It was 1960 in a wealthy suburb of Chicago. My brother was 12 years old and his friend 10. They were in the basement of our multistory home where our father hid his 45 in the back of an old bureau. My brother shows his friend the gun, points it at his head, cocks it, and pulls the trigger.
Fortunately, no bullet in the chamber. Just a clicking sound is heard.
My brother puts it away. Two years later, a high schoolteacher shows the class the mechanical aspects of a similar gun. My brother goes home, finds our father's gun still hidden in the bureau, and discovers that the clip is fully loaded -- and realizes then how close he came to killing his friend two years earlier.
My brother tells me how this story has never ceased to haunt him, as well as remind him how lucky he was -- really lucky -- and so was our family. It still gives him cold sweats and raises his blood pressure thinking about it.
My brother never told our parents this story, as he knew it would have devastated them.
He told me it was not as if our Papa didn't repeatedly tell him to never, never point a gun at anyone, even if it weren't loaded.
In fact, a few years earlier while still living abroad, my father and brother were coming back from a hunting trip, and Papa caught my brother pointing his empty 9 mm shotgun at a neighbor.
The slap across my brother's face was instantaneous and painful but obviously didn't have the same impact on him as all those Westerns he used to see at the theater.
My brother never suffered from mental illness, nor got into any trouble with the law. He was a healthy young boy who just lacked common sense as a child.
My father, who was precocious as a youth and had four other obedient children, obviously underestimated this one son.
Fortunately, for my family, lady luck was on my brother's side that day in 1960, and he was able to grow up to be a responsible, caring and successful man.
My brother doesn't share this story easily, but he made sure to tell me repeatedly since I have two sons. Now I feel a need to share this story with others.
Owning a gun is an enormous responsibility, and every precaution should be taken to keep it out of the wrong hands. Statistics indicate that many more people are harmed by their own guns than saved by them.
If you own a gun, don't assume anything or underestimate anyone. You might not be as lucky as my brother.
Minane Jameson is a Hayward resident.