In 1958, Johnny Cash came out with a song that immediately rose to the top of the country music chart. The lyrics tell the story of a young man named Billy Joe, who gets the itch to get out of the house and into town for some fun and freedom. After he has shined his boots and “combed his dark hair down,” his mother begs him not to go:
Don’t take your guns to town, son
Leave your guns at home, Bill
Don’t take your guns to town.
Billy Joe laughs off his mother’s anxiety, assuring her of his shooting prowess and of his capacity for restraint.
I wouldn’t shoot without a cause
I’d gun nobody down.
In town, as he takes a drink at the bar, the cowboy next to him begins to laugh derisively at him. Billy Joe reaches for his gun, but the other man beats him to the draw. As he lies mortally wounded on the floor, his dying words echo those from his mother,
Don’t take your guns to town, son. . .
Our Georgia legislature is considering broadening the state’s concealed weapons rule so that under various circumstances, guns would be allowed in bars, houses of worship, and on college and university campuses. Not a good idea.
On Tuesday of this week, an engineering student at Purdue University in Indiana shot and killed a teaching assistant. Do students really need to take their guns to college? Is it a wise to have armed students in classrooms or in dorm rooms, where loneliness and/or depression can sometimes bring about thoughts of self-destruction?
Last week, in Wesley Chapel, Florida, a 71 year old man shot and killed the young father who was sitting in front of him in a movie theater after the man became incensed that the father was texting on his cell phone (he was checking in with the babysitter who was taking care of his 22-month-old daughter). Do people really need to take their guns to the movies?
I own a shotgun (my husband surprised me with it one Christmas). I took lessons and learned how to shoot skeet, though not very well. I know many responsible gun owners. But, I also know that the epidemic of gun violence is a terrible scourge on American society today.
The mothers and the fathers of all the children and young people whose lives have been snuffed out due to guns violence are crying out to us: Don’t take guns to town. Leave your guns at home.
There is just too much to lose. Too many lives are being lost every day.
– Rev. Joanna M. Adams
Watch Johnny Cash’s “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”