Monday, October 10, 2005
Guns, Road Rage, and Eighteen-Wheelers
Sept 20, 2005 by Alan Burkhart
On Thursday, September 15th I came fairly close to being a corpse. First, let me say two things… one is that this little tale is absolutely true, and also that because criminal proceedings are currently in progress, it is necessary that I omit specific places and names. Suffice it to say that it happened very near to where I live in Mississippi.
Here's the whole sordid tale…
I was on my way to pick up a load bound for Dallas, TX. My route included a narrow and windy two-lane road. While on this road, I caught up to a convoy of 3 large farm tractors, each pulling wagons loaded with the big round bales of hay. They were moving at best maybe 15 mph. An older fellow was following them on one of the little 4-wheel vehicles often seen in factories... like a miniature pickup truck. This is a common occurrence on all rural roads, not just in Mississippi but all across the country. In this case it's a chance I often take because the route cuts about twenty miles off the trip.
I sat behind them for 5 or 6 miles waiting for an opportunity to pass. Traffic was backing up rather quickly as this is a busy road. I came to a straight stretch and the way was clear, so I moved to the left and hit the accelerator. The guy on the 4-wheeler swerved in front of me and began waving his arms and cursing at me. I was both surprised and highly irritated, but I slowed and returned to the right lane. I waited a moment, then eased back to the left. The guy immediately swerved in front of me again and all but stopped. More arm-waving and cursing. At this point I realized I had a certifiable fruit-basket on my hands, so I pulled back in behind the convoy and waited.
About a mile up the road the convoy began turning left into a chicken farm. Evidently this was why he didn't want me to pass, although I'd have had plenty of time to do so safely. I had no way of knowing they were planning the turn. Let's face it, hay bales don't have turn signals. As they drifted left, I drifted right (about 5 mph) to get around them. The guy on the 4-wheeler again started shaking his finger at me and slinging insults, evidently wanting to make sure I knew my place before we parted ways..
I'll admit having a weak moment at this point… I gave him a rather dismissive middle finger as I was easing by. That's when the gun came out. The nut-job on the 4-wheeler was going to shoot me!
Earlier, the batteries had been down on my truck and our shop gave me a jump start. I was running with my windows down and no A/C so the batteries could recharge more quickly. Good thing, too. When I saw the gun, I grabbed my 1-liter bottle of drinking water and threw it at him. It was an act of sheer desperation, but I messed up his aim just enough. The bullet pierced the cab behind my head. I hit the gas and got away as quickly as I could.
It was only three miles to the next town. I pulled in and called 9-11 (no cell signal) from a payphone. Within minutes two county cops joined me at the truck. After taking a brief statement and examining the bullet hole in the cab, one stayed with me while the other took off to see if the guy was still there. He was, and he gave up without resistance and was taken away in cuffs. One of the county cops showed me the gun… a .22 magnum. Not a big gun by any standard, but I'm rather glad he missed.
All in all, an interesting afternoon… but why am I sharing this little incident with you?
After it was all over and I was running up the road with a little gob of silicone sealant in my new bullet-hole, I found myself thinking that people like this crazy farmer shouldn't be allowed to own guns. When I caught myself, I was jolted by the notion that I, of all people, could even be capable of thinking such unconstitutional thoughts. It was purely a knee-jerk reaction, and after taking a few deep breaths I realized that in the future this fruitcake may indeed not be able to own a gun. If so, that would simply mean that the current system worked.
If the anti-gun lobby had its way, he wouldn't have had a gun in the first place. But then again neither would you or I. This short chain of events has helped me to better understand just how some people on the Left come to believe that ordinary citizens are better off without the right to own a firearm. The liberal thinking process doesn't question the initial knee-jerk reaction. It runs with it, builds upon it, and eventually ends up with a non-solution to a non-problem. Our society is pumped full of such legislative boondoggles.
The most important time to stand by your beliefs is when your beliefs are severely tested. It would have been easy for me to go with the flow and join one of the left-wing anti-gun groups, and I'll freely admit that I spent a full day reexamining my beliefs about gun rights. In the end, I was reminded of a simple truth: Freedom does not come without risk. On that particular Thursday I could have easily been killed, but I'd take that risk again if I had to. It's easy for us to say that freedom is worth dying for when we're not the ones getting shot at by a bunch of freaks in a desert far from home. It's something else altogether when you're staring at the business end of even the smallest handgun.
We have to remember that the principles upon which this nation is founded are far more important than a single life, even though all lives are precious. History has proven that an unarmed populace is far more vulnerable than one with the capability to defend itself. If that means that I run the risk of having some maniac taking a shot at me then so be it. It's a risk I'm willing to take.