Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hazards of Local Running

Recently, a friend and I were discussing how much we enjoy time spent in nature on our respective farms when she remarked to me, "It's hard to imagine living anywhere else, huh?"  That got me thinking.  I do love my life here, and my little backyard farm.  But, the truth is that John and I are very adaptable people.  We lived in New Orleans when we were first married and dove headfirst into a culture that allowed us to walk to the grocery store and celebrate Mardi Gras.  We lost all of our earthly belongings to Hurricane Katrina and decided to start over in small town Arkansas (which is much different from the NWA that I grew up in) and have found our niche here as well.  My guess is that we could find ourselves just about anywhere, and as long as we had each other, make a fun go of it.

That said, there are still some parts of our local culture that I haven't come around to.  And, I came face to face with one of them last night.  Here's the story . . .

I was out for an evening run through town when I passed a house where two middle-school-aged boys were out in the sideyard.  One of them had some type of gun in his hands and was aiming at something on or near the ground in front of him.  I ran on past them, then wondered whether I'd be able to see what they were aiming at, if I turned to look back.  That's when I saw that the gun was now pointed at me.  In distress, I kept running, but yelled and pointed at them:  "NOT FUNNY!"  He didn't lower the gun.  I yelled it again, louder, and kept running.    "You're funny!"  the gunman yelled back as he lowered the gun.  At this point, I was more mad than scared, so I stopped running, turned toward them, marching myself up to the front door:  "You're not going to think I'm funny for long!  Do you have a parent home with you?"

As it turned out, the gunman didn't live there and the boy who did stood sobbing in the background as his mother agreed with me that it was unacceptable behavior and that the guest (who she "didn't really know")  would be shooed away.  Once I'd stuck around long enough to see that the boys were being adequately reprimanded, I high-tailed it on home, running at a pretty good clip. ;)

Now, of course, one of the first questions John asked me when I relayed the story to him was what type of gun it was.  Pellet?  BB?  Air soft?  Actual rifle?  I have no knowledge of guns whatsoever, so I had, of course, no idea. 

Guns.   Ahhh.  Guns.  They are very much a part of this culture that surrounds me.  But, I haven't bought into that part of it.  My dad didn't hunt.  John doesn't hunt.  I am completely uncomfortable around guns.  Honestly, they terrify me. 

I won't get on my soapbox here.  But, as I've replayed what happened last night, I keep asking myself whether I should've done something differently.  What if I'd been able to identify the gun?
Let's say I'd been able to tell the gun was a toy of some sort, should I have just kept on running, "boys will be boys" and all that?  Or, had I been able to identify that they were shooting actual bullets, should I have notified the police? 

Why didn't I get their names?  Why didn't I find out what type of gun it was?  Should I have followed the gunman home and knocked on his door?  If I had a gunsafe full of guns and a deer head mounted in my living room, would I have reacted differently to those boys' antics?

I'm left with lots of questions.  But, here's what I know. 
1.  Guns scare me.  I don't like them.   I don't want them around my children.  I don't want one pointed at me. 
2.  I will not be running that route again anytime soon!


  1. I'm impressed that you went up to the door! I think you totally did the right thing. Toy or not, guns shouldn't be pointed at people. My dad did/does hunt and that's ALWAYS been the rule. Even toy guns were not pointed at people in our house growing up. Good job for confronting the kids and telling the parent.

  2. Oh Ashley, the stuff that happens to you on your runs!! I will say this. I do live in a home with deer heads on the wall. The men/boys in this house do have guns. They are kept in a locked cabinet for which their dad keeps the key on him at all times. Gun safety and the value of life. Personally I am just as afraid of guns as you are. They are not for me!
    I am proud of you for going to speak to the parents!!! They need to know. I am sure you had an impact on the boy that lived there. Hind sight is always 20/20. I don't see how it could hurt to talk to the police about it. I am sure there is a law against it. After all it is 2012!!
    Then there are the 'What if's" What if you had actually been shot at & or injured? What if it wasn't you but kids in a neighboring yard they were aiming at? Honestly, who cares what "kind" of gun it was. It was aimed at you!! If this young boy will aim a gun at someone now, what will he do when he is older?
    **Side note: We are really happy Esther & Mason are in the same room again this year:)

  3. This is terrifying to me also because I live on Matlock. I am hoping this was on the longer stretch of Matlock and not by my house. I completely agree with you on guns. I hate them and will not let them be in my house. Jeremy has a bunch at his mom's from his dad and grandpa and I told him if he brought them home I was sleeping outside. I will not let them be in our house. I think you did the right thing. I would have been to terrified to do that.

  4. Mary Jane CassandrasAugust 22, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Of course you did the right thing. Way to go! Now I'm going to surprise you. Please take a gun safety course. If hunter safety is all your community has, so be it. I took an airport sponsored gun class several years ago. Before the class, Pete took me out to some vacant land to shoot pistols. I had never shot one before and didn't want to look dumb in my class. Turns out, most women are excellent shots! After I took the airport class, I enrolled in a hand gun safety class. Not only did I learn about guns, I learned a lot about the law and gun owner's rights. I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Do I carry one? No. Am I afraid of guns? I have a healthy respect for them. I also have a plan for what to do if someone threatens me or mine. I also learned how to properly use pepper spray. I think it is as dangerous as a gun. If you don't use it properly, it can harm you more than the person you are trying to stop from harming you. We have a deer head in our house. We have guns for hunting. I am not afraid. I think the unknown is the root of the fear. Back to the boys - if the police had come down the street and seen what you saw, there is the chance that one of the boys might be dead now. It is not that uncommon for the police to not be able to tell a toy gun from a real gun. I've heard too many times of children being shot because someone thought the gun was real. You may have saved their lives. Please educate yourself about guns and gun control. You won't be sorry.

  5. Do you run with your cell phone? If not.....I think it is time too! So glad you were safe!