'Luckily He Was Usually Drunk and a Bad Shot'

A reader recalls a frightening childhood: Guns were a big part of my life growing up in rural Florida. I had a small, lightweight rifle my step-father gave me to shoot with out back. My mom (born and raised in suburban New Jersey) learned to shoot and used a pistol to shoot critters who came in our back yard. My step-father was a skilled gunsmith who did repairs in our family-owned gun shop while my mom worked the counter. Between the ages of three and six, I went to work with them during the day. Unfortunately, a gun shop even then was a target for thieves. The shop was broken into several times. My parents got guard dogs and the dogs were poisoned and the shop still broken into. Eventually they gave up. Unfortunately, my step-father continued his love affair with guns.

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