Life in Fear
-Patrick S Lasswell
“Take me to the gun store...” the tearful voice on my phone said. My neighbor who stood up for herself just discovered from the police that the felon two doors down beat the immediate eviction notice and restraining order, and would be staying for (at least) another month. She was in fear for her life, and the legal system had failed to protect her from the monsters. What could I say? In the event, I said, “I'm on my way.”
I went to Autumn and Nathaniel's place to pick them up. She's an art student and he's in a band, typical 20-something Portlanders who otherwise wanted nothing to do with firearms. Nathaniel even refused the weapons he inherited from his grandfather, a decision he came to regret. In their little apartment were tools of music and art; higher achievements they wanted to concentrate on this summer, but were distracted by terror from a professional felon, instead.
The problem is her monster graduated from prison with advanced knowledge of beating the system, presumably as a way of staying in business. He doesn't appear to have a day job, cars come and go from his apartment all the time, he appears to own seven vehicles, most of which appear ready for a quick exit at any given time. It would be rash of me to accuse Jesse Gordan and Tina West of actually dealing in methamphetamines because they've already threatened me with legal action. Jesse's brother threatened me with something more last November, though.
I was in immediate fear for my life last year when Jesse and his brother had a fight that resulted in shots fired. It is hard to forget hiding in your front yard from a shotgun armed maniac driving through the streets of your neighborhood. It wasn't until last month that I even knew any of the particulars of that conflict that caught me unarmed trying to help 911 direct police to the homicidal criminal. I stayed unarmed because I did not know enough about the situation to feel certain I would stay out of jail if I left my house with a rifle.
Eight months later, Autumn and Nathaniel decided they couldn't afford not to have a rifle to be uncertain about. Bicycle bound, they needed a ride and expert advice on what to get to protect themselves with. Portland is a wonderful city in many ways, but you can only use public transportation to purchase firearms when there is a gun show. Because there wasn't a gun show, and because the need was so urgent, my recommendations were limited. In the end, I selected a No.4 Mk.1 .303 British Enfield rifle. Right now 90% of the people who think they know weapons are objecting to my choice.
Allow me to explain. The No.4 Mk. 1 Enfield is cheap, rugged, easy to teach, accurate, and available. In less than an hour Autumn and Nathaniel were in my basement scrubbing the filth of neglect out of their weapon and she was getting to know how a bolt action rifle worked. There are other weapons that might be more perfect in some fantasy scenario. I am certain that I taught a skinny art student enough that she can stop a threat with this weapon in the environment she faces. This is the same rifle I taught Michael Totten to move and shoot with before he went to Iraq with me last year. Something else might be more perfect, the Enfield was available and it will work.
For the last month Autumn and Nathaniel survived as best they could, waiting for a judge to rule on a permanent restraining order that would put Jesse Gordon and Tina Wood out of their life forever. Friday the judge decided that their case had insufficient merit. It remains to be seen if the eviction will go through. Last night Autumn called me again in tears, in fear for her life. She can't find a place to move to, all the rentals available are twice the price of her current apartment, and most of them will throw her out if they can sell it. Jesse and his friends are open in their intimidation, unconcerned with the police now they know they can get away with more.
I really don't want this to end in violence. The paroled felon is so much better prepared to deal on those terms. When the police hauled Jesse Gordon off last month on parole violations, they couldn't confiscate the box of firearms they found in his apartment; and they could only warn him about the sword collection. The fear is present and the law proved itself an illusion of security. For a life in fear, a rifle is the only reality that counts.