Prepare for the gun debate to take a major detour right about ... now. It's headed to Kentucky, where a 92-year-old World War II veteran named Earl Jones lives alone. Jones is now facing a police investigation for allegedly shooting an intruder who'd broken into his home.
Cops say they found Lloyd Adam Maxwell, 24, dead outside Jones' home. His pals, Ryan Dalton, 22, and Donnie Inabnit, 20, have been charged with second degree burglary and tampering with evidence for allegedly dragging their buddy's body out of the house. Now they're investigating Earl, who has readily admitted that he aimed right for Maxwell's heart and let off one shot.
Set aside everything you've thought about guns up until now. What would you be thinking if Earl Jones was your grandfather?
Would you be glad he had a gun?
I have to admit I probably would. I wouldn't say this makes me "pro-gun" so much as a middle-of-the-road American on the whole right to bear arms debate.
I don't think we need people running around with semi-automatic weapons. I don't think most Americans should even have a gun in their homes, because all too often we hear about people who failed to ensure the firearms were safe. Nor do I think we need hundreds of thousands of people walking around town with concealed weapons.
And yet, I see the use of guns. I was raised in the country, where the first day of hunting season was marked by a day off of school. I know more responsible gun owners than I can count. I also know that they're actually trained to use the guns they own.
Like Earl Jones, they would be able to use the average rifle correctly if they were put in an unsafe situation in their own home.
And sadly, as the recession continues, unsafe situations are becoming more common, especially in our own homes. For Earl, this was the third robbery at his Richmond, Kentucky home in just a year. And remember, he was an old man who lived alone. He had no children to move in, his wife had passed away.
What means did he have for protection? He was already in his own home.
So he pulled out his rifle. He fired. And he allegedly killed a man who had no business being there in the first place. As he said:
Was I scared? Was I mad? Hell, no. It was simple. That man was going to take my life. He was hunting me. I was protecting myself.
I can't help look at him as I would my own grandfather. I live in an area where the economic downturn has resulted in a huge upswing in home invasions. And although my grandfather passed away earlier this summer, his story is strikingly like Earl's. He was a veteran of World War II. His wife, my grandmother, predeceased him, leaving him to live alone. And if he'd lived long enough, he would have been 92 in August.
How can I not see him when I look at Earl Jones? How can I not think of what I would have wanted him to do if someone had broken into his home?
The problem is the people who have the audacity to abuse the safety of our homes, the people who would dare take advantage of a 92-year-old man ... and a veteran of our military to boot.
We can only do so much to protect the people we love. We put locks on our doors and our windows. But when people are hellbent on breaking down all our safeguards, that's when guns become a necessary evil.
Do you agree? What do you think of what Earl Jones allegedly did to protect himself?
Image via Soundiron/Flickr