Saturday, August 30, 2008

The thing about being awake at 5 a.m. is occasionally you witness a crime.

I've mentioned before there is a thief in our midst. We have since learned that our otherwise safe street is routinely scourged by the same kid. I've seen him around, and even caught him scoping out my house once. He's thirteen, skinny, and alone, wearing oversized clothes and looking like trouble.

Saturday morning, 5:23 a.m. and the entire family is awake. We were loading up for a walk when I saw the same skinny, loping kid running down the road with a children's dirt bike. The bike looked new, and was too small for him to ride. "What do you think is happening right now?" I said to Brian. "Petty theft," Brian replied.

He called the police as he walked out the door to see which direction the kid went. Brian found where the kid stashed the bike and where he lived. The police patrolled all morning, questioning every kid on a bike in the area. I don't know if they ever found him. As the officer was leaving the vacant yard where the stolen bike was hidden, Brian explained that he really hoped the kid would be arrested. "I'm afraid he's going to look in the wrong window," Brian said. "Some of our neighbors would love to have a reason to use their gun." "Well," said the officer, "I'm not suggesting anyone break the law, but a well-placed bullet would certainly teach him a lesson."

As if he were a dog.

And this is why we won't have a gun, no matter how much I'm home alone or how often my purse is stolen. There is nothing I own that is worth a human life. He's a kid - a punk, to be sure, who needs to be arrested, needs to have the shit scared out of him, needs to spend some time in juvenile detention - but he's still a kid. Somebody's grandson, somebody's student, somebody's friend. Plus he's so skinny, I'm pretty sure I could take him if necessary.

I understand it is a right to protect your property. But against whom? And to what end?  What does it say about us as a society that we uphold the right to kill another person over belongings?  If someone was trying to harm my children, I can safely say I would die trying to save them. But to protect my cell phone and wallet? Or some kid's dirt bike? Is that really worth this child's future, however bleak it may be? Exactly what lesson would he learn from a bullet, Officer?

There is nothing I own that I value more than a life - even the life of a thief. If that makes me a bleeding heart, well, I can live with that. So long as no other blood is spilt.


LMilky said...

It is so strange that you are posting this today because Nick and I had this same conversation last night as we lay in bed...weird.

It came up because ever since the babies came home and now are sleeping in their rooms across the house I have this awful fear that someone would break in and we would be in danger. I have a revolver that my mom and dad gave me in our closet. It isn't loaded and I don't know how to use it. But I want to learn as soon as possible. I also need to get registered. I respectfully disagree with you and while the idea of no blood shed is ideal it is unrealistic because if someone were to come into my house in the middle of the night without knocking I would definitely go to any measure to protect my family. I would HATE it... but I would do it.

Now, would I carry a gun around to have when I went to Wal-mart or if I thought someone was going to mug me on the street? NO . THINGS are not worth someone's life. you are right about that.

Anonymous said...

i can't believe an officer said that, about a kid no less. i hope he doesnt poke his head in the wrong window, especially not that officers!!

stephanie said...

I couldn't agree with you more and so glad to hear someone say what you have said!!! While I think we all want to protect our families from threats and harm, all too often it is what we hide in our closets, under our beds and in our safes that ends up hurting the ones we love, one way or another.

jmac said...

Just as I have medical insurance, car insurance and life insurance on my family, I carry a firearm regularly as an insurance policy on my life and the lives of those I care for. As you may or may not know, I travel in the 2nd most violent city in America and live in the 4th. The truth is however, violent crime happens most days in most cities. Just open the newspaper or watch the news and you will see.

I choose to carry in Target, Kroger, and everywhere I can legally because I have no idea where and when my life or the lives of those I care for may be in jeopardy. If I knew that, I would obviously avoid that place and time.

Life has choices and consequences. If someone were to break in through my window or door, I have no knowledge if it will be a petty thief punk kid or a career hardened criminal intent on violence, and I doubt I would have the time to find out as such. I have done everything I can to let this person know they are not welcome in my home including locking the windows and arming the alarm system. If they choose to continue with their plan of entering my home, it will be with consequences. I value life, that is why I carry. I am not out looking for trouble, but if trouble finds me I am prepared.

I totally agree with your basic premise that property is not worth taking a life. If I were to shoot a criminal retreating with stolen property outside of my home, I would be subject to criminal prosecution.

To be a permit holder, I have been instructed to neutralize threats on life and use my gun as a last resort, not to be a crime stopper. Stopping crime is what the police are trained and equipped to do.

Sorry this has been so long, but I hope this gives a different perspective on your thoughts.

It is your choice to not be armed, and I understand and respect that choice. The only thing I ask is reciprocation.

PS - L, you've made the right decision to keep the firearm unloaded until you have been trained on how to use it and comfortable around it. You can go to a reputable arms dealer locally and inquire about safety and training classes on how to use firearms, and you will need practice at a supervised range to be comfortable around it. Hope this helps.

Jamie said...

Yuck. Just yuck.
Can't I just lock us up in a box and pretend all of this stuff doesn't happen in real life? Please? Can I?

Valerie said...

Just as a side-track, Jon, where did you get those crime rankings. I looked at the most recent CQ Quarterly rankings (from data collected by the FBI), and Nashville wasn't even in the top 25.

jmac said...

@Val: Number 2 With a Bullet

Elizabeth said...

Sheesh. I just read through the comments, and I have to say that I cannot IMAGINE carrying a gun around on my person for everyday errands. True, there is always the outside chance that some wacko is going to show up at the grocery store on a shooting rampage, but I'm pretty sure my first instinct would ALWAYS be to grab the baby, duck and run. I'm a little unsettled to know that there are people out there carrying weapons for this very reason...and not the kind of people who wear a uniform that includes a holster. I don't think it makes me feel safer.

Aside from that, I agree with your point about the kid. He needs to be reformed, sure, but a bullet through the leg or shoulder would, I'm afraid, make him even angrier and more volatile

jmac said...


I know it seems foreign that individuals would go through the process of earning a handgun carry permit and carry a firearm, but the reality is that millions of Americans are choosing to defend themselves, their families, and not be another violent crime statistic. You can read more about CCW here.

The process I went through in Tennessee to receive this permit took months to complete and included a training and legal liability class, hours of range time to pass a proficiency test, a stringent FBI background check, and fingerprinting. Those of us who have carry permits are upstanding citizens who do not break the law, but respect it.

The folks that I believe you should really be unsettled about are the life criminals you may encounter daily who have been through countless attempts of "reform" but who choose a life of crime over respectful citizenry. Strictly my opinion of course, YMMV.

I do understand that we as a society have been taught that "guns are bad, scary, and evil." So I do understand your unsettled feeling. I do want you to know that I am a decent guy, and wish no harm on anyone. If you knew me like many people who read Steph's blog, you might even like being around me. Most never know when I am carrying, as I carry concealed. My wife usually never knows. The millions of others who carry firearms are a lot like me.

The Bean said...

I don't own a gun and don't know how to use one. I also don't think I would ever carry one around with me daily for protection. I do however want to learn how to use one should the need ever arise. Just like Mrs. M I can't say I would hesitate to use one if I thought my child (soon to be children) or my husband was in danger.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Spoken like a mother.

No matter how big a punk he is, he is still some woman's baby. And if the reason he is a punk is because his mother didn't love him the way that we love our boys, well, then, so much more our heart bleeds.