By Michael in Georgia
People of the Gun loath the term “gun violence”. For good reason. What about “gun safety”? If there is only violence rather than gun violence, why isn’t there safety rather than gun safety? I understand the four rules of safe gun handling but that is when you are manipulating the firearm. What about the majority of the hours in the day when you are not touching or carrying your firearms? Is it gun safety to lock them all in a safe? Conversely, is it reckless to leave your guns where you normally do if that place is where an unsupervised child can get them? Is that “gun danger” or is that simply danger? Is it unsafe gun ownership or is it child neglect, bad parenting? . . .
The last time I argued with my brother over his liberal ideology was Thanksgiving Day 2008. Aren’t family gatherings just the best?During casual conversation, he revealed to my father and I that he voted for Obama. My dad and I laid into him. He said the reason he supported Obama was that “Sarah Palin wasn’t qualified to be Vice President.” Insert your own counter argument here. That isn’t the point of this story.
Fast forward to May 24, 2015, Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. I’m hosting a family cookout. On the guest list are my mother-in-law, mother and father, son and two of his friends, my sister, her husband and their two grown children. Lastly — and they showed up last — was my liberal brother, his wife and Hell’s own spawn, AKA my brother’s kids, 6 and 8 years old. I love those boys, don’t get me wrong, but I totally get what Billy Bob was talking about in “Tombstone.”
When they finally showed up they unleash the Hell hounds upon my property. The boys run straight for the pool where they commence to terrorizing my sister and niece who are trying to relax and digest the holiday’s grilled cuisine. I peer down from my deck to see Thing 1 and Thing 2 smashing my croquet course to bits with the mallets.
I yell “Buford! Stop doing that!” They drop the “hammers” and run out of view. My Mother asks, “Did you put your gun up?” I assumed she meant the air gun that I let the boys shoot when they were here on Mother’s Day, because she said she heard a pop. That was the sound of them hammering everything in sight with the croquet set, but to be sure I went downstairs to put away the air pistol.
I normally home carry but in the hectic fury of house cleaning and taking the helm at the grill, I never took my gun off the night stand. I went back upstairs and pushed open my bedroom door. I was terrified to see nothing on the night stand but the alarm clock. Next to it was my rifle. I looked in the closet and found my pistol where my wife had “safely” put it away.
I followed suit and hid my rifle in the closet. I shut the closet door behind me, shut the bathroom door, then finally the bedroom door as I emerged. Back at the gathering my brother asked in his typical snarky manner, “Do you just leave your guns lying around?” Not to be outdone by sarcasm, I reply “Yes, I hang them in the trees like Christmas ornaments.” At this point, my brother has no idea where his children are or what they are doing.
It’s late afternoon and the sunlight is below the treeline casting a shadow completely over the pool. I finally get a chance to join my wife for a swim. The weather lately has been unseasonably cool for Atlanta. The high two days before was 79. I’ve seen 79 degree days in January. I decide to build a fire poolside. The fire pit has leftover char wood. I douse the coal with lighter fluid and stack firewood on top before lighting it. The dry weather has the wood well-seasoned and the fire is glorious and toasty.
The grandparents have gone home. My son and his friends complained that the water was too cold and have retreated to the video game room. Soon after, my sister says goodbye leaving me with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews. The little one is in the pool with my wife. The eight-year-old and true hellion of the pair is trying in so many ways to destroy the Earth with this fire.
He comes out with one of my golf clubs and sticks it in the fire. I grab it away from him and put it away. When I come back out, he has the bottle of lighter fluid, a golf ball and a lighter he found in a storage box near the pool that we use to light citronella candles. My brother just sits on his ass the whole time whining at his little darling. “Bufooooord, don’t dooooooo thaaaaat.”
Buford wants to set the golf ball on fire and then hit it through the air. I appreciate the “adventurous nature” in this kid. I was a kid once and still have a youthful spirit but I also have at least a little discipline in my character thanks to several ass whoopins from my father.
I tell Buford not to play with fire (possibly the first time anyone has told him that) and I put the lighter fluid back on the shelf under my smoker/grill. I don’t remember what I was doing next, and frankly, it doesn’t matter, but I do know that my brother was still sitting on his ass facing the fire and my house and my grill. That’s when I heard Glenn whining again. “No, Bufoooooord. Don’t dooooo thaaaaaaaat”.
I turn around just in time to see that little shit throw a Solo cup full of lighter fluid on the open flame. At this point, wouldn’t you expect a father of an eight-year-old to get up and administer some sort of…anything? I realized that I was holding a switch in my hand and within three steps and 0.36 seconds, I could be on that kids ass and give him a well deserved lesson in…anything. But within 0.27 seconds I remembered that Buford was not my responsibility.
I took the cup from the little angel and disposed of it. While inside I determined that my guests had worn out their welcome. I turned off the music that was broadcasting outside (clue 1). I pulled the garden hose down to the pool and extinguished the fire (clue 2).
I’m pissed off, but not at my nephew. I am pissed off at my brother’s total lack of concern for what his kid just did and what he does at everyone’s house for that matter. You don’t have to spank a child, but at least put then in time out or at the very least, TAKE THEM HOME! So I decide that I need to cool down before I say or do something that I regret later.
I decide to take a shower and change out of my bathing suit. Maybe by then they will have left. Then I have another thought: I need to say something to my brother. The six-year-old and my wife were below the fire in the pool in direct line of fire when Buford tossed the fuel. This was a serious act that required attention and none was given.
I skip the shower, wash my hands and change clothes. When I go back outside, I find my brother still sitting on his ass where he has been for the last hour. His wife has the kids inside. I walk down the stairs and ask my brother seemingly in jest, but actually in all seriousness, “Glenn, when you bring your kids over, am I responsible for looking after them?” (clue 3). He looks at me with a shit-eating grin and says “Yep.”
Since he has no ability to take a hint (or three) I say, “Then take your kids and get the fuck out of here.” I don’t want to rehash the altercation that ensued. It was all of the verbal variety, so no harm, no foul. I will say that politics was mentioned. I think it was because I said that if Buford had set himself on fire, I would be expecting a law suit knowing how liberals operate.
Where does the responsibility lie in keeping kids safe around guns? Why guns? What about swimming pools? Fires? Spray paint? Ladders? Lighter fluid? Kitchen knives? Pesticide? Automobiles? Why does the responsibility lie with the owner of these “dangers” and not with the parents of the kids? How are we to child-proof the world? Why do gun owners have to lock up guns just so kids can be “safe”? In all honesty, would you prefer a child to drown than shoot himself? Would you prefer third degree burns over a gunshot wound?
Discipline is safety. Safety is discipline. A gun owner who leaves his pistol behind a closed door is not negligent. A father who refuses to discipline his children is negligent. And if you won’t discipline them, then you must keep them in sight and intervene every single time they misbehave. Irresponsible parents are worse than irresponsible gun owners. Because, it isn’t about the guns.