A few days ago, during the inevitable debate about gun regulation, I received the following from a reader named Dan. with his permission, I would like to share it with you. He wrote in response to a tragic story published in TPM, written by a reader known only as PH. (Many of you will recall the terrible details.)
All the words below the asterisks are Dan's...
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I grew up hunting and knowing all about guns and having guns all over our house in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the '60s, and yeah we were free.
Us kids sometimes got to ride on the package shelf of the car on trips. That's how free we were. Our old '56 Plymouth Savoy didn't have no stinking seatbelts because it didn't have to and nobody thought anything about it.
One day when I was in 8th grade, my best friend JD and I were hanging out in my room and I was showing him our Colt 38 Super. I loved that gun. It was almost as sweet as the M1 Carbine we had.
At some point, leaving JD alone in my room, I went into the living room to say something to my Dad and all of a sudden a BOOM comes from my room.
My Dad and I thought, "Oh shit."
It kind of passed through my mind that JD had shot himself as JD had seen his Dad shoot himself because JD's Mom was divorcing him. (Ended up two of his Brothers who also witnessed that event killed themselves with guns over women leaving them, but that's another story.)
Turns out JD had not shot himself, thank God.
JD, not knowing much about guns and assuming the 38 Super wasn't loaded even though I told him it was loaded had aimed it at the light switch in my room and pulled the trigger. He must have cocked the hammer on the gun otherwise it would not have fired.
(We always kept our guns loaded because my Dad always said an unloaded gun is worthless.)
Anyway, for a novice JD's aim was pretty good as the bullet went dead center through the metal light switch box, through the bathroom wall, through the bathroom door, through another door, and through half of another wall before it stopped no less than 10 feet from where I was standing talking to my Dad.
But for circumstances, the outcome could have been like PH's. All in all guns went off three times in our house at 4252 back in the day. Twice by accident, and once on purpose.
Dad had a hell of a temper and late one night he got into a fight with my Mom because she objected to the fact that he wanted to shoot a neighbors' dog because said dog was barking and keeping him awake. Well, when he accidently smacked the crap out of my Mom while she was trying to get the shotgun away from him, resulting in her receiving a bad cut over her eye, the fight was over, but his anger persisted.
My Mom when to bed and my Dad sat on the living room couch. After ten minutes or so, my Dad, in order to excise his pent up rage, sent a double barrel 12 gauge shotgun blast through the living room wall into the bedroom where my brother and I were sleeping. He aimed high, so we were only subjected to lots of noise and hot pellets ricocheting off the ceiling. Of course we had pretty much pulled our sheets over our heads out of fear from the fight prior to the blast, so no harm no foul.
One Morning while we were getting ready to go to school my Mother and I were talking in the living room when we heard a gunshot in the room my Brother and I shared.
Turns out my Brother, while kind of looking down the barrel of our Colt 38 Police Special had pulled the trigger blowing a hole in the ceiling. Why? I don't know. He knew better. You could see daylight through the hole in the ceiling, but thankfully not through my Brother's head. (Even though I think you can see daylight through his ears these days - RW conservative that he is. And yes, he has lots of guns, nice guns, that I like to shoot whenever I'm back in Oklahoma.)
(Despite what my story might indicate I really did have a happy childhood We were free and roamed from dusk till dawn.)
I did, and still do know a lot about guns. Gun safety was drilled into us at an early age, but people are people, and shit happens. Even if you are trying to be careful. Even if you do know what you are doing.
Hell, a couple of months ago while up in Tennessee shooting with a bunch of Marines just back from Afghanistan I accidently pulled, heck touched, the trigger on a friend's AK 47 he was letting me shoot and it went off. Had it been pointing anywhere other than towards the ground I could be PH.
So, not only have I almost been shot accidently shot, I have almost accidently shot someone else, and I know all about guns and gun safety.