Reading the usual suspects this morning, I came across a good piece by Francis: the Fear Weapon. It resonated with me on many levels, and at least partly because of a recent incident in my own life.

A couple weeks ago or so, I was working late in my home office downstairs. I do a lot of consulting work, and I kind of overburdened myself on contracts this last month. It’s required a lot of long nights to catch up. It was close to midnight. Suddenly the doorbell rang multiple times, and I heard screaming and crashing sounds outside, as persons unknown threw stuff around on my porch.

Not knowing what was going on, I hit the gun safe, which has a quick release, and grabbed my trusty Mossberg, then headed to the front door to see what was going on. I saw three people in the shadows, causing a ruckus, then suddenly running down the street when I flipped the lights on.

Since they were running away I set the shotgun down next to the door and opened it slightly. A bunch of my neighbors were outside chasing the three down the street. They had been walking their dog late at night and saw them causing the ruckus. I never got a good look at the perps, but from what I could tell, they were three black teenagers. I chatted with the neighbors who had chased them off a bit, then closed the door and considered what I was going to do next.

My wife preempted me by posting on our neighborhood’s watch page on Facebook, which is monitored by the local Sheriff’s office. She posted that the teens had caused a ruckus on my front porch, and that this was inadvisable, because I was armed. Certainly, if it was a prank, she said, it was a very stupid one.

Immediately, some folks in the neighborhood got pissed at me. They were offended that I would arm myself, and that I would consider using said arms on some kids who were “just playing some pranks.” One threatened to call the cops on me because, he claimed, brandishing a weapon is a crime. I advised him to go ahead and do so, and in any event, the whole thread had already been read by the local Sheriff’s office anyway, and they certainly didn’t think I had done anything wrong. Our local deputies are very good folks.

Some other folks explained how Castle Doctrine works in Florida, and that it was perfectly legal for me to carry a weapon in my own home in those circumstances. Either way, the man quickly backed off from his statements. But a few other folks messaged me asking if it was really reasonable to arm myself when it was probably just stupid kids doing stupid things.

My answer was: how the hell should I know that’s all it was? All I knew was somebody was screwing around on my front porch in the middle of the night for reasons unknown. Sure, it could be a harmless prank. It could also be something much worse. I had no way to know what it was, or who was doing it, and I’m not taking chances with my family’s life on the line. And I also suggested that if those teenagers were from the neighborhood, maybe my wife’s post put the fear of God in ’em. Maybe it would stop this stupidity before someone got hurt.

Other neighbors explained that this particular prank was actually pretty common. These teenagers would apparently do this every night to somebody in our area. After my wife’s post this completely stopped in its tracks. There hasn’t been a single report on the Neighborhood Watch page of any such activity since then. It was enough to make me wonder if the guy threatening me on the watch page was actually a parent of one of these kids, and that’s why he was so pissed off.

Either way, a healthy dose of fear put a stop to it.

Some people don’t get the message until you put some fear in them. They don’t think you’re serious, or that there’s really anything wrong with what they’re doing, because nobody is there to give them a reality check. Fear is that gut check.

It’s nothing like the craziness Francis talks about in his post, but it’s also a bit of anecdotal evidence in favor of the idea that employing fear can be good and healthy, and in any event, may be the only way to put a stop to certain behavior.

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