A Texan Take on Guns

you might be surprised

M. M. De Voe
4 min readMay 26, 2022


I grew up in this town. Someone sent me this archival photo of a popular annual event that was stopped in 1999 when a dozen students died because of a random accident. In Feb 2020, a 19yr old woman and her 20 yr old sister and a toddler were all shot nearthis location. It didn’t make national news, neither did the multiple shooting deaths in 2022, 2021, or any of the other years.

I was born in Texas. We had a six-foot rattlesnake in our dryer that my dad killed with a shovel while the four kids watched. When we propped the doors open so the breeze could come in, tarantulas the size of your open palm would lurk in the upper corner of the door and you’d go out the window to keep from having to pass beneath it. I lived in the country, where walking barefoot got the soles of your feet full of stickers.

Gun country.

In third grade, Thad got a BB gun for his tenth birthday. He was old for our grade and a big guy, and he was the first kid in the class to own a gun. He was also the school bully and the gun cemented that position. Everyone was either terrified of him or in awe or both. We never saw the gun, but we sure heard about it.

When I was in fourth grade, Teddy, one of the rich, popular boys everyone had a crush on, bragged a lot about his dad’s gun. His dad was safe with it, Teddy said, respect and awe in his voice. He kept it locked.

Everyone had a rifle rack if they drove a pickup. On your 16th birthday, someone invariably gave you the rifle to put into the rack.

But my mother was Lithuanian and to her, guns meant death and dislocation. Her family fled the forcible occupation of her homeland when she was two. Her brother was six and still isn’t quite right, as they say. She has never lost her anti-gun stance. Not only were the four of us kids not allowed to touch guns or have unsupervised play dates in homes where there were guns in the house, but she forbade us to play any game that had shooting in it — including using sticks as imaginary guns, or even just pointing fingers.

Meanwhile, on the playgrounds: Bang-bang, you’re dead, fifty bullets in your head, brush your teeth and go to bed….

As a kid, I laughed at this “crazy” attitude of my mom’s. As an adult and a mother living in one of the last American cities to ban civilian assault rifles, I admire it.

My mother’s strict stance meant that the only association I ever had with guns was to see police carry them (I was lucky and never saw police use them). I was horrified and shocked that when I finally went to Europe as a teenager, the foreign airports had soldiers manning…



M. M. De Voe

Fictionista, collector of obscure awards, admirer of optimists in the face of dread. Author of Book&Baby, an acclaimed guide for writer-parents. mmdevoe.com