Monday, July 1, 2013

“Nothing I Own Is Worth Killing Over”

Here’s a scenario for you:  You arrive to your home, expecting that no one is present.  But when you arrive, you find a thief has broken in and is currently trying to rob the place.  You’re alone, but armed.  They appear unarmed, and upon seeing you, try to run away.  What do you do?

Do you turn and drive away, then call 911?

Or do you pull your gun and start shooting?

I’ve seen this scenario reported from time to time, and all too often the gun guys pull their gun and start blasting.  Consider, for instance, the following newsreport, from Myrtle Creek, in gun-happy southern Oregon:

man came home to find two men breaking into his home on Dole Road, and the Sheriff's office says he fired a pistol at the men.

Deputies say they were called to a residence in the 2800 block of Dole Road at about 6:00 am, after the homeowner called and said he interrupted a burglary.

Both suspects ran from the scene, and have not been located.  

The Sheriff's office says it is unknown at this time if either of the suspects were shot.

(A follow-up article today confirmed the capture of one of the robbers, who had been shot in the hand by the homeowner.)

My comment on that first article was, “Nothing I own is worth killing over.”

The usual posse of pro-gun guys immediately responded in outrage, with cold statements wishing death to the thieves, an odd statement about the Revolutionary War, and even a threat about coming to rob me:

You don't feel threatened if someone is in your home trying to rob you???  Can I have your address?” 

Fortunately the founding fathers of this Country did not have your attitude or otherwise we would still be under British rule.“ said one, as if an isolated property-protection shooting was in any analogous to the Revolutionary War.

If someone is in my house, you can bet your sweet a** it's self-defense to pull a weapon.  I would not allow an opportunity to be shot at first.  If you are a stranger in my home, I'm scared and it's self defense! Some states have laws that if you are can act in 'self-defense'.”

Deadly force is justified against someone "committing or attempting to commit a burglary in a dwelling." So yep, he has every right to kill someone in defense of his property.”

“And the problem is??? to bad he didn't get one !

“Too bad he missed. He needs to spend more time at the range.

"I won't wait, hesitate or ask why...!  BOOM !"

But here was one that I felt truly represented the pro-gun opinion:

“Every single thing I own is worth more to me than the life of someone who would invade my home and try to take my things.”

"Every single thing?"  Really?  Your TV?  Your coffee maker?  Your smelly old houseshoes?

You see this response all the time from the gun crowd.  Consider this statement from one site that sells gun accessories: 

"We don’t want to hear any stories of how one of our readers became a victim, rather we’d like to see a news report on you gunning down a criminal during a home invasion. Nothing warms our hearts more than hearing those kinds of stories on the news."

Warms their heart??  Really? 

Or consider this lady.  She was so incensed when someone tried to jimmy a door lock and then ran off with a yard statue, that she has organized a “Glock block” movement to arm herself and her neighbors and advertise the fact:

Coy Tolonen, 65, said the idea came to her last Thursday after she tried and failed to chase down a thief who ran away with her beloved bronze yard statue.
Later that evening, the grandmother of three said she realized a door to her home had been jimmied open, possibly by the same man she said stole her statue.
"It just made my blood run cold because our grandkids are playing here a lot, and one of them could have been snatched just as easily as the statue," she told
"These guys need to know if you're going to pick on a little old lady, then lots of the ladies I know are packing [guns]. They're sweet ladies but if it's their life, I'm sorry you're going to lose yours," Tolonen said. ….
Tolonen began printing flyers for her neighbors to hang in their windows, with a picture of a gun and the warning: "This is a Glock Block. We don't call 911." She said so far more than a dozen neighbors have shown interest.

Sorry, but I don’t feel a jimmied lock and a statue are worth killing over.  But the pro-gun crowd was cheering.  “Bag em and tag em Grandma” said one pro-gun commenter on the page.  “Get rid of cops. We can defend, protect and kill on our own with our own guns “ said another.  “Good for them!” said this extremist blogger.

Naturally, the police are concerned about Mrs. Tolonen’s new “Glock block”:

"What we're really talking about here is property crime ," Sgt. Robert Wurpes told 

"We don't think firearms are the answer to this problem. However, we do understand gun ownership is a right."
Wurpes said he and his fellow officers have been on plenty of calls in property crime cases and many times have realized victims hadn't been communicating with their neighbors or hadn't even met them.
"Get to know your neighbors," Wurpes said.
"We understand that it's frustrating when people get things stolen or are victims of crimes," he said. "Our concerns come into play when guns are involved because they're dangerous. "

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not sympathetic to criminals bold enough to break into a home.  They should know they can expect a dangerous reaction, and they deserve to be caught and to do time.  However, unless they are attempting or threaten violence against the homeowner or his family, I don’t feel that they deserve a death sentence for their action, and even then it would depend upon the circumstances. 

Some years ago, before I bought a home alarm system, someone threw a rock through my sliding glass door and stole a TV from my home.  When we got home and discovered it, we felt violated.  But at no time did I wish the person to be killed for their action.

And just finding a stranger in your home shouldn’t, on its own, illicit a kill-or-be-killed response.  Situations happen quite often, where someone is drunk and wonders onto the wrong property, or is trick-or-treating, or just winds up at the wrong door.  Shootings happen all too often under these circumstances.  Did those people deserve to die, too?

Sadly, the number of people buying guns out of fear has drastically increased, despite falling violent crime rates.  From a CNN article:

A national survey published in March by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported that nearly half (48%) of gun owners say the main reason they own a gun is for protection, up from 26% who gave that answer in 1999. 

Less than a third (32%) cited hunting as the main reason, down from nearly half (49%) in 1999.

The findings make no sense, since violent crime in the country overall has dropped by 48% since 1993, according to Kellermann.

Perhaps even more important -- and less understood -- is the evidence that the benefits of keeping a gun for protection are far outweighed by the risks, he said.

Right now, the trial of George Zimmerman is taking place in Florida, and, once again, the country is debating "stand your ground" laws and whether it is right to kill someone over a perceived injustice without taking an opportunity to evade the situation.

Unfortunately, here in Oregon and an increasing number of other states with “stand your ground” laws, it is perfectly legal to shoot a stranger in your home that you perceive as trespassing.  But just because you have the right to kill doesn't mean it’s the right thing to do.  

This "kill the intruder" talk is the philosophy of the NRA and their gun-selling masters at work.  This is their definition of "freedom."  It’s time to bring a new trajectory to our society away from gun violence, and stop using guns and the threat of lethal violence to solve our problems.

UPDATE (7/2/13):  Some more extreme comments from a follow-up article about the shooting mentioned at the first of this blog post. Once again, in the comments section, I reaffirmed that nothing I own is worth killing over.  Upset at my comment, here is what the gun guys had to say to me (bolding added):
"Your logic has helped many homeowners end up dead because they chose your method. You liberals believe in being victims and creating victims instead of protecting your families. Many of us grew up with guns, joined the military and continued training with guns to keep proficient. We didn't play with dolls or yell for a teacher when ever a kid on the playground took our ball,we beat his ass. We are the most qualified to protect our families and if you step foot in my home I will blow you away, everything in my home, my children and my wife are worth killing for. You don't like guns, don't buy one!" 

"If I were to catch a low life burglar at my home trying to take what I worked hard for, they better be ready to meet my 357 Magnum and I will shoot without hesitation. That's right...shoot first, ask/answer questions later! Cuz if I don't do it first they will...whether it be by gun, knife, baseball bat...etc. BANG!!!" 

"I will without hesitation empty an entire clip at an intruder from his navel to his knees."