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A friend shares a letter to the editor she saw in 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 of 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, my daughter sometimes comes home late from clubbing. Hell, I used to stumble home drunk at oh-dark-thirty, and thank goodness my wife never had a pistol handy!

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 say 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 teenaged or adult 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, 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.

Personally, I'd get a small dog. They bark just as loud, and they present a smaller target.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Get a dog, forget the gun. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ralphdog, splashy
  •  Another vote for dog. (0+ / 0-)

    Not only does a barking dog deter potential intruders more effectively than guns they don't know about;

    Your dog won't kill your own wife or kids by mistake. A dog is a helluva lot smarter than a loaded gun.

    And impulsive alcohol-fueled suicide by dog? Seems unlikely. By gun? Happens every frickin' day.

  •  A slow dog (0+ / 0-)

    is smarter than a fast gun.

  •  Gun ownership too often backfires (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy

    There was a horrible story in the news this week of this gunowning home-owner who confronted and shot a masked man who was outside a neighbor's house.  It turned out the masked person was the shooter's own son.  Naturally, the father and his family are devastated.

    That kind of thing is fortunately rare (tho' I'll bet gun partisan will still cite this as a successful defensive use of a gun), but what is sadly less rare is the large number of Americans shot every year: on average, over 100,000 Americans are shot every year.

    Gun partisams cite safety as one of the positive reasons to own a gun.  They are sadly mistaken.  The research that has been done shows that a person living in a household where there is a gun have a two-fold increase in their risk of dying by homicide.  For women living in a household where there is a gun the increase in risk of dying by homicide is three-fold!!

    It was after this research was published that the gun industry impressed apon congress their dislike of this kind of research.  Congress responded by defunding the public health budget of the CDC, to prevent this kind of public health research effort.

    I go back and forth about gun prohibition.  I fear, like many gun enthusiasts tell us, that if we simply outlawed all guns, then there would be a massive gun black-market.  OTOH, guns are not addictive like cocaine and heroin, so it is possible a gun prohibition would not result in a "drug war" style crime problem.  At least, gun owners tell me they are law-abiding.

    I think our best bet is to end the system of government that allows the gun industry to buy the laws they want.  Remember, the gun industry makes a profit on every gun and bullet sold.  So whether the person you shoot is friend or foe, the gun industry profits.  A great deal of the increase in gun sales and gunshot injuries are driven by the gun industry itself.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 02:58:09 PM PDT

    •  Hm. (0+ / 0-)

      I hope you're not implying that gun aficionados are dupes of the gun industry.

       "end the system of government that allows the gun industry to buy the laws they want" is kind of vague, isn't it? And would run into First Amendment conflicts, I think.

      Despite my rural Texas upbringing, I've always had a distaste for handguns, but I think you need to be more specific about your remedies.

      GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

      by gzodik on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 06:42:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Make ALL elections publicly financed (0+ / 0-)

        In our current system of government, to gain and keep office, a law-maker must solicit donations from private sources.  This soliciting and receiving of private donations is inherently corrupting: the law-maker become beholden to the wishes of those who are donating money.  In such a system where many give a little, but a few give a lot, who do you think the law-maker is most likely to listen to?  Yep, the few who have big bucks to give.

        (A real life example: the for-profit gun industry has a much bigger budget for giving to political campaigns than the non-profit gun control and public safety groups)

        So to end the inherently corrupting activity of soliciting and receiving "donations", we outlaw ALL private donations to law-makers and office-seekers, and we make ALL election publicly financed.  Such a system will free law-makers from any obligation to wealthy and corporate interests.  Law-makers would then be free to write and pass legislation based on what they think is best, instead of based on what they think their wealthy donors want.

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 06:56:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  they're still excellent ideas (0+ / 0-)

    But yeah, the "goddam Yankee gubmint comin' fer mah guns 'n mah shine!" hillbilly mentality that half the country's managed to get infected with pretty much makes them non-starters.

    Somewhere along the line, "freedom" got turned into the right to be stupid and get yourself and others hurt and killed because ain't no bee-yer-uh-crat gon' tell me what t' do!

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 02:59:45 PM PDT

    •  Guess I must be (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gzodik, KVoimakas, starfu

      that hillbilly you've described. Since I live in the mountains, and I have a gun (shotgun). Also have two good-size dogs who make a lot of noise if someone drives up our half-mile driveway. During hunting season we get way too many of 'em, sometimes in the middle of the damned night, drunk and armed to the teeth, to 'inform' me they'll be hunting on my well-posted property. I've had to show off my shotgun more than once or twice, as the hunters here are far more dangerous than the game.

      But speaking of skunks, we occasionally do get a rabid one. Or coon - they're sick and out in the middle of the day, you've gotta do what needs doing to protect the family, the pets and the livestock. State hunting land borders the part of the property that isn't bordered by National Forest bear sanctuary. They allow hunting with dogs here, and the dogs are routinely starved before being taken hunting. Not all of them get taken home, so there's not-friendly starving hounds to deal with for several months of the year. When you live this far out in the woods, you're expected to know how to take care of yourself.

      Your disdain for people who live differently from you is obvious, but means precisely zip to anybody's right to own a gun. What makes sense in a crowded city does not necessarily make sense in the country, so go for it if you think you can somehow disarm your neighborhood/city and have it pass constitutional muster. You needn't dismiss or demonize people who choose not to live in the city in order to do that.

  •  Yesterday, over in the next county (7+ / 0-)

    Pillheads invaded the home of a pregnant woman.  Tried to attack her with a baseball bat.  She grabbed her .22 and opened fire.  The guys got away without any shots hitting them, but the news report said one of them was arrested shortly afterward in his "bullet riddled" car.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 04:18:49 PM PDT

  •  Last week in Mississippi (7+ / 0-)

    a guy with a hammer attacked another man.  The other guy grabbed his shotgun.  Shotgun trumps hammer.  Shotgun guy blew hammer guy's leg off at the knee.

    The person who told me about it speculated the hammer guy is probably lousy with Rock, Paper, Scissors as well.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 04:25:10 PM PDT

  •  When a drunk tried to beat in my door... (5+ / 0-)

    It's 2am, and some fool is trying to beat my door down. I get out of bed, put a small .38 in my pocket, and go downstairs. I open the door to some guy I've never seen, good sized and much younger than me, as shocked as I was to see me standing there. He was also clearly plastered, it was the first thing you could smell.

    End of story was he got taken home safely, by a guy with a .38 in his pocket. I wasn't going to let him try to walk home like that. We lived at that time in an isolated area, the walk was a few miles.

    Oddly enough, there was no tragic mistakes, the gun did not suddenly jump out of the pocket (and pocket holster) and empty itself randomly killing and maiming, nor were there accidental discharges killing small children or dogs. Just a guy, with a tool he understands how to use, carrying it safely, then locking the gun up in the safe next to the bed and going back to bed.

  •  Guns don't take dumps on the carpet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas

    It's also not considered a form of abuse to lock it up in your basement for months on end.

  •  There are 100-150 million gun owners in the US. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas, rockhound

    How is it there aren't 50 to 75 million instances of guns being used against the owner "as often as not?"

  •  It will always be a personal choice, (0+ / 0-)

    and about personal responsibility. Sometimes a gun is a necessary tool to have around. I've owned my 9mm pistol for 27 years, but have only ever thought I needed it once. And when I did, I was goddamned glad I owned it.

    We live in very rural Vermont. The nearest state police barracks is 45 minutes away, driving fast.

    Back in '98 a powerful derecho came through (h/t wxdude) taking out our power and phone. As we're assessing the damage, a car with VA plates pulls into the driveway while my wife is outside picking up.

    There are four scummy-looking guys in the car, and they start chatting her up. Saying they were "just driving by and wanted to check that she was all right, and let her know there was a power pole knocked over down the road. And did she need help?" This is unbelievable for our road. No one is just "driving past." There's no "past" to drive by. It's a dirt road that peters out in the woods. They were driving around looking for trouble.

    I saw this car pull in, and headed out the door to see what was going on, and when they saw me, they panicked and started backing out the driveway, saying to my wife "we'll come back and check on you later, you tall drink of water."

    My wife is pretty insensitive to danger, but the entire leering creepy attitude of the guys freaked her out. My wife is a very, very beautiful woman, and guys try to chat her up all the time, but this was different. She was scared.

    I have never felt so vulnerable in my life, and I grew up in NYC in the dirty '70s. At that moment, I was immensely thankful to own my 9mm pistol. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with it in my waistband, though I was pretty sure the guys would never come back. And they didn't.

    And if they had come back, what would I have done? I would have told them to get the fuck out of there, and if that wasn't enough I would have informed them that I was armed; I'm pretty certain that would have been enough. Beyond that, it's all just action movie fantasies.

    "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

    by Wheever on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 09:52:24 AM PDT

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