Can You Shoot a 12-Year-Old?Tuesday, October 12, 2010
For a little over a year, Time magazine has been running “The Detroit Blog,” a special assignment blog dedicated to attempting to write about and understand Detroit. The writers are from Detroit and/or the surrounding area, and mostly, the blog is meant for curious outsiders who think Detroit is a freak show that makes for good rubbernecking entertainment.
My suggestion for undertaking this particular blog, written by Darrell Dawsey, is to read the title, scroll down to the very last sentence and read that morsel, and then scroll back up to the top to read the whole piece. Then read a story about the carjacking in question on ClickonDetroit.
The author of this interesting Time piece muses on the thought of killing a “child” who threatens to kill you by showing that he, at 5′ 10″ (hardly childlike), is carrying a gun and means business. Two kids – maybe eleven, maybe twelve, who knows – decided to carjack a woman and her mother in their driveway at the point of a gun, in Harper Woods, Michigan, a suburb of Wayne County that borders Detroit. The author notes that an acquaintance remarked, in response, “The first thing I thought is, I would’ve shot ‘em.”
First, let me clarify some details about Harper Woods. This suburb sits between Eight Mile Road (the line of demarcation) and Seven Mile Road to the south. It borders both the ritzy Grosse Pointes (to the east) and Detroit (to the south and west). For many years it was a quasi-Grosse Pointe for those uppity wannabees who could not afford the luxury of the Grosse Pointes but could manage to mortgage their future for an overpriced, brick ranch with a Harper Woods address. I grew up about eight blocks to the north and I still live and play in the same area.
Harper Woods was once remarkably expensive and semi-exclusive, back in the days prior to the credit bubble when most of us had no choice but to live within our means in terms of our housing. Now it’s a foreclosure-ridden rat drop, thanks to the mortgage-o-rama social engineering trap that created endless housing opportunities for folks with criminal records, no creditworthiness, and no sense of ownership or obligation. I have a family member who has lived there since the late 1980s – his house is now worth next to nothing, and he is stuck in that home until the cows come home.
The city has been riddled with car thefts, carjackings, home burglaries, and home invasions. The amount of foreclosed, empty homes in Harper Woods is mind-boggling – they are everywhere, littering what used to be, only 15-20 years ago, perfectly kept, brick neighborhoods. There is not a single suburb in the Detroit area where I have witnessed such an immediate and harsh ruination.
In getting back to the original theme of this story, you have a situation where some rather tall person – black or white, young or old – aggressively approaches you in your own driveway and reveals a gun. The Time author raises the questions:
How do you treat a child like an enemy combatant? How do you threaten violence, even in self-defense, against a little boy? How do you shoot a pistol-packing 12-year-old child so warped that he’s willing to blow you away just to steal a car whose dashboard he probably can’t even see over?
My response is clear-cut: in such a situation, you are looking at an immediate threat, an unfriendly, hostile foe, a gun-wielding wildman who is brazen enough to face off against you and dare you to lay down your cards. You are an individual who would not dare go on the offense against another person or their property. Yet here you are, facing a potential execution, and you cannot guess what form that action will take. If your mind starts flashing thoughts and images very quickly, you might think about the year before, when Matthew Landry was carjacked behind a Quiznos just two miles to the north and taken to an abandoned home in Detroit where he was beaten, tortured, and shot in the back of the head.
The looter who stands before you is a person with a gun. If he’s a man and you’re a woman, that’s even worse. You don’t want to guess his age, his game, his real intentions, what cards he holds, or his ability to follow through with his threats. So you do the only sane thing you can do – you shoot him. By definition, self-defense is a resistance to force, and using enough force to cause death is justified when such force is deemed necessary to prevent bodily harm or death. After all, speaking for myself, I don’t carry a .45 in my purse because my right shoulder rejoices over the added four pounds of gun-and-ammo weight.
Furthermore, I would think that no jury of my peers would convict me for defending myself from a menacing and armed potential killer who confronted me on my property. That’s another reason why I’d shoot a 5’10″ man (“kid”) with a gun who is threatening my life.