Curious, I approached the pistol and did what any safe gun handler would do: I pulled back the slide to inspect the chamber. It immediately locked into place and would not return forward despite my vigorous effort to force it so.
“What the—what are you doing?” Guthrie exclaimed. “That is Joe Foss’ Nineteen-a-freaking-Leven. You shouldn’t even be handling it without white gloves! My gosh, have you broken it?”
Guthrie escorted me to the deputy director so I could explain how I’d so defiled the pistol of an American war hero and former NRA president. Unlike Guthrie, she only held her composure a few moments before busting out in laughter. Turns out the 1911 was merely an old gun with a bad spring that would lock into place every time it was pulled back. Guthrie had set a trap for me and executed it perfectly.
Which brings me to Guthrie story No. 2. Once upon a time, J. burst into my bedroom and obtained a semi-nude photo of me without my permission. Occasionally I would worry about how the photo may come back to haunt me, until one morning Guthrie called my office phone and said he’d posted it on the bulletin board.
“Ha-ha, shut up Guthrie,” I said hanging up.
Then a steady string of female coworkers called claiming to have seen it. Still, I knew it was a prank. Not even Guthrie would have dared. However, I then received a call from a good church-going coworker named Robert. He didn’t drink. He didn’t cuss. He didn’t lie—except apparently under the charm of one J. Guthrie.
“It’s true,” Robert said. “I can’t believe he did that to you.”
I stormed down the hall, furious. I didn’t care if I was fired—I was going to punch J. Guthrie directly in the face. He saw it in my eyes, too.
“It was a joke! It was a joke!” he wailed, frantically waiving those long, skinny arms. “I didn’t post it, I swear!”
I laughed. He laughed. And, in different ways, we were both relieved.
Guthrie was a fine person and a great friend. I will miss him dearly.
From Keith Wood, NRA Publications Contributor:
“Hey man! I’m new here, my name’s Guthrie—good to meet you!”
A big smile, eye contact, and a firm handshake; it was my first taste of home since I’d moved to Fairfax the week before. James Guthrie and I started at NRA HQ the same week back in 2003. He was working as an editor for American Hunter and I was a newly minted state lobbyist in ILA. I was just adapting to the fact that people in the DC suburbs weren’t as openly friendly as they were back home when Guthrie reminded me that you can take a boy out of the country, slap a tie on him and make him sit in traffic, but he’s still a country boy. That was Guthrie, a guy that never met a stranger, never cared what anyone thought, and always told it like it was. He’d buy you a beer when you looked thirsty, and make you laugh no matter how bad your day was. I mean it as a compliment when I say he wasn’t a serious guy, but he was serious about the things that mattered to him—his family, his craft.
Those were fun years for those of us who were in our 20s, both inside and outside of the office. A few years later, we all went our separate ways, both geographically and career-wise. When Guthrie became a freelance writer I didn’t see him as much, and we weren’t close enough friends to call one another. Every time I saw him over the last few years, I’d see that big smile, get that firm handshake, and I was right back where I’d seen him last. A good ‘ole boy’s good ole’ boy, Guthrie was the kind of man that you had to know to appreciate but you got to know him fast. The last time I saw him, he paid me a big compliment and told me to keep writing. He looked both ways before leaning in and telling me what he thought of some of the hacks in the business. The last time I heard from him was when he sent a text, checking-up on another friend of ours who'd suffered a heart attack.
When I read the news that he’d left us, I was as shocked as everyone else. We are about the same age, but that smile and attitude made him seem far younger than his 37 years. My friend Jeff Johnston put it best “dammit, Guthrie was special”. Walking around SHOT or the NRA Annual Meetings, knowing that I’ll never run into that beaming face again is a loss. Lots of guys in the industry have left us lately but Guthrie was the only one of them I really knew—because everyone who met him knew him.
I’ll miss you, bud.