It’s no great leap of imagination to suggest that a man who shoots his own cousin by mistake is an irresponsible gun owner. Or is it? Depending on your perspective, you can file this tragedy under two categories: “shit happens” or “see what happens when there’s a gun in the house/apartment/trailer home”? I’m not down with either analysis. A gun owner is responsible for every bullet or shotshell that leaves the barrel, no matter what. First, the few facts as we know them via wkrg.com . . .
The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office says 18-year-old Daniel Johnson shot and killed his 26-year-old cousin, Joy Logan. We’re told he thought she was a burglar.
The Sheriff’s Office says Logan and her aunt had been visiting someone at the hospital, it was late, so Logan’s aunt said she could just stay at her place, but Johnson wasn’t expecting anyone to come home that night.
What’s missing from this chronicle? Other than a phone call heads-up to Mr. Johnson from his aunt, who probably knew he was armed and dangerous, or a little something more in the challenging the bad guy department, what could have prevented this horrific loss of life? Let me tell you a story about something that happened in my house about two weeks ago . . .
My eldest daughter lives in the UK. She’s a teenager in a two-year long-distance relationship with a local boy. She was staying with us for the holidays, but only in spirit. She spent every spare minute in her boyfriend’s company (obviously). She was staying up late watching TV. The rest of the family, including me, went to bed.
At about 2:30am the alarm went off. I immediately implemented my top secret (for you dear reader) home defense plan. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that it includes at least one firearm. I was about ten seconds in, holding cold steel, when my eldest’s voice rang out.
“It’s me!” she shouted. “I set off the alarm.” As I stood down, I learned that she’d felt sick and wanted some “fresh air.” Well of course she did.
Let’s just imagine, shall we, that my sprog had let in her boyfriend for what girls let boyfriends into houses for at 2:30am. And let’s say he was leaving after his social call and I heard him going down the stairs. Would that have been a recipe for disaster?
I know enough NOT to shoot someone in my house unless they’re putting my life or the life of my loved ones in imminent danger, and imminence is imminent. Unlike some members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia, I do NOT accept the idea that anyone in my house who shouldn’t be in the dead of night needs shooting. The law on this is clear, unless you live in Texas. Or don’t care about the law.
If so, remember that it’s also true that you can THINK someone in your house is about to kill you when they’re not. If, say, a COD-obsessed teenager happens to be padding around your palace carrying a fake weapon. In the dark.
Even if a genuine bad guy is genuinely out to Suarez my ass, my starting position, my default position, is still that I do NOT want to shoot anyone. Ever.
Obviously, the ideal is for the bad guy to stay the F out of my house. An alarm system is one of THE best way to make sure that happens. AND avoid avoidable tragedies, like the one described at the top of this post.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that any armed home defender who doesn’t use an alarm system at night is an irresponsible gun owner. But I will say this: if you DON’T have an alarm, you need to make doubly sure that you understand that things are not always what they seem.
As always, there are no firearms accidents. Only negligent discharges.