Mason County News
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Locked and Loaded With Santa
Outdoors Outpost
Wednesday, January 4, 2012 • Posted January 4, 2012

A few weeks ago I met Patrick Wentworth for the first time, which seemed strange to me considering he’s been working for me for close to a year now. Not that I pay him or anything, but Pat sends me emails about once a week containing stories that, often as not, I end up writing about. Not that a lot of other folks don’t send me emails, too, but I don’t write about all of them. Well, sometimes I do, but I don’t tell anyone about it.Recently Pat sent me some links to stories about the Scottsdale Gun Club, which is, for some reason, located in Scottsdale, Arizona. This gun club has been in the news all over the country lately because they set up a couple of Santa photo shoots, so people could come and bring their children and have a Christmas Card picture made with St. Nick. Which is pretty common between Thanksgiving a Christmas, but the SGC added a little twist – machine guns.The SGC Santa at these photo shoots sat in a chair in front of a snowflake and Christmas tree backdrop, with a machine gun behind his right shoulder (looks like a Dillon Aero M134 to me) and an AR-type rifle mounted on a tripod to his left. Probably a semi-automatic, but who knows?People could come and pose with Santa, and if they wanted they could hold other guns for the picture, like AR-15s and AK-47s. And a lot of people did that. The first event drew about 5,000 folks, and I haven’t heard how many were at the second one. I think it’s safe to say the Machine Gun Santa idea was a hit.But not with everybody. The SGC photo thing created a lot of controversy, the same way the pistol Christmas tree ornament did a few years ago. For some reason a lot of folks seem to get upset whenever guns are involved in anything. Go figure.Folks were even more upset because these particular events combined Christmas and Santa Claus with guns. Steve Farley, an Arizona state representative, said, “To involve machine guns and Santa in a celebration in the birth of Jesus Christ is the worst kind of heresy I can imagine. I would suggest that the people who created this read some of the New Testament.”Well. That seems harsh. I would suggest Rep. Steve Farley read some of the New Testament, if he can, in fact, read. Jesus mentioned, at one point, that He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. And Santa, I might point out, brings guns to boys and girls who have been especially good during the year. As a matter of fact, Santa has even brought me guns for Christmas from time to time, which proves the song is wrong, at least the part about him seeing you when you’re awake.Plus, I can think of a lot of worse kind of heresies, but then, it seems to me that people are taking this whole thing way too seriously.For example, one person who wrote in complained that the SGC was ‘taking young children, giddy with the anticipation of seeing Santa Claus,’ and teaching them to ‘associate that wholesome figure with weapons that have ABSOLUTELY no other purpose than killing human beings. It’s an affront to humanity at large.’I would submit that Kim Kardashian is way more of an affront to humanity at large, but that’s me.Let’s disregard for just a moment that this person seems to have forgotten that Santa doesn’t actually exist. And let’s disregard for good the fact that perpetuating the Santa myth is, without question, lying to children, who are going to grow up and remember that the very people they depended on to teach them how to be responsible citizens began with the whole Santa Claus fabrication. Let’s just focus for a moment on the guns, which seems to be the main sticking point here.This person’s view is that the guns involved in the photo thing ‘have ABSOLUTELY no other purpose than killing human beings.’ Well, it sounds bad when you say it like that.But there’s another side, which I call the Sergeant York side, of that issue. If you saw the movie, starring Gary Cooper, you know that Alvin York, although he was a conscientious objector, killed a lot of enemy soldiers during WWI. He took out some machine gun nests, at one point. And he did it because the machine gunners were killing a lot of people.Now, York would never have been able to stop all that killing if he’d had, say, a baseball bat, or a golf club, instead of a 1903 Springfield. So, in the right hands, guns actually save lives. Guns are just tools, after all, and can be used for good or bad.We all make our own choices, and some people seem to choose to associate guns with bad things. I respect their right to think that way, but I believe they should remember that that right was bought for them by people with guns. People like Alvin York, who used guns to save lives, even though they really hated to hurt anyone.So take whatever kind of picture you want with someone dressed up like Santa Claus. And if anyone has an extra M134 lying around, I’ve been a very good boy this year . . .Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who has his picture taken with a Dillon machine gun at SHOT Show last year. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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