A Hard Lesson

589461-216746

Reader Peter C. writes:

I got my Massachusetts Concealed Carry Permit when I was 21, but carried only infrequently for many years. On the morning of March 10, 1991, I received a phone call from one of the members of my rod and gun club, informing me that our club president, Bob L., had been shot to death in the kitchen of his apartment, several hours earlier . . .


Bob was in his fifties, a skilled welder and a dedicated silhouette shooter. He was having breakfast with his wife when a local homeless person whom Bob had known casually for several years entered the kitchen and, waving a gun, accused Bob of having sex with the homeless person’s girlfriend.

The accusation, apparently fueled by drugs and alcohol, was baseless. While trying to reason with his accuser, Bob got up from the table and was fatally shot in the chest. The shooter then left, and was later apprehended by the police, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Although Bob owned a number of firearms, the most accessible at the time was in a kitchen drawer, approximately six feet away from where he was sitting. It might as well have been in another county.

That morning was a turning point in my life. Since then, aside from getting on commercial flights, I have made it a point to always have at least one gun on my person or within immediate reach. In 1995, I moved from Massachusetts to Arizona, where being armed is regarded as reasonably prudent behavior. I only wish I didn’t have to lose a good friend to learn that lesson.

comments

  1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Yeah that’d do it. I had a friend many years ago who let a crazy homeless guy stay in his garage. There were lots of reasons he was homeless. It didn’t end well( but nobody DIED)…I’m not paranoid-just prepared.

  2. avatar nynemillameetuh says:

    Protip: don’t associate with anyone you wouldn’t invite to dinner.

    1. avatar Mike_M says:

      Definitely a good tip but, this same situation happened to a friend of mine with a regular friend of the family. Grown man with a good job and a nice home and a family of his own. He was over to his house one day like 1000 times before and for no known reason just shot and killed him then killed himself. This was before you could spill your emotions all over the Internet (pre-social media) and he left no note. No one knows why he did it. This was in Texas before they had CCW and as of yet, they still have no open carry for pistols. So, he didn’t carry in the house or out but, he did have guns in the house. They were just too far away when it counted.

      1. avatar Mike says:

        Sounds like a similar situation, guy probably thought his wife was cheating on him with your friend.

    2. avatar Roymond says:

      My policy is don’t let anyone know where I live whom I wouldn’t invite over for dinner.

  3. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, Peter.

    A gun on the hip may have helped. A locked door may have helped even more.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if a trusted person of your “inner circle” suddenly decides to kill you. You are screwed.

      1. avatar 16V says:

        Exactly. At some point you have to trust somebody.

        Your best friend just may go batfeces crazy. The odds are low, but it happens. You also may be struck by lightning. That’s life.

      2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        Obviously we all have the benefit of hindsight here, and I don’t mean to sound smug. Only pointing out that if the door was locked, he could have tooled up before letting the guy in.

        1. avatar Chris says:

          This.

          My two girls, and their mother, don’t believe in locking the door when you’re at home unless you’re asleep.

          They’ve been the victim of two robberies (no one home at the time). I can’t understand that mindset. The only house I ever lived in that was open access like that was my grandfathers farmhouse, and any intruder would have to sneak past the 5 doggy doorbells.

        2. avatar Cornholio says:

          Same with my wife. In her younger years she was:

          Stalked
          1. Gun in face by stalker
          2. Attempted car entry at stop sign
          3. Attempted abduction along freeway.

          I just don’t get it. Still love her though…bless her little heart.

        3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          According to the article, the homeless man was a casual friend of the homeowner. Based on that description and the fact that there was no indication of any struggle in the home before the homeless man attacked, I don’t think it would have mattered if the homeowner had locked his door. All the homeless man would have had to do is knock on the door and the homeowner would have opened his door since the homeowner knew the homeless man.

  4. avatar Sam H says:

    Sorry for your loss. As a 1st generation Arizona native when it comes to guns AZ is a civilized state.

    1. avatar S.CROCK says:

      In less than a year (God willing) I will have the opportunity that you and the author have of living in AZ! 🙂

      1. avatar Jandrews says:

        Moved here from NC last April. No regrets. Fantastic state in many ways beyond just firearms, but the fact that the laws here respect ALL your Constitutional Rights is a huge plus.

        1. avatar Enuz says:

          Oh c’mon now, NC isn’t that bad. There’s still some room for improvement, but that’s all the more reason to stay and try and break ground.

          Plus you get to live in a swing state!

      2. avatar Bob108 says:

        I moved here (AZ) last year. It is the best decision of my life. I carry wherever I go. I know that at least 1 in 10 people in AZ carry. I can have a positive, friendly conversation about guns with just about anyone here. I see an open carrier or two at least once a week. Believe me, life is good here.

    2. avatar Andy says:

      A peculiarity about AZ: I can carry as many guns as I want, and have pockets full of switchblades, but nunchaku are illegal. Everyplace has its little quirks.

      1. avatar Xanderbach says:

        Maybe it’s because nunchuka are basically useless. Seems AZ (where I live also) is mandating EFFECTIVE self defense.

        1. avatar Drew says:

          So what is the point of the ban? A ham sandwich is a less effective SD tool but I imagine those arnt banned. If it’s because it’s only useful as an assault tool that’s silly.

      2. avatar Salty Bear says:

        Great irony: Nunchaku are farm tools that were adapted to be weapons because only samurai were allowed to possess swords. Now guns (the modern equivalent of swords) are legal but nunchaku are banned.

  5. avatar Lfshtr says:

    I figure that I must be alert at all times, I could not ever forgive myself if I let harm sneak in on me and my family, and not be prepared to handle any situation. I know you cannot be ready all the time, but I might be paranoid too. All out there be safe as you can, trust your gut and try to be prepared.

  6. avatar Rhinotx says:

    This is why I like a small back up gun that I can carry even in PJs. I still carry larger pistols but having something real small makes it easy to always carry.

  7. avatar Michael Zupcak says:

    Good story but I hope the readers are aware of the fact that not all homeless people are cold-blooded murderers. The homeless in our country are shunned. We scoff at them when they ask us for money but how big of a deal is it to give someone 5 or 10 bucks when you, yourself, obviously have a job and money. Are homeless people obnoxious? Certainly. Sometimes, after giving someone 5 dollars, they’ll see the rest of the money in my wallet and start asking for more. At that point I wish I could take back the 5 I already gave him! However, many of them are not like that and are very grateful for even a dollar or some spare coins.

    I’m reminded of one of my favorite Harry Potter quotes: “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      One of the panhandlers in town was arrested for “aggressive panhandling,” at which point it became known that he was a heroin addict and was pulling down $300 a day to support his habit. Anther disabled veteran panhandler was comfortable and certainly not homeless; he used his “earnings” as drinking money. Ever seen one of these “homeless” people change into their begging outfit? Are there people in need? No doubt, probably half the homeless suffer from significant mental illness–but it is hard to tell the ones who are worthy from the ones who earn their fun money by begging–and those latter I feel no compulsion to aid.

      1. avatar Garrison Hall says:

        Actually, I have. I had to laugh one time a few years ago. I was stopped at an overpass where a homeless guy was flying his sign. It was about 4:00 and so he decided it was quittin’ time. He folded his sign, walked across to the opposite railing where he grabbed a large bottle Mogen David and headed for some shade trees across the way. That was a man who understand the value of maintaining a proper image..

    2. avatar SteveO says:

      Michael Zupcak –

      When I was younger, I used to give a little cash to the homeless that you described. I learned very quickly that they took what they had accumulated and either found drugs or alcohol. Did I mention drugs? And more often, they have some profound psychological issues either as a default or due to drug addiction (insert favorite choice here). I’m sure quite a few would shank you or me at the first opportunity – and without a second thought – to score a few easy dollars to fuel their needs. I may be a cold SOB when it comes to keeping my distance from a homeless person, but that distance and mindset helps me get home. If I was to feel charitable, I’d rather take them to a restaurant and buy a meal. It’s really interesting how many have the typical “Homeless and hungry” written on a sheet pf cardboard, but when offered, almost all will pass the free meal. Normal response: You can just give me the money and I’ll get a burger in a little bit…

      1. avatar Ted says:

        Exactly this.

        If they turn down the offered goods and ask for cash instead – you should be suspicious of their real intent.

        A person, that is truly hungry, never turns down a meal.

    3. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      I’m afraid I don’t agree. Street people generally regard you and i as renewable resources—and nothing else. One hallmark of the life is that they’ll never tell you, or anyone else for that matter, the truth of their circumstances. Instead what you’ll get is an artfully crafted story. They’ve been on the street long enough to do a good enough job of sizing you up so that the account you get from them is well crafted to appeal directly to your preconceptions about who they are. They’re very good at this: it’s what they do for a living. In cities which are benign about street begging, those guys “flying a sign” on street corners can collect a tax-free $500-1000 a week. (The people giving them money would be shocked to realize that some of those guys are making more than they are.) In Austin, for instance, flying signs is an organized enterprise. At the really lucrative intersections, like the big one on South Lamar near 290, the take is big enough that the sign flyers actually work in shifts, a few hours at time bringing in enough money to call it a day. .I rarely, if ever, give money to street people. My standard refusal, always politely stated, is “sorry but I don’t give money away”. That usually works and the beggar moves on to find a more persuadable mark.

    4. avatar twency says:

      If you really want to help the homeless the best way is to “give at the office”: contribute to a local non-profit homeless shelter or rescue mission. The staff there work hard to make sure your money goes to help people truly in need and isn’t used to fuel a destructive drug or alcohol habit. Plus your donation is tax-deductible, so it’s a win-win.

    5. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I gave up on panhandlers altogether some years back when I passed a guy on the side of the road with a “will work for food” sign. Problem? He was standing in front of a Wendy’s with a “Now Hiring/$10 an hour to start/ no experience necessary” sign in the window. Either he was, shall we say, not of good character, or he was lying about working for food. Either way, my door was staying locked and my window was staying up. Looking around since, there are always “now hiring” signs here in Austin. The bums are, in fact, bums, not unfortunates. Any money they get buys drugs the same day.

  8. avatar Hannibal says:

    My uncle smacked his head getting out of the bathtub so now I wear a helmet when I bathe every time.

    1. avatar Chadwick P. says:

      Troll much? Helmets are only standard bathing implement in Ca, NJ, IL, and NY… Wait a sec, I see a trend.

      1. avatar J O E says:

        Hey! The CC process in IL is pretty easy now! We don’t wear full helmets anymore. It’s more like the ones infants get when their head plates haven’t formed correctly.

        1. avatar scoutino says:

          Sixteen hours of training, fingerprints and spending hundreds of dollars to be able to exercise my right is not my idea of easy.

    2. avatar Tim McNabb says:

      “My uncle smacked his head getting out of the bathtub so now I wear a helmet when I bathe every time.”

      I think this is a good idea for you…

      1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        I might be too late, though.

    3. avatar Fuque says:

      Isnt that the same uncle who got in the car wreck and wasnt wearing his seatbelt?,… and look, now you wear one one.

  9. avatar Stevie says:

    Just as important as it is to have a gun near by, it’s just as important to practice properly securing your home. I don’t know how this man entered the house, but in my house all entry doors are always locked, even when i step outside to grab the mail. I always tell my wife who’s often home alone because of my crazy shift hours, to never open the door for anyone, not even someone in uniform. If they want to talk, they can talk through a cracked opened window.

    1. avatar Anthony says:

      I always lock my doors, but my brother (who also happens to be my room mate) thinks I’m paranoid and is always leaving them open. I would like to see someone try and break into my apartment, though. There’s so much shit it in the front that I could probably send it to America’s Funniest Home Videos and win some dough, lol

  10. avatar mk10108 says:

    That’s a hard one. Dam right Stevie lock the door.

  11. avatar trob6969 says:

    I read an article a while back that enlightened me to not only be armed but also carry at least one spare mag: a guy was outside in his garage working on his car when two criminals approached him…when the police got there they saw one of the criminals laying dead on the ground with a gun in his hand and nearby was the guy who was working on his vehicle, also laying dead with his gun also in-hand but with the slide in the locked-back position. After the second criminal was caught the police confirmed that the victim was killed because he ran out of ammo, giving the surviving criminal the opportunity to kill him.

    1. avatar Yellow Devil says:

      “YOU DON’T NEED MORE THEN TEN ROUNDS TO KILL A DEER!”

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Sounds like a case of too much shooting with too little aiming.

      1. avatar dranosh says:

        When adrenaline is pumping aiming is rather difficult, deer hunting may make your heart pump but there’s no risk and you have a good amount of time to aim

  12. avatar fishydude says:

    Damn. The law in MA is even worse now. Having a loaded pistol in a kitchen drawer is illegal now. Unless a gun is under one’s direct control (in a holster or your hand) it must have a trigger lock and be locked in a safe, unloaded. Ammo locked in a separate safe. And this is supposedly regardless off whether one has children in the home.
    At night my pistol in on my night stand. Otherwise it is in my holster. I’m lucky that I work in a small office and the boss doesn’t care if I’m packin’.

    Gonna be out in PHX this Spring to pack up my mother and move her back to NC. I’m glad my permit is good there.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Zero permit is legal there! Might want to check states in between, tho.

  13. avatar J. Zoss says:

    This is only relates as far as being ready with home carry but my brothers (previously thought stable spouse) turned out to be suppressing her hoplophobic nature during their marriage. My brother carries but started home carrying more with a gun he could draw fast because of a recent deadly threat. This was met with fury from his wife, “you are completely crazy to be carrying a loaded gun in the house”. No matter that his life has been threatened by someone that knows where he lives. No matter that she was also in danger.

    My brother continued about his business but a little bit later police had arrived to cuff him and take him away. All from a single word from one female that he was armed and paranoid. Not a single mark on her, nothing. Yeah just so very unjustifiably paranoid when someone has threatened to come to your home and kill you. Days later she again managed to have him cuffed in the back of a car for hours that was equally unjustified. Once again based completely on her lies and it was eventually determined he did nothing wrong. Guess what happened to her for filing false reports. Nothing. Not sure how this works in other states but here a woman doesn’t need any evidence and need only say the word to have a man hauled off to jail.

    1. avatar Chris says:

      This. This is why I’m considering returning to my single ways.

      She at least should be charged with filing false police reports. He, should obviously GTFO!

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Yeah, my wife might do that once, she’d never get another chance, and I wouldn’t leave a forwarding address.

    2. avatar nynemillameetuh says:

      The state has become the real man in many women’s lives. It provides food, shelter, and most importantly, muscle. In this case, a neurotic waif appealed to an authority she respected more to abuse her lesser lover.

      1. avatar pg2 says:

        “The state has become the real man in many women’s lives”-Damn straight, and this didn’t happen by accident.

    3. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      Man, my alarm bells are going off on this one. While she may be nutty enough to actually think it’s OK to do something like this to someone she wants to stay married to, my deeply suspicious nature tells me she’s aiming to setup your brother for something big, like maybe a divorce. Tell your brother to get a lawyer. Right. Now.

      1. avatar J. Zoss says:

        Indeed and appreciate the concerned input. Luckily he has told her to not contact him again except through lawyers and only for the purpose of discussing divorce proceedings. He is almost a carbon copy of myself when it comes to liberty or death and respecting all of the Constitution and BoR.

        How he matched up with her is quite the mystery. She calls for gun control, even confiscation before bodies have hit room temp after every publicized shooting. The obvious “little head” doing the thinking is definitely not enough here, trust me. I am sure the idea that this woman would ever betray him while trying to protect both of their lives from a large and aggressive attacker never crossed his mind. She even claimed he was waiving his carry piece around at people which at least other strangers denied. Still no punishment from her. It is infuriating.

        This woman is a classic statist “butter”. I support but…

        He has had a wide variety of guns in their house. She even claimed to like some of them. What was not liked was anything resembling one of my scary “AR15 Machine Guns”. Most of which are chambered with a far less lethal round with less effective range than ones that met her approval. He could create at least equal destruction and just as quickly with more than one gun he has that looks less scary than a standard AR or AK.

        Really makes me appreciate my wife. The polar opposite of that statist nutcase. Bought her a Sig Blackwood 938 for xmas and she gave me a Shield with APEX trigger, XS Big dots and a N82 professional holster. My apologies for getting so far off track from the original entry.

  14. avatar JohnF says:

    We live in a low crime area, but the doors are always locked. I would not open the door for anyone I was not expecting, not even a family member. (Especially not my side of the family, but that’s a story for another time!) I also carry at home about 50% of the time, but this article is going to cause me to up that percentage considerably. Additionally, as has been recommended in this thread, I don’t have people with questionable personalities come around my house, or even know where I live. I empathize with them and will help them, but not at my house.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      My doors are all glass, I don’t lock them but I would with a specific threat, just for the seconds it would take and noise it would make to get through any of them. I do home carry 100%, and if a stranger comes to my door my hand is on my gun when I open it (the glass works both ways, I know when the doorbell is a stranger). My biggest failure, which I should work on in some way, is if a guy has a pizza in his hand (my son lives downstairs), I don’t pay as much attention as I probably should.

  15. Note to TTAG:
    These stock photos you are using give a horrible representation of proper gun handling. You have a camera. Take your own pictures instead of showing how NOT to draw a weapon.

  16. avatar H says:

    My bathtub doors are locked. My helmet is on, my seatbelt is on. I have six extra mags. Now thanks to you all I realize I need to start bathing.

    ……have to find that bathtub key. :):)

  17. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    So we’re agreed. Never befriend street bums (the majority of whom are mentally ill and/or substance abusers) and always lock your doors with upgraded locks and hardware. Sure, the killer could’ve shot through the door or window, but if he had done that, home carry wouldn’t have helped anyway.

  18. avatar H says:

    I’m not agreeing to never anything. I do help folks who actually need help in a way that actually helps them.
    I can’t agree with the homeless statement because it’s too easy to generalize and then marginalize all of them. It could be you on the side of the road after walking 10 miles in the dark & rain. At least call for help for me. Don’t pick me up.

    As a child I was taught to percieve whether a person was good or bad. Whether a dog was good or bad. Some people in suits or even in your family are the worst people imaginable. The stranger may have your best interests at heart. So no sweeping generalizations work for me.

    However lock those doors and car doors and retain situational awareness all the time! Yes there are smooth taking tricksters out there.

    1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      I’m talking about befriending the homeless: KNOWN homeless people. Nobody, except you, is tossing out strawmen arguments about misinterpreting someone stranded on the side of the road as being homeless. If I see the same filth-caked crackhead hobo at the intersection under the overpass for six months straight, I’m going to conclude he’s homeless and dangerous, and not naively assume he just has car trouble every day. If you want to invite him over for tea and crumpets, that’s your decision.

      Same thing with monsters in suits. Yes, they exist, too. So what? I’m not inviting random, albeit well dressed, men into my home either.

      Bottom line is that if a member of the local homeless population is hanging around you and your family, at your own invitation, then you’re a fool who’s placed people in danger. The homeless, as a group, are to be avoided when possible and kept at bay otherwise. They are not to be engaged on the off chance one happens to be a mesmerizing raconteur, or a fascinating interlocutor well versed in the intricacies of nanotechnology or the finer points of representative democracy. Grow up.

  19. avatar Don from CT says:

    I never used to carry in the home. But I did have guns well hidden all over the house.

    Then I had kids and hidden guns became unacceptable. So now I carry all the time. As I write this, I’m in my jammies with a G42 in one pocket and a cell phone in the other.

    Don

  20. avatar David says:

    This may have been said already, if so I apologize, but Jeff Cooper once stated that if you had been to Gunsite and you were reading Cooper’s Corner without a pistol within arm’s reach, you didn’t receive you money’s worth.

    A good employee of a friend was killed because a stalker came to the door and her gun was in her bedroom. Many things wrong there, but the picture is the same – have access to a gun!

  21. avatar NuttyButty says:

    It’s a real shame crime in America is so bad we have to keep guns on us at all times. Maybe We should move to a country with low enough crime we don’t have to carry a gun on us at all times. I hear Sweden is like that. Crime is so low there, they have laws saying you can’t even own a pistol

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