One night, eight years ago, a 14-year-old boy running away with a live chicken he'd stolen from a San Antonio South Side residence, was shot and killed by the homeowner. The boy was homeless, living in a car, although that's something the homeowner wouldn't have had any way of knowing.
The boy was doubly wrong in trespassing and stealing, but I felt then, as I do now, that his life was a disproportionate price to pay for a chicken that he was running away with. Still, it was dark, he was trespassing and the homeowner, who wasn't charged with anything, was within his rights. Repeat "not charged with anything." Perhaps the ruling was just. We have a right to protect our property and selves.
The "trespassing" tragedy that happened in the Houston area in May of this year is less ambiguous. In fact, it's stripped of all ambiguity.
In all the rapid-fire arguments over gun rights and gun control, one thing should be agreed on by both sides: there are some people who shouldn't own guns. I'm not talking about law-abiding hunters or responsible gun owners. I'm talking about people like Gayle and Sheila Muhses.
Should they ever taste another day of freedom, they should never be allowed to own a gun. But that prohibition will be too late for 7-year-old Donald Coffey Jr.
Last Thursday night, the boy, his parents and his 5-year-old sister were among two carloads of people returning from an outing to the Trinity River. They stopped on the side of the road to relieve themselves and near the home of the Muhses, a home that has a sign in front warning: "Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be reshot!! Smile I will."
No false advertising there. Sheila Muhses profanely yelled at them to get off of her property and fired a shotgun at them. When they got into their cars to leave, she put down her shotgun and got into her own vehicle to chase them while her husband continued firing.
Donald was shot in the face and died Saturday. His sister, father, and another adult were also shot.
Chief DeputKen DeFoors stated that this shooting was the most "violent reaction to something so blatantly, blatantly minor."
Even if the family had been on the Muhses' property, the infraction still would have been minor. But they were on public property. The Muhses sense of boundaries — temperamental as well as geographic- was as flawed as their sense of judgment.
They don't represent the great majority of responsible and law-abiding gun owners, but they are Exhibits A and A2 of why just anyone can't be allowed to own guns.
The couple has been charged with murder and her attorney says that Mrs. Muhses is "distraught."
But is she smiling?
Basic information from Cary Clack in the San Antonio Express News.