Two Shots In Self Defense

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.

13 thoughts on “Two Shots In Self Defense

  1. Mitch whimpered: “Shooting, even when it’s absolutely justified, is horrible and brutally difficult.”


  2. Even with the terrible after-effects, it’s better than being dead, one assumes. I could never be a true pacifist. I would much rather hear a story like this one, though, then the countless times, usually in the movies, when our heroine points the gun at the evil villian and, seconds later, allows him to take it away from her. The one thing they should (and I’m sure most do) teach in gun classes is to not point the weapon unless you are prepared to pull the trigger.

  3. In a semi related note pertaining to the 2nd amendment, curious to hear your take on the Jim Zumbo situation:

    “”Assault rifle blog backfires
    Outdoor media personality Jim Zumbo found his career in the crosshairs after he criticized the use of assault rifles in varmint hunting. The NRAturned on him.””

    “””Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity,” Zumbo wrote in his blog on the Outdoor Life website. The Feb. 16 posting has since been taken down. “As hunters, we don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them. … I’ll go so far as to call them ‘terrorist’ rifles.”””

    My support of 2nd amendment rights gets a little foggy when we consider Assault rifles. Zumbo could have used more care in his choice of verbiage, but I don’t think he deserved the career stifling onslaught he received. Do you?!?


  4. The writing of a “outdoors” pundit is as vital to the Second Amendment discussion as writing about plumbing is to neurosurgery.

    The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting.

    Zumbo is playing into the grabbers’ hands with his careless usage. Merely calling anything that looks military an “assault rifle” is lazy and facile. The Mini-14 and the SKS are two of the most popular varmint guns out there; they’re reasonably priced (the SKS is downright cheap), with low-powered ammo that’s perfect for everything from varmints to deer. To link that with “terrorist” shooting is just moronico of Zumbo.

    What Zumbo wrote was stupid. Should it be career-ending? Those of his readers who actually care about the Constitution should trust him only after verification.

  5. Well, flash, since “assault rifles” are actually illegal, Zumbo’s statement was particularly dense, surprisingly uninformed and deserving of the “career stifling” reaction.

  6. flash: “I don’t think he deserved the career stifling onslaught he received. Do you?!?”

    Certainly. Someone as clueless as he was about the RKBA movement and its power in the shooting/hunting world is too stupid to trust with a gun.

    Only, I’m only half joking there.

    He certainly wasn’t familiar with the real purpose of the 2nd Amendment, which has nothing to do with hunting and everything to do with keeping the weapons of revolution in the hands of the citizens so that they have the ability to forcefully remind those in power of where that power comes from.

    So, how much power does the RKBA crowd have? They’ve taken out several companies and Ruger just barely survived ticking them off after some abject aplogies and groveling. They’ve got long memories and a willingness to boycott companies and products who don’t support their agenda.

  7. I’ve belonged to the NRA for ten years now and until this fall, have never owned a gun. I pull my NRA card out of my wallet and show some old friends I call “the Marx Brothers”, (and that’s not because they are funny). It drives them nuts. I tell them that I believe in the Second Amendment because it helps citizens protect themselves from political tyrany.

    I didn’t grow up a hunter, or even had guns in my house growing up. I’ve shot some 22’s and 410’s on my cousins farm as a kid, but didn’t grow up in a “gun house”. I have an 11year old son and reading in the newspapers this fall about the decline in hunting, I figured I better teach him to respect guns and to shoot properly. We now are rifle and shotgun owners.

    I don’t want or need a handgun. I have told my liberal friends if Al Gore or John Kerry got elected, I would be buying a handgun. That still stands if a Dem wins in 2008. Not because I need one, because they don’t want me to have one.

    I have also become a fan of the Saturday radio broadcast on AM1280.

  8. Absolutely. I haven’t posted about it until now for obvious reasons, but when I heard what Cegon said to a reporter about the second shot, I called up a well-known self-defense advocate of my acquaintance — who, unlike me, is an attorney — and asked told him about it; I wanted his opinion as to what Cegon’s chances would have been in HennCo.

    “Indictment? 100%. Conviction? 50-50, if he had a really good lawyer.”

    And, Flash, you’ve got it exactly wrong on the whole “assault rifle” thing. The Second Amendment was intended to make sure that the government could not infringe on the ability of ordinary citizens to get possession of the personal arms available to infantrymen — it’s about “assault weapons”, not duck guns.

    (My own personal preference for a deer rifle, by the way, is a 30-30 lever action — granted, it’s a much more dangerous weapon than an AR15, but the Second Amendment isn’t about deer hunting, or duck hunting, or sporting clays. It’s about the right of people to keep — and bear — arms for their individual and collective defense.)

    And, just to be clear, it wasn’t “the NRA” who turned on Zumbo — it was individual gun owners, in great quantity. (And, for those who missed it, it wasn’t “the NRA” that succeeded in getting the Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act through the lege; it was individual gun owners, working together.)

    And speaking of Minnesota, there are just over 40,000 Minnesotans with carry permits, like Mitch and me. Governor Pawlenty won by something like 20,000 votes last November.

    Do the math.

  9. Pingback: Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » Heather Martens: Fifteen Lies

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