From the local paper, we have a list of indictments, and it’s surprising how many of them reflect bad judgment with firearms. Not as many as the drug cases, another form of bad judgment that we’re not going to bother with. (We’ll let some retired medic write that blog).
But enough that it struck us as if there was a theme in this week’s indictments. And that theme is bad judgment and firearms. Let’s see if we can learn from these guys’ experience, so we don’t have to have the traumatic experience of learning from our own.
Good Judgment Comes From Experience
A friend of ours who teaches airline pilots for a living has a saying that applies to flying, but also to any other knowledge domain where the exercise of good judgment is salutary and beneficial:
Good judgment comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgment.
Let’s explore some of these cases of bad judgment and apply our own good judgment to them.
Bad Judgment Gets Men Indicted for Criminal Threatening
This might be another charge in another state, involving weapons charges or assault. Some states have a “brandishing” statute. But whatever the charge, these cases reflect the reality that if you introduce a firearm into a dispute where deadly force was not previously in the offing, the courts are going to see you as the bad guy.
Indicted for a charge alleging criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon was Souriya Nachampassak, 39, of 140 Cottage St., Portsmouth. Police allege he held an AR-15 during a dispute about a car blocking his driveway while telling an alleged victim, “This isn’t over.”
We agree with Mr Nachampassak that it’s nice to have an AR-15, and that it’s annoying to have some self-absorbed asshat block your driveway. However, the AR-15 does not apply to the situation at hand. He went pretty instantaneously from the victim of a very minor misdeed to the perpetrator of a much larger one. “This isn’t over,” all right, but for him.
Proportion, people. You have to keep your sense of proportion about you, and it’s more important to do it when you have a weapon. It’s more important to restrain yourself when you’re carrying or have a firearm nearby. Every State has some sort of rules that constrain the use of deadly force. As deadly force scholar Andrew Branca reports in his book, The Law of Self-Defense, while these rules vary widely from state to state there are certain things they have in common.
One is that deadly force is only a response to a credible and reasonable belief that deadly force is arrayed against you. Not that some briefstain has blocked your driveway. Because urban dwellers have more neighbors, (Portsmouth is a big and dense city by NH standards, population 28k or so), the odds of them getting a crummy neighbor are elevated. You can shoot someone for threatening your life or health, or those of your family. You can’t shoot him for annoying you. And hear this:
If you can’t shoot the guy legally, don’t display the gun. Why not? Well, we bet Mr Nachampassak has calmed down enough that he can tell you, now. If not, his lawyer can. He has a very serious legal problem that began when someone else wronged him, all because he reacted mistakenly. His reaction now threatens his firearms rights and his very liberty.
Let’s move on to the very next case on the docket:
Also indicted for criminal threatening with a weapon was Derrick Mello, 26, of 2 Mariette Drive, Portsmouth. Newington police allege Mello confronted an alleged victim with a pistol, which he loaded and chambered a round during a confrontation.
Here’s another case where nobody got shot, no shots were fired, but the guy with the gun wound up going downtown anyway. And being charged with a serious felony. Even though he probably thought all along he was in the right. We somehow doubt that the dispute, whatever it was, was worth it. What were we just saying?
If you can’t shoot the guy legally, don’t display the gun.
Just to make it crystal clear to all of you, the two young men in the next set of indictments are clearly career criminals. They were caught red-handed breaking into a house; one of them had a pistol previously stolen elsewhere. They’re not even legally old enough to buy a gun, but as character runs true, we’re pretty confident in predicting that by the time they’re social security age, they’ll have spent half their adult lives in the slam. But not for this case; right now, their charges are not as serious as the two guys above, and they’ll probably wind up with some combination of time served and probation, this time.
Twins Nicholas and Nathan Harnden, 20, of 978 Maplewood Ave., Portsmouth, were both indicted for charges alleging attempted burglary. Police allege that on March 24 one twin helped the other up to a residential window during an attempt to burglarize a Leslie Road home that was occupied by a woman home alone at the time.
Nathan Harnden was also indicted for a charge alleging receiving stolen property. That charge alleges his possession of a stolen 9mm pistol.
Obviously these guys have seen no detective shows, or they’d know that one twin does the crime while the other establishes the alibi. Maybe these are the kind of twins that separate late in the womb, leaving each with only half a brain (in our experience, undiagnosed semicephalics crowd court dockets everywhere).
The Harnden twins will never amount to anything but prison cell filler, but they’re not in trouble as big as the two guys, Mr Nachampassak and Mr Mello, who introduced guns into routine arguments and instantly became, in the eyes of John Law, the Real Bad Guys™. While the Harndens’ lives continue on their pre-established low trajectory, our two gun-displayers have introduced an inflection point into their lives, from which their lives will never be the same — even if they triumph in court.
You really, really don’t want to be that guy.
Let’s close with another aphorism from the world of aviation:
A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill. – often attributed to test pilot and Gemini and Apollo astronaut Frank Borman.