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A lot of people are sharing their personal encounters with guns recently, so I thought I would share mine. It's not particularly profound, but I'll tell it anyway.

This happened more than a decade ago. I was around 14 years old and a new high school student. We lived about two miles from the high school. I have always been a relatively slow walker, so getting to the high school on time meant heading out pretty early.

It was a cold winter morning in Northern California. The sun hadn't even begun to crest on the horizon. As a plodded toward school it was just me and the cool morning air. No cars, no one else out walking.

I crossed the street at the place where I always crossed the street. I'm not a particularly observant person. I have issues with noise. When I was younger I always felt like I couldn't hear, but as I got older I realized the problem is that I hear too much. I hear everything all the time. Things other people would never notice--the whirring of a second hand, the shimmy of an air conditioner vent, the quiet whistle of someone breathing through their nose--constantly fighting for my attention. The reason I had always felt that I couldn't hear was because hearing everything makes it hard to understand anything. I also don't tend to look around a lot, because when I add a bunch of visual information to all the auditory information my head starts to swim and I feel a need to retreat to someplace dark and quiet until my brain settles. Anyway, the point is that I wasn't exactly paying attention to my surroundings.

A bright red cooler practically materialized out of nowhere. A normal person would have seen it coming from several feet away, but I didn't see it until it was next to my feet. It was just a standard, everyday lunch cooler, with a red body and a white top with a molded carrying handle, sitting on the curb next to the street. It surprised me to see this cooler sitting alone in the dark hours of early morning.

I started looking around to see if there was an owner nearby, but I didn't see anyone. I noticed I was in front of a two-story apartment building and that there was a light shining from one of the second floor apartments. When I looked up, I saw a man on a second floor balcony, silhouetted by the light gleaming from his apartment, pointing a long-barreled gun directly at me.

I was startled by the sight. I felt my pulse pounding in my ears. I didn't know what to do, so I just tried to pretend I hadn't seen him. For some reason, what I didn't do was run. Maybe because I grew up in the mountains around wild animals, where running just triggers a predatory response. Instead, I pressed forward, looking straight ahead, at the same speed I had been going. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the barrel of the gun following me along my path.

The man didn't shoot me. I eventually got far enough away that I felt safe... well, safer.

I'll never know what the "deal" was. Was the man just preparing for a hunting trip and having some fun with me? Was he a drug dealer and protecting a drop in front of his apartment? Who knows? Maybe he was just some crazy asshole.

Ultimately, it turned out to be a non-event, but it terrified me. Even today, I can see the silhouette of that man and his gun as clearly as if it were happening right now. I can still feel the fear. I never walked that way again, which was a real inconvenience, since that was the only direct route to school.

This isn't the worst gun-related experience I have had. It's just the only one that happened to me directly. When I was a few years younger one of my uncles committed suicide with a gun, right in front of his daughter. And about two years after I started high school, two of my friends were killed in the Lindhurst High School shooting, but I wasn't at school that day myself.

Originally posted to Posh (and not so Posh) Thoughts on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 10:18 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.


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Comment Preferences

  •  For me, it was my ex-husband (12+ / 0-)

    I came home to find that he had been cleaning his guns (after a few beers of course) and had accidentally shot our TV, which somehow missed the main part and just got the plastic, left a big hole in the wall along with plastic pieces splattered throughout the sheetrock.

    That was it for me.  I did not grow up with guns and now, just as my parents had always warned me that guns in the wrong hands (in this case a responsible but drunk man, wait.... those two do not go together....anyhow) would kill innocent people.

    They were so right.  Here in the Houston area, there are murders everyday on the TV but when someone actually prevents a crime - that is HUGE news (and I'm sure the NRA makes sure it is as well).

    But like the 92-year old lady who was armed when DEA Agents raided her home (wrong house, btw), and then pumped 32 bullets into her.  Yeah. guns were made to do one of two things.... Intimidate people and KILL.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 10:40:04 AM PST

  •  Last time it happened to me... (7+ / 0-)

    Was a FNG in Iraq, who thought that sticking his M-4 in my face was "Funny".

    I was not charged with assault for punching him.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 10:57:28 AM PST

  •  your description of the encounter reminded me of (8+ / 0-)

    an incident decades ago in college.  One of the gung-ho upperclassman had gotten a mock-up of a .50 MG (memory suggests it may have been a potato digger) but I have no idea if it were de-militarized WWI surplus (hey I can remember when you could buy a surplus M-1 or a collie dog or almost anything except true love from a Sears catalog), if it were an abandoned stage prop, or if he fabricated it himself.

    He had a habit of pointing it out of his dorm window and following the profs and other students he did not like as they walked across campus.

    I remember the college decided they could do nothing against him since it was not "real".  (decision was made by Dean of Men, retired Army Col. who would suspend a male student for wearing a surplus field jacket for impersonating military personnel)

    Having previously been "under the gun" in other circumstances and hence a good bit gun shy, I asked the Col. to reconsider.  Instead he instructed me that the field jacket  I had on still had insignia attached and I should remove that insignia immediately to demilitarize the coat (the only one I had)

    So in America, .50 potato diggers, O.K. and insignia on retired military garments are not so OK.    

  •  I have so many, but let me see if I can dig up a (3+ / 0-)

    couple I haven't already put down on paper, or in a comment.

    In the Army you qualify on a range in two positions with silhouette targets from 50 meters to 200 meters.  The sergeants try to teach the trainees gun safety, but some are just plain slow.

    We are told to only point the weapon downrange and never ever at anyone else.  On more than one occasion I have hit the ground because someone was swinging their M-16 in an arc that included everyone around them, but my most memorable experience was when we were teamed up to take a faux gun emplacement.

    You learn various hand signals and calls which move a team of two up to a gun emplacement, one of the team is to make "covering fire" while the other rushes the emplacement in order to toss a grenade into their foxhole.

    To make sure it is safe, you are to say to the partner, "have you shifted your fire?"  If they say yes, it is safe to rush the emplacement since the bullets are going over your head, not at you.

    I said, "Have you shifted your fire?"  My partner said, "Shifted fire!"  I started to rush when the Sergeant screamed, "Shift your fire Goddammit!"

    The next day, when we went through the exercise a second time I said, "Have you shifted your fire?"  My partner said, "Shifted fire!"  I said, "Are you certain you have shifted your fire?"  My Sergeant said, "Get your ass up there Private."

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 11:37:37 AM PST

  •  My ex husband was a cop, had lots of guns. (6+ / 0-)

    One night I found myself looking over the barrel of a 9mm into his face - and there was no 'there' there.  He was really, really drunk.  I bundled up the kids and left.  Never saw him again.  

    ThatPoshGirl, I am sorry you had that experience.  I am sorry that so many of us, never having been in a war zone, have still had gun encounters.  Our world has only a thin veneer of civilization.  

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 11:53:59 AM PST

  •  I drove a cab in New York while in grad school (4+ / 0-)

    This was the early 70's, when New York cab drivers were killed on an almost weekly basis. I had a couple of encounters with guns during my cabbie years.

    The first time I had just dropped off a bunch of kids in Harlem; they'd run off without paying. I was frustrated and it took me a moment to regain my composure. Before I could get rolling towards downtown a gentleman hopped in and asked me to take him to the Lower East Side. We talked off and on during the trip; he was sympathetic towards my having been "beat" for the fare. When we pulled up in front of his place he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small pistol which he pointed at me. He was quite apologetic about it but he said he was a junkie and he needed his fix. I think I experienced a certain sense of disbelief before I realized that whether his story was true and regardless of his apology he really did want my money.

    A couple of years later I was hailed by in the mid East 70's by a man who was perhaps in his mid- to late-30's (hard to say for sure from this vantage point; whatever his age I'm sure he was a good deal older than I was then and far younger than I am now). He asked me to take him to 58th Street and Sutton Place. Based on his accent I assumed he was probably some sort of diplomat. There is a short dead-end block east of Sutton where we stopped; he asked me to turn into it. He pulled a very large gun; grabbed whatever was sitting next to me on the driver's seat and took off. Very foolishly I actually left my cab and tracked him for a few blocks before losing sight of him. It took me some time to calm down.

  •  A European with international experience (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ThatPoshGirl, MarciaJ720, Mayfly

    We generally don't have guns in the street, and in the UK only 1 in 7 of the police is authorized ro carry firearms,  so seeing an English bobby at Heathrow with an H&K sub machine gun is always a bit unsettling

    But in my work, I have been to places where armed security is necessary, and the worst I remember is is in Algeria, when to get from the airport to the business meeting required a 3 SUV convoy with me squashed between 2 "ninjas" I was cool with this Until I realized that the guy on my right had laid his weapon  - an AK47 - between his knees, and when I looked at it, all I could see was the black hole of the barrel.

    A very gentle request to point it somewhere else had the desired result, but for months after I asked myself was I being paid enough?

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