Special thanks to Wikipedia user Alex E. Proimos for use of the facepalm picture.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I think there are way too many guns in the United States. It’s much too easy for people to get their hands on weapons that can kill innocent folks just going about their business. However, even though I think there are too many guns, I also recognize that sometimes guns are useful. And, as long as many stupid people own guns and try to use them to harm others, I don’t necessarily disagree with responsible gun ownership.
Yesterday, I read a news story that, frankly, kind of blew my mind. At about 6:20pm one week ago, in Dayton, Ohio (where I lived as a baby), a 23 year old man named Roosevelt Rappley decided he was going to rob a Dollar General store. That decision led to his very premature death. Why? Because although Mr. Rappley had brought a handgun with him to do his night’s “work”, he didn’t count on a clerk in the store also being armed and dangerous.
It seems that Mr. Rappley, who was known to police because he already had a pending weapons charge, entered the store, pulled out his handgun, pointed it at other people, and then demanded money. A clerk who was on duty also happened to be armed, so he pulled out his gun and shot Rappley, who reportedly fired in retaliation. Then, in a futile attempt to escape, Rappley staggered outside and collapsed, dying at the scene about seven minutes after the drama started.
After shooting Rappley, the clerk called the police and admitted that he killed Rappley in self-defense. The police determined that the clerk was not violating the law, since he owned the gun legally and was on private property. Moreover, Rappley had started the violence when he brandished a gun and demanded money that wasn’t his.
What really gets me, though, is that Rappley’s siblings are absolutely furious about this. Why? Because the clerk was armed! Rappley’s siblings think the clerk should not have had a weapon while he was at work. They say the clerk should have called the police instead of shooting their brother himself! I wonder if that’s what Rappley’s siblings would have done, faced with the situation Dollar General’s customers and employees encountered when they met Roosevelt Rappley. Would they really just call the police if they had a gun at their disposal that could remove the threat instantly? What exactly should the clerk have done? If he hadn’t had a gun, he might have ended up getting killed, simply because he happened to be working at the time Rappley came by to rob his place of employment.
One of the first rules of safe weapon handling is that you don’t point a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot. While it’s possible the clerk could have just incapacitated Mr. Rappley instead of killing him, Rappley was pointing a gun at innocent people in the store. It seems to me the first priority is to make sure Rappley doesn’t kill innocent people as he’s demanding money. If that means he gets killed, so be it. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes!
Do Rappley’s siblings think their brother was going to allow the bystanders to call the authorities? If one of them had whipped out a cell phone, would Rappley have treated that as fair play? Somehow, I doubt it. And since Rappley had a “rap sheet”, it’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t exactly a law abiding citizen. This is a clear case of self-defense. Sorry, sis, but your little brother brought this shit on himself.
I don’t know if the clerk made a habit of bringing weapons to work, but I did read that Dollar General stores have been targeted a lot by crooks lately, especially in Dayton. In fact, that was the fourth time that particular store was robbed this year! I think if I were working in a place that was targeted so often by criminals, I’d want to pack heat, too.
I do think it’s sad that yet another person has died due to gun violence. I’ve read way too many stories about young people dying because they were shot, often under really stupid circumstances. I agree that Americans are much too enamored with weapons. Unfortunately, at this point, I’m not sure what we’re going to do to get the guns off the streets. This is one case in which a good guy had a gun and actually used it to stop crime from happening. So I say good on the clerk. And shame on Rappley, who died doing a bad thing and now has family members grieving for his sorry ass.
On another note… remind me to avoid Dollar General.