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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Don't Try This At Home

This comes to us from the Tacoma News Tribune:

Booze and bullets a deadly mix for man playing with handgun

By Adam Lynn

A young man playing with a gun accidentally shot himself to death Friday, Pierce County sheriff’s deputies reported.

Gordon Alverton, 21, had been out drinking with two buddies when they returned to his Graham-area home about 1 a.m., sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Alverton grabbed one of two handguns in the house in the 21400 block of 89th Avenue Court East and began horsing around with it, Troyer said. At one point, he put the barrel of the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, Troyer said, but there was no cartridge in the chamber and the gun didn’t fire.

“At that point, his friends told him to knock it off,” Troyer said.

But Alverton put the barrel of the gun into his mouth a second time and pulled the trigger again. This time it fired, killing him, Troyer said.

“The thinking is he probably thought the gun was unloaded,” Troyer said. “It’s just a case of alcohol and guns being a bad mixture.” (link)

That last bit of wisdom is worth remembering.

A number of years ago I was standing with my wife and son in my yard when a neighbor (a generally good guy, except when he drank, which was all the time), who liked to pound down the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, opened up (on his property) with a large caliber handgun, sending hot lead flying in my direction.

I immediately got angry for his having endangered the lives of my family and I stormed up the hill toward him and several of his buddies. When I confronted him, he was startled to hear that I had a problem with his shooting at me. This was his response (I am not making this up):

"I wasn't shooting at you. I was shooting at that tree over there." He pointed at a tree that stood between him and my house.

I got even angrier. I shouted, "Look, ya dumbshit, my wife and son are down range from that tree. You could have killed them."

When he said, "I wasn't going to hit them; I was shooting the tree," I knew then that he was drunk. Again.

Now I've learned a few things in my life relating to do's and don'ts when confronting drunken redneck white boys. The biggest don't probably has to do with never making him mad if he's drunk AND holding a loaded cannon in his hand. But you know how it is when you let your temper get the best of you.

I doubt that he even heard me say, "Well, if you're such a good shot, (expletive deleted) why don't you get on the other side of the tree and shoot toward your house ... ya stupid (expletive deleted)?

Fortunately for me, the "conversation" ended with a good deal of name-calling. And I remember walking away thinking that that may not have been the smartest thing I'd ever done in my life.

But when a man's family is in danger, he has few alternatives. The sheriff's deputy didn't care for one of them. I told him, after he informed me that the drunken neighbor had - until my cold bloody carcass was found in my pasture - the right to shoot his weapon on his property, that I had artillery too and was willing to return fire if the neighbor ever shot at my wife or son again. The deputy informed me that I could get myself in big trouble if I did something like that.

It was at this point that I decided, rather than go through two confrontations in one day, I'd let it rest.

That is, until the next time Dirty Harry ...