Yesterday marked twenty-one years since my eight-year-old brother was shot and killed. This happened the day after our mother's birthday while she was working one mile away from the house. He and our twin sisters (age 9) were home alone and walked to my stepfather's house less than a quarter mile away. No one was at home there.
The day before, their father had been teaching them how to shoot a .22 rifle. Alone, they heard a sound outside and grabbed the loaded rifle from behind the pantry door. My stepfather's philosophy was "an unloaded gun is more dangerous than a loaded gun." So he also kept his guns loaded but not locked away.
They took the rifle, went outside, and fired a few rounds. Back inside the house the gun went off and shot Bubba in the center of his stomach. He bled to death within a matter of minutes. He died before my mother arrived and well before paramedics came to the scene.
The medical doctors at the hospital tried to revive him, but the surgeon told us that the bullet had hit his stomach aorta. She said that had the bullet gone one inch to the left or right, he would probably have survived.
Bubba would be 29 years old today if he had survived. I miss him greatly and wonder what he could have accomplished with his life.
If you own guns, please lock them up where children cannot get to them. Never leave a loaded gun where a child has access to them. Guns aren't toys, and if you own them, be a responsible person. If you cannot, you don't deserve to possess them.