Gun Culture

01.17.13

Accidents Happen to Gun People Too

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In Josh Marshall's post on being a "non-gun person," he tells a story about visiting gun-owning family friends as a young boy and unintentionally pointing a real gun at a little girl.

But this kind of mishap does not happen only to non-gun people.

My wife's family are gun people. I mean, real guns. Her grandfather was decorated for gallantry at Vimy Ridge and went on to found the Canadian armored corps. Her father served in World War II and Korea, and then worked for years as a foreign correspondent covering wars from Congo to Vietnam. He was a dozen feet away when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald - and was filmed by another news reporter running toward the sound of gunfire.

Gun people.

So one day in the early 1950s, my newly demobilized father-in-law joins his parents at a dinner party at the home of another Canadian general. After dinner, cigarettes are produced. My father-in-law, a non-smoker, wandered away to escape the smell. He stepped into the host general's study and saw on his desk a Luger, a souvenir. Fascinated, he approached, lifted the gun, sighted it, and - BANG! - accidentally fired it. It had never occurred to him the gun might still be loaded all those years after VE Day. The bullet roared through the study wall, passed inches away from the head of the host general's wife.

It being the early 1950s, everybody was blind drunk and laughed uproariously. But still: those things are damn dangerous.