Saturday, July 21, 2012

The truth is, you don't need a gun.

I grew up in a safe little neighborhood in a safe little Midwestern town.

When I was young, I shot a few small-caliber bullets at a few innocent woodland creatures, and thankfully they lived to see another day or a more worthy predator.

My immediate family didn't, but neighbors and friends hunted (and fished - Lake Michigan perch was much more tasty than pickup-truck venison). They had guns, and I had no particular fear or curiosity about them. When I was around 7 new neighbors moved in, the woman of the house was pregnant and gave birth to twins.

One of the twins was a blonde kid, the other was a slightly developmentally delayed brown haired kid. The blonde was given my name, with the parents always saying "you're such a good kid, and I hope our son turns out like you."

I grew and the kids grew, of course separated by years but united as neighbors. As I went through high school, and then went off to college, the neighbors bought a newer, nicer home at the outskirts of town in a new development.

Their dad had a nice well-locked gun cabinet. He took his sons out hunting and taught them age-appropriate gun rules. He loved them.

I got a call one day at college that the boys had somehow gotten in the cabinet and were playing with a rifle. They loaded it, and the blonde twin's life was ended with one errant pull of a trigger. The family is, by all reports, to this day decades later, devastated.

The only notable fact is they this family had a gun. Had the gun not been there, this child would have probably lived to see another day.

This family had no need to have a gun. They wanted a gun, for hunting, which was not necessary or efficient for putting food on their table, possibly for protection, even in the unlikely event of some imagined home invasion in this relatively safe community. I don't see any likelihood that this family would take one of their muskets and join a militia to take down a tyrant.

The facts in this story are just that, facts. The truth? I get from this incident that their family, and mine, were not safer with the addition of a gun.