Roy Exum: The Way It Works

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

A 60-year-old man who lives in Antioch, which is actually in south Nashville, arrived home about 9:30 p.m. Saturday night and, as he talked to a friend in his car, two younger men approached the automobile where they sat. One, who is 17, had a handgun in his hand while another, age 19, stood nearby with a shotgun.

There is no doubt they intended to rob the driver of the car, but the 60-year-old immediately drew his own 38-caliber handgun and shot his 17-year-old assailant in a clear act of self-defense. The younger teenager was shot in the chest, but ran in terror.

The older would-be robber, who we have since learned was Kevin Negron, grabbed the wounded kid and they roared away in Negron’s car, going to a nearby convenience store to request assistance after saying they had just been the victims of a crime.

But the 60-year-old shooter had already called police and, with a witness present, told the officers what had really happened. He showed the police his valid “handgun carry permit,” which has since been credited for saving the older man’s life, and while he expressed remorse for shooting anyone, it was offset by the fact he wasn’t shot himself.

It is pretty obvious the 60-year-old never intended to actually shoot anyone when he obtained his “handgun carry permit.” It is also a safe bet that the incident still ruined the older man’s evening, but the fact is that he was able to successfully defend himself. That is what a handgun permit is designed to do. That is the way it works.

It turns out the 19-year-old who was holding the shotgun was already on parole for an April felony where he evaded arrest. His history also includes theft and domestic assault charges. Further, he admitted his role in the botched robbery minutes after the 17-year-old was said to be in satisfactory condition and awaiting charges, which will be filed in Davidson County Juvenile Court. (Did you get that – Juvenile Court?)

Now that’s a crummy story, something that shouldn’t happen to anybody, but the fact is it did occur and, because the intended victim had a “handgun carry permit,” the would-be robbers, who neither had permits to carry a weapon, will wind up going to jail. That is also why so many Tennesseans are now legally and lawfully carrying handguns in an effort to avoid being a victim.

Some years ago the notion that two teenagers, duly armed, would accost an older man in Antioch would have been preposterous. Last weekend it happened. And people who don’t believe the values and morals of some of our young people are being eroded are not looking where they should.

Not long ago I asked Chattanooga Police Chief Freeman Cooper if “responsible guns” that are now being carried by licensed Tennesseans pose a threat to the officers under his command and he quickly shook his head, “People who get the proper credentials are not a problem.

“Where we have our biggest headache is with guns that are illegal. We desperately need anyone who finds a weapon to turn it in to a police officer. We’ll come get the guns and take either pistols or rifles off the streets. But when those firearms wind up in ‘bad hands,’ that’s a big problem for our community as well as society at large.”

According to another story in Nashville yesterday, about 70 cities are opting away from a new law that allows firearms to be carried in parks by those who have the permits to do so. Some objectors would lead you to believe it will lead to constant shootings, but that is hardly the reason the law was created – the “bad guys” bring their weapons anyway, in much the same fashion the two Nashville teenagers did last weekend.

Yes, handguns are a huge problem, but trying to legislate against weapons has never worked. What we must do is act strongly and forcefully against criminals – despite the age or social background – to show the use of guns brings a new dimension to any misdeed and will be punished harshly.

Incidentally, two or three years added to the sentence is nothing compared to being shot in the chest.

Good people have the right to defend themselves, to protect their families and to live without fear. Say what you will, but that’s better than reading where some 60-year-old from south Nashville is dead because he didn’t have any other choice.

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