Sometimes people–good people, under most circumstances–just get fed up. There’s only so much provocation a person can take. There’s only so much crap a person should have to put up with. And when you hit that limit…well, sometimes you just have to shoot somebody.
Take Margie Ramey, for example. She lives in Rogersville, Tennessee, and for some time she’s had problems with folks using her driveway to turn around. It’s her driveway, dammit, and folks ought to respect that. But did Oscar Scott of Rose Hill, Virginia and his wife and their five young children respect the sanctity of the Ramey driveway? No, they did not.
Scott and his family (the kids are between four and twelve years old) had spent the day enjoying themselves at nearby Bays Mountain Park. They got a wee bit lost and used Margie’s driveway to turn around. So she naturally opened fire on them. Hell, it was only a couple of shots, and only one of them actually hit the vehicle (pretty good shooting for a 72 year old woman sitting on her porch a hundred and fifty feet away). It’s not like anybody got hurt or anything.
Now if one of those Scott family hooligans had taken a leak on her property…well, that’d be a different story. That would be a story more like James Robert Crocker’s.
Crocker, of rural Steelville, Missouri (as opposed to urban Steelville), has also had his troubles with folks who just go and trespass on his property. Or trespass real close to his property. He lives on the Meramec River and he’s not quite clear on whether his property includes the gravel bar (which I assume is like a sandbar, only with…you know…gravel) that borders the river. And in his defense, nobody in Missouri seems quite sure where property rights end on the Meramec. If the river is navigable, then the entire river (including gravel bars that are underwater for part of the year) are open to the public.
The friends and family of Paul Dart certainly assumed the river was navigable since they were navigating it, after a fashion. They were tubing down the river (an annual family event for the last half decade or so) when one of the group experienced the need to relieve his bladder. Rather than just let go in the river, the group beached their tubes on a gravel bar — which just happened to be the gravel bar that may or may not have belonged to James Robert Crocker.
As I understand it, Crocker couldn’t actually see the Dart party from his home…but he could hear them. And being familiar with his Constitutional rights, Crocker was not going to allow a stranger to just urinate willy-nilly on gravel that might, in some capacity, belong to him. America didn’t fight a war in Vietnam so total strangers could piss on any tiny riparian rocks they wanted to, after all. So he approached the group, 9mm pistol in hand, and demanded they put away their penises and leave.
Paul Dart stepped in between Crocker and the unfortunate man whose bladder had started the problem. So Crocker shot him in the face.
Now, granted, Paul Dart hadn’t so much as unzipped his pants, let alone urinated in anger. But Crocker didn’t care. “I just shot the one closest to me,” he told the police.
Paul Dart died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
See, this is the problem. When gun rights advocates say “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” they ignore the fact that people kill people easier and more often because they have guns. Right now, Margie Ramey (who was released on bail) probably regrets she had her rifle close to hand when the Scott family used her driveway. Right now, James Robert Crocker (who didn’t get released on bail) probably regrets carrying his handgun down to the gravel bar.
But they did have easy access to their guns, and children were put in danger for the crime of using Margie Ramey’s driveway and Paul Dart was stupidly murdered because his cousin urinated on a gravel bar that James Robert Crocker wasn’t even sure he owned.
Sometimes people–good people, under most circumstances–just get fed up. When that happens and there’s a firearm nearby, somebody could die and the lives of several families are shattered. And you know what? It just isn’t worth it.