DEAR ABBY: Our 12-year-old daughter, "Meg," was shot and killed by a 13-year-old boy she had met only the day before.
Meg was a friendly girl, an excellent student and well liked by her teachers and classmates.Well, Meg and her girlfriend, with whom she had spent the weekend, went walking with two brothers they had met the day before. They were 13 and 14. They walked to the boys' grandfather's to get candy. The grandfather was out for a while, but the manager let them in the apartment because he knew the grandsons. The cabinet where Grandpa keeps the candy was locked, so the boys pried it open - and in that cabinet they found a loaded gun. After unloading and reloading the gun, the 13-year-old shot it out the front door. Meg told him to put the gun up or someone might get hurt. He playfully pointed the gun at her and it went off! Meg was killed instantly.
Abby, we feel a terrible sense of guilt. We taught our daughter how to run and scream if approached by a stranger, and what to do if someone offered her drugs or alcohol, but we never told her how dangerous guns were and how many people are accidentally killed every year by guns.
I'll close with a statement that Meg's mother made at the trial of the boy who shot her: "People say that childbirth is the worst type of pain a woman can experience. Well, they're wrong. The pain of losing a child in death is a million times more painful." - GRIEVING FATHER
DEAR GRIEVING FATHER: My heart goes out to you. I can't say, "I know how you feel" - only those who have experienced that kind of tragedy can know how you feel.
Read on for another gun story. Perhaps your letter and this one will make a difference in the life of someone who reads this column:
DEAR ABBY: I have two sons; one is 5 and the other is 14. The boys play cops and robbers together with their toy guns, which they received at Christmas. They run around the house with their guns yelling "bang-bang!" at each other.
One day last week I realized that I couldn't handle one more "bang-bang!" - so I took the toy guns away from them.
My younger son said, "Mom, that's not fair. We got those guns to play with. Girls get dolls and boys get guns. It's not fair."
I replied, "You are not getting them back."
The night before last, before I went to sleep, I put my .25-caliber pistol under my pillow - as I always do - and I went to sleep. Being a single parent, home alone at night without a man in the house, I sleep with my gun under my pillow for the safety of myself and my children.
When I awoke yesterday morning, I found my own gun barrel facing me in the hand of my 5-year-old son! He was repeating over and over, "Bang-bang, Mommie, bang-bang!" I froze, then carefully took the gun away from him.
Abby, please print this as a warning to all gun owners. Fortunately, this turned out to be a good learning experience. It could have been a tragedy. - CONCERNED SINGLE PARENT
Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to: Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.