A Facebook friend shares a letter to her home-town newspaper:
Dear [name of town],
I almost lost a good friend last night. After an evening of drinking he stumbled, by accident, into the wrong house during the wee hours of the morning and received two gunshot wounds for his mistake. While I don’t know all the details I do know this: Had the shooter’s aim been merely inches more accurate, I’d be attending a funeral instead of signing a get well card.
In all fairness, my friend made a series of bad decisions which led to an extreme yet lawful response from the home owner, who was apparently within his rights when he opened fire.
We all know young people in this town tend to over-do it when it comes to drinking, (my friend was no exception) but I must say that given the circumstances in this case the response seems aggressively excessive. Americans value their freedom to defend themselves dearly, but along with the right to bear arms comes the obligation to bear them responsibly. In [name of town] the police are never more than seconds away and choosing to shoot an unarmed intruder who was making a drunken mistake (no matter how stupid or illegal) was cruel and unnecessary. The young man in question is a thoughtful, compassionate human being and despite making some extremely poor decisions he did not deserve to die because of a drunken mistake.
Young people of [name of town]: Mind your P’s and Q’s when you’re out on the town. Shooter: I hope you lose more than a few nights of sleep thinking about the young life you almost took. And friend: I hope you’ve learned a lesson from all this… I’m just sorry you had to learn it in such a strange and painful way.
A few years ago I bought a weapon for home defense. There’d been some brutal home invasions in Tucson, and a friend in my own eastside neighborhood had recently been the victim of one such attack. It seemed a prudent thing to do. But I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now.
Home defense weapons, as often as not, wind up being used against you or someone dear to you. My greatest fear is that I’ll hear a loud ruckus at the front or back door some dark night and wind up shooting my wife or one of my children. Such shootings happen all the time, often after drinking (either on the part of the person stumbling into the house or the frightened defender … or both). Although my wife isn’t in the habit of coming home drunk, something like that could happen here: my daughter sometimes comes home late from clubbing. Hell, I used to stumble home drunk at oh-dark-thirty, and thank goodness Donna never had a pistol handy!
Another thing that makes such a scenario unlikely is that I keep my pistol in a gun safe: handy, but not too handy. I’d have to get out of bed and work a combination in the dark before I could grab the gun and start shooting. Some of my hair-trigger friends sleep with loaded pistols under the pillow or next to the bed. They would no doubt tell us a gun in a safe, no matter how handy, is as bad as no gun at all … by the time you get your hands on the thing a serious home invader would have already shot you dead. My counter is that in the time it takes you to get the gun out, you will probably have determined whether the person making the ruckus is criminal or kin.
I imagine the homeowner in that letter kept his pistol under the pillow. I don’t blame him for shooting the intruder, not at all. His situation was probably unlike mine. Maybe he didn’t have children who might come home drunk in the wee hours. Maybe his wife was in bed next to him when he started hearing noises. Maybe he had absolute confidence that whoever was in his home had no possible business being there. Maybe … probably … he feared for his life. I would have shot at the intruder too.
I have zero sympathy for the drunk kid. Like most former drinkers, I don’t cut anyone slack for doing stupid things while drinking; especially when they’ve drunk past the point of sensibility. The idiot got what he deserved, and he got off easy.
The letter doesn’t give any details. Was the kid in his own neighborhood, trying to get into a house that looked like his own? If so, the shooter probably knew him, or would have recognized him had there been any light. Was the kid in a strange neighborhood? If so, maybe he was up to no good. Ah, well, pointless speculation gets us nowhere.
I’ve come to accept the fact that Americans can and will choose to be armed, that we will never be a country where gun ownership is controlled or even sensibly regulated. I think anyone ought to be able to own a gun, shotgun, or rifle for home defense. I may not think people should be allowed to walk around in public with open or concealed weapons, but that’s a losing battle, especially here in the wild west. So … guns are a given.
If gun control is off the table (and it is), what else can we do to prevent unnecessary shootings? Bring back prohibition? Hmmm … not a bad idea. But that ain’t gonna happen either.
Dogs. That’s it. Everyone should have a good dog. The dog will hear the intruder before you do, start barking, and run to confront whoever’s trying to break in. By now you’re awake and trying to open your gun safe in the dark. If the intruder shoots the dog, you know you’ll have to shoot back. If the intruder doesn’t shoot the dog, it’s probably someone you know and love. Yeah, that’s the ticket: a dog.
© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.