Senseless

Sometimes, a tragedy is so senseless as to be unexplainable. Such was a shooting Jan. 25, in Barboursville, W.Va., where a man killed two men he said were trespassing on his property.

Only it wasn’t his property. The property was owned by the victims.

Rodney Bruce Black, 63, called 911 after fatally shooting brothers Garrick Hopkins, 60, of Milton, and Carl Hopkins Jr., 61, of Oak Hill. The two men were visiting property Garrick Hopkins had recently purchased and where he planned to build a home. The men were attempting to open a tool shed when they were shot.

Black’s parents had owned the property, but it was sold by his sister following their deaths.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

According to the criminal complaint, Black told detectives he saw two men “shaking the door on his tool shed in his backyard.” The complaint said he then got his Remington Model 700 .243 rifle, loaded it and pointed it out an upstairs window, shot the first man, pulled the bolt to load another round, fired another shot and hit the other man.

After the shooting, he never checked on the condition of the Hopkins brothers.

During a search of Black’s home, police found 54 firearms, including 17 handguns and a variety of shotguns, rifles and muzzleloaders, along with a substantial amount of ammunition. He had, apparently, legally purchased all of the weapons.

Certainly, we believe people have the right to defend themselves if they feel their lives, or the lives of family members are in danger. But people who believe that gun ownership gives them the right to shoot first in any situation and then ask questions are unqualified to own a weapon. Black was never in danger. If he did believe the men were trespassing, he should have called 911.

The Second Amendment does not trump other amendments to the Constitution. The Hopkins brothers were exercising their own constitutional rights by being on property that Garrick Hopkins had legally purchased. He and his brother had every right to believe they could do this without being shot dead.