I’ve been a vocal supporter of Second Amendment rights ever since…well, since I wasn’t.
Looking back, there was probably a time I was hinky about guns. I grew up among non-gun-owning Democrats, after all. I suspect the North Dakota Boys’ State platform I wrote for the Federalist Party back in the summer of 1980 may have had something in it about handgun registration.
That eroded over time, of course; I became, bit by bit, a believer in the right of the citizen to defend him/herself – and in the original, real intent of the Second Amendment.
It came to a head with me in the summer of 1988. I was living in a duplex in the Midway with a couple of chowder-headed roommates, including one who was (it turned out) addicted to drugs, booze, sex, smokes and gambling. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We were all working nights at the time. I had a night off; the other guys had left. It was around 11 at night. I was upstairs; the phone, and the exit, were downstairs.
I heard voices. Not my roommates’ voices, either; strangers.
I picked up a gun – a .22 semiautomatic rifle, in this case – and walked to the top of the stairs. It was an old duplex, so the floor creaked mightily. The voices downstairs stopped – but didn’t leave the building.
I crouched behind the banister at the top of the stairs. “Who’s down there”.
I heard a creak of someone moving across the floorboards.
“I have a gun!”, I yelled, and racked up a round. The bolt snapped forward with a perky \little “ka-snick” – I’d have preferred the mighty “KA-SCHLACK” of a 12-gauge at about that point…
…but I heard a muted “oh, shit”, and saw the backs of a couple of pairs of shoes as they ran out the door.
I waited – my heart pounding, trying not to hyperventilate, at the top of the stairs – for what felt like half an hour, before I slowly crept down the stairs, rifle loaded and levelled, to make sure they were gone. The front door was wide open, and a few things – a boom box, I remember – were missing. I had a serious talk with my roommates about locking the door on their way out the next morning.
And I thought – because I had all too much time for thinking, back then – that it wasn’t the sound of me moving upstairs that sent ’em running; it was the immediate, real potential that I could blow them away (or, given the gun involved, pepper them with little holes) that decided the matter for them. What if I’d had no gun?, I wondered.
And so I became a believer.
I knew back then from reading about the subject that shooting someone, even in utterly-justified self-defense, is difficult – sometimes devastating. That lesson was reinforced by my concealed carry training class, about a year and a half ago, with the excellent Joel Rosenberg (who I recommend without reservation to those of you who are looking to get qualified); shooting a person, even when it’s utterly justified, is at best the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster, the entree to years of trouble.
So it’s nothing anyone should look into lightly. Lesson learned.
A story in today’s Strib piece about a man who shot a stalker – his girlfriend’s apparently-deranged ex – last winter – is a great case study.
The lede, for me, is in the last paragraph:
[Samantha Simons] expects the boy will ask someday about his father, whose framed photo he saw after the shooting. [Two-year-old] Jackson hugged it and said, ” ‘That’s my daddy,’ ” Simons said. “I don’t know how I am going to answer when he brings it up. I won’t lie to him about anything. I hope he understands why we had to do what we had to do. … It changed my life, and it will forever.”
And, indeed, they – Simons and her boyfriend, Eric Cegon – did have to do it.
The signs were there – before the couple met…:
Richter, who had served time for meth possession, had shown Simons a shotgun with which he planned to kill Cegon. Simons said she left Richter because of his increasing meth use and physical abuse. She said he begged her to come back to him and said if he couldn’t have her, nobody would. He saw her weekly until the shooting and always looked high, she said.
…and the month before…:
Simons pointed to the bedroom window where on Nov. 4, court records say, Richter tried to break in while yelling that he would kill Cegon.
…and, most importantly, the night of the shooting itself:
her jealousy-crazed ex-boyfriend of three years smashed through two barricaded doors and entered their bedroom about 3:30 a.m.
Cegon sat up in bed next to Simons as she screamed and covered her son. Cegon aimed a borrowed 12-gauge shotgun at the doorway and blasted Richter off his feet.
“You killed me,” the couple heard Richter gasp after dropping a half-cocked handgun. Cegon fired again at the 6-footer, just to be sure. For more than a month, Richter, 35, had threatened to kill Cegon, and he had threatened Simons with a knife, violating a no-contact court order.
The article does a great job, though, of showing the psychological aftermath of the shooting. It’s well worth a read.
But I have to wonder about the headline, “Couple still arent right with using deadly force in self-defense”. No, not just the pseudo-appalachian dialect of sentence, but the assumption behind it. The couple are troubled by the shooting – as, the article notes, everyone is, almost inevitably – but nowhere do they say it’s not justified. Indeed, the article notes that:
The couple said they never want a gun in their home again, unless they face a similar peril.
Shooting, even when it’s absolutely justified, is horrible and brutally difficult. But Cegon and Simons have one thing on their side; geography:
The Wright County attorney’s office agreed, ruling that the Rockford man had acted in self-defense.
If they lived in Hennepin or Ramsey Counties, they’d likely still be defending themselves in court against the legal legacy of shooting an armed man who had been threatening them for months.