Here’s my problem with the proliferation of firearms:
“A man who accidentally banged on the door of a stranger’s house early this morning was shot by the homeowner, (Las Vegas) Metro Police said.
Lt. Ted Glaude said the victim had been at a birthday party at a nearby house in the 9200 block of Wittig Avenue, near Fort Apache and Elkhorn roads. He left briefly, and when he tried returning about 2 a.m., he confused the two houses and knocked on the wrong door, police said.” [LVSun]
Yes, it’s 2:00 in the morning. Yes, there’s a stranger banging on the door. It’s scary. However, it’s what we don’t know yet that makes this story disturbing.
Did the homeowner ask the stranger to identify himself? Did the stranger try to identify who he was and what he wanted? Did the stranger offer any other ‘threat’ than banging on the door? Did the homeowner announce that he was armed and if the battering on the door continued he would use his weapon? Not to put too fine a point to it, but did the homeowner decide to Shoot First and Ask Questions Later?
We’d probably not want to automatically assume the SFAQ scenario, there are too many details required to flesh out the story. However, it’s the proliferation of firearms which makes that scenario plausible. It may also be the proliferation of firearms which makes it easier to grab a gun as opposed to calling law enforcement as the first step. If a person is awake enough to be handling a firearm, then it ought to be assumed that the individual is also sufficiently awake to use a telephone.
From the few details available it appears that the stranger was on the property but not inside the home — hence there is no “home invasion” in progress — unless, of course we assume that the first step on the property constitutes a threat of such significance that the use of deadly force is appropriate.
One of the civilized features of American law is the consideration of intent. What was the intent of the ‘invader?’ In this instance the ‘invader’ was seeking voluntary admission into a house which he mistakenly believed was that of a friend, or at least an acquaintance. What was the intent of the owner? The potential for instant lethality or serious injury ought to make any of us who own firearms exceedingly cautious about their use.
Amidst the proliferation of guns it’s often difficult to discern precisely how much threat should be met with how much force by what kinds of people?