Second amendment, fifth wheel, eighth grade

When we were boys, my brother and I and my cousin had a .22 rifle. One rifle. Three boys. We would go to an old farm dump and shoot at bottles and junked farm vehicles. Sometimes we filled the bottles with rain water so they would explode better when we hit them. If we got bored shattering glass or putting holes through hubcaps we might try shooting at rotten apples that fell off the trees in the abandoned orchard.

With three boys there’s ultimately going to be an odd man out. A fifth wheel. We were no exception to that adage. And if you throw into the mix just one rifle and a box of 50 bullets – which doesn’t divide three ways – the issue of fairness becomes tangible. Arguments might escalate. “It’s my gun!” or “I paid for that ammo with my paper route money!” Personal dignity, respect and ownership were at stake here. And there were no adults around. Yet it never occurred to any of us to shoot or even point an empty gun at the others.

Today young people are shooting each other in the streets for a pair of high-top sneakers. I have two .22 rifles now and a box of ammo all to myself. But I still prefer shopping for my footwear in a store. As do my brother and my cousin.

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