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Ammunition scarcity triggers old memories

Somewhere, in one of my sisters’ homes is an album with black-and-white photographs of my father, my nephew Dale and me after one of our hunting adventures.

Daddy was a Wisconsin dairy farmer transplanted to rural Lowndes County, Miss. He was the smartest person I have ever known then or since, and I dogged his every footstep from the day I could walk until I started school at age six.

Included in that dogging – even after I started my days at West Lowndes Elementary – was the occasional hunting adventure. Daddy wasn’t so keen about killing things – to my relief, since anything warm and fuzzy looked all too much like my favorite barn cat, Velvet – but he did like to walk the woods and listen to his dogs run.

And just following in Daddy’s footsteps and finding all kinds of neat stuff in the backwoods of ours and our neighbors’ property was enough for me.

My father, who passed away all too soon at age 70 many years back, would be concerned about some of President Obama’s recent executive orders on gun control. That’s despite the fact that the only guns my father owned were a single-shot shotgun, a single-shot .22-caliber rifle that looked like something Daniel Boone could have brought to Mississippi, two .22 pistols and a multiple-shot 22 rifle that was Daddy’s pride and joy all those years ago.

I remember Daddy’s favorite rifle vividly. He ordered it from a catalog with pictures of hunting dogs on the front. The whole gun would dissemble and fit inside the camouflaged stock. Daddy had a handmade leather strap that allowed him to sling the stock under his arm for ease of travel on hunting expeditions.

I have no recollection how many .22 long rifle bullets that gun’s clip held, but if it was more than 10, then I wonder if it might be illegal under the president’s executive order.

I’m not sure if a .22 even qualifies as an assault rifle, but I have been told that a “semi-automatic sporting rifle” does. Daddy’s gun didn’t have a military-style grip though, so maybe it would have been OK.

All my father ever shot at were squirrels, rabbits and a raccoon or two. My nephew received a Davy Crockett-style fur cap made from one, I recall.

Having spent my whole life in Mississippi and Alabama, I know there are lots of grownups like my father and kids like I was then who gain a lot of pleasure from spending time together on a pretty day or night doing a little hunting. Like most parts of the South, this area is rich with deer and wild turkeys, and those who bag a trophy often wind up showing it off on the pages of this newspaper.

So I wasn’t surprised at all when I stopped by a few area stores that sell guns and ammunition last week and found some heated opposition to the idea of any kind of curbs on the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

But I was surprised to learn that .22-caliber bullets cannot be found anywhere. It seems everyone has bought out the stores, the Internet, everything – just in case. I wish I had some of Daddy’s old ammunition on hand, because I could make a killing with it online.

Area storekeepers also told me handguns are just about impossible to find anywhere, as are brand-name guns of any kind.

“People are buying in panic,” said one store employee who asked not to be identified, adding there are “nothing but zeroes” in online inventory pages for many guns and related items.

I know my father would have something to say about all this.

I think he might be rolling over right now in his grave next to Mama.

Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at reide@dailyleader.com.