The Importance of Responsible Gun Ownership

The Importance of Responsible Gun Ownership

I’m sure that by now, most folks who are reading this column have seen the video of the latest “stand your ground” shooting that occurred in Florida. That video serves to confirm a fear I have expressed to many of my friends since our state passed its “constitutional carry” law a few years ago.

Let me get a few things out of the way from the outset. First, I am an outdoorsman. I fish, I hunt, and I own guns. In fact, I own lots of guns. Handguns, rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, you name it. I also have a permit to carry a concealed weapon that I have held for over 25 years. I very rarely actually carry a handgun with me, but I have done so on rare occasions in the past.

When WV passed its “constitutional carry” law in 2016, I was worried about the effect of having more guns out among the public, particularly in the hands of people who were not necessarily trained in their safe and proper use. I specifically recall a conversation I had with one of my buddies, telling him I could foresee someone being shot in the parking lot at Wal-Mart in a dispute over a parking space. Fast forward now to July 2019 in Florida.

From all news accounts, a 47-year-old man named Michael Drejka became upset over the fact that a lady had illegally parked her car in a handicapped parking space outside a convenience store while her boyfriend had gone inside. Drejka approached and chastised the woman, telling her she should move the car. Reports also had him using foul language directed at the lady. A customer who had overheard the conversation went into the store and reported what was happening, and the boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, went out to investigate.

McGlockton approached Drejka and shoved him to the ground, quite violently. Drejka then sat up and pulled out a pistol that he had a license to carry. Even before the pistol was brandished, McGlockton had taken no further steps toward Drejka. He didn’t pounce on him, kick him, or stand over him in a threatening fashion. He just stood there, and when Drejka pulled the pistol, McGlockton took a step or two backward. Drejka took aim and fired once, striking McGlockton in the chest. He stumbled into the store, fell to the ground and died.

I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I am suggesting here. First, the young woman had no business parking in a handicapped spot. People who do that deserve to be fined, and heavily so. Second, Mr. McGlockton was guilty of a crime (battery) when he forcefully shoved Drejka to the ground. At that point the police should have been called, and McGlockton should have been arrested, charged and prosecuted. What cannot be reasonably argued, however, is that McGlockton did not deserve to die when he shoved Drejka to the ground. Drejka overreacted, and because he had a firearm on his person when he did, three children will grow up without a father.

I support the Second Amendment. I’m fine with handguns, and I’m fine with concealed carry permits. My fear has always been that the easier we make it for people to carry a gun, the more likely it is that we will have people being killed in situations where the use of deadly force is completely unjustified. The right to carry a firearm necessarily includes the duty to do so responsibly.

Michael Drejka should be prosecuted. If he is not, we are going to see more situations that used to be little more than shouting matches escalate into gunfire and death. We can’t allow that to happen.

Today's blog: John Artimez writes about the recent "stand your ground" related shooting in Florida where a man was shot and killed after an altercation outside a convenience store.