"If worms carried pistols, birds wouldn’t eat ‘em” ("If worms had machine guns, birds wouldn’t eat them") is a saying of unknown origin. “If worms had machine guns, birds wouldn’t bother them” was cited in a 1990 book. “If worms carried .45s, birds wouldn’t mess with them” was cited in a 1991 editorial in a North Carolina newspaper.
Texas-born country singer and songwriter Larry Gatlin said in 1994, “You can’t concern yourself with the ifs. There’s a Texas says (saying?—ed.): ‘If worms had guns, birds wouldn’t eat them.’” University of Texas head football coach Darrell K. Royal (1924-2012) has been credited with “If worms carried pistols, birds wouldn’t eat ‘em” from the 2000s, but it’s not known if he had said it much earlier.
Wikipedia: Darrell Royal
Darrell K Royal (July 6, 1924 – November 7, 2012) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Mississippi State University (1954–1955), the University of Washington (1956), and the University of Texas at Austin (1957–1976), compiling a career college football record of 184–60–5. In his 20 seasons at Texas, Royal’s teams won three national championships (1963, 1969, and 1970), 11 Southwest Conference titles, and amassed a record of 167–47–5. He won more games than any other coach in Texas Longhorns football history. Royal also coached the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL) for one season in 1953. He never had a losing season as a head coach for his entire career. Royal played football at the University of Oklahoma from 1946 to 1949. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1983. Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, where the Longhorns play their home games, was renamed in his honor in 1996.
This Stranger, My Father
By Robert Hawks
New York, NY: Avon Books
I hate questions like that. I said, “What if worms had machine guns?”
This got him. “What?”
I smiled. “If worms had machine guns, birds wouldn’t bother them.”
Google News Archive
30 March 1991, The Times-News (Hendersonville, NC), “Bouquets & barbs” (editorial), pg. 4, col. 1:
If people took better care to safeguard their possessions, the government said, they would not be victimized, Yeah, sure, and if worms carried .45s, birds wouldn’t mess with them, either.
7 March 1994, The News Journal (Wilmington, DE), “Gatlin: Willing to broaden horizons” by Bill Hayden, pg. C6, col. 2:
“You can’t concern yourself with the ifs. There’s a Texas says: ‘If worms had guns, birds wouldn’t eat them.’”
(Spoken by country singer and actor Larry Gatlin.—ed.)
Google Groups: rec.guns
Galia C. Berry
“If worms had .45s, birds wouldn’t mess with them!” - Massad Ayoob
13 May 2000, Reno (NV) Gazette-Journal, Lenita Powers column, pg. D1:
Charlene West of Reno remembers her late mother’s response to people who used the word “if”: If worms carried machine guns, birds wouldn’t bother them.”
Echoes of Texas Football:
The Greatest Stories Ever Told
By Triumph Books
Chicago, IL: Triumph Books
“If worms carried pistols, birds wouldn’t eat ‘em.” —DARRELL K. ROYAL
OCLC WorldCat record
If worms had machine guns : (my name is John), a novel
Author: S J Daws
Publisher: Bloomington, IN : AuthorHouse, ©2008.
Edition/Format: Print book : Fiction : English
Classic Quotes from the World of Sports
By Michael Benson
Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing
“If worms carried pistols, birds wouldn’t eat ‘em.” —Darrell Royal, football
Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Memorable quotes from Darrell Royal during his coaching career
6:19 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012
Cedric Golden American-Statesman Staff
“If worms carried pistols, birds wouldn’t eat ‘em.”
I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like:
Mostly True Tall Tales
By Todd Snider
Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press
If worms had daggers
Birds wouldn’t fuck with them.
SB Nation—College Football
It’s here. The greatest Jim Harbaugh quote ever is here. It’s about worms and machine guns.
By Peter Berkes and Jason Kirk on Oct 27, 2015, 8:48a
Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh has said and done many bizarre and wonderful things in his time, but none will ever top this response to a question about his team’s loss to Michigan State: “I’m not into the ‘If this, if that’ type of scenarios. If worms had machine guns, then birds wouldn’t be scared of them.”
What does it mean? It doesn’t matter. It’s the way his face lights up in the middle.
Texas countdown to football: 5 memorable Darrell Royal quotes
Posted August 22nd, 2016
Joe Harrington American-Statesman Staff
5. If worms carried pistols, birds wouldn’t eat ‘em.”