Gun nuts


THERE IS a lot of pressure in Virginia right now to change the state slogan from "Virginia Is for Lovers" to "Virginia Is for Shooters." The reason for this turnabout is that Virginia has recently made it legal for its citizens to carry concealed weapons.

It is a triumph for the National Rifle Association and a big defeat for those who have maintained that carrying a handgun in your underwear can cause a nasty rash on your stomach.

I don't live in Virginia, but I now have to fear venturing there even to shop because we no longer know who is carrying a concealed weapon and who isn't.

Burt Freeman's house is in Virginia, and I have been going there for years to play chess -- but even things have changed at his home.

Recently, when I rang the bell, his 90-year-old mother answered the door holding a semiautomatic.

"Grandma Freeman," I said nervously, "it's me, Art. I came to play chess."

"On your stomach or I'll fill you full of lead. Don't even think of trying to disarm me because I have a Glock .45 in my pantyhose."

Just then Burt came out. "He's OK, Ma. Just because you can now carry a concealed weapon doesn't mean you have to point it at everyone who comes to the house."

"Says who? Just wait until the Avon lady comes by and tries to set up her samples."

Burt took me into the library where he had the chess board set up. He apologized for his mother but told me that she wasn't the only one behaving like this.

"Ever since people started getting permits to carry concealed weapons, they've been aching to blow someone away. I was in the supermarket the other day and a guy tried to jump the line. Three people shot him dead before he could use his Uzi."

"I guess carrying concealed weapons can do that to a person," I remarked. "I wish I could carry one so that I don't feel naked."

"You have to have a no-nonsense governor and a real dedicated gun lobby to make it work. I don't like Virginia turning into an armed camp, but what can I do if the other fellow is loaded for bear? I can't just let myself become a sitting target. Most people who carry concealed weapons are honest, God-fearing straight-shooters. Hell, we're the state that gave you Thomas Jefferson and Ollie North. But we're living in a dangerous world where nobody can guarantee that when you take someone's parking place the offended driver isn't going to pistol-whip you."

It was time to play. I made the first move.

He studied it and then took out his .38 revolver.

"Are we playing with guns?" I asked.

"It isn't for you," he said. "It's to protect me from Ma."

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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