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Cue the “You’ll shoot your eye out” chant from A Christmas Story if you’d like but this was serious business. I grew up in a family that not only believed in gun safety (my sister and I both attended hunter education courses) but we also believed in the right to bear arms, or arm bears or however the statement works.

I’m also waiting for the “but Elicia, you’re like a peace loving hippie freak who doesn’t believe in wars… and you had guns?” Okay, I’ve never spoken out against ownership of guns either. I do believe in the right to bear arms, just not enough artillery to take over a small government. Everything in moderation is okay by me.

So now that we have that settled, let’s talk about the time my dad got my sister a pellet rifle. If I’m not mistaken it was either for a birthday or Christmas but either way, everything started out pretty cool. We went squirrel hunting with a friend of the family, shot up some leaves on trees and even a couple of bug catchers in fields. They used these bug catchers to find out what kinds of insects were invading fields. We almost got in trouble for that one but nothing topped the time my sister killed a defenseless animal.

It was a nice spring day on the farm that I grew up on. We took to the front yard for some target practice and we were allowed to only shoot into the woods. My sister had her sights on a branch hanging from a tree right at the edge of the woods. We figured the smaller the branch the better because it made the shot harder to make. If we split the branch, we were an excellent shot.

She aimed, took a shot and missed. I laughed from the sidelines as she loaded another pellet into her rifle. Then she spotted her target lying across the branch of the tree. A green lizard sat perched enjoying the warm spring sun. She smiled, thinking she could just hit the branch and knock him off.  My sister raised the rifle, took aim and shot. However, she completely missed the branch and hit the lizard instead.

My sister, realizing that she just killed a small animal, freaked out, dropped the pellet rifle and ran into the house crying. My then boyfriend and I couldn’t stop laughing. I just remember her refusing to touch the pellet rifle for a while after the demise of the lizard. To this day I think she still tears up when we mention the lizard. The tears are either from laughing so hard or either the sadness she still feels for the animal. Either way, it brings back hilarious memories for me and gives me a chance to get a good laugh in at her expense.

I saw the pellet rifle at my parent’s house the other day and I know that it will eventually become either my son’s or one day when my sister becomes a parent it may get passed to her kid. I just hope that they understand the way my sister and I did about safety and guns. Granted, it was just a pellet rifle (and I’ve fired deadlier weapons than that as a teenager) but gun safety is a huge deal in this country. I don’t think we should be taught to fear guns, just respect their use.

If the lizard on the limb taught me and my sister anything, it’s that life is precious so be careful where you point a weapon. It could be more serious than a lizard on a limb.