Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The "duty to retreat" usually leads to a happy ending, but what if you are unlucky just once?

I do have a personal perspective on the issue of gun ownership.  Right now, I do not own one.  There was a 22 rifle in the family years ago.  My father taught me to fire it once.  That was the only experience I had with it until Army Basic in 1968, where learning to “shoot straight” (Barry Goldwater) with an M14 turned out to be fairly easy.
I have had to “retreat” in a few occasions.  Once, in the fall of 2010, as I pulled into a service area at the Ohio Turnpike, someone approached the car and appeared to have a weapon.  Taking a chance, I quickly drove off and, as nothing happened, reported the incident at the nearest exit, minutes later.   That probably wouldn’t happen again in thousands and stops and seems to have been random. In Arlington, in 2011, at a 7-11, a person who appeared high on drugs approached me in a parking lot.  I drove off and called police.  He was so stoned that he could not have operated the car had he taken it.  Mark Zuckerberg reports a similar incident at a gas station in Palo Alto CA in 2004 right after he had moved there to start Facebook. Mark strikes me as someone who would not be inclined to do anything physically but retreat. In the Ohio case, a memory of Mark's incident (as reported in a book by Kirkpatrick) flashed into my mind instantly as I decided to floor the pedal and speed off. Maybe reading the book saved my life.  
There was also an occasion where a door-to-door salesman made a threat.  I simply slammed the door shut and reported it to police.  This has not recurred. 
Most of the time, after “retreating” (soon enough as the incident starts) there is a happy ending. But I won’t deny what members of the NRA might say, that sometimes criminals will be very aggressive.  Maybe I was lucky.  Maybe Mark was lucky. 
The recent cases (George Zimmerman and now Michael Dunn) in Florida are indeed tragic.  I certainly would not have behaved as these defendants did and caused escalations.  Be we can’t be complacent.  We seem to be living in a world where “law abiding” people feel like they have to watch their backs. 

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