And a belated Happy Fourth of July to the readers! I apologize for the delay in posting, things have been crazy this summer. And now on to the fun stuff…
Last year I was living in Michigan. A somewhat “shady” town, Saginaw, Michigan, has some seriously high crime rates. Drug use is prevalent and, when it gets hot in the summer, the violence tends to rise with the temperature. There was a story that summer about a man who parked his car on the street, I believe he was finishing a phone call or waiting on someone, and another gentleman, tired of people parking in front of his house, went out and shot him. No vendetta against the actual person he shot, he was shooting an idea.
A friend of mine held a yard sale and I went over to hang out, keep her company and help watch over things. While we were hanging out an older gentleman from down the street came by with a petition he wanted us to sign. The petition was to allow neighborhood watch members to carry firearms, concealed or otherwise. Michigan does have CCW permits.
I declined to sign the petition and when the gentleman asked me why I explained myself. He didn’t like it. Essentially what I told this man was the thought of a bunch of people running around with guns in the dark of night in Saginaw was a recipe for a 12 year old kid on a bike to get shot. In that neighborhood the race of the child was 50-50 either Caucasian or African American. I didn’t want ANY children to end up with a bullet wound because someone thought they saw something or mistook that child for someone else they were looking for/at.
The gentleman told me I was insane, that wouldn’t happen. I then expressed concern because I know people who signed up for the CCW the day it became available and these people, even after taking a class, were less than responsible with how they maintained their weapons and themselves. One person took the class and then never went to a target range again saying, as a hunter, their aim was darn near perfect. Never mind the fact that shooting a rifle is far different than shooting a handgun. I personally am an amazing shot when it comes to a rifle hitting the target every time and with a handgun I could hit the target 1 out of 6 tries. And that was without someone trying to kill me. In fear of life when adrenaline is pumping hard? Not a chance.
Let’s also add in that the people I knew with CCW’s had a definite attitude change once they had that permit and their firearm was within easy reach at all times. The Wild West was alive and well in rural Michigan.
The gentleman told me that the people who treat the CCW’s in that fashion are rare. I had to point out he was asking me to sign a petition letting people whose capabilities I do not know carry them around in the city. Officers of the law are trained on firearms and are required to re-certify on a regular basis. I suggested the Neighborhood Watch provide each member with a cell phone with 911 on the speed dial and that, in my opinion, the keyword in their association was WATCH. Not shoot, not apprehend, but watch.
In the end we agreed to disagree and he went on his way. Many people were around at the time and several of them were going to sign that petition.. After the debate they did not.
A month later the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin incident occurred. My heart broke. Exactly what I feared would happen, did, though not in the way I had imagined it.
I understand that people are frightened, especially in a town like Saginaw where homicide numbers are increasing every year and the town is in the top ten most dangerous cities nationwide due to the per capita crime rates. However, the way to change where you live is not by arming oneself and roaming the area, in my opinion. Communities need their people to act like they are actually IN a community. Work together with other people to encourage the town to clean its act up.
As a side note: I wish I could talk to that gentleman with that petition today. I’d ask him after everything that has gone on here in Florida if he still wanted his Neighborhood Watch members who have no law enforcement training to carry weapons in a highly charged atmosphere such as Saginaw gets to be.
I’m not laying out an opinion on the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin incident. It’s not my place. But I am laying out an opinion that Neighborhood Watch is a fantastic thing, quite helpful in communities. We should look after our neighbors. But as stated before, I believe the keyword in Neighborhood Watch is the Watch part. See something wrong going on? Call the authorities and get yourself to safety.