I grew up watching westerns. “Gunsmoke” was part of my family’s Saturday night ritual, during which I’d be polishing my fingernails for church the next day.
In retrospect I think Miss Kitty -- the Long Branch Saloon madam -- got planted in my psyche as a strong female role model. Of course I was naïve about her profession; I just liked her independent spirit and her red hair. As an adult, hers was one of my favorite Halloween personas to adorn.
I didn’t think much about guns back then. I had toy guns and remember a number my dance class performed at our recital. Our sequined costumes were belted by holsters carrying plastic guns we drew and pointed at the audience.
Westerns, along with other genres, expose us to excessive gun violence -- not to mention the abominable portrayal of Native Americans.
I’m torn that I’m still watching and, yes, enjoying TV series like “Godless,” “Longmire” and “Hell on Wheels” while I adamantly believe in a major overhaul of our gun laws, if not the Second Amendment.
Our country’s pervasive gun culture, along with its close association with white male privilege, is deeply ingrained in our national identity and funded by organizations like the NRA.
But I find hope for our future personified by those brave teen activists in Florida. I doubt many of them watch westerns, but their exposure to gun violence -- on screen and in the classroom -- way exceeds mine. I look forward a few years when they, too, will be able to vote and run for office.
I’m Paula Garrett, and that’s my perspective.