For a while, I’ve kind of wondered why the issue of gun sanity makes me so, well, crazy mad. More than any of the other issue I feel strongly about, this one runs the deepest in my heart.
But thanks to Lisa of Life with the Top Down who commented on my last gun control piece and told the story of her father-in-law leaving a loaded gun in a drawer where her young son found it, I figured it out. (Lisa’s story ended happily, thankfully.)
Yes Lisa reminded me of one of my own stories. One of my earliest memories, in fact. A clear as a bell memory where I am inside my own head as I acted out the events. Remembering it made me wonder if this might explain why I feel so strongly that guns should be handled, well, differently in the U.S. than they are today.
So here is my story.
It was summer, probably 1960, but maybe 1959. I was playing in my backyard with Debbie A who lived next door. I didn’t really like Debbie. Nobody did. She was argumentative and we always fought. Everyone always fought with Debbie. But that day, Debbie said something that made me mad. Really, really mad. And so I went into the house to get my Dad’s gun so I could shoot her. I don’t remember wanting to kill her; I just wanted to shoot her.
I went into the house, past my mother who was doing dishes, watching us out the back window. And I opened the drawer where I knew my dad kept his gun. He had been in the Navy in WWII, and he had kept his gun. I knew that. I was sure of it. And I knew exactly where it was, too. It was in the bottom drawer in the den. And I was gonna get it.
But I couldn’t find it anywhere. I emptied the drawer but couldn’t find it. I asked my brother, Fred, who tried to help me find it. Finally I asked my mother, who told me with a laugh, “there’s no gun in this house!”
I was crushed. Disappointed. I really wanted to shoot Debbie.
Years later I told my Dad the story. His eyes widened when he thought of what might have been. Would I have accidentally shot myself? Would I have mistakenly blown my wonderful brother away? Would my mother have been blasted as I headed out the door to shoot Debbie?
Would I have shot Debbie?
Dad told me that he had kept his navy revolver, but only for a short while. When my mother first got pregnant he got rid of it. “Kids and guns don’t mix,” he said. “That’s a recipe for disaster.” He was right.
I was 3-1/2. What would my life have been like had I found the gun? How many other lives would have been ended or ruined by my action? My really delightful childhood would have been much, much different if I had murdered someone before even starting kindergarten.
So today, on “Gun Appreciation Day” I celebrate my Dad, who was a smart guy. Thanks Dad, for protecting me (and who knows who else) from myself. Because you were right — kids and guns don’t mix. Trouble is, a lot of the adults who have them don’t mix well with guns, either.
This song is about fathers. Not guns. It is beautiful, though. And it makes me think of my Dad and the wise choices he made that helped me navigate life.