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home : letters : letters May 25, 2016

2/15/2013 4:39:00 AM
'If only I had a gun' - a true story

To the Editor:

Statistics show that hand guns at home cause many more deaths of family members and friends than intruders. Unfortunately there are increasing numbers of people who don’t believe in data and statistics. This is my real life story that I hope will give pause to anyone planning to purchase a gun for self-defense.

I was alone in my two-story house, which was located in an ordinary middle-income suburban neighborhood. My wife and youngest daughter had gone to our cabin up north. My other daughter Rachel had plans to stay at a friend’s home that night. It was a small group of her senior high school friends who were getting together before they went their separate ways. She and I planned to head north the next day.

A little after midnight I was awakened by a noise downstairs. Sitting up in bed I waited for another sound. I could hear whispering and faint footsteps. An intruder had come in through our garage which is under the bedroom. I had locked the utility door at the back of the garage, but I knew that with a couple of twists, it could be opened. That must have been what woke me up. My first thoughts were, “why hadn’t I purchased a hand gun to have in my night stand?” I would crouch by the side of my bed and blast the guy when I saw him at my bedroom door.

I thought of getting a knife from the kitchen, but it sounded like they were already there. This happened more than 20 years ago, before 9-11 and cell phones were available. By this time I was really shaking. I was scared to a point of panic. With a dead flashlight as my only weapon, I silently moved to my bedroom doorway and hoped my loud voice might scare them off. I don’t remember what I yelled. I heard a gasp and then “Dad.” Instant relief flooded my emotions. Rachel and a friend had decided not to stay at the party. 

Since I wasn’t expecting her until morning, she didn’t want to wake me. She had decided not to follow our usual routine of coming in the front door and waking my wife and me no matter what hour. Then I started shaking again. What would have happened if I had a gun? I would have shot my own daughter. I was so scared I would have shot at shadows. For several days after this incident, I was physically shaking. To this day the thought of this incident brings tears to my eyes.

But wouldn’t it be great to catch a burglar in the act? To defend home. To defend family. More than a century ago, the six shooter pistol was dubbed the great equalizer. A man of lesser stature could stand up against big bullies. How many gun owners have this macho image of themselves, killing the bad guys? Do you really want to have a gun fight with someone who has grown up in an atmosphere of gun violence with lots of shooting experience, or who is on drugs, or who is just plain crazy?  

If you really want to provide safety for your home and possessions and children, buy a home security system. If you want to be macho, enroll in a martial arts class. If you want to protect your children at school, consider a school security system with motion detectors, video monitors at every entrance, a direct link to the local police station and tough enforcement for breaching security procedures. Let’s explore other alternatives rather than focusing all debate on the compromise between “ban all guns” and “guns for everyone.” 

I am absolutely certain that I will never be responsible for a gun-related injury in my home because I don’t have a gun.  

Those people who have guns in their homes cannot make that claim. They certainly expect no unintended consequences, but there is a risk. It may be a small risk, but there is that possibility. 

Wayne Burmeister

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: CJ Lee

I commend you sir for knowing your limitations. Anyone that would "blast the guy when I saw him at my bedroom door" should never consider owning a firearm. You are the reason we have 911, just don't inflict your helplessness and lack of common sense on the rest of those who are up to the task.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Dollard

I like the "tough enforcement for breaching security at schools". After they've shot up a school, give them a ticket. This fellow should not own a gun.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Doug Huffman

I wonder if Mr. Burmeister has ever attended court, to hear the standards of veracity there enforced. I'm sure some part of his story is true to the extent that it cannot be falsified, but not much.

An adult daughter without a house key to the front door? A daughter bringing a late night friend friend home without prearranged permission?

Then to extrapolate from his very narrow personal circumstances to advise all on their choices is folly. There is a gun in my nightstand, one here in the desk (that goes out with me), a loaded shotgun in the closed and more in the safe.

Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2013
Article comment by: Mike Lynn

As I read the article a few thoughts come to mind. I citizen that obtains a gun legally must use common sense and follow 1 simple safety rule. Never shoot at anything you haven't identified, this goes for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. This is why anyone owning a fire arm should take a fire arms safety course, if this situation would have turned tragic and a trigger was pulled it would have been your fault sir for not identifying the threat before pulling the trigger. A gun doesn't kill a person people do. I feel law abiding citizens that use a fire arm safely are not a threat. The non law abiding citizens and those that don't use them safely are a huge threat.

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013
Article comment by: Gary Meinert

Sir: The first question I would ask you is this: Why in the heck would you shoot a gun, either in your house or outside, if you didn't know or see who the target was? I agree with you. YOU SHOULD NOT OWN A GUN.

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