Friday, June 01, 2007

A History of Guns: Part Three

This is the third in a personal history of guns in my life. Previous entries: Part One, Part Two

The Junior High Years
By the time I got into junior high, real, live guns became a part of my life. Looking back, I never worried about some kid bringing a gun to school and pulling a Columbine, but I became aware that guns weren't just in the guestroom closet. They were around and they could be lethal.

When I was in eighth grade, a seventh-grader killed himself because he was upset about breaking up with his girlfriend. I don’t even remember that kid’s name now but it had a deep impact on my middle-school psyche. Then there was the Mexican kid in gym class named BB who was older because he was held back a few times. He fucking tormented us, any we hated him in return. But that’s just junior high, right? A couple of years later, he killed himself and it turned out he was dealing with some pretty horrible home issues -- abuse, that kind of thing.

Then there was Freddie.

I always liked Freddie. He moved into the neighborhood in eighth grade. He talked a lot and was funny and a bit crazy, but I liked being around him. We’d play football with the other guys after school.

Freddie was the kind of kid you would hate as a parent: he was obnoxious and he made your kid more obnoxious and it was easy to tell Freddie wasn’t headed for anything good. Well, one day we went into Freddie’s house to get a Coke after playing football in the street (we were bright kids), and there is a 9mm automatic pistol just sitting on the kitchen countertop.

No one touched the pistol, but we were all transfixed by it. Even my 14-year-old mind knew that this was not responsible gun ownership. Anyway, Freddie told us he wanted to show us his gun. Yeah, you can probably see where this is going. Before you could say “Smith and Wesson”, he’s dancing around his bedroom like a freaking idiot with a single-shot .410. My friends and I got out of there quick. Even we knew that was how kids get killed. Yeah, Freddie was bad news, but he eventually drifted off into his own little world with the other pot-smoking freaks in Iron Maiden t-shirts who sat at the back of the school bus.

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