Freelance writer Amy Alkon does not like guns, but finds that liberal democrat policies may very well oblige her to become a gun owner.
I never wanted a gun. In fact, I wanted to never own oneâ€”until around noon on Thursday, August 20th.
Since the late 1990s, Iâ€™ve lived in Venice, California, renting a one-bedroom Craftsman house a mile from the ocean that someone built out of a Sears-catalog kit 100 years ago. Iâ€™m a science-based syndicated columnist and author, currently working all hours to complete a book that keeps trying to kill me. Luckily, Iâ€™m writing it in this cute little old lady of a house on my sweet Venice block.
Whenever it seems Iâ€™m pointlessly pushing words around the page, Iâ€™ll step out the front door and take in the sunny stretch of palm trees, cacti, and bougainvillea. Iâ€™ll spot a hummingbird, wave to my neighbor with his parrot on his shoulder, or maybe watch Joey the Aggressive Squirrel, my wee dogâ€™s taunting nemesis. These brief distractions uncouple me from looming suspicions that Iâ€™m an incompetent dullard no one will want to read, and I often go back in, emotionally restored, and pound out a coherent and even reader-worthy paragraph. …
[A]bout a week and a half into August, a VW Vanagon Westfalia (circa 1987, tricked out with solar panels on top) appeared in front of my house and stayed there. A white woman, about 40, with long magenta-dyed hair, was living in the van with a big leather-muzzled Rottweiler. The dog was prone to barking jags, and the woman didnâ€™t just close the vanâ€™s sliding door when she got in and out; she often slammed it so hard that it shook my little wooden house. …
here was door slamming all day and sometimes at nightâ€”a deliberate ritual to show me she was in control. She could disturb my work, my peace of mind, and my sleep whenever she felt like it.
I was frustrated and upset, but I wasnâ€™t afraidâ€”until August 14th. A tall, rough-looking white guy roared up on a shiny Harley, parked it in front of the van, and got in. Soon afterward, another dude got in, too.
The noise and abuse intensified, with the vanâ€™s occupants making it clear it was punishment for me calling the police about the noise. Throughout the day, the guy would turn on his motorcycle, get back in the van, and just leave the thing idling on the street for 10 minutes at a time. The Harleyâ€™s unmuffled open exhaust woke the neighborâ€™s new baby and disturbed everybody on my block, many of whom are working remotely from home.
I climbed on the base of my fence to ask the guy, seated in the van, to please be respectfulâ€”turn off the motorcycle when he wasnâ€™t riding it. He said nothing, but got out and hand-revved the bike to amp up the noise and pump out exhaust fumes. I put a towel under my door to block the fumes, which helped not at all. I came out again to ask him to please stop. His only response: â€œShow me your tits.â€
The cops came out repeatedly, answering not just my calls but those of my neighbors. Time after time, the police apologized for the fact that they couldnâ€™t do anything to alleviate the abuse, explaining that theyâ€™d been neutered by the mayor, with the support of our local city councilman, Mike Bonin. …
The biker guy turned out to be a violent felon, early-released from prison on August 14thâ€”the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, 70-some miles south-east of L.A. Heâ€™d been sentenced to remain in prison until October, but got popped ahead of time because of the pandemic, and came straight to my street.
I looked up his record. This 38-year-old man had so many violent felonies and restraining orders, I remarked to a friend, â€œHow does one even find the time?â€ Even more disturbingly, in addition to an arrest for assaulting a police officer, I found a restraining order filed against him by a 60-year-old woman, whom I suspected could be his mother. Yes, exactly the sort of â€œneighborâ€ weâ€™re all hoping for.
One morning, about a week after his arrival, I sat down at my computer and discovered it was feces oâ€™clock (approximately 6am Pacific Time). The stench of human waste was wafting in from the sidewalk, which apparently was doubling as a toilet. I had become afraid to go out my locked gate, even to get the mail from the box just on the other side, so I got up on my kitchen step stool and leaned over the fence to hose off the sidewalk.
The felon, irate to be awakened by the rather normal neighborhood sound of a person using a garden house, flew out of the van in a rage. My gate is steel-frame, covered by wood planks, and six feet high like the rest of my fence, but it is still terrifying to have a man pounding on it with both fists and yelling â€œYou bitch! Iâ€™ll get you, bitch!â€ Terrified, I dropped the hose, screamed, â€œIâ€™m calling 911,â€ and ran inside. …
An hour and a half after Iâ€™d called 911, officers arrived. And it was thenâ€”noon, on Thursday, August 20th that I had an upsetting revelation: We citizens can no longer rely on the police to show up. And then the thought hit me: I need to get a gun.
Youâ€™ve got to love the irony. Itâ€™s the Democrats who push for gun control, yet itâ€™s the Democrats in power in my city who are leaving me with no choice but to arm myself.
The truth is I shouldnâ€™t have a gun. Iâ€™m a boob when Iâ€™m afraid. I lose all mental and physical capacity. I know, if you get a gun, youâ€™re supposed to practice at a gun range regularly, and I would. Still, in a heated situation, I have my doubts that I could even find the â€œsafety,â€ a term I know only from watching TV and movie crime dramas.
I emailed two libertarian lady friends with gunsâ€”subj: â€œJenny From The Glockâ€â€”to ask for advice, and talked to some of the cops, too. The consensus: Iâ€™d do best with some Little House on the Prairie-type shotgun that sprayed buckshot, giving me the best chance, in a home invasion, of hitting someone other than myself.
The next morning, a sound from outside startled me. The guy was vandalizing my gate. This time, the police came, and one of the cops somehow succeeded in getting the couple to move the van down the street a bit, away from my house. This was a relief, but not a solution. There was further vandalism of my gate the next day.
The police told me theyâ€™d need me to file a restraining order to give them any power of enforcement. Assuming the judge approved it, they could finally make the guy move off our block, and they could arrest him if he came near meâ€”assuming he didnâ€™t kill me and take off on his bike before the overtaxed LAPD could get a cruiser out my way.
I was terrified to get a restraining order, because it would give the guy my name and other personal information while likely angering him further and putting me at increased risk of harm. It could also tie me up with days or weeks of paperwork and possible court appearances. But I had become a prisoner behind my gate, afraid to take out the trash, walk my tiny dog, or mail a letter. I was a stressed-out wreck, constantly on edge. I scared our poor sweet postman who delivers packages at odd hours, screaming in terror two nights in a row when a box thudded over my fence onto the pavement. This was no way to live, and thanks to Mayor Garcetti, it seemed that the only way to enable the LAPD to protect my block was to file for an order of protection, effectively turning myself into bait.
I called Legal Aid, and a compassionate young lawyer, Jenny N., helped me on the phone for about four hours over two days. I spent another six hours filling out 50 pages of restraining-order paperwork and making corrections to the parts that Jenny said Iâ€™d gotten wrong or omitted. It was unpaid work at a time when I had looming deadlines and was short on moneyâ€”but what was my alternative? People suggested I move.