Although I can only speak for myself, I think the gun violence prevention (GVP) community should start handing out an annual award to the person whose behavior best exemplifies what preventing gun violence is all about. In that respect, I nominate Todd Palin for this year’s award based on the way he behaved in a confrontation this past weekend with his eldest son, a rather disturbed young man by the name of Track.
According to court papers, the kid showed up at Ma and Pa Palin’s residence, determined to have it out with the old man about something involving a truck. Finding the front door locked, he began banging and yelling to be let in, at which point his father came to the front window holding a gun. The story gets a little muddled at this point; none of the Palins has ever been accused of getting their facts straight. But the bottom line is that evidently Todd pointed a gun at Track who responded by breaking through a window, slamming the old man to the floor and proceeded to beat him up.
Even though Sarah Palin has been quoted endless times as saying that she’s always armed and ready to defend herself because self-defense is a God-given right, on this particular occasion she actually did what everyone should always do – she called the police. By the time the cops arrived both she and Todd were driving away in separate cars while Track was still inside the house. The police report noted that Todd had “injuries to his face and head based on the visible blood running down his face.” Alaska’s former Governor was “visibly upset.” The kid is due back in court on December 27, facing charges of burglary, assault and criminal mischief, the last charge referring to the cost of the window that Track broke in order to gain entrance to the home.
The good news for Track Palin, as well as for his parents, is that the kid didn’t end up on a slab. Which is the reason I want the GVP to give Todd Palin this award, because he could have done what many people do in a similar situation, namely, pull the trigger of his gun. And what we find again and again in situations where an argument breaks out between two people, one of whom is armed, “if you walk around with a gun, it will go off sooner or later.” So says Walter Mosely.
I just took a random glance at the website of the Violence Policy Center which contains specific descriptions of instances in which people with concealed-carry licenses kill themselves or others with the gun they are supposed to be carrying for self-defense. Here’s a description of a shooting that occurred in Maine: “On October 6, concealed handgun permit holder Merrill “Mike” Kimball, 70, shot and killed Leon Kelley, 63, following a confrontation at Brown’s Bee Farm, a beekeeping business in North Yarmouth.” They got into an argument about honey! About honey, get it? They got into an argument about nothing but one of them had a gun. To quote the brilliant Lester Adelson, “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing.”
The FBI defines a home invasion as” the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.” It turns out that more than one-third of all home invasions which occur each year involve the behavior of someone who had legal or social access to that particular home. Which creates a big problem for proponents of armed self-defense because if you fire a gun at a home invader, there’s a one out of three chance that you knew the person who might wind up dead.
And that’s the reason I want GVP to honor Todd Palin because he didn’t use his gun to protect himself against this particular home invader, who happened to be his son.