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“Everything that occurs to us in life is a resource, an experience that we can learn from and grow from.” – Kilroy J. Oldster

Throughout our lives, most of us do plenty of stupid stuff. After doing some stupid stuff, you will scratch your head realizing just how stupid it was. Then, there is seriously stupid stuff, where you say, “Holy crap, that was seriously the stupidest stuff I have ever done. Boy, I’m glad I have all my fingers and toes.”  On a scale of 1 to 10 of the Stupid Stuff Scale or S.S.S., this story ranks about 9 out of 10.

“I don’t have the perfect roadmap drawn out, but I do know which roads I’ll never drive down again.”
― Brittany Burgunder
A clinking clanking clattering collection of collagenous junk might be a good description of the first paragraphs, but it is all necessary background to set the mood for the story.

Many of us older people remember watching cartoons on Saturday morning. One of my favorites was “The Bullwinkle Show.” One of the segments of the show was titled “Aesop and Son” and revolved around a man and his son. The father would tell an amusing story with a moral ending and afterward, the son would rebut with his own humorous take on the story. This story reminded me of that show. An amusing story with a moral ending. So, without further adieu…

In my nearly 62 years of existence on this blue marble, we call earth, I’ve fumbled my way through many experiences. Each one taught me a valuable lesson, molding me into the person I am today. Some experiences were mundane while others developed into a complicated bizarre course of events. Regardless of whether it was a big or small experience, I hope I have learned from each and every one of those mistakes.

Keep in mind, that during that moment in time, the event was genuinely traumatic and gut-wrenching. Sharing the event with family and friends over the years, I have morphed these disastrous events into fond memories. By making a lesson, like an Aesop fable, was my defense mechanism to keep me sane and to deal with the craziness of those events.

So, what does this have to do with the 2nd amendment? Well, follow along and find out.

My father grew up on a farm with his 8 siblings. His father died when he was 21 and to supplement their income, the boys often hunted to stock the dinner table. When you hunt to sustain existence, you become a sharpshooter. All my dad’s brothers were excellent marksmen.

Like many fathers that own and respect firearms, my father started stressing the importance of gun safety when I was very young. I didn’t always understand what he was saying. The only one that made sense, in the beginning, was “These are guns. Don’t touch them. This is my belt. Touch the guns and you will find out about the belt.” I did understand dad’s belt. The belt said, “don’t touch” and that was all the rules I needed.

My dad built his gun cabinet while working in a high school woodshop. It held 6 rifles, had 4 shelves on each side, and a drawer for ammo on the bottom. The key was always “hidden” (in plain sight) in the corner of the top shelf on the right side. There was no reason to actually hide the key as I knew they were off-limits (remember, the belt.)

When I became old enough, dad taught me how to reload shotgun shells and shoot traps. We reloaded thousands of shotgun shells over the years. My greatest feat was breaking 73 out of 75 to win the High Junior trophy in the trap league. Soon, dad took me hunting for both small and big games.

I grew up on one of the larger properties in the neighborhood. Our 2-acre yard was encircled by hundreds of arborvitae that my dad grew from clippings. In the evening, the property had an eerie feeling of seclusion even though we were in the heart of a rural neighborhood.

I was born 8 years after my sister. We were a very close-knit Italian family and spent most of our free time together. Most of my cousins were female and near my sister’s age; and so, whenever we got together, I was usually the odd man or cousin out. To my sister, her friends, and my cousins, I was just a P.I.T.A. (Pain in the ass) little brother. And in such, I endured the brunt of many of my young impressionable years being teased, tormented, and scared.

Embarrassingly and needless to say, at age 16, I was scared to be alone in our home. And thanks to my sister and cousins, it was overrun with plenty of hiding places for every evil monster in the world. My wildly unbridled imagination was my worst enemy.

And so, this brings us to that fateful night, the story, The Boy and The Scary Night begins.

After coming home to an empty house, I called my relatives to find out where my parents were and when they were coming home. While talking to my aunt, the phone suddenly went dead. Frantically, I began redialing the number wondering why the phone had gone silent. Each time I dialed, the phone line was dead, no dial tone, nothing! In the beginning, I tried to think of logical reasons for why the phone line went dead, that quickly turned into the realm of illogical. The phone lines were cut! Someone must have cut the phone lines! Someone wants to murder me!

I started to think of what I should do. How could I protect myself from the hoard of bad guys wanting to kill me? A Knife! I’ll get a kitchen knife! No, that’s just dumb. My bat, I have a baseball bat. I could surely use that. Running back to my room for my bat; I ran past the living room. How could I be so stupid, a bat? I’ll just get my gun to protect myself. When mom and dad come home, I’ll see them pull up and just put everything away before they even know it was out of the case. I love it when a plan comes together!

I reached up to the top shelf and removed the key from its secret hiding spot. Unlocking the door to the cabinet, I removed my Remington model 600 6mm deer rifle and loaded it. One in the chamber, check! Safety on, Check! Maybe, load up the Ithica model 37 pump shotgun, too. You can never be too cautious with murderers. One in the chamber, check! Safety on, Check! Well, may as well load up my pistol and strap that on my thigh. One in the chamber, check! Safety on, Check!

So, there I was. Deer rifle loaded and slung over my shoulder; pistol holstered, riding low on my thigh; and shotgun comfortably in hand. Next, I turned on the eight 150 watt floodlights that were positioned on each corner of the house. Still not satisfied, I walked out to where Ansel was resting in her pen. Ansel was our purebred German shepherd. My dad’s cousin bred and trained shepherds for the police department. Grinning, I opened her pen and let her loose. Woe to you Mr. Murderer, you’ll never cut those phone lines again!

I felt safe. No one is coming near over 1000 watts of light, a German shepherd, and some lunatic kid carrying enough firepower that could have ended the Vietnam War, single-handedly. While walking the perimeter looking for tell-tale signs of something amiss with Ansel close at bay, I spotted headlights coming up the driveway.

“Oh, Fuuuddgge!”  Except, I didn’t say fudge. Dad’s gonna kill me if he sees me playing commando in the backyard. So, I ditched my arsenal in the bushes and went inside.

Me stammering: Hi mom and dad

Dad sternly: Why do you have all the outside floodlights on?

Me:  I was just playing with Ansel. Hey, can I go over to Joe’s house for a while?

Dad: Ok, but be careful. No fooling around with mom’s car and be home by 11!

Running out the door, I grabbed the keys to mom’s Dodge. I snuck around to the stash of guns and put the collection of loaded weapons into the trunk. I figured when I returned home at 11, mom and dad will be nestled in bed and I could return everything and they would be none the wiser.

When I got to my friend’s house, his mom was waiting at the door and greeted me with, “Hi Steve, your dad called. He wants you to call him right away.” I started to get a little queasy. Hoping for the best, I called home and Dad answered. “Hey, Dad, what’s up?” I asked. I heard 3 words in return and knew I would be dead by morning. GET­ – HOME – NOW!!!

Oh FUUUDDDGGE! Yeah, I didn’t say fudge this time either.

When I got home, dad said, “Get Those Guns In Here Now!” Walking out the door, I contemplated the thought of just continuing to walk. Thinking to myself, “I hear Georgia is nice this time of year.” I was no longer afraid of any of the killers out there. My full attention was with my dad inside the house. After an exceedingly long slow walk out and back from the trunk of the car, I returned. Dad was now yelling, “WHAT the HELL were you thinking!?”  I’m sure dad thought I was up to no good, and he was furious. I pleaded, to at least present my side of the story before the judge jury and executioner took over the proceedings. Frankly, I was just worried about the executioner part. Thankfully, my mom calmed my dad down enough to let me explain.

I told my story, explaining every detail down to the minutia. Trying everything I could to extend my life as long as possible and to give my dad time to cool down. My mom looked at my dad and said, “Steve, I believe him.” Mom was always on my side. And thankfully, she didn’t let me down this time. Dad didn’t kill me, but I was grounded for quite a while.

So, Aesop’s fable or moral to the story?

1st Lesson – Although, I was quite capable of handling each firearm I carried that night, I was not prepared mentally for what could have happened. Had someone cut through our yard and startled me, I may have made a serious fatal mistake. Regardless of your right to carry, you should have the desire to educate yourself as to when you can and when you cannot shoot someone in what you think is a self-defense scenario. So, if you carry a firearm, get training and proper education. It should never be something you take lightly.

2nd Lesson – You should never carry a firearm to give yourself courage. If you walk around with your chest puffed out and feel invincible because you are carrying a firearm, that attitude will get you in a lot of trouble. According to the USCCA website, “Holstered courage is for fools only, and fools should not be carrying firearms.”

I hope you found my story amusing and thank you for taking the time to read my story.

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