I woke up with a start when I heard the first three shots. There are always a few moments when I try to rationalize the sound I have just heard as fireworks. Before I could check in with my wife who runs the same system check, there were three more shots. These sounded just a little further away. Up the street? Down the street? Then the screeching of tires.
"I'm going to call it in," said my wife who sleeps next to her phone for just such an emergency. That and listening to podcasts when sleep is slow to come. She dialed 911 and described what we had just heard. What she did not hear was, "We'll send a car right out."
We live in Oakland, after all, and all these late night noises were de rigueur. From downstairs, our son texted not only that he had heard those same noises, but he had tuned into police chatter and noted that several others had made the same report. He wanted to go outside and see if there was anything to see. Without hearing any broken glass or ricochets, I was content to roll over and try to get back to sleep.
My mind tugged at threads. The story I had read the day before about the shooting in southern California. A nine year old boy was shot and killed in Orange County along with three others. Guy with a gun. From there I hopped to a story about a mother of six who was shot and killed by a man who felt her husband had cut him off on the highway. The road rage was not specifically directed at the mother of six. The gun was. Guy with a gun.
Later in the day I was listening to a report on the Biden administration's challenge to create executive orders on guns that cannot simply be repealed by whoever shows up in the office next. How to put some sort of control on a culture that seems to have given up on gun control. The promise to control always comes with the insistence that we will not come and take your guns. Not when there are so many god-fearing Constitutionally endowed gun owners who are not killing co-workers. Not shooting other drivers. Not popping caps around Oakland neighborhoods. It's those responsible gun owners that we feel the need to respond to and protect.
One of the leftover threads from the murders in Boulder a couple of weeks ago was the story about two of the victims of that rampage who were supporters of gun rights. The youngest of the ten, and the officer who was killed in the line of duty. It suggested that the families of those men might have different feelings after their loved ones had been killed by a guy with a gun he had purchased just six days before. After having passed a background check, with a history of violence and a family who openly discussed his separation from reality. Guy with a gun.
Like the guy down the street in the middle of the night. With a gun. It took me a while to get back to sleep, but I did.
God help me, I went back to sleep.