We can learn a lot about the problematic illusion-making tendencies of the discourse on guns by analyzing a recent news story from Loganville, Ga.
You may have heard about it: A lady was hiding in her attic from a burglar with her two kids and her Saturday night special when he used a crowbar to bust in on them. So she did what she had to do. Next thing you know, the creeper with them two feets who came a-creepin’ like a black cat do is on the floor full of .38 holes.
There’s an important aspect of this story I need to draw attention to at this point because it perplexes the hell outta me: He didn’t mean to violently intrude upon this family.
The guy shows up knocking at the door, ostensibly to sell them some encyclopedias or crowbars or something.
No answer. So he rings the doorbell a bunch of times, and instead of answering the door or somehow asking him what he wants, they hide and call the cops!
Now that he’s satisfied that no one is home, he begins liberating the family’s belongings in the name of the proletariat. Like any good burglar, he’s thorough, working through every room in the house until he eventually reaches the attic.
He opens the door, and suddenly a relatively harmless cat burglary becomes a violent home invasion.
Those with a pro-gun stance paraded this story as an example of why passing gun control legislation would be worse for America than a gay marriage between President Barack Obama and Michael Moore held on the steps of the Capitol where both tuxedos are made entirely from marijuana and birth control pills.
Self-defense is a legitimate thing; there are certain human instincts that encourage self-preservation rather than lengthy reflection and discussion of motives.
Or as Lao Tzu so wisely wrote, “Shoot first, ask questions later.”
The problematic part of how this scenario played out is not what she did in the heat of that moment. I just want to know why she didn’t, you know, answer the door in the first place.
C’mon, you gotta at least open a window and ask the dude what he wants!
Obviously I’m not saying she deserved to have her house broken into.
You can try to justify her in hindsight by saying, “Well, he just got out of jail in August, and he’s been arrested six times since 2008, so she had a right to be scared of him.” But she couldn’t have known that!
Unless the news left out the part where he yelled about his time in Folsom or the fact that his T-shirt said, “Ask me about jail!” there wasn’t a real reason for her to be scared of him initially, other than the same reason she bought the gun in the first place.
She’s been so conditioned by the stories of murders and home invasions that populate the evening news that she immediately went into xenophobia-induced panic mode as soon as someone whose appearance was mildly threatening intruded into her comfort zone.
This lady is being rightfully praised as a hero for protecting her family in the face of danger.
From all appearances, this guy was trying to find an EMPTY house to break into. If she had initially responded proactively by confronting him when he was a random, annoying guy hanging around ringing the doorbell incessantly, there’s a nonzero chance he would’ve just made up some excuse and moved on.
Instead she acted in an inexplicably irrational and paranoid way. Now he’s badly wounded, maybe dying, and her kids had to watch their mother repeatedly shoot a man while he begged her, crying, to stop.
Maybe guns are good, maybe they’re bad, but this story should’ve never gotten to the point where they were involved.
Sometimes it’s easier to ask someone just what the hell they think they’re doing rather than wait for them to do it.
Dallin Kelson is an English senior at UF. His column runs on Mondays. You can conctact him via email@example.com.