Billy, Get Your Gun

by William Skink

I got a fantastic opportunity today to reflect on how local government and its policy crusades deviate from experienced reality. The reality concerns guns, and who has them. Let me explain.

The gun background check measure from City Council is back. For those not aware of this mostly symbolic effort, the hope is that requiring background checks at gun shows will somehow lessen the chance of a statistically infrequent mass-shooting perpetrated by a zealot/crazy person to occur. The requirement will only extend to gun transactions within city limits, so come out to where I live in the county, and gun anarchy shall be yours.

Now, reality.

Today my mom, wife and baby returned from Kansas City. They were especially tired from being woken up around 3am when gunshots rang out. My in-laws live downtown, near Westport, where six people were shot.

Then, after they arrived safely in Montana, the threat of gun violence got closer to home in a scary way that is in no way yet resolved.

Where I live there is a dirt road between our house and our neighbors only used by people on our street, which dead ends at the river. Four properties face this road, and we all have kids. There has been some speeding issues with young drivers, but my neighbor has been on it with signs and landscape deterrents to keep people from cutting the corner and balling it down roadway.

Well none of that worked when earlier today I heard him yelling. I came out of the garage where I was playing with Legos with my kids, and saw the car stopped and my neighbor approaching. I followed.

I’m not going to get into the details of what happened other than saying the driver communicated what I consider to be a credible threat of violence with a gun that caused me to call 911.

After the incident I find out from my neighbor that he had a previous interaction a few days earlier with these two young men after they recklessly bombed down the dirt road. He thinks meth might be a factor. The one who threatened me said he just got out of prison.

I got the license plate, which I related to the 911 dispatcher, and a Sheriff’s deputy was supposed to get back to me, but so far I haven’t heard anything.

Usually I keep all my guns in the safe. Not tonight. Tonight I’m going to feel slightly less exposed from a direct threat of violence because I decided I needed to be a responsible gun owner familiar with a lethal deterrent to anyone who intends to harm me or my family.

Please don’t mistake this as some chest-thumping bravado. I am not happy at all that I have to write this or even think this way, but this is the world we live in. Maybe statistically it’s better than it used to be, but right now I’m just not feeling it.

Taking this person at his word, if just out of prison, and if truly in possession of a gun, what good would more background checks do for me regarding this threat?

I read op-eds all the time about meth problem this, and jail overcrowding that, but what ever gets done to reverse the trends?

Some damaged young punk with a prison mentality feeling disrespected threatened me today as my kids watched.

If there is a problem I won’t be waiting for police to respond to defend myself.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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3 Responses to Billy, Get Your Gun

  1. Eric says:

    Keep listening to your little voice – it keeps you alive. There is a good forum dedicated to this subject – that you should check out. There is an excellent commentary there on the ‘Danger of Intervention”

  2. Rob Kailey says:

    I spent an hour on the phone yesterday with some great people from the Cold Case Foundation who are either trying to tie Wayne Nance to, or eliminate him as suspect from, a long cold case in Billings. Talking with them brings back an awful lot of memories I don’t particularly like, and concerns about the good ole boy culture that fuels mishandled crime, alcohol abuse and has given way to meth in Montana. Stay safe.

    Though I will likely catch static for this, now that you live in a slightly more rural setting, I suggest a shotgun. It’s much easier to load on the fly when you keep the shells distant from the weapon (a healthy idea with children in the home), it’s relatively inexpensive, good for neighborly relations if you ever have to use it, and the sound of racking a shell is a fairly instant deterrent. When at last resort, there is nothing you would rather have in your hands to protect your loves than a cannon. That’s a shotgun.

    I don’t have a shotgun and don’t feel I need one. Still, I offer the advice I give everybody. Get a dog. (I know you’ve had at least one in the past.) It’s my own bias, supported by an amazing number of folks, but a German Shepherd Dog is one of the best. They are loving family pets, and if you keep a weather eye for temperament, they are not even remotely as re-actively aggressive as pit bulls or other terrier breeds. They are generally not vocal save when a real threat announces, unlike most small dogs who will bark if the wind blows wrong. They are smart and easily trained if you pay attention to their drives. They pose a threat to your free time, given how much you will spend sweeping or vacuuming, but once bonded they will follow your kids around the neighborhood and up into the hills as kids are wont to bike to. They are loyal, loving, and playful. To the point, they will defend your home and loved ones, whether you are there or not. People have relied on dogs for help and defense far longer than they have relied on guns.

    Seriously, I’m just trying to help.

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