Thursday, August 30, 2012
Last night,as I sat on the deck with my evening spooker, the tranquility was rudely interrupted by the sound of gunfire. Not only were multiple shots fired, but they sounded close, too damn close. I refresh the spooker and journey to the rear of the property. I see nothing in the way of an armed militia but the shots continue.
WHAM! WHAM! Although I didn’t actually hear the zip of bullets over my head, I was compelled to investigate. I get in the old pickup and head down Shell Creek Road, the east-west road just a hundred yards to the north of the humble abode. At the third house down from the intersection, I spot four men in a backyard with at least one rifle. I’d seen enough. Those boys were shooting waaay to close for my peace of mind. Using the non-emergency number, I call the elite Osage County Sheriff’s Department. The dispatcher lady was less than helpful.
“Sir, it is not illegal to discharge firearms outside the city limits.”
“Ma’am, this bunch is shooting in a freakin’ neighborhood with houses all around, kids in yards, pets and such.” (The Missus wanted me to point out the danger to her cats but I skipped that part.) “Legal? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Would you like to talk to a patrolmen, sir?”
“Damn right I would!” It was about now that I began to wonder if it was the whiskey doin’ the talkin’. Too late. Within minutes, the phone rings.
“This is Deputy --------. What seems to be the problem?”
I calmly explain how I have the quite uncomfortable feeling that I’ve just stepped into a Taliban ambush and how surely there must be some mistake about it being legal.
“Nope. It’s legal in every county in Oklahoma,” he says, “and most of the counties in the United States.”
He then suggests that I might be hearing activity at the closest firing range, a good two miles away. I assure him this is not the case, that I can tell the difference between gunshots two miles away and two blocks away.
“So you’re telling me,” I add, “that I can step out in my backyard, spray bullets all over the place, not worry about ricochets, or what might be downrange, and I’m not breaking any laws?”
“Not exactly,” he replies, now with a little testiness in his voice. “If you’re acting irresponsibly, I’ll arrest you.”
Ooooohh. The voice of legal authority comes out. Now he’s letting me know that I should stop arguing about it, shut up, and go back to watching Seinfeld. I had more to say on the subject, a lot more, but I sensed the futility of continuing our little chat. In his defense, he did promise to drive by and check it out. My next question, of course, would be to ask how was I to know that the guns being fired were done so by responsible adults and not some wacked out psycho high on meth or moonshine.
Picture the scene:
Here I go, trespassing on the shooter’s property, and approach an armed group of men.
“Excuse me fellas, but I’d like to know if you're acting responsibly here. Do you have an adequate backstop for your practice? If not, have you checked the area in front of where you are firing to be sure there are no rocks for the bullets to bounce off of and hit an infant in the neck on the parallel street over there? Or even worse, hit one of my wife’s cats? Everyone here have a valid NRA card?”
Let me tell you folks, in this part of Oklahoma, that dog don’t hunt.
Anyone know where I can get a deal on a Kevlar vest? Oh, and a couple that would fit a cat?