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It’s a plain fact: career criminals commit the vast majority of gun violence. No wonder many commentators hereabouts consider the debate over gun control the crime-fighting equivalent of a drunk looking for his car keys under a streetlamp because the light’s better. The best way to combat gun violence is to combat criminals who use guns—not regulating legal gun ownership. It’s a pretty convincing intellectual argument. But it’s important to realize that there’s a visceral difference between legal gun owners and hardened criminals, whose cavalier attitude to life and death is a million miles away from the average firearms owner. Once again, we turn to for a look at the thought processes (or lack thereof) of those who use guns in furtherance of their criminal enterprise (such as it is) . . .

On Monday night after the escape, me and Bobby went to a mobile home that belongs to Jason Pett. … We went in and ate and got dry. We changed clothes. We went to sleep and the next morning we got up and we took a shower and while I was in the shower, Bobby popped the lock on the top of the gun cabinet…. Bobby wanted a gun in case we needed to use it for anything. Bobby had all of the guns laying in the floor. I put all of them back up. Bobby had a 16 gauge in his hand. I loaded a 12 gauge shotgun and slept with it by the door. I also loaded a 22 rifle with one bullet in it. We sat there that whole day and Bobby was always carrying the gun. We were going to leave after it got dark. I went ahead and took another shower and when I was getting in the shower Bobby said that he was going to go kill the son of a bitch and get his truck. Bobby was referring to the man that was living in a trailer near Jason’s house. His trailer was about 100 yards away. We had seen the man come and go and knew he had a pickup. Bobby had a 30.06 in his hand and I was in Jason’s master bath and took a bath. I got out of the bath and when I got out of the bath, Bobby came through the door and he was holding the rifle and Bobby said that the man would never get in his damn cross hairs. Bobby was smiling when he said this. I told Bobby to quit f___ around and for us to go on and get the hell out of here and get a way of going. Bobby said to hurry up and get dressed. I was putting on my socks and I had not noticed that Bobby had gone back out the door and the next thing I know I heard a gun-shot and I jumped up running and looked out the front window and I saw the man falling to the ground. The man was in his trailer where the door was. Bobby was outside about 100 yards from the trailer. The shot came from the end of Jason’s trailer. Bobby came running inside and he had the rifle and pointed the gun sort of towards me and said let’s go, get the duffle bag, let’s go. We then went out of the door and ran to the man’s truck. Bobby ran inside the man’s trailer and he asked me to help him find the keys. We both went in and I saw a hamburger cooking on the stove and I turned off the gas. Bobby found a drawer full of coins and he pulled it out and all. Bobby said that the keys had to be in the man’s pocket. I told him that we didn’t have time for this and we needed to get the hell out of here. Bobby wouldn’t let me out of the door and I tried to go out the other door and he told me not to leave that way. Bobby was cutting the man’s pockets with a pocket knife and he was looking for the keys to the truck. It was like it didn’t even phase him. The man was on his back kind of on a sitting position near some stairs that lead to his bed. The man was wearing blue jeans, he had grey hair with a thick moustache. I saw some blood on the floor under him. Bobby still had the rifle and I tried to barge my way out the door and Bobby lifted the rifle up and said hold on just a minute and I said f___ this shit man, let’s get the hell out of here. Bobby didn’t say nothing else and I barged my way through the damn door. I went outside and I throwed a dove bucket in the back of the truck and the drawer of change. I started walking around to the passenger side and Bobby said, hell no m___f___, I killed this son of a bitch and you are fixing to drive us out of here because I don’t know where I am at. We just left. The rest of what we did I have already told the investigators from Covington County. When we were driving away from the trailer Bobby told me that the gun had jammed and that the rifle had the empty casing in it. I know that I threw two shells behind the pickup seat and one was good and one was spent. We threw these out on the side of the road when we were clearing it out.

“I want to say that the reason I didn’t tell the truth from the very beginning is because I was scared. I want to say that I am sorry for hurting anybody and I wish I could take it back but I can’t.”

Note to author: if you want to say it, why don’t you?

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  1. Your million miles apart is true if you compare the worst of the criminals to the best of the gun owners. In the two spectrums though, you can come closer and closer until they actually overlap, the place where criminal gun owner and law abiding gun owner are indistinguishable. But, that wouldn’t work for your commentary, I realize.

    • Actually, I’m not comparing the extremes. I’m comparing the average non-criminal gun owner and the average gun criminal. In the main, it is NOT a sliding scale. You have one group that does NOT use their firearms to commit a crime and one group that does. The first uses firearms defensively. The second uses them offensively. The first does not have a criminal record, and, thus, can own guns legally. The second has been convicted of at least one felony, and thus, cannot own guns legally. I can’t think of a clearer divide. Can you?

      • On which side is the fellow who realizes he is going broke and shoots his family? Or the one who uses his weapon in anger during a traffic confrontation?

        • The statistically insignificant side. The side that would use another weapon if he didn't have a gun. The idea that all gun owners are potential passion killers is not borne by the evidence. And you have to balance that stat with killers who use other weapons.

        • All gun incidents are statistically insignificant – until they happen. Even here in Baltimore, the chances that someone will shoot me, a person with no connection to drugs and who stays at home at night, is probably one in a million. If I could own a gun here, I would guess that it would be statistically more likely that I would accidentally shoot myself, or someone in my home, than be shot by someone I don't know.

          To my mind, current stats are not much of an argument for or against guns. It is more of a visceral feeling about whether the sort of safe society I grew up in will continue. What holds me back is the realization that I need a lot more familiarity with using weapons before I bring one home.

  2. Stats have their limitations, and they’re subject to manipulation. A map is not the territory.

    But stats are necessary for any useful (i.e. effective) debate about gun control. The “if it saves one life” argument—which always starts with a horrific tragedy—is profoundly irrational and emotional. Which is valid for those effected not necessarily for society at large.

    In terms of “getting comfortable” with gun ownership in the home, start with a course. Then get comfortable handling and firing at a range. Then get a safe (it doesn’t have to be a monster or expensive). Then get a gun. And remember: you can always sell it. You’ll lose money, but so what? If it’s not for you, it’s not for you.


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