Shortly after Bruce Abbott bought his Ruger Redhawk 44 magnum revolver 30 years ago, he was forced to use it to defend his neighbor’s wife and children under attack from a masked, home invader. He has kept it nearby ever since.
This is part two in a new series called “The American Gun Owner.” My purpose is to illuminate the positives of gun ownership that are rarely seen in the media. (Click here to read part one: The American Gun Owner - A brother with Down Syndrome.)
Mr. Abbott, 61, lives in a rural part of Maine. He owns about 25 firearms. He is working on getting back the carry permit he let lapse due to recent mass shootings.
The incident that cemented his belief in how gun ownership makes us all safer occurred in the mid 1980s. His neighbor, a long-distance trucker, was often away from home. One night, an intruder wearing a Darth Vader mask ripped the phone lines off the trucker’s house and trapped the wife, and two small children inside. “There were no cell phones back then,” noted Mr. Abbott.
At about 1:30 a.m., while the perpetrator was banging on the windows in the back of the house, the neighbor’s wife grabbed her kids and ran across the street, banging on the Abbotts’ front door. Mr. Abbott’s wife Linda called the sheriff’s office, while Mr. Abbott grabbed a flashlight and his Ruger. At the time, Mr. Abbott was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.
“I circled the house and saw the broken phone wires and tracks, but no Darth Vader,” recalled Mr. Abbott, a mechanic. “The deputies showed up about twenty minutes later with a dog, and tracked Mr. Star Wars to his hiding place in a ditch up by the town dump, about a half-mile away. Turns out, he saw me and that big stainless steel revolver, and wanted no part of it.”
Mr. Abbott told me that the largely armed populace in his area of has made them safer. “One of the nice things about rural Maine is the universality of gun ownership. Every house in this area has a high-powered hunting rifle, a shotgun, a .22 rifle and over half have handguns,” he said. “Violent crime is very rare.”
The Abbott family has a long tradition of gun ownership. “My Dad was a Maine Guide, and my memories of youth are filled with the sights of Winchesters and Savages, and the smells of Hoppe’s #9 bore cleaner, and wet hunter’s wool,” he recalled. Mr. Abbott’s father passed away when he was just 10 years old.
His mother taught him the fundamentals. “She was a crack shot and accompanied Dad deer-hunting,” recalled Mr. Abbott. He started by shooting .22 rifles. By 13 years old, he was firing his father’s old Colt .38 Auto.
Mr. Abbott got his own gun when he was 17 years old. He traded his brother-in-law the Remington hunting rifle for a Colt (technically a Remington-Rand Navy issue) .45 auto. This family transaction would have to go through a dealer and a federal background check under the “universal background check” policies espoused by President Obama.
Mr. Abbott passed along the family tradition. He taught his two sons and daughter to shoot. He said, “My daughter was firing the Ruger when she was 11 years old. She owns a .45 Auto and regularly outshoots her boyfriend and all his buddies.”
I was inspired to write this new series after getting insightful letters, along with the photographs that will be published in my upcoming book, “Emily Gets Her Gun …. But Obama Wants to Take Yours.” To submit a photo of yourself with your gun, email a high-resolution version by July 9 to EmilysGuns@gmail.com.