Last weekend, I heard the closest gunshot I've ever heard in the city.
It was really close. Less than a block away or so? It didn't sound like someone was shooting off of our porch, but it was close enough to reverberate. And it was definitely a gunshot; I grew up with guns, I've got a cousin who spent most of high school training for the Junior Olympic shooting team, and a gaggle of brothers, a dad, grandfathers and uncles who are enthusiastic outdoorsmen. Part of turning twelve at my house meant being taken to hunter's safety classes with the PA Game Wardens. (Which, by the way, instilled a healthy respect for firearms and wildlife management, but due to the most frighting educational video in the world, also years of nightmares about getting lost and hyperthermic in the woods. Kids, tell people where you are going, when you'll be back, bring a snack, a whistle, fire-starting equipment, and a black plastic bag! I still do.)
And so, I know it was a gun, not a backfire, not a firework. And not shooting a celebratory clip into the air after a sports victory, like we sometimes heard on H Street and have heard here. Just one, really close shot. I looked out the window, but didn't see anything, and then a few minutes later a cop car slowly trolled by. Silence.
Maybe I should be more frightened, but really, I was just unsettled and reflective. Until I moved into DC, my experience with guns has been mostly "gun as tool" -- a dangerous tool, but so are power saws and pickup trucks. Guns in the city are tools, too, but they seem to be tools for intimidation and violence. Which really, really bothers me.
I'm still wondering how to respond, but the one thing I know I can do is get to know my neighbors to the best of my ability. Even though the ones that have seen me must think I'm a crazy person; wearing clergy blacks and seven months pregnant, most days I feel like the walking punchline to an unfunny joke. But slowly, we're working on getting to know our neighbors by name. And I was delighted when Husband sent me this article in The Atlantic which backs up what we had figured intuitively: that knowing your neighbors matters in ways that cause invisible ripple effects for good.