When a multi-family house on my street caught fire this weekend, in addition to eight people, a dog, and about a dozen snakes, firefighters found a four-foot alligator in the third-floor apartment. According to the downstairs neighbor, she “didn’t know until today” that all of those animals lived in her building.
So when I sat down with my first cup of coffee this morning and found my block barricaded by nine police cars, I was already in a curious frame of mind. My quick search didn’t explain this morning’s incident, but I learned that the building at the center of the activity was the scene of an arrest a few months ago after a resident threatened to shoot his wife and children. At the time, police confiscated “a Springfield XD 45, a Walther PPK, and a Smith and Wesson .357 mm revolver.”
I don’t know whether my neighbor was convicted of anything, nor do I know what brought over a dozen officers back this morning. But learning these facts really drove home to me the meaning of this week’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal ban on gun ownership by those convicted of domestic abuse. No question: I am way more frightened of my human neighbor than any alligator. Sure, I was surprised to hear the number of reptiles living in that house, but a “friendly” and properly-regulated exotic animal does not threaten my safety in anything like the way that an armed and violent angry man does, whether or not I’m his primary target.
Now that I’m aware of the situation I can make an extra effort to pay attention and take any opportunity to extend my support to his wife and children. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit I also want someone to take his guns away for the safety of every neighbor on the street… even the alligator.