Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Sordid Tale with Lessons to Learn

I was scratching my head and wondering what to blog about when I went to The Boston Globe’s Internet site. I figured it had to be good for something other than wrapping virtual fish and I was right. It told a story that happened in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a former whaling town south of Boston that has fallen on hard times.

It seems like two young citizens knew an older man and his wife, Thomas and Cheryl Murray. Our two boys took umbrage when Mr. Murray asked a neighbor to stop loaning his car to our upstanding young men. Mr. Murray was upset with the boys who were hanging about the neighborhood. He really didn't like them after they had stolen Mrs. Murray’s pocketbook when she’d let them in the apartment to use their phone a few nights earlier.

Monday night, the Murrays let our two young men into their home again. They told Mr. Murray they didn’t like his interference with the car. They proceeded to hold a gun to Mr. Murray’s head. Mr. Murray must have thought he was calling a bluff when his wife heard him say, “Go ahead and shoot me.”

Well, our boys are very obedient so they fatally shot him in the torso. They left without killing Mrs. Murray who later told a reporter that the boys had seemed so nice and polite. She also wishes they’ll rot in jail.

Our sordid little tale is not all bad news. Police arrested not two but three young men; Ramon Geliga, Robert Geliga (Ramon’s brother), and Bobby Lecroy. Bobby and Ramon are 17 years old and Robert is 18. Ramon did the shooting and the gun, a .22 semi-automatic pistol, was found.

There is no indication if Mr. Murray was shot more than once. Also, there’s no mention of roles the other two played—were they holding Mrs. Murray, were there only two in the house or were all three present, etc.?

So what have we learned from our little morality play here?

1) You should never say, “Go ahead and shoot me” when someone is pointing a gun at you. You might just give them ideas. Even if they’re already mentally debating the idea, they might take your comment as a challenge and shoot you. Don’t help them make up their minds.

2) A .22 caliber can be a surprisingly potent round.

3) Some people will kill another human being with no more thought than killing a fly.

4) Never let anyone you don't know into your home no matter how nice and polite they seem. If you know them and they turn bad (or in case of a break in), your own gun will give you a chance to live. You have little or no chance after they have a gun at your head.

5) Your spouse can and should know how to use a gun.

Contrast Mr. Murray’s death and this story in which an armed citizen defends himself against four armed youths.

Mr. Murray lived in Massachusetts where you're required to lock up your guns. I don’t know if Mr. Murray owned guns, but if he did he would’ve needed a license. I doubt Ramon had any kind of gun license. He's too young to go into a gun store and buy a gun. He could have “borrowed” a gun owned by someone else in his home, he could have bought one on the street, someone could have given it to him, or he could have stolen it.

Massachusetts law couldn’t stop Ramon from murder, but it stands in the way of good people buying, mastering, and using a firearm for their own defense.

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