The Days of the Wild, Wild West… Returned

“A lot of the people who keep a gun at home for safety are the same ones who refuse to wear a seat belt.”  George Carlin

 “Bullets cannot be recalled.  They cannot be uninvented.  But they can be taken out of the gun.”  Martin Amis

 I would LOVE to know if Charlton Heston, when playing with his grandchild, was ever shot at while playing near their swing set?  Since when does the right to bear arms “offer the absolute capacity to live without fear” when you are playing in your yard and narrowly missed by a stray bullet?

Often, as a child, I would wonder what it was like to live in the days of Annie Oakley, the Lone Ranger, the Wild, Wild West, McCloud or even the Little House on the Prairie.  What was it like to be a ‘quick-draw’?  Was it safe to walk down the street with people shooting at one another?  Heck, what happens if a bullet came flying through your window?

Recently I learned how exciting living in the wild-west could be when a stray bullet missed hitting my four year old granddaughter or me by roughly 15 feet while we were playing on her swing-set.  Needless to say, my son-in-law went tearing up to his neighbor’s home to let them know of the near miss.  It turns out that the neighbors have a problem with groundhogs on their 100 acre farm, as if the cattle step in the groundhog’s hole, they might break a leg.  The neighbors, an elderly couple, invited a friend to bring some friends to come on over and hunt the groundhogs.  So we had heard several shots prior to the one that missed us. Supposedly the friends knew how to hunt.

The problem is that the neighbor’s farm is up on rolling hills across the street from and above my daughter’s and son-in-law’s home on 10 acres.  The range, where the cattle graze, rolls up the hill into a wooded area where elk, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys roam.  The men shooting were at the top of the hill shooting down the hill.  The problem with this is that further down the hill and across the road my granddaughters and I were playing. A stray bullet could have hit a vehicle traveling down the road or it could have hit one of us.  Fortunately it didn’t as the bullet hit my son-in-law’s shed instead!  I can still hear the “ping” as the bullet hit the shed.

The University of California at Davis did a study regarding “Victims of Stray Bullets.”  In the study, Garen Wintemute, Professor of Emergency Medicine and the Director of the Violence Prevention Research Program, said “Victims of stray bullets are essentially ‘collateral damage’ as they are usually disconnected from the events that lead to their injury or death.  They are innocent bystanders, who typically have no opportunity to flee or take any other preventative measures.”

In 2009, the study team identified 284 stray-bullet shooting events, in which 317 people were killed or injured.  The study also stated that nearly one-third of the victims were children and nearly half of those were female.  Additionally, a bullet can travel many miles if shot into the air, and the distance varies depending on the caliber of the gun.  In the case of my granddaughter and me, we were approximately a half mile or less from the men shooting. Sadly, typical of ignorant people, they didn’t bother to ask if the neighbors were home or if they had children.  They also probably had no idea of how far a bullet can travel especially when they are shooting down a hill.  Instead, they should have been facing the hill and shooting so that the bullets hit the ground on the farmer’s property.

I so truly would love to see people lock away their guns or stop manufacturing guns.  However, if they have to hunt it would be a wise idea to find out if there are other people in their area.  I did tease my son-in-law that if he had to hire a “hit man” to take out his mother-in-law that he at least hire a better shot.  Fortunately, my son-in-law and I are friends!  Plus, the problem with the groundhogs has been solved as my son-in-law and a friend of his, who know how to hunt safely, will be hunting the groundhogs from now on, so that no one’s life will be at stake in the future.

Since weapons evidently are here to stay and since people carrying weapons are not always very smart, I truly would love to see “smart guns” invented.  Technology has brought so many changes to the world, like “smart cars, “ cars that can drive themselves, or cars that automatically stop if you are about to hit something.  Why can’t “smart” guns be invented so that the gun turns off when it is in the hands of a person who doesn’t know what they are doing… like a child or an ignorant person not familiar with guns?

Today, at Seattle Pacific University, one student shot and killed another student, and wounded several other students with a gun.  Why can’t we program guns to be smarter than their handler?  If a car can drive without the driver, let’s fix the guns so they can’t hurt innocent people.




About Gwynn Rogers

After 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn has moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not teaching her granddaughters an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer”, Gwynn can be found hunting for mentors for the Kitsap Youth Mentoring Consortium, or chasing her fantasies on her treadmill. Gwynn currently freelances for magazines.
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21 Responses to The Days of the Wild, Wild West… Returned

  1. Avatar Linda Halpin says:

    Well Gwynn …I remember when you told me about this incident. I was horrified. I didn’t nor will I ever see anything but a near FATAL SHOOTING…by some idiot who should never of had the gun to begin with. IT COULD OF BEEN YOU OR THE CHILD…..scares me. My son was killed by a reckless sociopath who’s only question was “are you sure the second bullet hit him”. I have no sympathy for anyone who is reckless with any type of weapon. It could be a car, a gun a broom..ANYTHING…

    Smart guns…..that’s a great idea….however, the wrong hands would ALSO get ahold of the smart guns too. GUNS DONT KILL PEOPLE….PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE.

    GREAT STORY GWYNN… Your stories and blogs are always excellent.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      I want the “smart gun” to know when they are in the hands of an idiot!!! Sadly, there are TOO many idiots out there holding guns. The worst part about this, and I only thought about this, this morning, is that there were several shots (echoes, I assume) prior to the shot that hit the shed. Sophia only said, “Oh Grandma, they are only shooting at groundhogs.” She didn’t realize that one shot was a near miss.

      There must be a way to stop these idiots!!

  2. Avatar Susan Scott says:

    Wow Gwynn this is a powerful piece. I remember Madelaine Albright saying about ‘collateral damage’ – usually the innocents – when the Iraq wars were in full force and how offended I was by that.

    Smart guns – this is a very smart idea indeed. If this is an original idea of yours I would patent it, stat.

    Thank you for this thought-provoking piece.

    I did not receive an automatic notification of your post.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      The worst part about this, and I only thought about this, this morning, is that there were several shots (echoes, I assume) prior to the shot that hit the shed. Sophia only said, “Oh Grandma, they are only shooting at groundhogs.” She didn’t realize that one shot was a near miss.

      I do so wish they could make guns smarter than people!

      Speaking of smart, NOW my blog isn’t even notifying ME of comments, let alone notifying you all that I posted something. I sure wish I could borrow one of your kids!!

  3. Great piece, Gwynn. And my gosh, I sure am glad that bullet missed you guys, how horrific! The gun enthusiasts will tell you it’s not the gun but the person handling the gun, however, here’s a perfect example of an idiot or more than one ‘playing’ with his gun, not really knowing how to handle it, and darn near coming close to shooting someone. They will also scream about their constitutional rights, but what about yours and the girls’? What about your right to play with your granddaughter on your family’s property without the fear of being shot? That’s a far more important right. Anyway, I can go on and on, so I better not. 🙂 I’m glad to hear all is well with you and the girls.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Boy, Silvia, NEVER in a million years did I ever expect to say I was “just missed by a bullet.” Trust me, you and I are on the same page when it comes to guns and the “right to bear arms.” ICK! This shooting people has got to come to an end. More and more people are carrying guns thinking it will make them safe… NO WAY! Plus, did you read about that real, loaded-gun that was left in the toy department of a Target Dept. store? People are getting crazier by the minute!

      Thanks for putting up with MY RANT! These people drive me crazy!

  4. OK, Gwynn, I just commented in our Roo group email to Val about the shooting of Mounties, that as you said about wondering as a kid what it must’ve been like in the old days when guys wearing black hats rode into town and shot everybody; and now I no longer have to wonder.

    All I can say is you and your granddaughter are most fortunate not to have been hit. We had two drive-by shootings a few blocks from my house last week. I didn’t know until I read about it in the newspaper; if I heard the shots, I probably thought they premature July 4 firecrackers.

    Can you imagine? A smart gun. I don’t know how that would work; we’d no doubt have far fewer shooters in our current dumbed-down culture if it did. Good that you wrote this, and loved your vivid description. This deserves a Freshly Pressed, I think.

    As for receiving your blog posts and comments, your readers simply have to click on “Entries RSS” and “Comments RSS” under Meta in your right sidebar and click on the actions they want.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Carol, Thanks for commenting. It is scary to hear bullets whizz by, isn’t it? Boy, I’m hoping no one was hurt in the drive-by shooting. SO SCARY!! Say, what is a “Freshly Pressed?” Also, are you receiving any responses or notifications from my blog yet? I’m trying to see if I can hit buttons to make this work and I seem to be making it worse… I guess.

      Now, besides a “smart gun” I need a “smart blog”… or maybe I just need to be a “smart blogger.”

  5. No serious injuries in these — related — incidents, Gwynn; they were connected to drugs, not groundhogs. But, this goes on all the time. One never knows when a stray bullet might strike. It is unsettling to say the least, and I have been so glad on many occasions that my mother is no longer here to witness this. How much more difficult that would’ve been to witness for that generation.

    I am receiving your blog posts and comments via RSS feed, Gwynn.

    Freshly Pressed is a nod or award WordPress gives out to bloggers who use WordPress as their host. I just set up a blog on the WordPress server — so far only one page (, but I intend to add content, probably similar to or the same as my regular blog.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Yeah… this time my blog notified me of your comment. Is there any chance you received notice that I’m replying to you? Did you go change anything, or was it my “playing around” that changed the responses?

      Bullets related to drugs are just as dangerous as the bullets that missed the groundhogs. Either way, people could have been at the receiving end. I’m glad they weren’t and you are safe!

      Thanks for the info on Freshly Pressed.

  6. Avatar Linda Halpin says:

    His Gwynn.
    Your work is always wonderful
    And New York loves you !!!!


  7. Avatar patgarcia says:


    This is scary, my friend. To say that you and your granddaughter were protected by an angel is an understatement. I am happy that nothing happened to the both of you or for that matter anyone who might have been driving down that street.

    It is amazing to me how much the gun laws in the United States have changed. People are walking around with fear and paranoia and that is not good for any country. Since I am living abroad, I don’t want to make any type of judgement but from a distance, it seems as if things are getting worse in my homeland.

    I am so sorry to hear that your granddaughter had to experience something like that at an early age, and I hope it doesn’t affect her and make her fearful.


    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      My granddaughter had heard the echo of shots before so she had no concept that the one shot was so close. However, her dad, who hunts, what NOT a happy camper, so now he will help the neighbors out from now on.

      Yes, I DO believe things have gotten far worse here in the U.S. People should NOT be carrying guns to restaurants, the theatre, or out to shop, but they are now. Plus, the fact that young adults and kids can get a hold of guns is SO WRONG!! As I mentioned, we need “smart guns” as the people sure are NOT!

  8. Avatar Pat S. says:

    Smart guns? I wonder if it’s possible to develop an app to determine if the person holding a gun is actually ‘smart’. I hope it’s not as impossible as turning all potential gun users into intelligent caring people. If that happened, you wouldn’t have to worry about an app.

    You did the ‘smart’ thing about this scary event, wrote about it and then shared it with as many people as you could. I admire your determination and persistence.
    Pat S.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Surely there must be some way to stop senseless shootings by people who don’t have a brain in the first place. Actually, in their case, it would be best if they didn’t own a gun.

      Because of the landscape and the wildlife around my daughter’s and son-in-law’s home I understand the need for guns and hunting… just learn the correct way to handle a gun. Even though the other homes are not close, there ARE other homes and people living around the area. It would NOT be good if a person accidentally was shot.

      Something has to be done to change our gun culture! This is NOT the wild west … SUPPOSEDLY!

  9. Yeah, like as with boating, you have to take classes and a test to get a license to operate the boat. Should be the same with guns. But we already know how effectively our gun regulation laws work — riddled with holes.

    • Avatar Gwynn Rogers says:

      Heck, I don’t even think gun sellers ask for I.D. or proof that the buyer has a brain, let alone train the person how to be safe with a gun. So many people are being shot and killed by crazy people these days. When is our government going to put a stop to this insanity? Oh yes, I forgot… the NRA is financing congress. See, this is verification that we need a gun smarter than the shooter!

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