One of the things I will talk about from time to time are guns, gun laws or perhaps just shooting in general. I am not the most knowledgeable, so I will just give you my background so you can tell where I am coming from on any given point should I bring it up.
I have been around guns for all my life and been shooting at least a little bit since I can remember. I used to go hunting with my father and cousins down in southern Illinois all the time. When I was 10 my dad gave me my first gun. It was a .410/.22 over/under. More than enough for a 10 year old to go hunting rabbits with. And we did! I also hunter squirrel and deer on occasion. Guns were commonplace growing up. When down in southern Illinois, they were stacked in the corner after hunting while we ate and cleaned up. When we were finished they were taken and cleaned up for the next hunt. My cousin and I used to ride his motorcycle to the pond by the train tracks with our .22 rifles and a few hundred rounds and shoot at empty bottles and cans we would throw into the water. At home my dad had a gun rack in his bedroom with the guns in it. We didn’t need to worry about anyone wetting their pants because us kids could get to the guns, you just didn’t touch them.
At some point in my teen years I ended up trading my gun to one of my uncles and got in return a double barrel .410. I rarely used the .22 part of mine so it seemed like a no brainer at the time. I also had access to my father’s 12 gauge should I need it so I was pretty set for a while. After I turned 18 or so, we pretty much stopped going downstate and the available hunting areas up by us dried up pretty fast so the hunting part just stopped.
There were a number of years in there where I didn’t shoot very much. A few times while at my father-in-laws in rural Missouri but that was about it. I still had my double barrel shotgun, and maybe half a box of ammo, but that was about it. And then it happened.
The town I lived in was at one time a nice place. I grew up there and after a few years of marriage we moved back there because houses were affordable and the neighborhood was mixed and still nice. Sadly it didn’t stay that way. Call it what you want, but a huge influx of Section 8 housing changed the place for good. Every 4th house was a rental and had 8 or more people living in them. It seemed like all were people trying to ‘escape’ the projects they were tearing down in Chicago but were instead bringing it with them to our little town. There were two such houses located directly across from me, and the people in them did not like each other. Constant fighting, yelling and so on.
One summer day we are sitting on the front porch with our young boys and there are people from each house outside yelling at each other. It was getting pretty heated and there was some shoving going on and a few more people from each house coming outside. I decided that I would call the police number, non-emergency, and suggest that someone make a drive by here just in case. Sure enough within minutes a cop car drives by and end up stopping as they were still arguing and milling about. After a few minutes they dispersed and the cop went away. Perhaps an hour later the same thing started happening again, although I can see one person standing off to the side with a baseball bat. So I called again and told them of all this. This time three cops came by and made them go inside. About 30 minutes later, with it still calm, we left to go visit my parents on the other side of town.
Fast forward to about 4 hours later we are coming home. As we drive down the street to our house I can see what looks to be at least 50 people mulling about the sidewalk area between the two houses. I quickly pull into the driveway and we go inside where I call the police hopefully one last time. I tell them that this looks like it could end up being a riot as I can see several bats and other things like that. Sure enough just as I hang up a brawl breaks out. Credit to at least the speed of the department there as within 2 minutes of hanging up there was probably every cop in the town there plus a few cops from the neighboring town a few minutes later. They were pepper spraying a bunch of people and I saw then take down one bat guy with a night stick to the back of the legs. After that fracus died down, the police ended up taking away only 2 people, one from each house. Perhaps they were the instigators or something, I don’t know. All I know is it got quiet again, finally. But not for long.
It is now about 7 or so that evening and while sitting on the porch I can see one of the people who was arrested come home. About 20 minutes later the other guy comes home. My wife and I look at each other kind of shocked they were out so soon but agreed that as of that moment we were going to do everything we could to move. I hand my wife the phone and tell her I am going to the restroom. As I come out, I hear her slam the front door and run screaming to the basement. “They got guns!” she is screaming. Oh fuck. I run to my room and grab the double barrel and the 10 or so shells that I have and go to a bedroom window to look out.
Looking outside I see two tricked out cars pulled up to the front of the house on the left. The guy who was arrested from there was out talking to someone from the vehicles. There were about 7 guys just standing there looking about and they could have been right out of central casting for inner city gangbangers. I am not joking, they were wearing baggy clothes, bandanas and carrying an array of various firearms. There was one that looked like a Mac-10, but at the time I had no clue. The two guys talking start pointing all around. First they point to the house next door to them. Then they point to MY house. OK, now I am about to shit my pants. I have less than a dozen shots. The .410 is not that powerful and I don’t want to die. But I’ll be damned if they will come into my house. So I load up the gun and call the police yet one more time.
This time I get a different person who has no clue what has been going on. I am telling her all this, watching outside my window and shaking pretty bad. Hell, even with a wide pattern not sure I could have hit the broad side of a barn with how scared I was. She seems to be taking her time here asking me questions that the other person didn’t ask. Then I notice they are starting to cross the street to my house. I just put the phone down and start talking loudly. “There are two cards here, one is a Suzuki Samauri, silver with stripes and the other is a Chevy Caprice that is purple with big rims. I can’t see the license plates. There are at least 7 guys with what appears to be automatic weapons standing in the street and approaching my house. If they set foot in my yard I am going to be in fear for my life and open fire, please get your asses here NOW!” And I keep repeating this while aiming the gun towards them but praying they stop.
They stopped right at the sidewalk. After what seemed like an eternity but was probably more like 30 seconds they then started back towards their cars, got in and drove away. The guy from the other house was gone, I didn’t know if he went in or with them. Perhaps no more than 30 seconds later about 10 cop cars came screaming down the road from the opposite end and skidded to a stop. I am still connected to the police on the phone so I am screaming that they drove down the street, and maybe they were listening because all but two took back off down the street. One stood outside his car, gun drawn, looking at the two houses while the other came to check on me and take a statement.
Sitting there that day with my wussy shotgun I decided that I would no longer feel like I wasn’t doing what I could to protect myself and my family. First the obvious, we moved. yes I know that bad things can happen anywhere but moving to the place we did severely cut those changes down. This is a nice neighborhood. Second, I started renewing my life experiences with firearms. I now have 3 handguns (4 if you count the .22 I got from my deceased father in law that doesn’t work), a better shotgun and a Kal-tec Sub2000 in .40 caliber that can reach out and touch someone at a distance, should the need arise. An AR-15 is in my future but still have to work with a budget. I shoot fairly well, but won’t win any competitions. Good with my Glock, a wider pattern with my Walther PPK .380 and deadly with the Kal-tec. I don’t get to practice as often as I would like but financial constraints limit that a bit. I have decent sources for ammo but ranges here are busy and expensive. Now that concealed carry is legal here in Illinois I just have to find a full weekend available so I can take the class and have that option available to me as well. However I will never feel helpless again. I will give props to the local police for some pretty fast response time, but we all know that sometimes that isn’t enough.