It Takes a Village Truly

 

Recently, I found myself in a bit of trouble due to an unintended lack of judgment.  I consider myself a very responsible parent, however given the situation I became a part of, it made me question myself.

 

My high-school age son and a few of his friends had permission to go to one of the boys’ family cabins in the Eldora area overnight.  They had planned to arrive on Saturday, and ski on Sunday.  The boys ranged in age from 15-17.  The boys decided to do some target shooting, as the property seemed fairly remote. My son was the one with the shotgun and the pistol.  He asked me if he could bring them.   My first question was – well do you have permission and can you legally shoot there?  He indicated yes to both.  My lack of judgment came in to play when – because I fully trusted my own son, and knew that he has knowledge and safety awareness and that they had permission, then I was ok with it.  My judgment was made in a vacuum.  I inadvertently failed to see how this could have impacted the greater community at large (the other boys, the other boys’ families, the community where the cabin was located, etc etc).  When the boys did begin target shooting, many of the residents in the area were unsure what the noise was from and rightfully reported the disturbance. While no one or no property was damaged, the lack of judgment, and the actual offense of allowing them to shoot unsupervised was the result.

 

All of us offenders (the juveniles, and myself for allowing them to take the firearms) were given the opportunity to right our wrong by participating in the Boulder County Restorative Justice program.  I think we all felt empowered by this experience. My realization that the village – in this case, residents, law enforcement, the other parents, the boys, and the RJ staff – really did contribute to helping everyone learn and grow from the experience.  Each of the juvenile offenders has offered some thoughts relative to trust, what could have happened, safety, the Restorative Justice program and accountability, contained herein as to the experience.

 

 

People look at trust in many different ways. I look at it as a Ladder. Each time you gain trust from someone you take another step closer to the top. So on and so forth. The thing is that there is no end to the Ladder because there is no limit to trusting someone, trust just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Now trust can be broken, and sometimes a person’s trust can be broken and never regained depending on what you did to break it. Another question is how do you regain your trust if that person is willing to give you another chance, I believe that honesty is the best way to regain your trust with a person because once you are completely and truthfully honest with that person they will open themselves up to you again and start to trust you again. Just remember that you don’t get to many chances in life so make your decisions wisely.

 

What could have happened?

 

 

Any time that firearms are in use, the outcome has a very high risk of injury or death. Proper judgment in any given firearm situation is required. In the year 2010 alone, 40% of households in America owned a registered firearm and 19% of which owned hand guns. We were recently involved in a multi-gun situation where we failed to use the correct judgment during our target practice. Although no one was harmed in any way, looking back, we’re blessed. As a whole, only a single person had completed the essential “Gun Safety” it still did not entitle them to fire a gun without an adult present. There was a lack of experience and training that would be necessary to legally use the firearm.

 

The real reality of it all is that if one bullet had ricocheted or a shot fired incorrectly due to gun error, someone or something could have been injured. What really could have happened is what is petrifying. We could have destroyed property, fatally injured a pet or even another human being. Growing up is maturing, learning from our own mistakes teach us remarkable life lessons. Property can be fixed or replaced but a loved one is irreplaceable, respect what you own, cherish who you have.  

 

 

Gun safety is a very important and serious thing. I think in order to handle a fire arm you should have the proper training or be under the supervision of someone who has the proper training. There have been many incidences of people using fire arms who do not have the proper training, for instance there was a man the police officer told us about who had experience with guns and was building a rifle - a simple accident killed the man and ended his life. In our situation we are very lucky no one was hurt because we were not safe. In the future I will never take fire arms anywhere without adult supervision. While I felt I had the proper training and was doing the proper technique shooting at a target, I was wrong and know now that you can never be safe enough when using fire arms. In conclusion I would just like to apologize to the Eldora community and anyone else who was hurt or offended by our irresponsible actions. This experience has taught me not to take gun safety for granted.

 

The Restorative Justice process is one that gives troubled individuals an opportunity to right their wrong and attempt to restore the community they once harmed. The process focuses on repairing physical, emotional, and financial harms they may have offended during the time of their crime. At the end of the process the offenders and others involved are given the opportunity to be a part of a community conference. In this conference, everybody there is given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the event. Afterwards, the group settles on what they believe is an appropriate consequence for the offense.

The Restorative Justice program has been very beneficial to me. The process gave me a new outlook on maturity and being a strong, courageous individual. The process gave myself and others alike an opportunity to express our remorse to the community members we harmed in our offense. In my situation, I found this process very effective because it is an effective alternative to legal prosecutions. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the mediators and officers of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office for giving me this opportunity to learn and grow as an individual in this community.

 

My actions in the month of November, 2010 were irresponsible and to put it bluntly, stupid. I would like to apologize, on behalf of the five offenders, to all persons in the community that it affected. We, the offenders, shot weapons illegally without a proper backdrop or permit. Furthermore, it was done repeatedly, some at an unreasonable time of 3am in the morning. Looking at the bigger picture, people’s lives were in danger. It was a very foolish decision on that Thanksgiving weekend. We disrupted the peace and endangered the community at large. The area around Eldora is normally a peaceful, tranquil place. The area has a lot of hikers, skiers, and others just trying to escape for the weekend. I feel I may have ruined their time there by disturbing them throughout the weekend. The community as a whole reported disturbances numerous times all throughout the two days and the night that we spent at the cabin. They felt someone’s life was in danger.

We now realize the extent of our irresponsible actions and the impact on the surrounding community and area. What if an errant bullet had hit someone or if wildlife had been harmed? To us, we were just having fun, but I now realize how wrong we were. How naïve we were in our thoughts and actions. I should take most of the responsibility. No one would have been there if it hadn’t been for me. It is our family’s cabin. I should have been the one to realize that we were wrong and should have ended the shooting. I should have stood up and been the unpopular one to put a stop to it. But I didn’t. I now realize my responsibility and thank God that he was watching out for us and nothing really bad happened.

A lot was put in jeopardy not only for me but my friends, my relatives and the community at large. Everyone was ultimately affected by the situation we created. My family could have been sued for property damage, or something a lot worse. The cabin could have been taken from us, and torn down. This issue was beyond what we thought it could be there was no thought of how it could have turned out. No one fully comprehended every aspect of the situation, and because of that, we are now learning from our mistakes. The liability of everyone was at stake if disaster struck, thankfully it did not.

I have lost the trust of not only my parents, but my friend's parents, and the neighbors who border our cabin as well. As a result of my actions, I have to right my wrongs and serve the community. I need to make a difference and to make the best of something that could have gone so drastically wrong. Trust is the building block necessary to build a community and because of my actions, that foundation of trust has been knocked over and demolished. I would like once again, to apologize for my actions. I want to also thank our neighbor for calling the police and reporting our actions. There is no telling what could have happened if we had been able to continue our irresponsible behavior.