I have come to believe in gun control. That’s right. Me, stolid conservative that I am, strict constitutionalist with a thin glaze of libertarianism. I believe in gun control.
I believe it is vitally important that one learns and practices how to safely control a gun.
It happened a few years ago, by my recollection of years… probably close to 25 years. Of course, the days, the week, the years, they go slowly as they are happening to you. But looking back they went by in a wink. Wouldn’t you say?
Flora Hendricks was alone in her home that night. It was the same home she had shared with her husband for many years. Alfred. Al, she called him. “What a wonderful man, “ she recollected to me when I met her. He had been dead at that time for close to 30 years. Hard to pinpoint times for me. I bet it wouldn’t be hard for Flora to pinpoint the time. Probably the exact time.
It was late when it happened. The middle of the night. As I said, she lived alone in her home. There had been no children born to the union of Alfred and Flora; I never asked why. Suffice it to say that at her advanced age that night, there were no close family members to call upon in her hour of need. Only the cold law enforcement officers. Police. Doctors. Ambulance. None of whom knew her. Alfred certainly wasn’t around. No children, as I mentioned.
Sometime in the night, while Flora slept, a young man kicked her back door in. He entered the house directly into the kitchen. In that neighborhood the houses were all old enough to have their kitchens in the back. No large and spacious open kitchens back then. No, just a small room with a door to the outside – now kicked in- and a second door into the remainder of the house. He headed straight through it.
Flora awoke at the sound of the door. Was it a dream? she wondered. She listened. The footsteps were heavy in the hall, and coming toward her. She heard them clearly. This was no dream. She whispered, “Oh, Jesus.”
Now Jesus could have come in personally and stopped the man, or sent an angel to do the job, or thousands upon thousands of angels. There is no counsel against the Lord. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when the betrayers came with Judas to fetch Him as a criminal, He responded with, “I am He.” That simple statement was enough to make them draw back and fall to the ground. (It is never a question of the power of the Lord to accomplish His purposes. No one there in person with Him during His ministry ever questioned the miracles). No, it was their response that was telling. The same guards who fell to the ground got back up and arrested Him. The same folks who watched as He hung on the cross, later exclaimed after His physical death and the subsequent shaking of the ground, “Surely He was the Son of God.”
Back to that night in Mississippi. Jesus never left the side of Flora. In His sovereign wisdom, He let her go through it. She sat up in bed. The man entered her room. He stood for a few moments in the doorway, looking around, looking at her, a helpless old bent over woman in her eighties, now utterly awakened by the beast that he was. His outline was dark against the night. She could not make out his face. She called out shakily, “Please…”
Somehow she had the strength to make it to her feet beside her bed. Perhaps it is instinctual to stand against a physical attack.
Flora was – thankfully – (only) shoved to the ground and her purse snatched from the dresser beside her. The man went back out as quickly and noisily as he had come in.
Had Alfred been there with her, and had he been a younger man, I am sure he would have stood between this intruder and his Flora. It is indeed natural for a man to protect a woman, even a Gloria Steinem. I have read that in the theater shooting in Colorado, the dead victims were found atop their women. It is not something thought of or strategized. Men are wired to protect. But Alfred was not there and would have proposed little obstacle to the criminal had he been. He had been somewhat older than Flora, and she was 86 years old. Perhaps he could have been the one pushed to the floor.
To my point of controlling guns. There is only one useful equalizer in the matters of violent men. The mere sight of a high caliber pistol could have stopped the man. A steadily held shotgun pointed at his chest could have also done the job. Had these plans not worked, a simple squeezing of even an 86 year old forefinger against the trigger would have. No one would have cared about the purse.
When I met Flora, she had divided the home into two sides. A kind of modified duplex. We rented the one half and she stayed on her side. She was a wonderful lady. She would sit out on her front porch in the evenings and watch our young son play. She would talk to us of her years growing up in the country 20 miles south of there. She would ask me sometimes, “John Wilson, do you think you might want to reduce?” Her term for losing weight.
Late at night, every night, I would see under the connecting door that her lights would remain on. She would stay up through the night, until the new day came. Fear does not remove easily. I would have gladly pointed a gun at any intruder for her. No one, including myself, knows how he will react in a true situation, of course. Having said that, in my mind if a man is willing to break into another person’s home, he is willing to risk his life.
That night with the intruder could have ended far worse. A couple of years ago, here in Omaha, a similarly aged woman left her door unlocked one night. A young illegal alien, drunk, broke in and raped her, beating her to death in the process. They found him passed out atop of her. Things surely could have gone worse for Flora so many years ago.
I’m sure she felt some measure of relief that we lived right through that connecting door. I wish she hadn’t felt the need to stay up every night in fear. I think she knew I would have come running had she needed me. I hope she knew.
So ask the politicians calling for “sensible gun laws” – we already have them – to have their bodyguards lay down their arms. They won’t. For they know better. The depravity of man sometimes calls for cold steel.