Monday, March 26, 2012

That time we got robbed.

The current news cycle is, once again, full of a tragic story.  A young person of one ethnic background was shot and killed by a young person of a different ethnic background.  I am content to let an actual investigation look at actual facts, but of course we have to endure a great deal of chattering nonsense in the interim.  Even President Obama has weighed in with his concerns on the racial aspects of the case, although the late revelation that the shooter was “white-Hispanic” makes things a little murkier.  By this reckoning Mr. Obama himself is “white-Black” one supposes.

But skin color is really not the point.  A young person is dead and a hand gun -legally carried in this instance-was involved.

We got together the other night with my brother and sister-in-law.  A few pints were emptied at the local pub during the course of trivia night, and we recalled an incident years ago that will be with me forever.

I was in the Big City having come to town to get together with fellow archeologically inclined hobbyists.  After our meeting we repaired to a local tavern in a working class part of town.  I was there; my brother was there, as were three or four of our friends.

My wife walked in the front door of the place carrying a car seat which held our one month old first born son.  She set the snoozing tyke on the table for general admiration at exactly the moment that two masked gunmen came in the back door.

The pointed a pistol and a sawed off shotgun at us and told us to get on the ground and toss out our wallets.  They also cursed a lot and threw one old timer to the floor when he was slow to move from his accustomed bar stool.

The whole affair was over in a couple of minutes.  My wallet was left behind, as I was broke!  My brother’s was found in the alley out back, empty.

But things could have gone much differently.  A couple of my friends were men both proud and stubborn, and I could tell they were weighing the alternatives to meekly sitting down when ordered to.  And these robbers were genuinely desperate criminals.  Drug addicts looking to score, they were on a spree of similar robberies.  Eventually, a few months later, they hit a bar where a birthday party was being held.  Someone thought it was just another bit of fun and challenged the guys.  They shot him dead on the spot.  The robbers were subsequently caught and went to prison for life.

So, if at the time there had been a concealed carry law in place how would this all have unfolded?

Would the realization that they might face armed citizens have persuaded these dopers to find some safer means of larceny?  Or would they have just been more methodical about it, holding a gun to somebody’s head while all the victims were patted down and relieved of valuables and firearms?  At least one of my buddies is the sort of guy who might well have carried a gun were it then legal.  Would he have opened fire?  And would the robbers have fired back at him, or run out the door, or just blazed away randomly?

I really don’t know the answers.

Having your wife and baby threatened with firearms does not exactly make you fond of guns. 

I have no problem with hunting weapons, and let any internet based neo-Visigoths be advised that the venison in my freezer did not come from a deer that succumbed to natural causes.

But my state, Wisconsin, recently enacted a concealed carry firearms law.  And what struck me as common sense pre-license training requirements did not make it into the final version.

Too bad. 

Interestingly my rather progressive sister-in-law and I are largely in accord on this issue.  If you are going to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons, fine, it seems to be in keeping with the Constitution.  But for goodness sakes, it only seems reasonable that we insist on these folks having a clue about what to do with these firearms.

We make people take a written and road test for getting a drivers license, as a poorly handled automobile is a danger to the general public.  And we will under certain circumstances take that license away or refuse to issue one in the first place.

Would it be so awful if those proposing to carry a concealed handgun were required to:

-pass a multiple choice test with various scenarios….Reasonable to shoot.  Debatable Situation, hold your fire.  Illegal to Shoot, don’t do it.

-pass the same eye test that you need to drive a car.  Sure, in a tense and poorly lit situation lots of things can look like a gun.  Let’s make sure you can at least pick one out with decent lighting.

-and pondering an exchange of fire in that neighborhood tavern some 25 years ago, I think sending prospective carriers of concealed weapons off to the firing range makes sense.  If you can’t hit the broad side of a barn under ideal circumstances, I am sorry but you will not be an asset in a crisis.

You may question my Conservative credentials based on the above sentiments, but hey, it was my wife and child being threatened, not yours.  Things could have gone better.  Things could have gone much worse.

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