When my sweetie arrived home yesterday evening, she said kids across the street appeared to be messing with a handgun out in front of their house. I peeked out the front window, and sure enough the oldest kid was working on the gun with a screwdriver while his buddies looked on.

Handgun: Is it real?The family there had just moved in a few weeks earlier. So far no opportunity had arisen for us to meet any of these new neighbors. Actually as I think about it, we generally don’t know our neighbors – the homes on our street are mostly rentals, and people are moving in and out all the time.

What to do? I briefly considered calling the cops, but thought there ought to be a better way… With my heart in my throat, I began pulling on my boots. “What are you going to do?” asked Treesh.

“I’m going to talk to them.”

I went out and strode purposefully across the street directly towards the group who, seeing me coming, had all moved to the front porch. “I want to talk with you,” I said to the kid with the gun.

“I don’t want to talk to you!” he said belligerently.

“I want to talk to you,” I said again, a little more forcefully. And I plunged ahead… “Is that a real gun?” I asked. “Get out of here, said the kid.”

At that point one of the other kids spoke up, saying it was just a pellet gun. He held up a clear plastic box of pellets to prove his point.

“You thought this was a real gun?” said the kid with the gun. “Can’t you see it’s just a pellet gun?” He was just a little less belligerent now.

I explained that from across the street it looked like a handgun. I told them I could have called the cops. I said even though it was just a pellet gun, they probably should not have it out here on the street because other neighbors might prefer to call the cops rather than come find out. “What are you doing with it?” I asked.

All of a sudden it seemed they became a very ordinary bunch of kids, leaping to explain. “It’s jammed” one of them said. Kid with the gun said “I’m just trying to fix it.”

“We don’t want to get in trouble,” said one of the other kids.

I suggested it might be better if they worked on the gun inside, but be careful — pellet guns can still be dangerous. “And don’t go shooting at any squirrels with it either,” I said. “That’s not cool.” They agreed. In the end, we all shook hands and exchanged names, and I returned across the street to my home.

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A few minutes later the doorbell rang, and I went to answer it. It was the oldest kid, the tough one. “I just wanted to apologize for being kinda rude to you,” he said. “I didn’t know you and I didn’t want any trouble.”

“I understand,” I replied. “I was a total stranger to you, and for all you knew I was coming over there to beat the crap out of you.”

He nodded, and actually smiled a little. “Yeah. Well we’re cool now, right?”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it,” I said, and we shook hands again, and he headed on back home.

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