Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This One I'm Conflicted On.

"Milkshake Attack Meets Bullets In Return"

Two teens told Wilmington police that they were shot at after throwing a milkshake at a car while on 17th Street on Tuesday night.

The 16- and 17-year-old boys reported that they were stopped at a traffic light at George Anderson Drive shortly before 10 p.m. when they thought it would be funny to throw a milkshake out their SUV’s window at a car beside them in the turn lane, according to a press release from the Wilmington Police Department.

That vehicle pulled behind their car and shot at them several times before speeding away, the teens reported to police.

Officers found four bullet holes in the SUV’s rear hatch and one in the rear panel.

OK, as a responsible gun owner I know what I'm supposed to say: that minor criminal mischief does not justify using deadly force in return. No one's life is worth the satisfaction of retaliating for someone's act of immaturity.

Still, at the same time, no one was hurt. The teens' vehicle was shot in a way that endangered no one inside, which may have been blind luck, but just as easily could have been intentional, a very pointed object lesson. Maybe the two teenagers involved will think twice before repeating their stupid behavior.

It's not fun to have objects thrown at one's car, especially at speed. I once had an egg hit my windshield while I was driving about 35mph, and until I realized it was an egg splattered on the winshield I thought someone was shooting at me. At a traffic light one evening I had trash thrown into my open window from the car next to mine. And late one night as I drove to work some 20 years ago, something more serious happened:

Work was a dozen miles away, and my route was along what was then a country backroad, unlit by streetlights. I was the only car on the road that night, until a car pulled out directly in front of me from a side road, forcing me to slow down. It was a Camaro, with loud music playing. The Camaro made no attempt to come up to the speed limit, and seemed to be intentionally trying to force my car to drive to a speed dictated by the Camaro. When I could safely pass I began to do so, only to have the Camaro speed up to prevent it. I fell back behind the Camaro again, at which point he began braking and slowing again. I made a second attempt to pass, only to have the process repeated. Stuck again behind a slowing and braking Camaro, I pulled out the Smith & Wesson 640 that I kept in my briefcase, rolled down the driver's side window, transferred the 640 to my left hand, and, aiming the gun at the sky above the Camaro, cranked off a single shot. The driver, no doubt watching in the rear view mirror, saw the flash and heard the gunshot, and stomped on the accelerator, deciding that the game he was playing was not worth getting shot over. He was quickly out of sight ahead of me, and I had no further encounters on my way to work.

So, was I justified in shooting? You tell me. It's possible that the Camaro was simply driven by a stupid teenager, with no malice in his heart other than making me late for work. Maybe his intentions were more serious. We'll never know. I never saw the story mentioned in the newspaper or on TV, so he obviously reported nothing, nor did I.

You have to make the best decision you can, based on the information you have available to you as it occurs. Having a gun along increases the number of options available to you in a crisis situation, but does not make the choice of options any easier on your conscience.

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