May 20, 2007

Peace and Guns and Kids

If you know me at all, you know that I am a pacifist. I imagine an ideal world where there is no war and no violence. But I know this is reality and there needs to be armies and weapons. We don't need to have the war and peace debate. But I do not like guns. I don't think that regular citizens need to have them nearly as much as they do. I am not even anti-hunting, but I just think there needs to be a time and place for everything, and a lot more care taken with weapons in this country. I want to share my thoughts on something I experienced yesterday, because it is troubling me.

So we took the dog to our usual park for a walk. The Nature Center is this cool place, a couple of miles of trails through the woods nestled in metro Detroit. There is a charming little building in the middle with educational displays for the community. Lovely place. And we see lots of kids and nature lovers walking around, usually respecting the natural surroundings.

But yesterday we encountered a man with two small children, less than 5 years old. We were walking toward them and saw that one of the children had a BB gun, and was shooting it into the air and at some birds or squirrels. This was very upsetting to me. Well, the upsetting part was that this small child was waving this BB gun around in a public park, where there were other small children, old people, and pets walking around. It was a busy Saturday. And even more upsetting was that the father was encouraging the kids to shoot things, and didn't seem to have any interest in having them put down the gun as we approached. They were all riled up and just randomly shooting in our direction!

I started to draw back and slowed down, as Chuck moved ahead, wanting to calmly confront the father to let him know that it was inappropriate. I was too scared about the dog getting shot, so I turned around and high tailed it towards the center. When Chuck realized that the father had no interest in teaching gun safety and etiquette to his young kids, he quickly followed me, as the guy started looking a bit confrontational.

So we went into the center and got one of the guys that worked there, who followed Chuck to meet the guy who was approaching. He got scolded and was told it was unsafe to have weapons of any kind at this park. By this time the kids were shirtless and screaming and jumping all over the place. I thought, nice little testosterone factories you've got going there, guy...real Lord of the Flies. Unfortunately, the guy just told the kids, "we have to go somewhere else" so it totally didn't register that he was acting unsafely or inappropriately, and I am sure he will just end up in some other park, endangering others.

So Chuck and I had a hard time getting over this. I was seriously scared that one of us or the dog would get shot by a BB gun, which, I know, is probably a minor injury...but who wants to get injured at all...especially when it can be prevented? It has made me think about gun culture in this country and the fascination of little boys with guns. I fear what these children grow up into when encouraged in such a way.

Sorry, this is a bit of a ranty, semi-political post, which I usually try to avoid. But maybe I shouldn't. It's how I feel and my feelings has an effect on my life, work, and art. I just don't understand this experience, and I needed to get it out. So thanks for letting me share with you...


  1. You were right to be scared! Next time I would call the police. I think guns have a place in the world but not everyone respects what they should be used for. We were taught NEVER to point a gun (toy or otherwise) at ANY one. People and animals can be seriously hurt with a BB gun. It's NOT a toy!

  2. Yeah, when Chuck was walking up to them, he was motioning and saying, put your gun up. The adult in charge of them had no such sense. It was disheartening really, especially since the kids were *so* young.

    If we ever saw them again we would call the cops. Its such a cool place, it makes me sad when people do crappy stuff there.

  3. I am so much happier with Canada's gun laws.. but realize that I'm still incredibly lucky to live in a country where guns aren't visible everyday on the street corner, being held by a member of the local army/militia/mafia.

    Scary situation for you, glad it ended safely, too bad it didn't end sensibly for them :(

  4. How horrible!!! and sad for the kids who are getting the message that respect isn't an option. You must have been so inscenced. I can image how you felt. At least you stepped up to say something.