This letter appeared in today’s Purcellville Gazette (warning 12Mb .pdf file).
“If there were no guns in the house, a drunk 16 year old would have been taken home by the Sheriff’s Department. No one would be DEAD.” So said a friend of the late Caleb A. Gordley in an online comment. No amount of ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ excuse making can change this unassailable fact. If Donald West Wilder hadn’t had a gun, or if he hadn’t made the choice to shoot Caleb, Caleb would be alive today.
Three letter writers last week tried to justify the killing. John Phillips, speaking for Mr. Wilder, said “[P]eople will play politics with this…I did the right thing.” Kevin Fitzpatrick asked “What about the guilt [Wilder] will live with for the rest of his life because of a string of poor decisions made by some teenagers.” Jim Schatz first described the shooting as “accidental,” but then claimed that Mr. Wilder was “required” to use deadly force. Required by whom?
Mr. Schatz also cites something he calls “God-given rights to self-protection.” We understand that it’s fashionable in some circles to claim that whatever one wants to do is a “God-given right,” but this is a fabrication. When Peter cut off the ear of one sent to arrest Jesus, Jesus admonished him, telling the apostles “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” In the story of the “Good Samaritan,” Jesus explicitly told his followers to put first the needs of others, NOT a concern for their own safety. Jesus also did not speculate about a “string of poor decisions” made by the man who was tended to by the Samaritan. We have a responsibility (not a right) to love our neighbors – including especially a teenager so drunk that he has mistakenly climbed in the wrong window. Claiming that the “right” to protect property is more important than the life of another person is worship of the creation, not the Creator. The inevitable result is a culture of death.
David and Jonathan Weintraub, Lovettsville