Sunday, July 29, 2007


Would a Gun Helped Home Invasion Victims?

Learning the the "Ghastly Details" of the Petit home invasion robbery, rapes, murders, arson, etc. creates ever more concern over the safety of my family. This incident shows the horrible extent to which crime can go.
The state medical examiner confirmed that Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled and that her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, died of smoke inhalation. The deaths were ruled homicides.

The girls' father, Dr. William Petit Jr., a prominent endocrinologist, remained hospitalized with head injuries.

All three women were raped, sources familiar with the investigation told both the Waterbury Republican-American and Hartford Courant. Petit was beaten with a baseball bat, thrown down the basement stairs, and then tied up in the cellar.

The girls, sources told the Courant, were tied to their beds and raped repeatedly, then left to burn after gasoline was poured around their beds and ignited.

The suspects entered the Petits' Cheshire home at about 3 a.m. Monday, planning to burglarize it, state police said.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell the Republican-American that Hawke-Petit and Michaela were followed home from a supermarket Sunday by the suspects. The men then went to a Wal-Mart to buy an air rifle and a rope, and then waited about a mile-and-a-half away
It only gets worse the more you read.

Having an 11 year old daughter myself, I cannot imagine the terror and pain of the parents and the girls. I cannot imagine the continuing pain and trauma of the father who, after witnessing these horrors, must carry these memories with him the rest of his life. And, I wonder, what could have been done to prevent this unimaginable tragedy?

My first thought goes to "What if Mr. Petit had a gun handy?" Owning a gun may not have prevented the eventual outcome but it would have given the Petit family a fighting chance. The perpetrators were not armed with guns. If one of the family members had been able to pick up a gun and use it, this story would have been a footnote maybe making some of the pro-gun ownership blogs or given a short blurb in the NRA Armed Citizens.

But what happened is a nightmare worse than many Hollywood horror movies.

I don't own a pistol but more and more consider purchasing one legally. I do have a couple of rifles and a shotgun. But, a pistol would be easier to keep close by and easier to hide from intruders. My son has passed the hunter safety class with a perfect score and is a licensed hunter who has shown complete respect and safety practices with firearms.

What is the risk that my family would suffer a similar plight as the Petit family? Obviously quite small. But, we routinely take precautions against quite small risks all the time while ignoring others. A child is 100 times more likely to drown in a swimming pool than die in a gun accident. Automobiles, bicycles as well as swimming pools cause significantly more deaths than guns. (I must interject here that the exact differences are hard for me to determine because it appears that virtually every source I find juggles the statistics to suit their agenda. Numbers from different years, different age groups, etc. are used. But looking at this article you can see that a lot of things we don't worry about as much hurt and kill kids more than guns.)

I'm not yet ready to fork out the several hundred dollars that a pistol costs but I'm considering it more seriously.

I live in Connecticut. Of course, I've been reading the local papers about the home invasion in Cheshire. I've noticed that the principal newspaper in this area - The Hartford Courant - has not mentioned (let alone suggested) that a handgun in that Cheshire home might (yes, might) have stopped this invasion in its tracks -- the family alive today. Isn't it somewhat irresponsible for a homeowner to not provide for protection (though the need may never arise) against this increasingly common crime? A few hundred dollars (no permit is required to have a gun in the home though a permit is required to buy a gun in Connecticut) is a small price to pay for least having a chance to save loved ones's lives.
I agree. Most people, including myself, spend much more on various forms of insurance each year. My yearly family membership at the YMCA costs more than a good pistol.
I would suggest buying a gun for this very situation. The cost of a few hundred dollars is not bad at all, when you consider that gun will keep you safe for the rest of your life. That makes the cost of the gun on the order of pennies per day.
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