News-Star: Opinion

Your Letters: Gunfire disrupts a neighborhood

Respecting and loving your neighbor

This past Sunday evening was one of those humid, lazy kind of summer evenings. My wife was in the kitchen doing some chores, and I had just tuned in to an early TV news program. We live in a small subdivision just west of Princeton, with houses fairly close in proximity.

Suddenly, the tranquility of that Sunday day of rest was shattered by multiple rounds from a high-powered rifle. Then, for a few moments, all was quiet, only to have the silence once again shattered by another round of loud booms. This transpired on and on.

It was not long until, to my dismay, more shots rang out from another residence down the street. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.

Had ISIS suddenly invaded us? Were those doing the shooting plastered with late Sunday-afternoon drinking? Is this legal in a residential neighborhood?

Several years ago, we formed a neighborhood watch group because of a growing drug problem – a house near us was known as “the snow zone.” Though I do not like to call the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, I felt that the shooting disturbance was of such a level to so many that someone needed to do something.

I quickly learned that such an activity was legal so long as it was conducted in a safe and prescribed manner, even in a residential neighborhood.

Over the phone, I asked how someone sitting in the county sheriff’s office was supposed to know that such a loud and disturbing activity with deadly weapons was being done in a safe and prescribed manner. “Well,” came the reply, “I guess we can send an officer out to check out the situation if you want us to do that.” “Yes” was my response.

In our neighborhood, children ride their bicycles, people walk their dogs, and moms and dads walk their children on Sunday evenings. On this evening, the street cleared when the gunfire started.

A neighbor up the street, a high school teacher who had also called the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, got his pet inside and kept his family inside. My next-door neighbor was leaving his house to take his family for a walk and immediately took his family back inside when the loud and close booms rang out. Our newlywed neighbor across the street brought her two dogs in for safety.

I could go on, but I painted the picture of a peaceful neighborhood shattered by a few who could rightfully say they were doing what was their legal right.

Never mind that it would shake and disturb the entire neighborhood. Never mind that it was Sunday, a day of rest for many. It was their right, and they were going to exercise it no matter the impact on the neighbors.

The issue is not their right to own firearms. The issue for many in our neighborhood is that we respect each other’s right to peace and quiet in our homes. The issue is that we respect, care for and even, as Christ said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Such a concept is missing in far too many neighborhoods in our nation today. It is every man and woman for themselves. It is me and my rights despite what impact my actions have on others.

I commend the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office for sending an officer to investigate the situation and talk to all parties involved.

Unfortunately, as long as the practice is legal, even in residential neighborhoods such as ours, there will be those who will continue to exercise their rights and ignore their neighbors’ rights to a peaceful, quiet, Sunday evening.

Ned Walsh