Back in the day I lived in a podunk rednickish suburb and went to a podunkish redneck school. This was Texas, mid 70s, think Dazed and Confused and you have it dead on. Needless to say there were plenty of gun owners. One day I was riding around with one of them — we were all just starting to get our driver’s licenses so driving anywhere was fun and cool — when my buddy asked me to open his glove compartment. A dark bundle fell out and I heard a snap, it sounded exactly like a bullwhip cracking. There was a gentle spritz of moisture across my legs and some dark droplets hit the kick panel to my right. I looked down baffled, it took a slow count of ten before it hit me, I had just been shot.
Accidents are common with guns. I don’t know single person who has used a gun to fend off an attack — yes I know it has happened and when you need a gun for that purpose not much else will work. But I’ve known a few people who got hurt or worse accidentally. Like the kid who went to college at nearby Southwest Texas State, now called Texas State University. Back then it was a famous party school, and the kid and a couple of my friends went out and got hammered. The kid got so hammered that when he went back to his apartment he got confused, he was probably blacked out at the time according to my pals who were with him earlier that night.
The kid tried to get into his apartment but his key wouldn’t work. In his drunken state he decided to just break in his bedroom window and worry about it in the morning, at least that’s what we figured happened. There was just one problem: it wasn’t his door he’d been trying to open and it wasn’t his bedroom window he went to next. It belong to a single girl who was woken up by a dark shadowy figure grunting and cursing and smashing in her bedroom window. I can’t say for sure but it seems to me like this particular lady later testified she’d been assaulted recently. Anyway, bottom line, she had a hand gun, gave the kid ample warning which he either didn’t hear or didn’t care about. Finally, terrified and on the phone to the police, she shot him. Just as anyone is trained to do in these situations, she shot to kill.
My own brush with a bullet wasn’t fatal, not even close. My friend was a bit of a gun collector, he even ordered kits for replica antique guns and made them with his dad. They had ordered and built an old single action revolver replica, the kind where you have to cock the hammer by hand before you can fire it. My buddy was so excited to play with it that he got home from school, set up a couple of phone books in his garage and started shooting away. But the garage door opened signaling a parent was home, so he hastily put the cocked gun and ready to fire weapon in his glove compartment. He was going to show it to me, that’s why he told me to open the glove compartment later, that and we were both dumbass teenagers who didn’t think much beyond trying to get some boob. It fell out, the impact was enough to set the hammer off, it fired right between my legs — I was lucky. The bullet struck my inside shin, and that it was a low powered low caliber round mostly used for targets and show, it could have just as easily hit me in the face or the crotch.
It’s funny that the first thing in both our minds was that we were going to get into huge trouble (In fact to this day I never told my parents). At one point my buddy tried to talk me into not going to the ER, he even offered to break into his dad’s liquor and help me ‘deal with the pain.’ An offer I refused, he ended up panicking, dropping me off at a minor ER where my family doc worked and driving away! Poor guy. The funny thing is, the doc didn’t seem to mind. I told the doc what happened, he shrugged his shoulders and warned me to be more careful. Back then in Texas it was just a matter of sewing it up, notifying the police of a minor accidental shooting, which they didn’t even bother to send a cop for, and that was it. All I have left is a perfect little oval-shaped scar and fond memories. A sharp contrast with the memories formed in the aftermath of most shooting incidents.