Friday, September 5, 2008

The Making Of A Firearms Instructor - Part I

How I Went From Being A Crime Victim To Becoming A Firearms Instructor - Part 1

Ignorance Is Bliss - Until You Meet A Predator

Not too long ago, I lived my life as you probably do today. I was a law-abiding citizen who went faithfully about his business as you probably do. I went to work every day, spent quality time with my family, regularly attended church services, and didn't stick my nose into the affairs of other people. I dutifully exercised my civic duties such as voting in every election, maintaining my home inside and out, and supporting the general affairs of the city of my birth.


Further, I felt that I had the basic routine of ensuring my family's safety covered: I owned a shotgun and had plenty of buckshot shells on-hand for home defense and maintained a state of continual vigilance. Despite my best efforts of trying to be safe in an increasingly dangerous town, my world was suddenly and violently turned upside-down on one eventful night. As I was returning home one evening from a full day of work, I was approached by and robbed at gunpoint by two teenagers in my own backyard. My own garage had become a crime scene.

How To Get Robbed In Your Own Backyard

I suffered the indignity of having a gun shoved into my face while being relieved of a few paltry and essentially worthless material possessions - a booty worth less than a total of $50. After it was all "said and done," I experienced a bruise to my ego that wouldn't be fully felt until several days had since passed when family and friends would later blame me for being a victim of a violent crime.

It could have been much worse. I could have been shot or killed, which seems to be the case in Detroit armed robberies these days. To be totally honest, I had fully expected to be shot due to the fact that I had steadfastly and boldly refused to accompany my assailants at gunpoint to an ATM to retrieve more money and refused to chaperone them into my house so that they could present a threat to my family.

Unless you have experienced a robbery for yourself, there is no true way you can truly appreciate the trespass I felt on that night. I made my peace with God and was resolved to be shot to death in my own backyard.I am a father of four wonderful children. Although I have adequate life insurance, what kind of life would my kids have without me in their lives?

I grew up without a father, who died when I was twelve years of age. My dad had adequate life insurance - I was able to go to college - but the void I experienced in my life has never been filled. I think of him at least once every day. I know what that experience feels like and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

I Procrastinated Away The Opportunity To Defend Myself

More than anything, I was maddened by the experience. Not only was I mad at the two thugs who robbed me, mad at the negligent parents of our city who have no clue of what their children do after dark, but I was even madder at myself. You see, by this point in time, the CCW laws in Michigan had been changed several years ago such that law-abiding citizens, such as myself, could have applied for and received the privilege of carrying a concealed pistol on their person.

Had I applied at that point in time circa 2001, I would have had a gun to defend myself in my time of need. The situational circumstances of my robbery were such that my awareness on that night would have given me enough time and space to react. One problem: I didn't have a gun.

Never Assume That Bad Things Never Happen To Good People

Upon further analysis, my major problem prior to the robbery was that, despite the increasing number of violent crimes reported in the media, I had allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security. After all, I was at that time married, had four children, had a nice home in a solid middle-class neighborhood, did not hang out in bars and clubs, did not associate with people of questionable character, and was often in bed by 10 p.m.

At that point in my life, although I had experienced several petty property crimes at our residence such as several car break-ins, one burglary of our home, the theft of our built-in outdoor barbecue grill, and a couple of car-eggings, I thought that I was reasonably safe, given my low-key lifestyle. I couldn't have been more wrong. Nice neighborhoods, it seems, are open-air markets for criminals: deluded potential victims and a lack of firearms carried by area residents.

Instead of taking a clue from the daily crime reports, as detailed in the nightly newscasts, I had put off the idea of getting a CCW because I felt that "I didn't need one today." I let the everyday mundane tasks of going to work, attending family social events, getting haircuts, and shopping for clothes and other essential items, stand in the way of securing my most basic right: the right to be safe and secure in my own person. I had let the unimportant tasks and chores of day-to-day living keep me from doing that which was most important.

Getting Robbed Is Bad Enough - The Aftermath Is Worse

My experience was made even worse by the inconveniences I had to endure in the aftermath. For starters, I had to call a locksmith to replace all the locks in my home. I had to catch a city bus to a suburban car dealership to get a dummy key made to unlock the ignition on my car, so that it could be towed away and have all of its locks replaced, have new car keys programmed, and have the new keys cut.

Further, I had to replace all of my identification: driver's license, work ID badge, work parking lot tag, AAA card, voter registration card, library card, report my credit cards as stolen, change my banking account information and get a new ATM card. I lost a few personal photos and now had the specter of being an identity theft victim. The $50 robbery actually cost me about another $1,000 in cash and lost time from work. I would have came out cheaper if I could have just written my assailants a $100 check for my wallet and keyring.

Big Secret: No One Cares If You Get Robbed, Raped, or Victimized

To add insult to injury, I had to explain to various people why I needed their assistance. Essentially, I had to tell them that I was a victim of an armed robbery in my own backyard. Invariably, everyone who I talked to found it within themselves to, in one way or another, blame me for the crime. Somehow, my victimization was my fault for not being aware of my environment in my backyard, not being inside when it was dark outside, and not having left Detroit for the suburbs several years ago.

Furthermore, I had to make several attempts to file a crime report with the respective detective for the case because he was on vacation and no one seemed to know when he would be back. I felt victimized all over again. Here I am - a crime victim - wanting to do whatever to help the police to find my assailants and they were making petty arguments between themselves over who gets to file the paperwork.

The Police Don't Really Care About You Being Victimized

Never mind that the old neighborhood precinct was shuttered some time ago when the police department consolidated and that I had to travel a considerable distance to continually drop in and try to find the respective detective. On several occasions, I thought about not bothering to follow through with the process, however, I thought that my report might somehow make a difference for someone else.

Maybe - just maybe - someone wouldn't experience the trespass I experienced because my criminal report made someone in the police department do something about it: increased patrols of the area, interviews with known suspects, put together a criminal line-up, or something. Anything. When I did finally catch up with the appropriate officer, he performed his role of investigator admirably but neither he nor his colleagues were around when I needed them most - at the robbery scene.

I spent about an hour giving the detective all of the details of the crime I could recall and muster - several days after the occurrence, however small, in an effort that might reveal a pattern which might suggest known suspects to the officer. I guess I watch too much T.V.Most crimes, if reported at all, are never solved. No one seems to care too much unless there is a dead body associated with the crime.

Even then, it seems that unless the outrage from the community is great, nothing ever comes of it. Did the police ever solve the murder of that woman whose body was discovered downtown on the morning of the Super Bowl? After I spilled my guts to the detective, I inquired about the process of receiving a CCW. His reaction was not pleasant. He didn't do or say anything offensive, but he dismissed my desire to take more responsibility for more personal safety as "contributing to the problem." Anyhow, he told me to go to police headquarters and that the info I sought could be found there.
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