Since the Mullinix family settled here 150 years ago, this is how generations of children have grown up — a certain kind of American boyhood meant to form a certain kind of American man. There is a family rabbit hunt on Thanksgiving and a youth turkey hunt on the Fourth of July. One generation passes its guns on to the next, along with lessons about self-sufficiency and self-protection, life and death. Even as the family’s land dwindled over the decades — from farms that covered half of the county, to 16 acres of hunting woods, to a townhouse in the Washington exurbs — their traditions survived inside the safe at the top of the stairs. “I’m still country,” Chanse said.
It is a lifestyle his family fears is at risk in the escalating argument over gun control. Since 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, parents and teachers at Chanse’s elementary school have been debating the basic role of guns in America. Do they encourage responsibility or recklessness? Do they foster relationships or endanger them? Are they part of our culture or an outdated relic from our past?
What are the results of America’s long relationship with guns?