt Tess takes on the NRA ...

She's a tough old bird, my Aunt Tess, and calls every now and then to keep me on my toes. At 87 she's convinced that if she lives long enough she might see me make something of myself yet, although time's getting short. She lied about her age to join the Women’s Army Corp in the last year of the War, and had been in her day a cocktail waitress, a food store manager, a bartender, a cop’s wife and then his widow, and the first woman vice president of a Teamster's local. When it comes to language she can hold her own with the old ladies at a tea party or tell a loudmouth drunk where to put it in words he understands. This being a family newspaper I can't quote her saltier comments, but she started off the other day giving me hell.
 “You just going to let them get away with it?” she demanded out of the blue.
“Who? And get away with what?” I asked. Talking with Aunt Tess is like trying to climb aboard a bus that’s already pulling away from the curb.
“The gun lobby! They want to make schoolteachers carry guns!”
“But I thought you were pro-gun,” I protested.
“I am. But that doesn’t mean I’m off my rocker. That nut that killed those kids used an assault rifle. Who’s that NRA guy? Wayne LaPierre? He’s trying to get his bunch fired up about keeping their assault rifles for the day the government comes visiting. Who’s he think he’s fixing to shoot? The mailman? The cops? My Tom was a cop and a good one. Was he the kind of guy they want to shoot?”
I shook my head.
“He’s convinced there’s a plot to take away everybody’s guns so they can cram liberal programs down our throats.”
“Baloney! Any congressman lets them try that’s going to be wiping tables at McDonald’s after the next election. But what’s that got to do with assault rifles?”
“They see it as the first step down the slippery slope,” I said.
“This LaPierre guy needs to get a grip,” she snorted. “Oh, and another thing. I saw something on TV that the gun hustlers blame it on the video games or mental health. But the gun makers run ads on the video games to make the kids pester daddy for their own AK47, like it was a skateboard. And as far as saying we should keep track of guys with mental health problems, they must think we don’t know they block every move to keep the whackos from getting hold of the guns in the first place.”
“But what about the right of self-defense?” I led her on, not that Aunt Tess needs much prodding when she gets rolling.
“Self-defense against what?” she came back. “If they can’t defend themselves with rifles, shotguns and pistols, they must be the lousiest shots in the world. And I can tell you this; if they need assault rifles, they must be expecting to fight the US Army, which in my book is treason. And aside from that it’s a loser, because nobody beats the US Army.” All seven of her brothers were part of the Army that licked the Nazi’s and the Japanese. Two didn’t come back. Her old Women’s Army Corps spirit was still running high.
“So who’s this LaPierre whacko gonna shoot? Now I think about it, isn’t he the nut that called federal officers jack-booted thugs that time when the first Bush quit the NRA in protest?”
“Arm the teachers,” she sniffed. “Why do they let such loonies get on television if they can’t do better than that?”
I started to say something, but she cut me off. “Gotta go,” she said. “I’m going down the church and light a candle for every one of those little kids.”

Joe Wilkins is a semi-retired lawyer and former municipal judge who lives in Smithville, NJ. He is the author of  "The Speaker Who Locked up the House", an acclaimed historical novel about Congress set in the Washington of 1890, and "The Skin Game and other Atlantic City capers", a richly comic account of the stick-up of an illegal card game as Atlantic City casino age began. To buy Joe’s books, invite him to talk to your group, or send him your comments, you can email him at, visit his website at or catch his author's page on Facebook.

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