Yesterday in the wee hours, I woke to the sound of gunfire rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-tat and then a large BOOM. A block away, a SWAT team had shot a guy in a car, arrested another guy and a third guy got away, some ring of thieves they'd been tracking. They used a concussion bomb that blew out all the windows in the house. The guy they shot died in the hospital. I guess he pulled a gun.
Life in the hood.
The neighbors across the street were (duh) terrified, according to the news.
What do I think of all this? Well, they came in the middle of the night, the element of surprise, right? And not too many kids on their bikes at 5AM (Although one mother, upon hearing the gunfire, ran out of her house with her children and down the block). When I first moved into this hood 18 years ago, the FBI brought a battering ram to knock down the door of the house on the corner, looking apparently for a '10 Most Wanted' kind of person. But the neighbors were warned that time.
Guns and guns. They're no good. I asked my neighbor with three kids if he'd thought about buying a gun and he said he had but he'd have to keep it locked up and by the time he got it unlocked and useful as a weapon, his family would all be dead. He said he has a pellet gun and he could shoot that ('man, those pellets sting!') and then he'd just throw the gun at the intruder. We laughed but I know he's worried.
When I was a child, we had guns in the house. They were unloaded and locked up. I shot one once, a 4-10 rifle and it knocked me right on my ass when I pulled the trigger. My brothers all learned to shoot and hunt with my father. i would go with my dad to the shooting range and watch him shoot skeet, shooting clay pigeons, round yellow clay discs thrown from a tower on the shooting range. I'd sit in the club house with the old guys who smoked cigars and fed me peanuts.
Semi-automatic rifles? My father had one gun with a scope for hunting deer and he thought it was cheating a bit. This from a man who once killed a deer with a bow and arrow. I think my father, NRA member that he was, would be amazed and disgusted with the state of weaponry today. In his world, you provided for your family with a gun. I never heard him say he would be able to protect us with his gun collection.
Except once. My dad bought a farm even though we had a regular house in the city. It was 30 acres of scrub with an old farmhouse on it, pretty rundown. He's go out there and tool around, as a farm kid with no father, he'd bought a piece of his childhood, I guess. He's take us out there sometimes (Dad, there's nothing to do!) and we'd sleep in the lumpy beds in the cold musty rooms and he'd make us pancakes in the morning. One night he came to me with a luger in his hand, a handgun. He wanted to go down the road, probably to a bar and he was leaving me in charge. I was to use the gun on anyone who came by. As the oldest kid, I guess he thought I was the most responsible. Jesus, that gun was heavy. And cold. I can't imagine having to lift it with my skinny 10 year old arms. I never told my mother what he'd ask me to do. And, thank gawd, I didn't use it. I think I fell asleep.
I don't have a gun. But I bet I have neighbors within spitting distance who do. Doesn't make me feel safer.
May everyone everywhere be safe tonight.