Not half an hour ago, I called 911 for only the second time in my life.  Was there a car accident nearby?  Someone staggering around clutching their chest?  Screams in the night?  Blood?  

   Nope.  It was just my neighbors,exercising their Second Amendment rights as they do nearly every nice day or weekend, and, as irritating as listening to a couple of hours of target practice may be, it's nothing compared to the alarm of hearing assault weapons fire at night.  

  That's right, they're out there shooting semi-automatic weapons, apparently just for the hell of it, in the dark.  Add to that the fact that out here in this rural area, surrounded by acres of forest and field and hills, it's difficult to tell just where the shots are coming from.  A couple of weeks ago, as my husband and I returned home from a barbecue after dark, someone fired two shots as my husband got out of our car to get our mail from the box.  They were very close by and my husband thought they were shooting at him.   I don't let my cats outside anymore since one of them came home with apparent knife and bullet wounds (she survived).  I'm afraid to walk around on my own property for fear of stray (or not so stray) bullets.  Even in the wake of Sandy Hook and Santa Barbara, these thoughtless assholes keep up the daily barrage, totally oblivious to the sensibilities of others.

   It's worth mentioning that we've lived here for more than 30 years and have never had the constant shooting until the last two years.  I'm not anti-gun; everybody who lives out here owns at least one or two rifles or shotguns, usually for hunting.  We used to sight in our hunting rifles every fall right here on our own property.  That was before all the new houses were built and new neighbors moved in and the population density became such that we decided it was no longer safe to shoot on our own property (and we became vegetarians and gave up hunting for meat).  I still have guns, but they're gathering dust in a safe.  And they're hunting rifles, not these pieces of Chinese scrap metal that spray bullets like a firehose and are good for nothing but killing people and making a lot of noise.  In my humble opinion, if it takes 50 rounds to get the job done, you're a shitty shot who shouldn't be trusted not to blow your own fingers off with a cap gun.  

I don't know what's going on with my neighbors, who've long since gone round the uber-religious Republican bend, or why such a bend seems so often to be associated with wild-assed lead-flinging abandonment of common sense and decency, but I've finally had it.  I'm traumatized and terrorized and  feel like a prisoner in my own home.  It's perfectly legal in this county to shoot on your own property, but I think it's time for that to change.  It's not the Wild West out here any longer, there are little kids and dogs and cats in the line of fire, and it's time that things changed - especially in the light of recent events and the grotesqueries of the NRA.  I'd like  to walk through the woods in peace.  I'd like to sit on my front porch and feel like I live in America and not the DRC.  And I'd like to live in an America where not one man, woman, or child has to die with a gunshot as the last sound they'll ever hear.  

I'm waiting for the deputy to arrive, and we'll see how much gets done.  I'm not holding my breath, though.

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Comment by Ted Foureagles on June 3, 2014 at 9:34am

I live in rural Upstate South Carolina, transplanted from Central Colorado -- both fairly trigger-happy places.  My first night in this place happened to be on a New Year's Eve several years ago.  I would have been surprised to not hear gunfire at midnight -- heck, I took Grandma's 12-gauge out and popped one off.  It did surprise me to hear two M-60 machine guns rattling off hundreds of rounds, complete with tracers.  That was my assigned weapon in the Army, and so I'm certain of the sound and pattern.

I finally screwed up the gumption to walk over and meet my neighbor, carrying a six-pack of home-brewed beer.  His trailer was festooned in Confederate flags, a big white cross, and guarded by three Dobermans on chains.  During the course of our chat, it somehow came up that he was getting his driver's license back after a 12 year revocation,  I elected not to delve into details.  He said, "So you bought the place from that faggot nigger, huh?"  Beverly was a lesbian, a dark-skinned Choctaw, and a fine person, but I wasn't going to get into that with someone who owns illegal military weapons.  I haven't been back over there since.

Over the next season I walked these 12 acres and picked up hundreds of bullets; not casings, the business end.  Apparently, this hill had been used for target practice for some time.  I've had 3 dogs shot, and one of them survived.  I complained to the sheriff the first time, and he told me that there was nothing at all that he could do unless I could prove that my dog was not on his property when he fired.  I told him that I found the dog in my driveway with a fatal head shot, and he said that without witnesses that's not proof.  I mentioned the illegal machine guns and he told me to complain to the feds.

So that's an overview of part of the culture in rural Upstate South Carolina.  I'm not anti-gun.  I bought my first .22 rifle when I was 9 or 10, and used it to supply my family with small game.  I still have Grandma's shotgun, and recently introduced one of my Canadian relatives to the joys of blasting beer cans.  She took one of the mangled cans home as a trophy to prove her venture into the wild, wild South.  I suspect that there is a significant segment of the population here and elsewhere who use guns to assuage insecurities.  Letting off a big blast does make you feel powerful, and for some, killing something enhances the effect.  And there are a lot of people here in Dixie who feel very insecure since "they" elected our first non-white President.


Comment by Luara on June 3, 2014 at 3:55am

This country/nation/world (choose one) has been in a handbasket since __________ (fill the blank).

Yes, we notice the bad things.  Good developments are "just how it's supposed to be" and we don't make much of it.  Rarely are there good surprises. 

There have been some good surprises, like the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Berlin Wall barrier. 

So the good surprises are more surprising :)

Comment by tom sarbeck on June 3, 2014 at 3:11am

This country is going to "hell" in a hand basket.

I disagree, booklover.

This country/nation/world (choose one) has been in a handbasket since __________ (fill the blank).

I am, of course, spoofing. Decades ago I read of an ancient Greek who used a different cliche to make the same point. He faulted the young people of his time.

I agree with Michael's One of the questions we should be asking here is "what is happening?"

Let's rev up our fact-friendly atheisms, ask that question and see where our answers take us.

I suggest that because I've been elected a Toastmasters club's president and I'm putting my head in gear to be one of maybe three adults in a roomful of mostly retired people. They aren't preparing for higher paying jobs; they and I are keeping our brain cells functional.

They all know I'm an atheist -- I'm one of two but the other one doesn't tell everyone he is. They all also know I don't join them in the opening Pledge of Allegiance. You know why I object to the second word; I object to the first word because it prescribes an involuntary submissive role in a dom/sub relationship. I play the unspoken switch role.

Most of the club's members were in the military and long ago during a meeting, one of them remarked on my not pledging allegiance. I replied that when they take the oath (again) to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution we can discuss the issue.

Which returns me to Second Amendment issues.

Republicans are divided. Big-government conservatives (the religious right) believe people are evil and must be restrained. Small government conservatives (the libertarians) believe that people are good and must be free.

Democrats? Are we terrified?

Some of us are not.

A man I once worked with -- he was married and had young children -- with told me he won't let his kids have toy guns, but when they are old enough he will show them how to use real guns. I told him his view was the most sensible one I'd ever heard.

What are the views of people here?

BTW, one of the club's members, a former paratrooper, teases me and says "under Tom".) I grin and thank him.

Comment by Luara on June 2, 2014 at 6:40pm

Do these neighbors know how much they're scaring you?  Maybe you could negotiate with them.  Like asking them not to shoot after nightfall.

I didn't know there was a shooting in Santa Barbara.  It's so weird because I spent most of my childhood near there.  My father was a professor at UCSB. I rollerskated around UCSB as a kid, walked around Isla Vista and Goleta and on the beaches there.   It's an idyllic climate, and Santa Barbara - right next to the beach in Southern California, and not big enough to have smog - is an expensive place to live where you would not expect to be shot at.

Comment by Michael Penn on June 2, 2014 at 9:07am

One of the questions we should be asking here is "what is happening?" I used to be a gun advocate, but living in Houston, Texas 20 years makes me believe that if you are going to shoot a gun, you have to be on a shooting range. Today there is just too many people to do legal shooting any other way. This should be the law.

On the Internet recently I run onto a post by some right wing christian nutjob that says "I'm a christian and I believe in standing my ground." People of this calibre believe in having their pictures taken with their guns, and you can almost be sure they think that Zimmerman was justified. Gun violence is getting out of hand and people think they are defending some "right" that they have.

Talking recently about a shooting in my area with 2 other men, one is quick to point out to me that the shooter had a right to kill the unarmed man coz he was "standing his ground." Oh, yes, you have a right to "stand your ground." Use of this type of language has become very popular since that Florida shooting in the Martin case. The morons act like before this phrasing came along you were simply supposed to let people kill you. We all know better. It's just language used to justify and glorify gun violence.

Just imagine with me a moment here. Old Charlie just killed a man and the law has shown up at the scene. Charlie explains that the verbal fight had gotten out of hand and the guy was going to go get his gun and kill Charlie. I was "standing mt ground" Charlie explained. He claims that's why he pulled his knife and killed the guy. Wait a minute. A knife? Charlie you didn't do this right. You can't be standing your ground, and you are under arrest for murder!

Joan, I'll put this one in just for you. Joe the Plumber is a moron!

Comment by Joan Denoo on June 2, 2014 at 12:29am

When I was visiting Laura and Larry last week, a neighbor was shooting his guns. We were sitting on the porch and heard a ping; Larry went to investigate and found a bullet hole in the side of the house, 48" above Larry's head and 10 feet laterally from where he was sitting. Laura saw a bullet go by her head and land in the soil just feet from her. Larry did a reflexive duck as a bullet went by his head. I ran in the house to get as many walls between me and the bullets as I could. The dogs had already gone there and were shivering from head to foot.

Laura went to the phone and called the sheriff; Larry drove over to the neighbors and told them to put the guns down. He then got on the cell phone to call Dispatch and within minutes the sheriff arrived, he confiscated the guns. Larry came back home with the sheriff and they dug the bullet out of the house and took measurements. We couldn't find the bullets that went by both Laura and Larry. The sheriff called later to state the bullet and gun matched. He contacted the prosecuting attorney. 

Laura and Larry live in the forest, can't see any house or road from their home, their neighbors are all hunters and outdoor people. They should know better than shoot without knowing exactly where the bullet or arrow is going to land. 

I have a whole new sensitivity for those who live in places with guns galore and hear gunshots night and day. 

Joe the Plumber’s Blunt Message on Gun Control

“I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now,” Wurzelbacher wrote, addressing the parents of the victims of the Friday massacre. “But: As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”

~ Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber”

Does he have any idea how brutish he sounds? Can he actually think that more guns with fewer restrictions will make our kids safer? He comes from an entirely different point of view than I and there is no way we are going to change each other's minds. I am not willing to be the victim here, nor am I willing to have our kids be exposed to more guns. So, my task is to fight for tighter gun regulations. Standing up to men and women who think as he does is easy compared to standing beside innocent dead ones. 

Comment by kathy: ky on June 1, 2014 at 10:46pm
The NRA has taken control of what used to be common sense. How long can this continue. As long as the religious nuts keep it up l guess.
I'm of the opinion that religion is behind most stupidity in the world.
Comment by Čenek Sekavec on June 1, 2014 at 8:14pm

Dorris, you may not be anti-gun but the person handling that firearm in such a irresponsible manner certainly is. Stay safe. 

Comment by Michael Penn on May 31, 2014 at 7:54am

Target shooting is one thing, but nobody should be doing any shooting at night! This is very dangerous and should be stopped. I doubt seriously that the local law will do anything coz they don't want to be targets, and it would likely take infa-red equipment to see them. Who is going to be killed here? There is a big responsibility with weapons saftey, but what idiot is going to be firing guns ate night. I think they should be arrested for "public endangerment" a few times and then we would see what happens.

Comment by Randall Smith on May 31, 2014 at 7:18am

I, too, have target shooting neighbors. They invite their church members about every other weekend. Very annoying and scary. I sympathize with you. There's probably not much that can be done. Good luck.



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