Yesterday, as I opened my morning paper, a headline slapped me all the way back to 1933. “Toddler shot by 5-year-old brother.”
In 1933 I was five years old and narrowly escaped the same sort of tragedy. My Uncle John drove a delivery truck for a local bakery. On this momentous day he had promised me that I could ride along. Excited for the break in my otherwise boring daily activities, I ran out to the delivery truck while he was still in the house getting ready for work.
As I opened the door to the truck an object caught my attention in an instant, much like yesterday’s headline. A holstered pistol lay on the passenger’s side, not at all unlike the toy guns my friends and I had received as presents in recent months.
I don’t remember considering the risk. I don’t remember wondering if I would get into trouble. I do remember slipping the heavy firearm from its leather sleeve, lifting it in my hands, cocking back the hammer and pulling the trigger.
Although I had not specifically “aimed” the gun, the bullet shot through our front screen door and all the way through the house. My three-year-old brother, Charlie, was inside.
I can still remember the heat of the gun after it was fired and the way I choked from the smoke that penetrated my nostrils and throat. I suddenly sensed big trouble.
I ran and hid under the back steps of our home and sat for several minutes, trembling, as I listened to the urgent screams of my aunt and uncle as they searched for me, panicked.
As fate would have it, no one was harmed that day. But as I read that dreadful headline yesterday, I was reminded that it so easily could have been me.
This is not a commentary on gun legislation, but instead an observation of human idiocy. My incident was not unique, nor was that of the five-year-old little boy in yesterday’s headlines. Just last month there were two other incidents where two four-year-olds – one from Tennessee and one from New Jersey – shot and killed someone else.
Who are these “adults in charge” who think it’s appropriate to leave loaded firearms within unsupervised reach of babies? And why aren’t we doing something to stop it?
When you read the stories you see words like “tragic,” “devastated” and “accident.” It is most certainly tragic and I believe the parents truly are devastated. I take exception, however, when death by adult stupidity gets sympathetically brushed off as accidental.
With misty eyes and shaky hands I thank the Lord I did not kill Charlie.