Another Gun Story

I recently wrote about how, many years ago, my dad taught me how to shoot a gun.  It was a heartwarming story, and I very much remember it as a time when the hard-won bond between me and my dad was cemented a little more.

Now I’ll tell you another gun story.  It’s not too long.

One night when I was about 10, I woke up to the familiar sounds of my parents fighting.  It was another doozy – my father’s drunken shouting, my mother’s shrill screaming, things going bump and bang as my father, I imagined from my bedroom, staggered around, and the sounds of slapping and hitting as the fight escalated.  Alone in my room, I buried my head under my pillow, trying to block out the sounds.  I lay there, rigid with fear, waiting for them to stop.

At some point, my mother began screaming, “KIDS!  CALL THE COPS!  HE HAS A GUN! gun CALL THE COPS!”

I was frozen in terror, afraid to move a muscle.  A gun?  I couldn’t get out of bed and call the police!  I was just a little kid!  My two brothers were in their room next to mine, and I imagine they were just as terrified as I was.

In a short time, the police did arrive.  I don’t know if it was my mother who called them or a neighbor.  They took my father away, though.  I remember that I spent the rest of the night in my mother’s room, and that she cried all night.

They took my dad to what we called then “the funny farm.”  He was pointing the gun at himself, apparently, threatening to shoot himself.  I don’t remember how long he was in the psychiatric unit of the hospital – a day or two – but that night left a lasting impression on me.  If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can call it up like it was last week.

As I said in my recent post, my dad always had guns, for as long as I could remember.  They were not locked up – they were stored under his bed and in his closet.  We were never taught gun safety.  We never talked about his guns at all as far as I remember; they were just part of the background at home, something I don’t think my brothers or I ever thought much about.  I don’t even know why my dad had guns – he didn’t hunt, and he didn’t hang out at a firing range.  Did he inherit them?  Did he buy them himself?  I have no idea.

Looking back, I feel extremely fortunate that nobody got hurt that night (at least not with a gun).  Or any other time, really.  My dad was often drunk and often volatile.  My older brother was troubled and often violent as well.  It makes me shudder to think how easily something truly horrible could have happened.

There’s no point to this story, really, except that guns are bad.  Especially when in the wrong hands at the wrong time.  And there’s really no way to predict when or if someone with access to a gun might snap.  My dad had a history of alcoholism and violence, but there are plenty of seemingly rational, “normal” people who go off the deep end for one reason or another.  And you know what?  You never hear stories about people with guns saving other people, despite gun proponents’ insistence that bearing arms promotes safety; you hear about people with guns hurting other people.

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7 Comments on “Another Gun Story”

  1. Melissa Smith
    December 20, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    I have to disagree. I actually have a surveillance video that I’ve posted that shows two kids trying to rob an internet cafe and an elderly gentleman with a conceal and carry chases the two kids down. No one is hurt and the assailants were arrested. The stories *are* out there, people just prefer to sensationalize the negative.

  2. Maureen
    December 20, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    This is off topic but I was wondering if you could post about your relationship with your brothers. Perhaps you’ve already done so in the past but I don’t recall any posts about them. I don’t even think I realized you had brothers until I saw the family picture you recently posted.

    I lost my father a few months ago and I’ve enjoyed your posts about your dad. It sounds like it was a difficult relationship at times but it’s nice that you have good memories of him too. There’s just something special about a father/daughter relationship. I lost my mother awhile ago and while her death hit me hard too, for some reason my father’s death has had a bigger impact on me. I think it probably has to do with always thinking of our fathers as protective and strong men ever since we were little girls (at least that’s the way it was for me). It certainly burst that little girl bubble of mine – to see the man I once had to skip to keep up with when we went on walks together way back when – so frail and vulnerable as he neared death. Daddy’s aren’t supposed to be weak…anyway, sorry for rambling…I just know what it’s like to miss a father too. It’s nice you were able to have a special bond with yours. You should watch ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ (1945) if you’ve never seen it. The father/daughter scenes make me tear up every time, especially now that my father is gone. The father in the movie has a drinking problem but the daughter sees the good in him and loves him despite his flaws. It’s a very good movie. I enjoy your blog.

    • Lisa
      December 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

      Maureen, I am estranged from both of my brothers, and have been for many years. Maybe I’ll write about it at some point.

      • Maureen
        December 21, 2012 at 2:25 am #

        I understand if it’s too painful to write about. Your brothers are certainly missing out, especially when it comes to knowing so many nieces and nephews! You’re fortunate to have lots of kids – at least you have enough of your ‘own’ family to make up for estranged siblings.

  3. withalittlemoxie
    December 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    I was just getting in here to say that I agree with you completely when I read pp comment. Melissa, what planet are you on? “people only want to sensationalize”?! Take your head out of your (gun) closet; take a look around! Guns promote violence, they kill and that’s what they are made to do. Stories like what you claim to “be there” are few and far between with ever-larger massacres filling those spaces.
    You might be okay with your own self or your kids or loves ones getting gunned down; I however, am not. It’s high time we banned assault weapons and took cues from other countries – like Australia – that learn from the massacres that happen on their soil.

    • amber
      December 21, 2012 at 3:32 am #

      I’m not Melissa, but I read her post as the media tends to sensationalize gun violence over how it has saved lives, not necessarily individual people.

  4. Grace
    December 21, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    I’m torn on the ‘guns are bad’ argument. I’ve been the victim of violence in the past, and I can honestly say that things would have gone differently if I’d had a gun to run to instead of just a cell phone.

    I’ve taken self defense classes, I have a taser gun, I always keep a cell phone close by.. but I still don’t feel safe. I can still be easily overpowered with those things.

    A friend took me shooting not too long ago, and it was the first time in years I’ve felt that I had any kind of control over my own safety.

    On the flipside, things would have also gone differently if my attacker had a gun. But somehow, knowing that makes me want to become a gun owner even more.

    So, I don’t know.

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