09 March 2008


At a quarter past four in the morning, the phone rang. It was Alex saying that he wanted to come over and get my shotgun. I waited in my old green bath robe for him to arrive. It wasn't long. He explained that a group of young men were watching their apartment and it was making him and Chris nervous. My initial response was that if it was serous enough to wake me up in the middle of the night to get a shotgun, it was serious enough to call the police. Alex responded with, "The police don't do anything but show up and take a report after your dead." (Ah, Grasshoper, you were paying attention after all.) It's weird to hear your own rhetoric bounced back at you, and, of course, it's not just rhetoric; I believe it. The cops aren't guards and even a conscientious police force may not arrive in time during a sudden home invasion sort of attack. Nevertheless, I was uneasy with turning my 19-year-old loose with a Remington 870 turkey gun a 4 AM. "Are you going to kill somebody over a toaster?"

He explained that this group of young men had approached both he and Chris on several occasions and had made unusual inquiries about what they had in their apartment. The also had repeatedly sat in the driveway in a car and would move the car away if someone appeared to have noticed their presence. It didn’t really add up. Chris and Alex have next to nothing in their apartment and it’s hardly a likely target for a simple burglary. Reluctantly, I agreed to let him take the shotgun but I insisted that he contact the police and let them know what was going on. The police responded well, coming out immediately to take a report and check around the area. What surprised me was that the officer advised Alex to procure a firearm for self defense.

It was noteworthy to me that Alex didn’t ask for his beautiful match grade Kimber Pro CDP .45, but asked instead for the shotgun. His thinking was sound: the shotgun would be somewhat less likely to penetrate walls into the next apartment, and Chris had worked with the 870 and knew the manual of arms. Add to that the legendary intimidation factor of the pump shotgun and its well-documented effectiveness.

It all still made me terribly uneasy. When I moved into my first apartment, I had a gun, a Winchester .22 semi-auto rifle that was eventually stolen in a burglary. The real difference is that I don’t remember ever considering even once the necessity of having to use my rifle for self-defense. “The times, they are a-changin’…”

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