06 November, 2017

My Own Near Miss

I read an opinion piece tonight that addressed the author's thoughts about what I have come to think of as collateral damage in relation to the Second Amendment. Her words about near misses rang true to me. Let me tell you a story. 

A few years ago, we had a border collie named Barley. You guys probably remember him. He came to our house a cute, fluffy puppy, who quickly grew into a dog that needed to be walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. Then walked even more. 

Barley and I were strolling through our neighborhood one balmy early summer night, when it was humid and there was a twinge of chill. I still remember the clothes I wore, and the quality of light under the street lamps as we made our way toward the cul de sac that bookended our countryside subdivision. A frog leapt across the pavement, and Barley went wild, trying to give chase, and I struggled to keep him bridled in under my control. He calmed, and we walked on, and in the distance, I heard something, some grumpy grumbling. 

We kept walking, because this canine couldn't continue his night without this walk. And perhaps something in me was driven by some strange curiosity akin to driving through a neighborhood and glancing into the windows to have a glimpse of the lives inside, that spurred me on. Mostly, I was just walking in my neighborhood, like anyone would.

Barley and I neared the house at the mouth of the cul de sac, and suddenly I saw a bright flash of light and heard a bang, sensed something pop into the ground not that far from where I was. I knew the sound. I had grown up around firearms. Still, the connection didn't formalize itself and coagulate to make sense until the second shot was fired. Something primal inside my brain clicked together. Barley and I sprinted the block home, and I burst through the front door and slid down the wall.

That neighbor spent the night in jail. The story I heard, all here say, was one of alcohol-fueled domestic conflict. I don't know the whole story, but I can tell you a neighborhood is no place for fool-hardy abuse of a firearm.

This story, that night, changed my views. I was close to danger, as an innocent bystander. While I respect the right to bear firearms, I think ownership rights desperately need to be addressed more fully, to create a more restrictive atmosphere. I feel certain the violator was given a slap on the wrist and got to go back home, and still has full access to whatever weaponry he wants. What if he had shot me that night, unintentionally or not? What if he had shot his wife or fired into the house across the road, where our friends lived? I've lived in the country for a huge portion of my life, and am fully aware of the need for firearms for hunting, and even self protection. I grew up at match shoots. I don't choose to do any of these things myself, however I understand this provision and know it needs to be protected.

I don't have any solutions. I am not a legislator. It is not my job to find solutions, merely to present problems and hope someone qualified can provide an answer. I tire of collateral damage and the assertion that civilian death is the price of freedom to die. It's an archaic and ill-formed argument.