My sons have had some notable incidents involving guns, particularly the air-soft variety. While these all are thankfully memories from the past, they continued a less than proud tradition from their father. I have stories involving my BB gun, easter eggs set on a fence, and a custom van parked in the next yard, “old west shootouts” involving BB guns and all our neighborhood buddies (including the loss of at least one permanent tooth), and one other BB gun story that stands out in my mind more than any other. It was shortly after the easter eggs incident, and my brother and I were playing cowboys and Indians on a warm Spring Sunday afternoon. It had been a tough week for Brent, not yet school-aged. Just a few days before he was climbing on a stair rail, lost his grip, and fell head first onto the concrete. He had recuperated enough from that to be outside with me.
Our shoutout rules were typical. If you got shot, you had to fall down and play dead for 10 seconds. Then, you got back up and resumed action. Brent had a cool toy flintlock pistol. I had my trusty BB gun in hand. As I recall, Brent came running around the house right into my ambush. I cried out, “Bang, bang, bang!” He fell to the ground and got up crying. He was bleeding under his eye and had a frightening gash. We both had great imaginations, but not that great!
Our parents heard the commotion and Brent told them, “Neal shot me!” That was sufficient investigation, given that the concussion and the easter egg incident were both fresh on their minds. Dad took my Daisy and in an incredible show of strength ended its functional use with a single application to his knee. A spanking quickly followed. Meanwhile, Mom had done triage on Brent enough to ascertain one additional fact. I had only pretended to shoot him (the Daisy was not loaded) and Brent fell on the sight of that pistol and produced that gash. Dad felt terrible and apologized to me before taking Brent to get stitches. Of course, with my checkered past with my low-powered air gun, I was not very incensed.
Since I have “grown up,” I have drawn my own conclusions without having all the facts. I have done this with my sons, and I have done it with my wife. I have done this at times with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was sure I had all the facts and I reacted. More than once, I’ve felt the regret of being hasty and premature.
When that brother or sister seems cold, distant, or unfriendly, they may simply be having a terrible day or dealing with an incredibly heavy burden. When it seems that son or daughter has misbehaved, take the time to ascertain all the facts before reacting. When in a spousal spat, stave off assumptions, perceptions, and prejudices that may lead you to a hasty, false conclusion.
How many have fallen prey to “friendly fire” from loved ones? Be careful not to accidentally shoot first and ask questions later. If you do, have the humility to admit your mistake and make it right! If we can, we should avoid a “shoot out.” If we must, then we must fight fair!