How many times have we seen someone say that after a loved one has been killed doing something he — or she — shouldn’t have been doing? In the latest case, three Oklahoma teens, ranging in age from 16 – 19, broke into a home. Dressed in black, wearing masks and with at least one sporting brass knuckles, they chose the wrong house to rob. The house was not unoccupied at the time. Instead of finding easy pickings, the teens were confronted by one of the residents of the home.
The young man who came face-to-face with the three did so armed and he protected himself and the other occupants of the house. He opened fire and the three who broke in were killed. In the time since, a 21-year-old young woman has been arrested. Her alleged role in what happened was as planner and getaway driver. The possible charges against her include three counts of murder because Oklahoma, like other states, has a statue that allows for the charging of someone with murder if someone is killed in the course of a crime in which they are involved. It doesn’t matter if they pulled the trigger or not.
Now, there’s been some debate since this incident about whether or not it was right for the young man to defend his home with an AR-15. You know the weapon I mean. It’s one of those “evil” assault rifles. Fortunately, those condemning him for the use of the AR have been few and far between. Most of them are smart enough to understand that he did what I think most of us would in his situation — he protected himself and his family from masked intruders.
What prompted this post, however, was an interview I read with one of the so-called victim’s grandfather’s. I understand that he is hurting and he wishes his grandson had not been killed. But the so-called excuse that the teen had never gotten into trouble before rings hollow. Most “good” kids don’t dress in black, wear masks and don brass knuckles before breaking into someone else’s house have never done anything wrong. It usually means they’ve never been caught or the family member had never been advised of the trouble their kin had gotten into.
My question is this: what was the young man supposed to do when confronted with three masked intruders? He could, presumably, see the brass knuckles. One could also assume there was a threat from the three — or at least that the young man felt threatened. I know I certainly would have were I to walk into my kitchen and find three intruders there.
Was the young man supposed to wait until they struck him with the brass knuckles? If he had, what sort of condition would he have been in? Would he have been able to protect himself, much less anyone else in the house?
Or was he supposed to wait to see if the intruders had other weapons?
Or maybe he should have just winged one of the intruders on the hope that, while doing so, the other two didn’t pull their own guns and shoot him or someone else?
The young man acted legally, at least as far as I can tell from media reports. It is a shame that three teens lost their lives but they did so solely because of decisions they made. Had they not listened to the young woman who is currently charged as their accomplice, they wouldn’t have broken into the house. Had they not worn masks and carried brass knucks, they might not have been shot. Instead, the young man who confronted them might have not felt so threatened he saw only one way out.
Choices have consequences and, in this one, those consequences were fatal. It doesn’t matter if the grandfather knew of no other problems his grandson might have experienced. What matters are the choices the young man made that night. I feel for his family, and for the families of the others who died with him that night. But I also feel for the young man who found himself faced with the decision of either protecting himself and his loved ones or standing aside and letting three masked intruders do who knew what to him and them.
However, saying the young man had never before been in trouble rings too close to the defense set forth for Ethan Couch after he killed and injured a number of young people while driving drunk. It was argued he shouldn’t be held as accountable as others because his parents had never taught him that actions have consequences. Isn’t it time to quit coddling our kids and teaching him that, in real life, what we do will have an impact on ourselves and others and that it might not always be good?