… often involves partisans flailing about with statistics they don’t necessarily understand. Lets look instead at two individual cases.

This: http://wcco.com/crime/elderly.woman.shoots.2.1644974.html is an example of a home owner using a gun to ward off an intruder. But it really isn’t, is it?

This http://wcco.com/topstories/intruder.shot.and.2.363267.html is an example of a home owner with a gun killing an innocent person.

On the second story, I’ll add that the victim (as in the one who got shot and killed) was a 17 year old kid named Anthony James Parks. He used to live about a half block from me.

Discuss.

Comments

  1. #1 Jeff
    April 20, 2010

    It’s hard to call someone breaking and entering someone else’s home innocent, or even a victim. If some stranger is breaking, unannounced, into your home what else are you supposed to do? Just sit there passively and take whatever violence that might occur against you? Remember that the police have no obligation to assist you, let alone in a timely manner.

    I think both cases are good examples of a gun owner using their gun for self-defense. They fired inside their home and not until as late as possible, and no innocent people (i.e. people who weren’t breaking into someone’s home) were hurt.

    I’m sure there are plenty of accidents where someone shot a family member coming home late. I’d think you’d want to point out one of those if you were making an anti-gun argument, not one of the successful self-defense incidents.

    I say all this as someone who doesn’t actually own a gun.

  2. #2 Ken
    April 20, 2010

    The penalty in the second story was certainly greater than the 17 year old kid deserved for his crime. Breaking into someone’s house, however, is a risky endeavor. I suppose the 73 year old man could have tried to subdue the 17 year old kid without using a gun, but that would have been an even riskier endeavor (for the victim of the break-in). The old man used an equalizer.

    Perhaps there should be better non-lethal options for such situations. It wouldn’t make a difference on my opinion of gun ownership rights, though, since I support private gun ownership for other reasons.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    Jeff, the old man kept this gun by his bead, waiting for the chance to off some loser who broke into his house. He had no idea who he was shooting, and the kid who was shot entered what he believed to be a vacant home on a dare by his moron friends. He was guilty of nothing other than being a stupid teenager with stupid teenager friends.

  4. #4 MadScientist
    April 20, 2010

    If Parks broke into my house (I destroyed and surrendered my firearms almost 20 years ago) he’d very likely still be dead. If someone breaks into my house I’ll presume the worst and attack then ask questions later just because that’s my own temperament. Kids (and adults) will do stupid things – and on occasion it gets someone killed. Now what was thing thing about statistics? Picking out specific examples of rare events is not an exercise in statistics.

  5. #5 Jeff
    April 20, 2010

    > He was guilty of nothing other than being a stupid teenager with stupid teenager friends.

    If someone wants to perform a risky or dangerous act, whether it be running across a busy highway or breaking into a home, then they have to accept the consequences of their action, especially the obvious ones like getting shot by a possible resident, fair or not. He was responsible for his own behavior and it cost him. It’s sad, but that’s reality.

    Sure, the shooter was a weirdo, but that’s his right to be a weirdo. He wasn’t bothering anyone else, especially so since he was a recluse.

    As Ken pointed out, given the information the gun owner had (“someone kicked in a door to my home in and is now entering my bedroom”), the only better way he could have handled it without greatly increasing danger to himself would be with a non-lethal weapon. But even that would decrease his ability to defend himself, as non-lethal weapons generally have less stopping power.

  6. #6 AK
    April 20, 2010

    Evolution in action. If this kid had entered a bear’s cave would you have said the same thing?

    (Some) humans are as much wild animals as bears (or at least feral). The fact that the human who violates the home/den is a stupid teenager doesn’t change the fact that the species is better off without his genes. I’ll go even farther: his genes probably set him up with the hormonal state where he felt compelled to take this risk by peer pressure. I see no reason why society (the state) should prohibit people from protecting themselves because some teenagers aren’t capable of controlling their hormonal response.

    If society wants to protect such teenagers perhaps it should teach them not do do that. Perhaps it should even tell them over and over again that they’re actually responsible for their actions in response to their hormones (and dares from peers).

  7. #7 MyOwnGrandfather
    April 20, 2010

    Jeff, the old man kept this gun by his bead, waiting for the chance to off some loser who broke into his house.

    I don’t believe that for a second. The article said he used a .22-caliber rifle. While still deadly, it’s a caliber used primarily for target practice and killing small animals like rats and squirrels. It’s definitely not something somebody would keep by their bed in the hopes of shooting an intruder.

    A .22 is simply not something people keep as a primary self-defense weapon. It just doesn’t fit the profile of somebody waiting to get his gun off.

  8. #8 David
    April 20, 2010

    I’m of several opinions about both stories, but I think there’s a major difference in the second story that has to be called out.

    The homeowner never announced himself or the fact that he was armed (at least given the information we are provided with). The woman in the first story did, providing a warning to the individual who was breaking in to her house. The man in the second story did not. If he had, how might things have gone differently?

    Another thing to look at is what information did he have available to him when he made the decision to shoot? He heard a door broken in, movement downstairs, and someone coming up the stairs with a flashlight. Based on this alone, he decides to shoot someone without warning.

    While it is true the boy should not have been in the house in the first place, does what he did justify death?

    I don’t remember where I heard it, but years ago someone told me the best weapon for home defense is a pump-action shotgun. If you want to scare potential intruders, simply pump it. You don’t even need shells.

  9. #9 Ken
    April 20, 2010

    “the best weapon for home defense is a pump-action shotgun. If you want to scare potential intruders, simply pump it. You don’t even need shells.”

    That’s a dangerous game. Better advice may be that you should never point a gun at someone unless you are prepared to shoot them.

    How could it have turned out differently if the man “announced” his intention to shoot an intruder? The intruder could take the opportunity to shoot first. Life-and-death situations are called “life-and-death situations” for a reason.

  10. #10 Neon Sequitur
    April 20, 2010

    Law-abiding Americans can still defend their homes with guns, and Greg Laden is angry.

    Film at 11.

  11. #11 John
    April 20, 2010

    @Greg

    “and the kid who was shot entered what he believed to be a vacant home on a dare by his moron friends. He was guilty of nothing other than being a stupid teenager with stupid teenager friends.”

    I’m sorry, I didn’t see that mentioned in the story, how did you come by that information? Stupid teenagers, who by the way can be quite competent liars by that age, said so? Did you know of their plan but do nothing to stop it?

    A second point, if someone breaks into my house while I’m sleeping, and I don’t know what they’re intentions are and whether or not they have a weapon, I will, without hesitation pull the trigger for the protection of my family. Members of my family and my wife’s know that I have firearms in my house as well as my intent to protect my loved ones, thus I can count on a knock on the door before entry, especially in the middle of the night. Should it be some misguided soul I will mourn them but feel no regret and feel justified in my actions. I love the bear analogy by the early poster and am a big fan of Darwin’s work.

    Society, in it’s sue happy state, has reinforced my belief that I should shoot to kill. Beyond the physical security of my family, I must also look out for the financial or economic security as well. It has happened too many times where I’ve read about a burglar/trespasser on someone elses property, getting hurt, bringing suit and winning against a home or property owner. I cannot afford to let that happen. In the 3-?? minutes it would take for police to arrive, my wife, daughter or myself could be seriously injured or killed and I will not sit there idly and allow that to happen. Moreover, trying to use a non-lethal or less lethal option is a gambit I’m not willing to take. A Taser only stops someone if they don’t have thick clothes and you hit them on the first or second try. My shotgun gives me six tries and my sidearm provides me with 10 tries in rapid succession. While using lethal force is something I hope to never have to do, I would like even less having to bury my own wife or child due to my inaction or inability to afford them protection with a tool that Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States guarantees I am able to provide.

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    April 20, 2010

    So, what are the odds of an intruder being in one’s house at the same time as the qualified shooter-owner? The odds of said person being armed? The odds that they would rather fire than leave given warning?

    The odds that someone living in a house with a loaded gun will be injured by it?

    What balance of those odds works for you? And how many of the timid little mice in this thread (and yes, I mean the ones who spend comment threads working themselves up to shoot imaginary people) have watched way too damn many movies?

  13. #13 John
    April 20, 2010

    @Stephanie,
    I’m so glad that you’ve never had your house or vehicles broken in to…good for you. I have and I know of people who were injured for very little gain.

    I have been educated and trained how to safely use a firearm, maintain situational awareness and have a keen understanding of where my family members are. I know that kids get up at night (mine still sleeping in a crib is of little worry). But there are different sounds associated with someone forcing entry and rummaging through things in the middle of the night that are distinctly different from the faucet running for a glass of water. Gee, I suppose if someone broke in really quietly and was thirsty they may get the jump on me.

    But again, congratulations on your fortuitous luck/opportunities/silver spoon life you’ve been handed to where you feel as secure as you do. I hope that you are never faced with the situation where you might have been able to protect your loved ones but couldn’t. While I feel relatively safe in my immediate neighborhood, less than a mile a way is quite the unsavory and disreputable neighborhood, where there is quite a bit of drugs, domestic incidents, break-ins etc.

    But maybe you’re right, I’ll should play the odds that this would and could never happen to me, and leave it up to being able to reach a phone and trust that the police will get there in time to protect me and my family which I’ll just lock in the basement and hope the bad man leave us alone. After all, what could we have or know that anyone would want.

  14. #14 Ken
    April 20, 2010

    I’m not sure about all the odds. The two stories mentioned don’t tell me the odds, they are anecdotes.

    One fact I’m assuming we can agree on, however, is that a gun is an equalizer. Being out of shape and middle aged I am at a disadvantage in a fight with most of the population. If all guns were banned, and that ban could be enforced, I would be on the losing end of most fights. Anyone skilled with a knife would be able to kill me handily. Any bully who knew how to use his fists could seriously injure or kill me as well.

    A gun would help me in such a fight. So would getting into shape and learning enough self-defense techniques so that I could use a knife, some string, and some sticks to defend myself like they do in the movies. In real life, though, I need the gun.

    Will I ever find my self in a situation where I need an equalizer in a fight when someone breaks into my home? That’s where the odds come in to play. So far I’ve decided not to own a gun, so I suppose I must have decided the odds are well enough in my favor to not take the risks associated with owning a gun.

    I’m not willing to force someone else to make the same decision I did. I also like the comfort of knowing that I will be able to change my mind in the future if my situation changes.

  15. #15 John
    April 20, 2010

    @Stephanie
    “So, what are the odds of an intruder being in one’s house at the same time as the qualified shooter-owner? The odds of said person being armed? The odds that they would rather fire than leave given warning?”

    Maybe if more American took their rights and responsibilities to the Constitution seriously, educated themselves and weren’t so often just a bunch of apathetic bleating sheep there wouldn’t be a question of these odds.

    “And how many of the timid little mice in this thread”

    Do you know what timid means? Just because you are unwilling or unable or afraid to take responsibility, doesn’t mean that others who comment are. You take full advantage of your 1st amendment right to proselytize your political agenda against others who would speak in favor of their rights to protect themselves. But Stephanie knows best, right? As an FYI and to reiterate for your odds-book, neither I, nor any fellow gun owners I know 75-100 in addition to at least a couple of dozen sheriffs, state police and FBI personnel have any desire to un-holster their firearm to kill someone, imaginary or otherwise. Furthermore, most paramilitary personnel will do their utmost to not take out their gun and have made it a career without having to point a gun at any perpetrator. Perhaps it is you who have seen to many movies that have skewed your perception that many Rambo takes the time to sit down at a blog and engage in a rant about how he hopes someone walks on his property when he gets home so he can kill’em.

    Now let me throw some of your questions right back at you…I really would like to know what you come up with.

    “o, what are the odds of an intruder being in one’s house at the same time as the qualified shooter-owner? The odds of said person being armed? The odds that they would rather fire than leave given warning?

    The odds that someone living in a house with a loaded gun will be injured by it?”

    Hopefully you have valid answers and are not just posting questions created by your imagination. Such answers would be of much more use to this thread, rather than a bunch of questions. I’ve already made my position clear…you’re turn.

  16. #16 John
    April 20, 2010

    @Ken

    Well said!

  17. #17 george.w
    April 20, 2010

    If someone breaks into my home in the middle of the night, I don’t know their intentions. I’ve done my best to weigh the chances and settled on an old golf club as my home defense weapon.

    If they don’t have a gun (most common intruder) then I’m pretty well matched or better for whatever they brought with them. In the usual case, if confronted by an angry old geezer wielding a golf club, who informs them that the police have been called, they’ll leave.

    If they do have a gun (not that common in my area) then I might die, or might not. And if they break in when I’m not home (by far the most common intrusion) then there’s no gun for them to steal to use on someone else.

    I’ll risk my life to greatly reduce the risk to others. Maybe I’m a timid little mouse but that’s my calculation.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    Well, I’ve chased off a handful of buglers in my time with nothing more than my deep male voice and the element of surprise. I think in most cases, if I had a gun I could have gotten off a shot and probably winged the person. But in stead I just made them go away.

    Then there was this one:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2009/07/cambridge_police_a_matter_of_b.php

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    I’m adding it up in my head and I think there’s been about a dozen times for me, not counting occasions with dog assist.

    Oh, by the way, if you (anyone) is thinking of getting a gun to protect yourself, consider a dog instead. Professional burlers know how to handle a dog, but a) they also know how to handle you’re gun and b) a well trained dog can handle a professional burler, if you get the right breed/size.

    I’ve tended to live in vulnerable areas.

  20. #20 Ken
    April 20, 2010

    One observation I have about the two incidents mentioned is that in neither case would I have been at risk from these two guns nor their owners, even if I had lived next door to them. I would not have broken into either of their houses.

    george.w: I thank you for the added risk you take to reduce the risks to my life. I commend you on your personal decision. I also appreciate that you didn’t suggest others should be forced to make the same decision.

    If you see the risk of theft of the weapon as the main risk of owning a gun, and you ever wanted to change your mind about that decision, you will find that there are many good ways of preventing your gun from being stolen when you are not in the house. If you do decide to purchase a gun, you seem like the kind of person who would keep it safe, so I probably wouldn’t need to worry about your gun either.

    If you ever moved to my neighborhood, though, you might want to get rid of the golf club. The two gangs in the area (who are in a bit of a turf war now based on the graffiti being sprayed in the alleys recently) are organized and experienced with violence enough that, faced with an “angry old geezer wielding a golf club” would just take it away from you. And now you would have made them angry. I’d hate to see you become a tail-putter.

    When I grew up in this neighborhood things weren’t quite as bad, but even back then many of us knew enough about street fighting to be able to take a bat away from someone who wasn’t experienced using it. A golf club doesn’t seem that much more difficult to handle.

    Different situations will require different methods. Without a gun I plan on just being VERY cooperative if someone breaks into my home. If things start to go bad I suppose I’ll improvise as best I can. Of course I’m really just hoping that the odds are with me and the quality locks on my doors combined with bars on basement windows will send intruders on to the next house.

    If the intruder does pick one of the houses next to me, they have a 50/50 chance of going into a house where the owner has a gun. That actually makes me feel safer than if both of my neighbors used golf clubs as home defense.

    At least in my neighborhood….

  21. #21 Ken
    April 20, 2010

    I agree that a good, well trained attack dog is an excellent home defense weapon. Of course a gun is easier to maintain and trained attack dogs can be very dangerous. Especially if there are children in the house.

    I also often felt sorry for large dogs kept by people in the city. Especially if they are away from the house a lot. I know I’m just being over sentimental and personifying them too much, but those eyes can look so sad, and they seem so eager to please all the time.

    From the sound of it Greg has lived in much worse areas than I have or do. Thanks, Greg, for residing on the opposite end of the normal curve from me! That explains why I have never had someone break into my house when I was there! ;-)

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    I have to add: I’m not necessarily suggesting a trained attack dog. Just a dog that gets it a bit more than other dogs. An attack dog would work, of course.

    I know a lot of dogs that are pretty happy in the city, but the owners have to make certain commitments.

  23. #23 T. Hunt
    April 20, 2010

    I’m not sure I see the point of this whole exercise. This is a country where, right now, you are allowed to own a gun and defend you self inside your own property. Both of the ‘victims’ had to know this, that if you go into a house that’s not yours, there can be a whole range of consequences. Some minimal, some drastic. Are we supposed to have sympathy for either of these 2 because they just might not have known about the laws of this country, that possibly they were parachuted in from some alien world yesterday?

    One thing I was taught growing up was, if it’s not yours, leave it alone. I’ve also learned that, if you break into someone’s house, there are things that can happen. As a result, I choose to NOT break into houses because the reward is not worth the risk.

    Maybe the crux of the matter is that we’re not teaching critical thinking skills. I know that they’re harder to acquire than burglary skills.

    My other question is, why are you wasting time and electrons on this sort of stuff? These stories aren’t even a bit ambiguous or have any sort of twist to them. The intruders f’d up. They were in places they had no business being. One died and the other got hurt or scared or both.

    Unfortunate, yes. It’s called evolution and there are even awards named after the guy who discovered the theory.

    T. Hunt

  24. #24 george.w
    April 20, 2010

    Ken, there’s nothing noble about it; I just know what I can live with and what I can’t. I’d hate for my gun to be used to kill someone else. As to keeping a gun secure, is the gun safe secure when a burgler has lots of time and all the tools lying around my place? Last year in the building where I work, the ATM was broken open overnight. Those are pretty darn sturdy.

    Without a gun I plan on just being VERY cooperative if someone breaks into my home. If things start to go bad I suppose I’ll improvise as best I can.

    That’s probably the least-harm strategy in the long run. Least likely to get you killed, least likely to get anyone else killed.

    Don’t underestimate a golf club. I once saw an Edgerton photo of a golfer driving a golf ball through a phone book. I don’t want to (and I’m pretty sure Greg does not want to) guess what that would do to a human kneecap. Which is, even for paleolithic man, a survivable injury. I don’t want to kill anyone.

    And yes, I recognize some people live in a place where a gun makes a lot of sense as a defense weapon. Rural areas, for example. Of course rural areas can be islands of depression and isolation. That’s not a particularly safe combination either. It’s all a matter of the odds.

    In our culture the decision to own a gun is very much shaped by our mythology; the Western hero, Dirty Harry, etc. There are valid reasons but that one should be carefully subtracted first.

  25. #25 John
    April 20, 2010

    I like so much of what Greg posts but this is silly. An old man with a .22 was “waiting for the chance to off some loser who broke into his house.” That is absolutely irresponsible to say. If the guy had a .50 cal on a bipod aimed at the door, fair enough.

    The man also fired once. If the gun was semi-auto, the man showed restraint; a .22 semi-auto can fire 15 bullets in seconds with almost no recoil. Otherwise the gun was a bolt action and I can’t think of a gun less likely than a bolt action .22 to be used by a crazed gunman waiting to off a loser except a pellet gun.

    It’s a profound thing to accuse a man of murderous intent and the ease with which Greg does it disturbing.

  26. #26 Sevesteen
    April 20, 2010

    I’m not sure what your point is with the 89 year old woman–it doesn’t count as defense unless you kill someone? The guy who kicked her door down would have left just as readily if she’d been armed with a broom?

    If someone breaks into my house at night and shines a flashlight into my bedroom, under what circumstances is it moral for me to shoot them? Do I need a signed statement of criminal intent? Do I need to verify whether they have a gun and what caliber before I shoot? If their gun is only a .22, can I use my .40, or do I have to get my own .22? If I didn’t make it obvious that someone is home, does that make it OK for them to break in?

    A gun gives options. If a stern word in a deep fearsome macho-masculine voice isn’t enough to stop him, the sight or sound of a gun probably will before it becomes necessary to shoot. That is how it works almost every time–If you have a gun, and appear willing to use it, past history says you probably won’t need to.

  27. #27 Russell
    April 20, 2010

    Gerald Whaley likely had little time or means to determine whether the intruder he shot was a first-time burglar, a stupid but not particularly dangerous teen, or a vicious home invader. As people with their own histories and circumstance, I have some sympathy for both he and the fellow he shot. As a matter of law and social custom, I want Whaley to be recognized as the person who acted reasonably and innocently, and Antony James Park viewed as the criminal who suffered the consequence of his own misbehavior. Was that misbehavior the act of a teen acting stupidly? Sure. But so with the teen who kills himself driving while drunk. Or the teen who breaks his neck diving into a shallow swimming hole. Or the teen who blows himself up checking a gasoline tank with lighter. Stupidity can have dire consequence. If we are in a position to recognize it ahead of time, we try to intervene to save the teen from his own stupidity. But when we can’t tell it from something more sinister, we might have to intervene to save ourselves or other possible victims.

  28. #28 george.w
    April 20, 2010

    I don’t think the homeowners necessarily did anything wrong. Breaking into someone’s house is a good way to scare the crap out of them, and frightening people – making them genuinely afraid – is risky business.

    That said, our culture seems to want to ignore all the causes of violence and focus almost exclusively on the response to it when it happens. It’s as if our national motto were “What Would Jack Bauer Do?”

  29. #29 CR Neighbor
    April 21, 2010

    IIRC it was eventually reported that Mr. Whaley’s doors were unlocked.

  30. #30 Stephanie Z
    April 21, 2010

    Okay, odds. In 2008, approximately 442K robberies were reported to the FBI. Of these, 16.3% involved the home and 45.3% involved a firearm, for about 33K home robberies involving a firearm annually. This translates to an annual per capita rate of about .0001. Beyond that, we don’t have data on how many of these were stranger-on-stranger crimes, as random violence is relatively rare. Most of the studies I’ve seen put the risk of injury in all robberies at about 30%, although one study (Canadian) showed a risk of 50%.

    In contrast, the CDC reported 2006 firearm-related deaths at about the same as the total number of home robberies–not injuries, just death. Approximately 60% of these were accident or suicide. Yes, some of those suicides would have tried another method, but firearm suicides are about three times as likely to succeed as the next most successful method.

    I’ll take the risk of injury during robbery.

  31. #31 Phillip IV
    April 21, 2010

    Greg Laden @ # 18:

    Well, I’ve chased off a handful of buglers in my time with nothing more than my deep male voice and the element of surprise.

    They came with buglers? That’s strange, I’d have expected modern-day home invaders to use cell phones to communicate.

  32. #32 Greg Laden
    April 21, 2010

    This was before cell phones when we communicated by trumpet.

  33. #33 Russell
    April 21, 2010

    Stephanie, it twists the statistics quite a bit to say “approximately 60% of these were accident or suicide,” when a) these are completely different categories, b) only a slim fraction of that 60% were accident. So let me say it better: The majority of firearm deaths in the US are suicides.

    As a recent famous example, that is how Hunter Thompson died. And what is wrong with how Hunter Thompson died? He was ailing. He no longer wanted to live. He died at home. Would you have had him fly to Oregon or Switzerland to die in some strange place from poison administered intravenously by a medical technician? Suicide sometimes makes sense. It sometimes is a tragic waste. The difference is not a function of the means chosen. I have no reason to think Thompson’s suicide was irrational because he used a gun rather than because it was from an IV administered in a suicide clinic. To judge it, I would need to know more about Thompson’s life circumstance than I do.

  34. #34 Stephanie Z
    April 21, 2010

    Russell, twists what? To what purpose? 40% were homicides, which I split out because people really like to think that homicides aren’t done by the people we know and won’t be affected by having a gun in the house. That’s not right either, but the whole thing is an exercise in approximation. Why bring up one suicide to counter it…except that you don’t like what it’s telling you?

    By the way, there are statistics available on suicide too. Go look them up.

  35. #35 Greg Laden
    April 21, 2010

    The vast majority of suicides seem to be by people who, if they had been brought back to life, would have looked back a decade later and thought “WTF?”

    Hunter Thompson has never, in all his life, been brought up as an exemplar of anything. The idea of doing so is absurd. Were he alive an you were in reach, you’d be slapped upside the head, without a doubt.

  36. #36 Russell
    April 21, 2010

    If it worries someone to have a gun in the house, because it might lead them to commit suicide when they think they otherwise shouldn’t, they should avoid having a gun in the house. I’m quite content with the notion that if, in my later years, I develop a chronic disease that reaches the point where I want to suicide, then the guns in my house provide me a certain and convenient means to do so. That’s not a risk. That’s a feature.

    Homicide statistics worry me. Suicide statistics don’t.

  37. #37 Greg Laden
    April 21, 2010

    Russell, you should be worried. I think in this case, you’re really not getting it.

    The rational argument as to whether or not there should be a gun in the house is made all the time by rational people who have teenagers. They get rid of the fucking guns, or keep them very well secured.

    One thing that is often missed is that the absence of a gun in a household isn’t always a default or random act. It is often purposeful and thoughtful.

    And your link of rationally deciding to have a gun in the house vs not vis-a-vis the irrational act of suicide (when it is irrational) does not jive. If you think about it.

  38. #38 John
    April 21, 2010

    @29 CR Neighbor

    “IIRC it was eventually reported that Mr. Whaley’s doors were unlocked.”

    …and this is relevant why? Oh, I guess according to Greg this is an open invitation for any ‘buglers,’ burglars or stupid/mischievous teens to come in and harm, steal from, harass, scare and or trumpet a fanfare at me?

    As in most instances, education is again the key. Don’t try to restrict or take away my rights just because someone else was too stupid to exercise their own (right to an education, right to self-restraint, right to ask for help, right to live within the laws and moral/ethical guidelines of this society or right to leave it for another that suits you).

    I don’t understand the stance people have against guns. Guns are and will always be a fact of life, not just of this society or country, but of this world. They are part of the fabric of this country, albeit a bit overly aggrandized by Hollywood (which in general seems to be against them but doesn’t hesitate to make money off of them in the newest action movies or mystery, etc.). How do opponents of guns rationalize their existence as citizens of this country. If you want gun free homes, please leave those of us who love our country for what it is and become a citizen of the UK, where the citizens were duped into giving up their guns, and while you’re there, enjoy the blossoming crime rates and the big brother society that they are fast becoming.

  39. #39 Docgmt
    April 21, 2010

    The two men accused of a brutal Connecticut home invasion may not have had violent crimes in their long lists of prior convictions, but sources tell local newspapers the pair’s record changed when they invaded the home of a prominent doctor early Monday morning.

    “This is everyone’s worst nightmare,” Lt. Jay Markella, Cheshire police spokesman, told the Waterbury newspaper. “It’s by far the worst thing any of us have ever seen.”

    The state medical examiner confirmed that Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled and that her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, died of smoke inhalation. The deaths were ruled homicides.

    The girls’ father, Dr. William Petit Jr., a prominent endocrinologist, remained hospitalized with head injuries.

    All three women were raped, sources familiar with the investigation told both the Waterbury Republican-American and Hartford Courant. Petit was beaten with a baseball bat, thrown down the basement stairs, and then tied up in the cellar.

    The girls, sources told the Courant, were tied to their beds and raped repeatedly, then left to burn after gasoline was poured around their beds and ignited.

    OK after reading this and then tell me having and using a gun is a bad thing. How do YOU know who is breaking in? What is the intent? Monday morning QBing, he was only 17 does not cut it. Did we not outlaw burning people to death a long time ago? Why don’t these peole follow the law?

  40. #40 John
    April 21, 2010

    @Greg #37

    Okay, I left something off earlier, it’s not all about education, another big part of it is being taught to respect you parents and elders… Well, I guess it is all about education. Parents not home, working/drinking/carousing or whatever and not teaching their children how to behave, the value of an earned dollar, that stealing from or breaking in to other peoples property is wrong and against the law and could get their butt shot, etc. This is not a new thing nor another educational ideal that should be foisted on teachers. These types of things should be taught at home. If someone is unable to afford supporting a child with one job so that they can be home to teach their offspring how to behave in this society then maybe they shouldn’t procreate until they are able to afford not just birthing, but raising a child. Furthermore, don’t impose upon me to pay for you to raise and “care” for that child.

  41. #41 Stephanie Z
    April 21, 2010

    Um, Docgmt, you do realize you’re not going to find yourself in the middle of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre too, no matter how striking a story it is, right? Being so scared of something like this that you need a blue steel pacifier that’s more likely to kill you than keep you from any kind of injury is pretty damned wussy.

  42. #42 Disgusted
    April 22, 2010

    @Stephanie

    “Being so scared of something like this that you need a blue steel pacifier that’s more likely to kill you than keep you from any kind of injury is pretty damned wussy.”

    I don’t suppose you’d admit to someone having stated their opinion of you that you’re an overly presumptive condescending bitch, would you?

    I’ve read through a enough of you’re posts to see that you add little value to this or few other blogs. All that you seem to do is rag on other peoples opinion and comments providing few constructive comments or well thought out discussions or arguments yourself. Why don’t you do the blog a service and limit your input to meaningful statements, rather than your typical diatribes.

  43. #43 Stephanie Z
    April 22, 2010

    Disgusted, it’s hardly my fault if you can’t get anything out of the odds argument above. Nor is it my problem if you can’t figure out how to use a killfile.

    As for your second paragraph, I might admit to whatever it is you’re saying if I could figure out what it was. Maybe. I don’t think it’s presumption to point out that people using fear-based arguments are afraid, or to point out that it’s an unreasonable fear when I’ve already done the work to support that with statistics. I generally limit my condescension to those who have already condescended to me. And “bitch” just means I’ve run into someone who doesn’t like the fact that a woman has strongly stated political opinions.

    And while I’ll certainly “admit” that someone has voiced such an opinion of me, I’m hardly going to care that they don’t think my comments are substantive if they’re making the complaint in a thread in which I’m the only person arguing with actual statistics. I’ll care even less when said person has to use a sock puppet to say it.

  44. #44 Docgmt
    April 22, 2010

    @Stephanie

    “Being so scared of something like this that you need a blue steel pacifier that’s more likely to kill you than keep you from any kind of injury is pretty damned wussy.”

    Dear Stephanie

    Sorry dear “scared of something” what I am pointing out is that there are bad people in the world that will come into your house, rape you and then pour gasoline on top of you. It is not always a pretty world out there. So if you like submitting to your attackers feel free or you can defend your self no one forcing you.

    P.S the doc nick name comes from being a Tactical Paramedic on a regional SWAT team. Asumeing I am scared of something without knowing that I have 20+ years of fire arms training is well…. you know. “I will asume” that when you are attacked you will be calling for someone that has a gun, it might be me.

  45. #45 Stephanie Z
    April 22, 2010

    Docgmt, the psychotic sadists are coming to get me? Really? I’ve lived in the urban core for the last 20 years. I walk everywhere, sometimes at night. Where have they been all this time? I’ve had a couple of break-ins, yes, but one was while no one was home (as they almost always are or try to be) and the other apologized and fled when discovered someone was in the house.

    That isn’t to say big bad things don’t sometimes happen. It is to say that they happen so vanishingly rarely that being actively scared of them or letting them dictate my life isn’t reasonable. It is, in fact, counterproductive if I allow it to lead to keeping a gun accessible for that very, very slim eventuality, because guns come with significant costs to safety that far outweigh the protection they’d be offering. How smart is it to hang onto a safety blanket that’s infested with spiders?

  46. #46 Mu
    April 22, 2010

    Greg, you’re defending a kid for doing something incredibly stupid, and are jumping on a 73 year old with a .22 rifle. Good job, you couldn’t have found a less offensive case of defending your home (maybe an 80 year old woman in a wheel chair with a bb gun). Trying to outlaw .22 rifles in your own home is something not even the Brady campaign could propose with a straight face.
    Whether you climb a fence in the zoo and fall into the tiger cage, stand in the middle of the interstate at night or break into a house, some activities carry an inhering risk, and it’s not the fault of the tiger, the driver of the car that run him over or the homeowner who shot him that he’s dead. Would the house actually have been abandoned, and he’d stepped on a rattle snake, would you have asked for a rattle snake elimination program to protect teenagers?
    It’s sad that a young life ended on something that stupid, but there’s only one person responsible, and it’s not the old man in his bedroom.

  47. #47 Stephanie Z
    April 22, 2010

    Mu, where is Greg proposing making anything illegal?

  48. #48 CyberLizard
    April 22, 2010

    A wee bit late to the party, but something was said that crystalized the whole argument for me

    That isn’t to say big bad things don’t sometimes happen. It is to say that they happen so vanishingly rarely that being actively scared of them or letting them dictate my life isn’t reasonable. It is, in fact, counterproductive if I allow it to lead to keeping a gun accessible for that very, very slim eventuality, because guns come with significant costs to safety that far outweigh the protection they’d be offering.

    Right there. That is the essence of the cost-benefit analysis that we engage in every time we wake up and get out of bed. It’s called “life”. There are ample statistics to support the rationally arrived at conclusion that having a firearm in the home is many times more likely to cause injury or death to a family member or loved one than it is to be used in defense. We can pick out edge cases to support any argument, but anecdotes to not data make. Basing a potentially harmful decision like that solely on overinflated, hollywood-aggrandized, fear-mongering hype about minutely potential threats is not a rational approach, no matter how many times you shout, “They’re comin’ to rape and burn yer wimmin!”. Sorry, logic FAIL.

  49. #49 Greg Laden
    April 22, 2010

    I’m sorry, I didn’t see that mentioned in the story, how did you come by that information? Stupid teenagers, who by the way can be quite competent liars by that age, said so? Did you know of their plan but do nothing to stop it?

    John, aka “Disgusted,” you are a real piece of work.

    How do I know this? It helps that this is a case where one of my neighbors shot another one of my neighbors. But actually, these details are also in the police report and in a couple of the several different published newspaper accounts of the time.

    I love the way you blame society for your utter stupidity in the rest of your post.

    Your wording in the post you signed as “Disgusted” is a bit over the top. Clarify real real nice, or simply apologize, and I’ll let you off. Consider yourself on notice.

    And if you think I won’t inform your employers out there on Wolf Road what you’ve been using your work computer for, you are quite mistaken. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been to in that building in my job as one of those highly paid consultants you see walking by now and then.

    Happy fucking earth day, “John.”

    Bang.

  50. #50 darwinsdog
    April 22, 2010

    Three years ago this coming summer I woke up early on a Sunday morning, made coffee and sat down at the computer in the home library to check my email. My wife, son and granddaughter were still asleep. Suddenly the front door opened and a guy I’d never seen before came in my house, walked past the library door and into the kitchen. I got up to ask him what he was doing but thought I’d better confront him with my shotgun in my hands. So I went down to my bedroom and got my old 20 gauge / .22 over-under out from under my bed. When the guy came towards me I thumped him in the sternum with the muzzle and told him to get out of my house. I didn’t cock the weapon but had my thumb on the hammer & finger on the trigger. He left the house, I called the cops and together we discovered that the intruder had been systematically burglarizing the premises. He had chosen tools he thought he could pawn and had even pocketed my wife’s car keys. The police arrested him later in the day and he plead guilty to a burglary charge and served time, altho he’s out of prison now. I’m glad I didn’t shoot him and I’m also glad I had that shotgun and could have shot him had he lunged at me or threatened my family members.

  51. #51 JohnS
    April 22, 2010

    Note: John is a common name. I wrote comment #25 only.

    I just read comment 49 by Greg. If I’m reading this correctly, Greg…you’re a jerk. Someone disagrees with you and your response is to track them down and get them fired for daring to give an opinion. If this John is being a jerk, ban him. The smugness of the “highly paid consultant you see walking around” is dripping. We’re both liberals but I don’t look down on those with less education or money than I when I want to get an extra dig in.

    Yes, some of John’s comments are cruel and dumb. Responses have to have some sense of proportion. The response to jackass comment on the internet should not be to get a guy fired and lord over him your superiority.

    I’m actually in disbelief. The strawmen that Bill O’Reilly knocks down exist in you! An old man, cornered in his bedroom, fires a single .22 caliber shot at a young adult teenaged intruder and your characterization is “nut-job waiting to off someone”. This isn’t even near the realm of rationality. This is Glenn Beck levels of crazy. If you or someone else were to make the iron-clad case against having a gun in the home, that doesn’t speak to the morality of the individual acts talked about in the two news articles.

  52. #52 Greg Laden
    April 22, 2010

    Yeah, John, thanks for the advice.

    Now, read my about page.

    Now, read ALL the newspaper reports on the event in Coon Rapids

    Now, read ALL the comments that never saw the light of day from our friend. Oh, I guess you can’t.

  53. #53 Mike Haubrich
    April 23, 2010

    Here’s why I don’t have a gun in my house. If I am awakened or startled from sleep by a burglar, my vision would take moments to adjust to dim light. I would be sleepy and my alertness would also take time to raise. A gun in my hands at that moment when both my vision and my judgment are impaired would be an ineffective defense against someone who is accustomed to low light and is alert.

    If you are to shoot someone, you are to shoot to kill according to safety experts. Wounding someone makes them more dangerous, right? So it would take a very good shot to be able to hit someone in the heart or between the eyes in the dark, while still sleepy.

    Or else that person could take advantage of my semi-alert state and grab my gun, putting me and my housemates in worse danger. I would rather have a pepper spray for self defense for two reasons. One, a mistaken shot at a family member or a friend would not be fatal. Two, the intruder would be disabled until the cops arrived.

    Like Stephanie, I do not live in fear that the intruders are all over the place and swarming our cities and towns looking to loot and rape the first person they find that doesn’t have a handgun.

  54. #54 darwinsdog
    April 23, 2010

    Three years ago this coming summer I woke up early on a Sunday morning, made coffee and sat down at the computer in the home library to check my email. My wife, son and granddaughter were still asleep. Suddenly the front door opened and a guy I’d never seen before came in my house, walked past the library door and into the kitchen. I got up to ask him what he was doing but thought I’d better confront him with my shotgun in my hands. So I went down to my bedroom and got my old 20 gauge / .22 over-under out from under my bed. When the guy came towards me I thumped him in the sternum with the muzzle and told him to get out of my house. I didn’t cock the weapon but had my thumb on the hammer & finger on the trigger. He left the house, I called the cops and together we discovered that the intruder had been systematically burglarizing the premises. He had chosen tools he thought he could pawn and had even pocketed my wife’s car keys. The police arrested him later in the day and he plead guilty to a burglary charge and served time, altho he’s out of prison now. I’m glad I didn’t shoot him and I’m also glad I had that shotgun and could have shot him had he lunged at me or threatened my family members.

  55. #55 Greg Laden
    April 23, 2010

    Mu, so your position is that the penalty for entering an abandon house on a dare is death. Nice.

  56. #56 John
    April 23, 2010

    John again from 25 and 51.

    PZ meyers has a similar policy that threatens to expose anyone who threatens him. His policy, however, is on the left side of every page. It is not buried 3/4 down his About Me page.

    Secondly, you are right in that I haven’t read what comments of his didn’t see the light of day. I must admit that maybe this John posted something so awful, depraved, and obscene to human decency as to warrant your threats to expose him. I fell to out of sight, out of mind.

    Lastly, I should have read all the reports about the coon rapids shooting, though I figured you would have provided the information that best backed your position. I’ve read the news articles online and all, as I suspected, are virtually identical. Whaley. 73 years old. Single gun shot from .22 rifle. Intruder. Broken garage door. If I’m missing some key fact, please point it out.

    I would never say the penalty for going in a house on a dare or even theft should be the death penalty. It is, however, a powerful risk. The young man that died IS a victim; not of Whaley, but his own naivete and a single, though remarkably bad, decision.

    I have sympathy. I’ve made mistakes in my teens including one that damn near cost me my life. I was lucky. This kid wasn’t. To accuse Whaley of murderous intent, however, is just absolutely nowhere NEAR a reasonable thing to say. Again, this guy fired a single shot from the 2nd least powerful and sized round in existence.

  57. #57 Captain patriot
    April 23, 2010

    Well, I don’t know what kind of Soviet commie wants to ban the constitution. it seems like the U.S. laws are getting more and more restrictive and we are loosing more and more freedom – becoming like Europe – a nightmare hellhole full of crackhead dictators, asshole socialists, and bastards tyrants.

    I personally keep a .357 magnum, a 45 Long Colt, and a .38 special + P loaded at all times just in case some asshole punk wishes to intrude upon me. Can’t wait to get my .41 magnum and my Taurus Judge 6.5

    In reality I hate a 9mm. They are accurate, but useless unless loaded with Hornady Critical Defense rounds or Winchester Black talons (which are illegal but if one looks hard enough in the right place can still be found).

    I prefer a caliber that will definitely do the job. There’s nothing like having a .357 magnum loaded with Hornady 158 grain XTP hollow points to get the job done.

    Then again, when my ordered Judge comes in I’ll have five cyclinder rounds of 2 1/2 inch .410 shotgun shells loaded with Winchester Elite PDX1 which is three copper plated disks loaded over 12 copper plated BBs. A revover that fires five rounds of .410 buckshot or 45 long colt rounds. Now a genious though of that. I prefer the Buffalo Bore 200 grain Speer rounds in 45 long Colt. They are super hot loaded and will wreak havoc on the enemy. They are capable of massive firepower and energy. I doubt if one could survive that round if they were just shot in the leg. Now, if someone could biuld a semi-auto in 45 Long Colt …

    Can you say Magnum Research? They biuld semi-auto 50 action express, .44 magnum,. and .357 mag. Why not 45 Long colt?

    Anyway, enough about me.

    My next door neighbor hates the constition. He want to ban all guns. I repect his opinion enough that I promised not to protect him with my guns if he ever needed it.

    Do me a favor. The next time you people burn an American flag, wrap yourself in it first.

    “You will never see an American flag burned at a gun show.”

    Guns kill people like my computer misspells words.

    Gun control, population control, total control. A marxist nazi liberal legacy in the making. Hitler liked gun control too. It made his job much easier. makes me wonder whhy the lefty commies want my guns so much.

  58. #58 Greg Laden
    April 24, 2010

    Ah, finally, the voice of reason. Yes, I’d say that a revolver that shoots the equivalent of either shot gun shells or cannon shells is quite an achievement.

    When we come to take your guns, Captain, we’ll be doing it from a distance. We’ll be using one of these: http://xrl.in/560d

  59. #59 Captain patriot
    April 24, 2010

    Coming for my guns is an act of treason against the constitution and the Republic. Only marxists are filled with hate enough to want to destroy our rights and take over. You and Darth Sidius would make good companions. You seem to think alike.

    Well, when you come and illegally take my guns, I’ll just have to hunt you down and use my bow and arrow or sword. Besides, any person with knowledge of metal like I can manufacture a well made firearm. It’s not that difficult. All i have to do is cut out the metal frame. All other parts like barrels, grips, sights, rails, etc. are readily available to bulld your own firearm. Many people have chosen to custom build their own AR-15 and AK-47 arms. Parts are readily available to put togegher one.

    Even is the socialist marxist America haters succeed in banning semi-autos from being sold, I am quite sure that illegal “law” will not cover building your ow. Technically, if you built your own, it would not fall under such an Anti-constitution law since you technically did not purchase a firearm. You only purchased “spare parts” for one. Maybe I just accidentally figured out how to make those parts fit together.

    Good luck banning guns.

    Maybe we should ban liberals.

    I am all in favor of cracking down on socialist marxists in America. They should be rounded up and shipped off to the middle of the Congo and relased butt naked to fend for themselves. They are too dangerous to live here and have an influence over normal kids. Let’s face it. We should have let McCarthy finish the job. He was right. This nation has its fair share of Soviet marxist sympathizers. TForget banning guns. If we ban socialism, our problems will be over.

    Jesus Christ will come soon and destroy all marxists and restore order to the world. Socialism will be dead. Communism will not exist. Only capitalism and normal things. I can’t wait for that day to come. I hope he gives me sword and lets me in on the fun. Are ya ready for day of the Lord? It’s coming, I hope you have a fireproof suit.

  60. #60 Mike Haubrich
    April 24, 2010

    9.5 of 10 on the Poe scale, Captain patriot. Not enough caps nor any goats on fire.