My cell phone rang; I answered and heard my son say, “I think there’s someone at the back door.” He was in his bedroom, I was in mine—it was after midnight.
I hung up and immediately called the Oak Lawn police, who arrived at the house in about one minute. They walked through the backyard, checked for footprints in the snow, went into the garage but saw no signs of a burglar or intruder. As they left, they assured us they would drive through the alley and patrol adjacent streets.
Did my son truly hear someone trying to open the back door? It’s very possible. Our dog was distracted that night, which is unusual for her. And there has been a rash of burglaries and attempted burglaries in the village over the past several weeks.
It’s concerning. It’s upsetting. And it’s serves as a reminder that we all need to take every precaution possible when it comes to securing our homes. For me, however, purchasing a gun will not be one of those safeguards.
Gun proponents are quick to argue that they have a right to own firearms to protect their families and property. They’re fed up with criminals having the upper hand over law-abiding citizens.
So am I.
I see police reports from Oak Lawn and several other communities on a weekly basis, and understand why residents and business owners are alarmed. But you won’t convince me that having a weapon in your home is a wise idea. You have the right. I’m not out to change any laws or debate the Second Amendment. I just don’t think having a handgun or a shotgun in the house is a smart.
I recently saw some reader comments in another publication following a story about burglaries in the area. Many of the remarks reinforced my thinking that ordinary folks have no business with weapons in their homes or concealed on their person as the new law allows.
One poster commented that if someone breaks into his house, he’d have the opportunity “break in (his) recently purchased S&W Shield.” That’s just the kind of bravado that concerns me. “Go ahead, break into my house, I’m packing.”
The S&W Shield is a handgun sold by Smith and Wesson that is inexpensive and easy to conceal, according to gun advocates. But not all the posters believed it was the best choice for home protection. They wanted to step up their game to bigger artillery.
One recommended a particular pump action rifle used in hunting, sport shooting as well as by law enforcement and military organizations. Just the kind of thing you want in the house on the night you hear footsteps. I’m sure the gun proponents are convinced they could calmly grab their loaded rifle, walk down the stairs and point it at an intruder.
If they needed to pull the trigger, no problem.
I’m not so sure.
I know many gun owners have received some training. They know the basics about safety and security. But all the training in the world can’t prepare you for the night when you wake up and hear someone breaking into your house. There are too many variables—nerves, adrenaline, is the intruder armed or big or strong enough to overpower you and take the gun?
Additionally, gun ownership has been linked to higher risks of homicide, suicide and accidental death by gun. And far too many homes with guns also are occupied by children who might find the weapon and pull the trigger.
Indeed, there are other options to protect your home and family without introducing the risks associated with guns and rifles.
Motion-sensing lights, better locks, door reinforcement plates, a dog—even a security system if you want to shell out the extra bucks—are better alternatives to guns. As an Oak Lawn official told me recently, “most criminals are lazy.” If they encounter motion-sensor lights or other barriers designed to keep them away, they’ll likely move on.
Unfortunately, there’s an element of society that wants to flex its muscle and act like Charles Bronson in “Death Wish.”
They want to take the law into their own hands, defend what’s theirs at all costs, including arming themselves with weapons that are more danger than deterrent.