Monday, June 24th, 2019

A A Vision of Youth by Breonna Loxley
Always Loaded



ALWAYS LOADED




My father taught me an invaluable lesson about gun safety: “The gun is always loaded.” Even when there is no bullet in the chamber, the gun is loaded. Never point the gun at a person. Never point the gun at yourself. Never be careless with the gun in any way. Because the gun is loaded. So many things can become dangerous when they are used irresponsibly and without respect. This is why my father’s lesson about guns applies to far more than weaponry.

I most often translate this into my daily life at the animal shelter where I work. This is not to compare a gun with an animal, but to point out that, for different reasons, both guns and animals should be handled responsibly. One example is when it comes to walking our dogs. This involves working in the same area as others who are also walking dogs—and sometimes coming in and out of the same doors. To promote a safe environment, I give all new handlers the same advice: always assume there is someone on the other side of the door. Whether they are a dog, an adult, or a child, it’s never acceptable to let the dog you are handling approach someone unless you intend for them to do so. Assuming there’s someone on the other side of the door means that rather than letting the dog run ahead, you keep him on a short leash at your side. Rather than letting him go out the door first, you open it and look before stepping out. The gun is loaded.




So many things can become dangerous
when they are used irresponsibly
and without respect.
This is why my father’s lesson about guns
applies to far more than weaponry.



Most people partake in an incredibly dangerous activity nearly every day—driving. One small mistake can take a life away—someone else’s, or yours. Yet it’s easy to take modern transportation for granted. Driving home, I recently watched a near accident that easily could have ended in a fatality. Allowing enough space, I changed lanes in front of another vehicle to access an approaching exit. The vehicle whipped into the other lane. No turn signal, no pause. As I registered the action with a glance in my rearview mirror, I felt a surge of horror. Wait, I thought. There was a motorcycle behind me in that lane. And there he was, tearing his handlebars to the right, shooting out of the way as the car barreled towards him. Realizing what they had done, the driver of the car jumped back into the left lane, but it was too late. Only the motorcyclist’s immediate reaction saved them from severe injury or even death. Later that week, an accident occurred in my hometown, to a citizen of my hometown. That motorcyclist was not so fortunate. Now I pass the spot where a memoriam of flowers lies. Slow down. Be safe. The gun is loaded.




Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.