an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth

This is interesting and sad: Portland woman shoots and kills home intruder. I’m seeing it shared on social media sites with comments like, “one for the good guys,” a “good story with a gun” and “finally, good news involving guns!” and “a mom protecting her kids with guns!”
A lot of the headlines say something like, “Oregon Mom Fatally Shoots Intruder Hiding in Child’s Bedroom,” leading the casual reader who doesn’t click through to assume the family and children were at home, perhaps even in their beds, when his presence was discovered and the mom shot him looming over the kids. The prevailing assumption is that he was definitely there to rape the kids.
In actuality, the reports say the mom and her two young kids came home early Sunday morning (around 1:30 a.m.) to discover a stranger in the house, for reasons unknown. He reportedly didn’t live in the neighborhood or know the family, and the family did not know him, so the mom shot him to death. The news articles did not say he assaulted or physically threatened them–as a stranger, his presence was his death sentence, under Oregon law.
Mind you, I do agree that we shouldn’t go around illegally entering each other’s residences, for any reason. It would be freaking terrifying to come home at 1:30 in the morning and find a stranger in my kid’s room. The mind leaps to the worst conclusions.
The mom in question apparently put her children in the other bedroom, and shot the intruder. Then 911 was called. The way it’s reported in another article, it is unclear who called 911–it just sort of passively says police responded to reports that a homeowner had shot an intruder, which at least makes it clear 911 wasn’t called until after she shot the man.
According to reports, “Detectives don’t know why [the intruder], who has no significant criminal history, broke into [her] home. There is no connection between [them], and he is not from the neighborhood. A recent report indicates [the intruder] may have dealt with mental health issues.”
“Detectives don’t know why [the intruder], who has no significant criminal history, broke into [her] home. There is no connection between [them], and he is not from the neighborhood. A recent report indicates [the intruder] may have dealt with mental health issues.”
So it is true that he could have been there for the awful, unimaginable reasons assumed and insinuated by so many. Or he could’ve been there to steal their shit–personally, I don’t think material goods are worth killing over, especially the Walmart/ Target/ Kohls/ Costco replaceable middle-Americana shit we fill our lives with (insurance, people!), but some people disagree with me on that one. Or it could have been something more pathetic, like mental illness, early onset dementia, or homelessness. Maybe he was lost and confused, or looking for food or a place to poo.
It doesn’t matter anymore, because now four lives are changed. He’s dead, the children are traumatized, and the mom has taken an irrevocable step from being an ordinary everyday person to one of the increasingly few number of people in our modern world who has intentionally taken the life of another human being.
I think the saddest part is the 911 call. Because they were right there, the whole time–that alternative. We’re not living in the wild west anymore. I think it is telling and sad that the assumption of her–and so many in response to the news–is that his intentions could only be criminal, and the authorities were incapable of handling it. That murder was the only solution, in a suburban neighborhood in a modern civil society.
I wonder what I would do in that situation, if I came home at 1:30 in the morning and found an intruder in one of the bedrooms. I’d like to think I could go to my neighbor’s house and knock on the door, let them know there’s an intruder in my home and I’m freaked out. I’d like to think I could call 911 from their place and wait in their kitchen until the police arrived.
I guess we don’t really have that kind of culture in America, where we’re concerned about the mental health and welfare of all our citizens to consider the possibility an intruder may not intend harm, but might be looking for food or shelter, or have mental health issues. It’s more of a shoot-first, ask questions later (literally!) culture–despite how many people claim this is a Christian nation, it’s more of First Testament/ eye-for-an-eye/ vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord type nation than a Second Testament/ the Law is fulfilled in me/ follow Christ’s teachings of treating every man as though he is your brother and neighbor, Christ made flesh again-type nation.
It makes sense that we don’t just great everyone with open arms and uncomplicated trust, because realistically, religion is bullshit and even the most sensible person knows it doesn’t matter how idealistically pacifist you are or how willing you are to assume non-violent intentions when faced with a stranger in your home–intention doesn’t always equal outcome, and being startled can easily turn anyone with non-violent intentions to violence. For example, that mom didn’t intend to kill anyone when she was heading home that morning, but look how that turned out. But it just feels like there should be a middle ground between shooting to kill and turning the other cheek, so to speak.
I guess, too, we live in an increasingly mobile society, and it’s not really common to know our neighbors all that well. They’re basically strangers living next door for a few years until one or you sells or finds a new place to rent. Take the lack of community and consider the studies claiming between half and 1-in-3 of American households own guns (the average gun owner has 8 firearms), and 48% of gun owners say they own a gun for “protection”, which is essentially saying they prefer vigilante self-imposed frontier justice over the systems of law and order necessitated by a modern civil society, and it’s no wonder people don’t feel safe knocking on doors at 1:30 in the morning! I mean, how many people have been shot knocking on doors, asking for help?
I guess I’d just call 911 from my car. The mom was legally within her rights, but still. What an awful situation.
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