COLUMN: A Confederate Yankee

Bill Mayers

El Paso massacre hits close to home

This one hits really close. I spent many a day there. Biggs Air Force Base. Fort Bliss. The Lincoln Street bridge over the Rio Grande, which was often mere puddles. I’d walk across that bridge to visit Ciudad Juarez, shopping for fine wines, cheap whiskey – often bottled in the U.S. and sold in that Mexican town for a third or less what it cost north of the border.

El Paso High was Las Cruces High’s sworn enemy on the gridiron, often slapping the crap out of our Bulldogs. We always grabbed ’em by the shoulder pads after a game and rejoiced in a game well-played; they reciprocated in kind. And often as not, you’d hear congratulatory remarks in Spanish – half the guys on both teams spoke it fluently. Me. not so much – besides, I was kinda caught up in (ahem) admiring the brown-skinned cheerleaders from both venues.

Las Cruces was a short 40-minute drive north of El Paso. That was our version of “the big city,” but most of all, these were people like us. We got along.

Texans have accumulated firearms since before it was a state. So’d we. My first was a single-shot .22 rifle. Knocked off a few jackrabbits with that, but did better with a 20-gague bolt-action shotgun. Graduated to a 16-gauge and then got my first “serious” rifle, a surplus British Enfield bolt-action in .303 caliber. Ya put a round through that, you knew it meant business.

A buddy managed to save enough to buy a surplus B.A.R. That sucker was impressive! We didn’t shoot it often. Rounds were expensive when your pay rate was .75 cents an hour. But that sucker impressed the hell out of us when you could fire off rounds as fast as you could pull the trigger. That and my Enfield got loads of attention, even when we couldn’t afford ammo. We’d sit and put the things through a complete cleaning – oiling’em up and all that – then put’em in the rack almost reverently.

Sometimes we’d fantasize how we’d use’em to respond to an invasion of the good ol’ USA by Russians. But use them to blow away fellow Americans? Oh, hell no! Not in Las Cruces, not in El Paso. Yeah, some few of our neighbors looked askance at those who spoke another language … even more so at our Native American neighbors. The area had been home to them for centuries. But they were neighbors. We interacted with them, rarely bothering that they were different. We all had the same needs, goals.

Yeah, they could have been talking about us Caucasians in their preferred language, but what the hell? We didn’t care what they called us, just so long as they didn’t call us late for lunch when we had a community get-together. That wasn’t a frequent occurrence, but still…

So what the hell? Where has this recent madness come from? What do these boneheads think they’ll solve by blowing away a bunch of people at random? And has the attitude out of the nation’s Capitol had any influence on all this? I think it has. And I think we need to rid this country of Donald Trump and as many of his supporters as we possibly can, as quickly as we can. God damn it, those folks in El Paso are my kinds of people.

What happened made me physically ill. And, at risk of pissing off a few people, I insist we need much stricter gun control. No American civilian needs a military-style long gun with the capacity to fire off dozens of rounds in mere seconds; freak it – if ya can’t hit your target in five rounds or less, take up golf.

Editor’s note: William Mayers of Sullivan is a retired senior U.S. Army Corpsman. A certified healthcare professional since 1964, he holds two professional licenses, including that of Registered Professional Nurse licensed in New York, Alaska, Virginia and Louisiana. He is the father of three and avid analyst of current events.

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