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29 November, 2012

Another Example of Society's Thin Veneer

This is a bit outdated, being a few weeks old now, but it just came to my attention and represents yet another example of a violent predator reaching through society's thin veneer of civility and law and order to victimize others.  This particular instance occurred during the blackout that accompanied Hurricane Sandy.  The offender committed a series of home invasions, one of which involved raping and nearly murdering a woman.

A more recent example, as reported by CNN, left a Florida teenager dead.  Basically, this guy asked a car full of teenagers at a gas station to turn their music down, and they reacted rudely... as teenagers often do.  He claims that he was threatened, but it's important to note that none of the teens actually got out of the car; it was just a lot of talk.  He also claims to have seen a brief flash of a gun barrel.  Mind you, he didn't verify that he was being threatened, he just thought he saw a glimpse of a gun.  His reaction: he indiscriminately unloaded "eight or nine" shots with his own firearm into a car full of teenagers.

Let me just say this: if he really was threatened, then he was well within his rights to take some kind of offensive action, so we'll have to wait and see how the case develops.  I still have a hard time believing he was justified in firing what was undoubtedly all or most of a clip into a crowded car.  Right now, though, facts don't seem to be in his corner in any way.

He didn't pull his gun and make it clear that he would defend himself if his life was threatened; he just opened fire, killing one of the kids in the car.  No evidence of a gun was found in the teen's car, by the way, and there's no evidence yet of any of them being in a gang.

According to another article, his lawyer is claiming that it "was never his intention to kill anyone."  I would be interested in hearing just exactly what she and her client imagines might happen from firing most or all of a clip into a crowded car of kids.  Are we supposed to be impressed because he didn't reload and shoot more?

What is most telling, though, is how he reacted afterwards.  He and his girlfriend went to a hotel, fearing that they had just had a run-in with gang members who might return for payback.  That I can understand.  Hearing about the shooting and the dead teen on the news the next morning, though, did they go to the police?  No.  They went home, and the cops arrested him later.

I study criminal behavior in graduate school, and the one thing I can tell you is that, if the CNN article is correct on the order of events, then that is not the reaction of a person who thinks they've done the right thing.  Period.  He knew he had just committed a gross criminal act, and now he and his attorney are trying to back-track and make it appear justifiable.

The correct reaction of a law-abiding citizen would have been to go to the hotel, briefly call the attorney and then immediately call the police, reporting that he had just had an altercation with what he believed to be gang members and that he had fired shots in self-defense before fleeing to the hotel as a temporary safe haven against feared reprisals.  He did none of that.  He simply unloaded a handgun into a crowded car full of teenagers, then fled like a base criminal.

Like I said, maybe it will turn out that he was threatened.  We'll have to wait and see.  Either way, though, his reaction was not the reaction of someone who believed he had the law on his side, regardless of what he is saying now.

If people are willing to act this way now, what's it going to be like when they have no fear of having to answer to Johnny Law for their deeds?

Folks, having faith in the inherent goodness of people and all that nonsense sounds nice and all, but believing that will get you killed or worse.  People are animals with animal instincts that are held in-check only by our fragile society.  Some are genuinely good, true, but some are not, and you and yours will live longer if you foment a healthy distrust of the motivations of others.

Don't cut yourself off from other people, but make them earn your trust, and be always on your guard against those that you have no reason yet to believe are anything more than predators.


*UPDATE*: It looks now as though Michael Dunn will definitely be attempting to use Florida's "Stand Your Ground" statute to defend his actions that resulted in the death of 17 year-old Jordan Davis.  The fact that the law is about to try him for second-degree murder instead of patting him on the back ought to be a good indication of the merits of his claim.   

"Stand Your Ground" laws were designed to allow citizens who are in danger to defend themselves, not so a person can overreact to a vaguely perceived threat and respond by unloading a handgun into a car packed with teenagers, then run off and hide without calling the police. 

Even if his claims about seeing a shotgun brandished (only a vague glimpse in the larger vehicle's rear-view mirror, by the way) are true (police found no gun, but it could conceivably have been dumped), he still sunk himself by acting like a criminal afterwards.  People don't act guilty if they truly believe they're in the right.  Period.

He fired eight shots into a car full of kids, yet he "didn't intend to hurt anybody" and thought he had just scared them?  He feared for his life, thinking they were gangbangers and might return, so he fled the scene to shack-up at a local hotel.  That part, in my opinion, is excusable.  But then, the next day, he flees town to return to his home 159 miles away.

That isn't an innocent person.  That's a fugitive fleeing justice, folks.  Sorry.

And now, brace yourselves: we'll be hearing many more cries about repealing "Stand Your Ground" laws, and likely gun control in general, in the weeks and months to come.


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