I've had way too many close encounters with guns -even here in Australia, where we have pretty stringent gun laws.
My first experience at the wrong end of a gun was as a junior reporter on a country newspaper. I was sent to a tumbledown farmhouse in the bush to interview a teenager who had led police a merry chase on his offroad motorbike. I saw him working in the yard behind the house. Half a dozen kangaroo caracasses were lying on the ground, and he was cutting off their paws with an axe. The yard stank of blood and fat. His was a family of 'roo shooters.
I explained that we had had the story from the police and I was there to get the boy's side of it. He looked at me and squinted and said: **** off. I pointed out that I was offering an opportunity to put his point of view, but he wasn't convinced. He reached into the shed and pulled out an old .22 rifle, and levelled it at my face. **** off, he repeated.
I held my pen and notebook out to my sides (putting my hands up seemed just too damned Hollywood) and said: OK, take it easy, I'm going. My car was parked 100 metres away, and I wasn't going to walk backwards all the way, so I slowly turned my back on him and walked out of the yard. I didn't look back to see if he still had the rifle aimed at me, but felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
I could/should have made the gun the story -in that sleepy town, it would have been front page news: Reporter Threatened at Gunpoint- but on the way back to town my hands started shaking on the steering wheel, and I had to pull over and take some deep breaths. I thought: if I write this up I'll have to press charges, and that would mean I'd make enemies out of that kid and his hillbilly family, and maybe get myself hurt. I didn't want to look down the barrel of a gun again.
Little did I know I'd have to do exactly that on several more occasions... but those are stories for another time.