By David Wantz, Assoc. V.P., Corporate & Community Relations, University of Indianapolis
My dad should not play with guns.
Some folks play with guns. My dad isn’t one of them.
When his brother Russ came back from Europe after surviving the D-Day invasion, he gave my dad a small automatic pistol. In his attic bedroom one day, Dad was “just cleaning it” when it went off. Don’t all these things happen when folks are just cleaning a gun?
The bullet zipped through the floorboard and nailed a photo of my Aunt Helen. Had he been cleaning in another direction, the round would have likely hit my grandparents. My grandfather asked him to put the gun away and never to play with it again. He never did.
A serial entrepreneur, my dad owned a police supply company in Baltimore. During the tumultuous 1960s he made a lot of money selling riot batons, handcuffs, and helmets. On Saturday mornings, watching cartoons, my sister Robin and I ate our cereal sitting on crates of tear gas.
Concerned that the equipment would end up in the wrong hands, my dad began to carry a revolver. An FBI friend taught him how to draw it by stepping to the side so his suit coat would drape open and make it easy to grab the gun. Dad played at that routine for hours so he could do it in a split second.
One evening as he and my mom came in the door and were hanging their coats in the closet, I said, “Draw!” In one fluid motion, he stepped sideways, drew the revolver, and fired.
The bullet screamed across the room missing my brother by about eight inches. It also missed the television set, an antique lamp, and everything else in the room. He ran over to check on my brother and to search for the errant round. We went outside and looked at all the cars to see if any had been shot. It turns out the bullet hit the corner, ricocheted, and buried itself in a wall stud.
Some folks play with guns. My dad is not one of them. He got rid of them all, including the war souvenir and the Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver.
We will be playing with a lot of things at this year’s S&P Festival. But not with guns. You may safely join us November 2-11, 2012 for this year’s theme; PLAY. I am David Wantz and serve on the festival’s board of advisors.