A Terrible Mistake

The Temptation to Kill the Wrong Person Can Be Overwhelming

The Temptation to Kill the Wrong Person Can Be Overwhelming

Right off the bat, I don’t know whether Oscar Pistorius is guilty of deliberately murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (shown above) South African cities are in fact dangerous, and the rates for murder, assault, robbery, rape, and other crimes are so high that many who leave the country do so for that reason. In the weeks to come, we shall see if the runner can convince the courts that a terrible mistake occurred.

A terrible mistake … that is an expression that frequently occurs in gun death cases. One of my former co-workers had a son in high school who found one of his father’s guns and accidentally shot himself to death. I knew the boy and thought it highly unlikely that he entertained any thoughts of suicide. His mother and father are now divorced, and the mother left California to be as far as possible from her ex.

A terrible mistake … It could well be that Oscar Pistorius thought the person in the bathroom was an intruder. In South Africa, the chances of that are fairly high. But, I’m sorry, if I had a gun, I would squirrel it away in an all but inaccessible place and use it only for target shooting. Spur-of-the-moment judgment is too chancy a faculty to use for deciding whether or not to take a life—any life. I think I would rather be killed by an intruder than, for example, to shoot Martine accidentally—an act which would forever darken my life.

A terrible mistake … No, I don’t think one out of a thousand shootings, especially within the home, are anything but a terrible mistake.

Perhaps the biggest cost of having guns ready at hand is the loss of the people we love. I think Reeva Steenkamp was a rare beauty. It’s a pity she won’t be around any more.