When the story broke about the 18 year old widow who killed an intruder while defending herself and her infant baby it made big news. The 911 call was replayed over and over again. But why?
The truth is that every year in the United States, thousands of people defend themselves from those who are attempting to hurt them. Few of those stories are ever told and certainly don’t make the evening news. This particular story touched all of us – Sarah McKinley, a young mother whose husband died only a week earlier, waiting on the phone with a 911 operator hoping the police would arrive in time. We know what happens… the police are not in time and she is forced to defend herself and her newborn baby. Thank goodness she was armed and able to do what needed to be done. This is a story with a happy ending.
This story got me thinking and reminded me of the time I lived in New York City. A city that makes it so difficult to own a gun (never mind actually carrying it concealed on your person) that it’s almost not worth the bother to apply for a permit. Of course, criminals don’t concern themselves with the details of honest gun ownership.
One Sunday morning I was awakened by a knock at my apartment door. I dragged myself out of bed and looked through the peephole. I saw two of New York’s finest there. I opened the door and asked if I could help them. One of the police officers explained that they had gotten a phone call from a young woman located at my address in distress asking for help. I told them I had no idea how that could be – I had no landline, only a cellphone and thankfully I was just fine. The officers radioed back to headquarters and double checked the address. It was confirmed that it was my address. It was obvious that all was well with me and the police officers left.
The encounter really left me shaken. This young woman did everything right. She was in trouble and she called the police. The police did what they were supposed to do – they arrived in the location they thought the woman was at. But it was all in vain. This woman never got the help she needed. I don’t know what kind of trouble she was in – but it was serious enough for her to call the police. It made me sad to think that she had no way to help herself.
The absolute right to defend yourself seems to be basic, but so many argue against it. We see the story of Sarah McKinley and are relieved that she and her baby are safe. It was only because she was armed did she even have a remote chance of not being harmed by the armed intruder and his accomplice.
I think of the unknown woman whose call for help went nowhere. The police were unable to find her. What became of her? Perhaps a gun would have made a difference in her situation, giving her a chance at life while the police tracked her down. We will never know. All I know is that the G-d given right to defend yourself and those you hold dear is not one to take lightly and certainly not one to give up or have whittled away by anyone.