It’s really hard to feel much sympathy for anyone in this situation:
Rowles told police he was sitting on his porch Saturday when a tan SUV pulled up and a black youth jumped out and ran toward his house screaming, “This is for Obama.” He said another male was hanging out of the passenger window screaming the same thing.
First, no sympathy for the Obama supporters who decided to vandalize this guy’s sign. It’s not cool. It’s not funny. It’s certainly not “for Obama.” What it is, however, is childish, immature, and totally disrespectful.
However, their conduct was certainly no excuse for Mr. Rowles’ response:
he fired his rifle at two youths who were allegedly attempting to deface his McCain yard sign, striking one of them in the arm.
He used deadly force to prevent a vandal from defacing a yard sign. You can say, “Oh, he only hit the one guy’s arm”, but when you fire a gun in someone’s direction, that’s deadly force, regardless of whether he intended to miss the kid or not: deadly force, to protect a yard sign. Oh, maybe it was one of those little $2.50 yard signs, or maybe it was one of those gigantic yard signs that’s as big as a bed. To my mind, it really doesn’t matter, because in absolutely no situation do I find justification for shooting at someone for such an insignificant reason.
I know that laws governing use of firearms differ across this nation, but to my mind, use of deadly force follows a scale. At the top of the scale is using such force to defend one’s own life. Below that is using deadly force to defend someone else’s life. When you get to using such force in defense of property, the line gets a little shady — at what point is property worth killing someone over? For the record, I’m cool with the “Castle Doctrine“, as I think that’s a pretty common sense approach to self-defense (although just because it exists doesn’t mean I think people should use it all the time). However, as these kids weren’t in Mr. Rowle’s “castle”, and weren’t presenting Mr. Rowle any indication that they intended him any harm, it’s sort of hard to figure how he plead not guilty with a straight face.
It’s really hard to find sympathy for any of them. Hopefully, the youths in question will find their excitement for vandalism tempered, and maybe Mr. Rowle will have some time in a concrete cell to contemplate his heat-of-the-moment reaction, really, though, I just can’t care about any of ’em. I mean, I’m sure those kids weren’t expecting to get shot — Rowle really should’ve just copied down their license plate and allowed the police to handle it — but I’m sure, I’m 100% certain — that they knew beforehand that what they were doing was wrong. Maybe they expected just a smack on the wrist, and really, that’s all they should’ve received, but when you play with fire (and, again, I think they knew they were), sometimes you get burned.