Thursday, June 19, 2008

Legal Guns, Dead Neighbor-Case for Concealed Carry?

This tragic story won't change the minds of those who think guns don't kill people (maybe bullets do?), but it sure argues against the naive "law abiding citizens only buy guns" and "right to carry is safe" crowd. The simple explaination; everyone in the gun rights contingent truly believes someone is out to get them. And their rabid paranoia (lobby) influences the passage of insane state laws that endanger us all. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online, the truth about law abiding citizens:

A Milwaukee County Circuit Court jury got a disturbing view into the secret world of murder defendant Rene Stermole, 58, a malevolent world of plotting terrorists, hidden assassins and nefarious gangs.

Stermole, wept, yelled, whispered and laughed during his daylong testimony…as he tried to explain why, on June 13, 2007, he shot his neighbor, Mark Wright, six times as Wright prepared to grill dinner for his wife and 7-year-old daughter.

“I have been framed for murder,” Stermole yelled to the jury more than once.

Stermole and Wright, (were) neighbors since 1992. Wright, an African-American maintenance worker at Mitchell International Airport for 26 years, called his wife and the couple decided to have a cookout.

Born in Germany, Stermole was never able to hold a steady job and lived with his elderly mother. He had never married, believing, he said, that the forces that were out to get him would kill his wife. He created an elaborate system of locks on his doors, set up surveillance cameras and taped the doors of his house shut.

The day (of the shooting) was hot, he wore a heavy coat to hide the .40- and .50-caliber handguns he wore in a holster around his hips (illegal in Wisconsin). He had another handgun in his coat pocket. “I don’t take out the garbage unless I am armed,” he told the jury.

Stermole said he believed Wright was a member of the El Rukn street gang, as well as a terrorist. Stermole believed Wright wanted to kill him.

As Stermole pulled into his alley, he stopped his car near Wright, who was in or near his own backyard, pulled out a camera and photographed him. In the picture, Wright’s arms are spread out in a gesture of apparent disbelief. He is holding a bag of garbage and some cooking utensils. He is wearing a polo shirt, shorts and sneakers.

Stermole told the jury that he interpreted the gesture as an invitation to a gunfight. He believed Wright was wearing a bulletproof vest, was packing two handguns and had a sniper backing him up. “He was making a statement,” Stermole said. “He’s not there to take out the garbage. He’s there for me.”

Stermole said he pulled his car in the garage and began to pray that he would have the strength to defend himself. He considered which weapon he would use and decided on the .40-caliber Glock. He stepped out of his garage, gun already pulled, and fired about 11 rounds at Wright, who was hit at least six times, including in the chest, the abdomen and twice in the back…Elaine Wright ran to her husband…he remembered her saying something like “Have you gone crazy?” Stermole said he thought she was speaking to her husband.

If the jury convicts Stermole, the trial will go into a second phase to determine if he is not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Ya think. This all could have been avoided if Wright had just had a concealed firearm with him as he grilled out, right?

UPDATE June 24, 2008: "The Milwaukee County jury that last week convicted Rene Stermole of shooting his neighbor to death spared him a life prison term Monday by finding him not guilty because of a mental disease. All three psychiatrists agreed that Stermole’s condition is extremely dangerous. While it is possible Stermole will remain in a state mental hospital the rest of his life, he has the right, under state law, to periodically challenge the terms of his commitment."


  1. The example given in this blog is clearly one involving an armed and dangerous individual who was, without question, a psychopath who probably had several other mental disorders as well. One can also cite examples of soldiers in a war zone who shot innocent civilians (remember My Lai?). Not every criminal is a Charles Manson - not every militant politician is Adolf Hitler. Yet we see these examples being misused by letter writers and talk show hosts all the time. The incident described by the blogger is no more a reason to ban concealed carry for all time to come, than a drunken driver who kills or maims is a legitimate excuse to ban all alcoholic beverages. The blog works as an effective debating technique for an audience that is easily emotionally swayed. But in the final analysis it is, pure and simple, a cheap shot.

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  3. This clearly armed and dangerous individual had legal firearms, or at least I'm assuming they were because the article did not broach the subject, and carried them despite the laws forbidding it.

    Quantity of firearms has nothing to do with the danger the individual presents, it's his mental attitude (though crazy here). The point is, law abiding citizens purchasing hands guns legally don't necessarily make us safer. Just the opposite.