Because this is ‘Murica I know I’ll be barraged with all sorts of rhetoric about guns making us safer and freer, alongside all kinds of accusations that I want to take away everyone’s guns. I know that will happen, yet I have to write about this, because it hits way too close to home. In the town of Crestwood, IL, which is only a few miles from where I live, some 86 year old gun-nut was at a phone store when it was robbed. The first thing he did was great; he snuck out and went to the front door to make sure people would not enter the store, just in case things inside went really bad and the robber started shooting people or something. That part was courageous and awesome. The next part, not so much. You see, as he was standing out front he saw the thief run out a back door. At this point his inner George Zimmerman cop-wannabe bullshit started brewing to the top and he tried to chase the 17 year old robber. Of course, he wasn’t just chasing the kid, he had also taken out his gun and started shooting at the kid. Apparently the old man isn’t a great shot, because as he was busy playing John Wayne he almost accidentally killed one of the actual cops who was also chasing the kid.
There are so many things to talk about here. First of all, this is a prime example of what liberals talk about when they say “common sense gun legislation.” One piece of common sense gun legislation could be that 86 year olds shouldn’t be given concealed carry permits, and that goes double for when the 86 year old isn’t a former cop himself, clearly never having been trained as a marksman. But no, if our 86 year old crazy couldn’t walk around with a hidden gun Obama might come with his Black Panther Muslim friends and steal all his property or something. I also don’t know if there is any kind of marksmanship training you have to go through to get a concealed carry permit, but if there isn’t there needs to be, and if there is, clearly it’s too easy to pass because Mr. almost shot a cop by mistake was able to pass and get his permit. Again, just common sense stuff that does things like, you know, protect cops from accidently getting shot by old hero complex dudes, not shit about taking away your freedom.
Beyond that, let’s talk about the culture of law and order vengeance that seems to permeate a certain type of person in our society way too deeply. Like seriously, what the fuck was this guy thinking? Teenager is robbing some smart phones so he needs to die or be crippled for life at the hand of my bullets? I repeat, What. The. Fuck?!!! You know what I would be thinking if I was in that situation? “Oh, gee, I’m so happy that robber didn’t want to hurt anyone and I came out of this situation okay.” Of course this dude thought, “oh shit this guy might get away and he deserves to die,” or at the very least, “AT&T will never get their property back if I don’t kill him,” or maybe, “the world’s thugs won’t be deterred from stealing if we don’t start killing the thieves, so I better shoot this one.” The ideas/values people like this hold clearly include…
-Property is as valuable as life
-Thieves deserve to die
-Killing thieves is the only proper deterrent against robbery
Of course, there is also the racial aspect, which I’m not going to ignore. Now, the concealed carry nut is unidentified so it’s impossible to know his race, but you are just going to have to trust me on this, if you are from the area I’m from and you are in your 80’s, there’s over a 95% chance you are one of the old dying white folks who had once raised their families here back in the day when it was a predominately Irish/Polish Catholic area. The thief was a 17 year old black kid named Demetrius Merrill. I’m going to go out on a crazy limb and say that Demetrius Merrill isn’t the kind of 17 year old this concealed carry 86 year old remembers his neighborhood being filled with 30, 40, 50 years ago.
This part of the south side of Chicago and the southwest suburbs used to be an all-white enclave where there were both actual laws and unwritten rules that kept it racially segregated from “the people from the other side of the Dan Ryan” until about 20 or so years ago. When first the laws, and to a lesser and more gradual extent the social attitudes changed this area became a LOT more black and brown very, very quickly. It also became a lot rougher quite quickly, but not because black and brown skinned people are morally inferior or inherently more lawless and aggressive. Rather, a lot of the younger people that have come to this area in the past few decades came from historically broken homes, shitty schools, teenage single mothers, neighborhoods with drugs, gangs, etc. A combination of old habits dying hard, and just straight up continuing racism (the kind that sees whole “black neighborhoods” have no stores and businesses, and thus forced to come shop and work in some of the “whiter” towns that are left in the area), along with a series of other complex socioeconomic developments, trends, and factors leads to young people of color being generally more likely to experience poverty and the shame and anger that comes with it. So, more often than whites they do things like rob a store for smart phones. It in no way excuses the behavior, but you have to be willing to acknowledge why the behavior is what it is, rather than do what people like this 86 year old guy undoubtedly did (blame black people for being thugs by nature). Trust me, I’m not throwing around wild speculative accusations, I live amongst the people of this area. Old white folks that lived here before the neighborhoods turned more diverse are overwhelmingly nasty and astoundingly ignorant in their blunt racism.
So, look, I could be completely wrong. This 86 year old dude might be a black guy himself, he might be a white guy without any bit of racism in him…but I’m 99.99% sure that’s not the case knowing the area. The 99.99% odds are that watching some 17 year old like Demetrius Merrill rob some cell phones at gun point would only serve to “confirm” his prejudices, and conjure up all sorts of wild, irrational racial anger he carries beneath the surface. I’m sure that crazy ideas and values that have nothing to do with race are a big part of the reason he carries a gun everywhere, but trust me when I tell you he wouldn’t be so excited about trying to help kill and play hero-cop to get AT&T back a few smartphones if some white kid named Billy had stolen them. Just trust me on that. I know the area.
So, there are a lot of things in play here…. the lack of common sense gun legislation, the worship of property, the macho culture of phony heroism, the vengeance/violent vigilante, death penalty-style culture of pseudo-justice, and the racist culture. It says a lot about certain types of people in our society. Generally, certain types of ideas are always tied together alongside certain others, all valued by the same set of people. This story exemplifies that reality. There is a half of our society that feels intense paranoia, worships materialism, loves old school law and order, adheres to tough, “masculine,” macho principles and isn’t too fond of those who don’t look like themselves. You can learn so much about this 86 year old guy from hearing about this incident. People are predictable. You’d be hard pressed to find a concealed carry person who doesn’t worship capitalism to the point they think it’s basically okay to kill to protect non-living stuff, or one that doesn’t demonize people of other races and cultures, or one that isn’t intensely for the death penalty, etc, etc. Learn one thing about a person and you can know a lot more about their other views without even having to ask.
If you sit down and try to figure out who is right and wrong about various issues, or at the very least who holds more rational or persuasive arguments you can study all kinds of stats about gun violence and ownership or the death penalty, or read about the causes of minority poverty and crime, and the results of it, etc. Or you can just ask yourself which side the guy who almost accidently shot a cop in an attempt to kill a black kid for stealing smart phones is on, and then realize his side is a little off base in their assessment of a number of things.
What’s really crazy to me is that there was no mention in the story of this guy having his concealed carry permit, let alone his guns, taken away, or even any mention of him being forced to go to safety training classes. It sounds like nothing happened to him as a result of this. Imagine for a second that the cops had been shooting at this kid as he ran away. At the very least they’d be investigated, and assuming the thief never flashed his gun at them they’d be in line to lose their badges for doing such a thing. Yet, if an untrained citizen does it, it’s just, “oh it’s okay, we know you meant well.” I repeat for the final time. WHAT THE FUCK?