Texas, gun culture go hand in hand
The Lone Star State: where guns are a way of life and even the governor can shoot a coyote on a jog through the woods.
While many people in other states might find this action inappropriate and irresponsible, Texas culture accepts Gov. Rick Perry’s behavior as normal, even in the heated gun-control debates.
Though not all Texans wield pistols and gallivant around on thoroughbreds, the culture of the state is one founded on the freedom of owning a weapon.
UMHB sophomore business major Charlie Rod has grown up around guns on the ranches his family owns. He and his siblings see firearms not only as a means of defense, but as sport. Charlie’s 5-year-old brother shot his first animal last Christmas with a small caliber rifle.
“My older brother and dad were with him. My dad taught him how to be safe with a gun and walked through every single step meticulously before allowing him to even pull a trigger. This is what all of my siblings have been through, including myself. It’s a safe process that requires repetition and a wise, responsible adult,” he said.
The Rods take necessary precautions with their weapons because guns are a big part of their traditions as a family.
“My father has done a fantastic job raising me to be responsible with firearms, and he is doing the exact same with the rest of my siblings,” Rod said.
Student at Lonestar Community College Lexi Barnhill sat in a deer stand before she could balance a gun. She feels more comfortable there than anywhere else. Like many Texans, it’s how she was raised.
“I started shooting guns when I was probably 6 or 7, BB guns of course. The ranch has always been a good get-away for us, like a safe haven where we can relax and enjoy the sights of the hill country from the stand,” she said.
Such is the culture of the Lone Star state. In fact, native Texans who haven’t done this often seem odd and out of place in a society where shooting for recreation is so common.
In fact, Barnhill’s holiday traditions incorporate this same sport.
“On Thanksgiving, we go to our ranch every year and hunt. That’s just what we do, and what we will keep doing for years to come.… It’s a great Texas experience,” she said.
Not only do Texans use guns recreationally, but they also use them for unconventional purposes as well.
UMHB sophomore nursing major Allyssa Bradburn can shoot a gun or bow better than most boys. But what sets her apart is how she incorporates this hobby into her life.
Combining church with shooting? Only in Texas.
“The ranch is a witnessing tool. Many times our church, and my aunt and uncle’s church will take men’s fellowship groups for a weekend or youth retreat. It’s a great place to get away from civilization and society because there’s is little to no cell phone reception, and it is about a 20-minute drive to the nearest town,” she said.
This hunting gal finds confidence in who Texas culture allows her to be.
“There is something about wearing camo and hunting. That’s who I am to the core, and I’m proud of it. I will never try to hide it,” Bradburn said.
Assistant Professor Arch Koontz teaches in the UMHB biology department. He believes that the firearm crimes being highlighted in the news don’t represent Texas.
“Texans were raised with guns.… They were taught gun safety just like I was. It’s a part of the lifestyle of Texans. I think they respect them and use them for the purposes intended. You’re always going to have one or two of them out there that won’t conform. But the hunters and sportsmen are the majority,” he said.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to make the right choices.
“Texans have been raised in the presence of firearms from day one. The majority of them, I think, are legal, moral, ethical in the way they handle firearms, but you don’t hear about those,” Koontz said.
While a California governor might have miles of red tape to cut through if he shot a wild animal, Governor Perry’s actions fit the mold of a typical Texan. As long as safety remains in the forefront of gun owner’s minds, this tradition will probably never fade.
Rod said, “Gun owners should be wise and responsible with their firearms at all times, no matter the situation, or they should not be owning a firearm in the first place.”