Saying ‘No’ Isn’t Always Easy

Will exercises his right to keep and bear arms with considerable vigor. He really had no need for a broken antique bolt-action shotgun but bought it anyway.

Addiction is an unfortunate and ubiquitous component of my day job. I have seen folks addicted to cigarettes, narcotics, sex, ice, alcohol and children. The very definition of addiction is tough to nail down. The Google definition is, “The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.”

That’s circular reasoning. It literally doesn’t mean anything. What a cop-out.

I must be forever on my guard against promoting, instigating, or perpetuating this unfortunate problem. If someone comes to the clinic requesting a specific controlled substance then my antennae immediately wiggle. No lie, I had a patient once steal a prescription pad and try to fill a prescription at the local Walmart pharmacy for “Mofeen (i.e. morphine), 1 gallon.” The eagle-eyed pharmacist rightfully flagged this one as suspicious.

Identifying addiction is easier in others. Turning a laser-like focus inward is frequently murkier. It’s tough to admit such weakness in yourself. However, right here in this venue, I will do exactly that. I recently had an experience that led me to believe I might be suffering from a serious addiction.

Will notes, “I’m afraid my brain actually looks like the addicted, diseased example on the right. I seem to be no longer capable of saying ‘No.’”

The Details

The email had come from a dear friend who is an attorney. One of the many manifest fringe benefits to being a quasi-successful gun writer is that buddies reach out with their gun quandaries. I can seldom reliably estimate the value of Granddad’s antique fowling piece, but I do enjoy every query. This one was fairly benign.

My buddy was probating the estate of an old bachelor who was recently demised. I had actually known the man as a patient. He had no close relatives, so his stuff held no sentimental value. They preferred simply to get a check. Among the sundry detritus of life my pal was now tasked to liquidate was an old shotgun. He emailed me to see if I might be interested

The Gun

The weapon in question was actually a bolt-action shotgun. I had seen a few of these things before and appreciated their novelty. This gun was as big as a water ski and badly freckled. It sported some kind of weird poly-choke device on the muzzle. The gun was grossly intact, but the follower and follower spring from the internal magazine were AWOL.

The weapon was made by the Kessler Corporation per its markings. Curiously, the barrel and receiver were cut from a single long piece of steel. Additionally, the gun had no serial number. Prior to the 1968 Gun Control Act there was no requirement to serialize firearms. You could just sell guns through the mail to strangers. Weapons like this Kessler were typically advertised in the backs of magazines and sold freely through the post. That’s pretty hard to believe today.

Despite its undeniable novelty, this old Kessler shotgun was a total piece of junk. Any normal person would have looked it over and recommended my buddy cut it up to make tomato stakes or something similar. Not me, however.

Now appreciate the circumstances. I have been collecting guns since I was seven. I have two full-time jobs, one of which goes solely to support my firearms habit. My right to keep and bear arms is well exercised. I had exactly zero use for this craptastic old shotgun. I didn’t even have a place to keep it — and yet I still bought it anyway. This might actually be a problem.

Addiction is a complex conundrum with both genetic and environmental components. Most folks who have beaten it tell me conquering addiction is an ongoing process requiring dedication and daily diligence. Those caught in the throes of addiction get up every morning determined to master that which holds such sway over them. It all sounds pretty hard. By contrast, I think I’ll just go with it.

Apparently, I am destined to simply wallow in mine. My substance of choice is most anything old and greasy. A lever-action Daisy repeater was my gateway drug. Today each successive hit demands something older or greasier to get the same high. I frankly see no end in sight. There are no 12-step program or inpatient treatment facilities. Guys like me are pretty much on our own.

Like most addictions, mine can be both terribly expensive and take a dark toll on personal relationships. If my long-suffering bride finally kicks me out of the house over this, you’ll know where to find me. I’ll be the smelly derelict curled up over the heater grate on some big city sidewalk someplace. You’ll recognize me as the bum with the Kessler shotgun stuffed into his pilfered shopping cart.

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