What about My Right Not to Get Shot?


I sit on the old, green swing on our breezeway, looking at the sliver of Lake Gibson visible beyond the house across the street, watching the cats enjoy the gentle breeze… Am I endangering my life?

I cannot see Interstate 4, but I can hear the traffic on it. As the crow flies, the highway cannot be more than a few hundred yards away. How far can a fatal bullet go? When my Dad gave me my first .22 rifle a long, long time ago, he warned that its bullets could kill someone a mile away. Be very careful, he told me. You never know where a bullet might end up.

On Saturday, a motorist on I-4 was gunned down, apparently a result of a “road rage” incident. Fred William Turner, 47, of Orlando, was killed as he complained to the 911 dispatcher about a gray Taurus with tinted windows that was following his Mustang. Turner said the Taurus had pulled up beside him and someone in it had brandished a gun at him. And then he was shot. Dead.

The 911 dispatcher reported hearing “multiple gunshots” on the phone.

In the middle of the afternoon… not at night, when you might expect such crazy things to happen.

Turner was not shot way out here. The incident occurred 30 miles away, in the Tampa area, but he was headed this way, bound for Orlando.  And it could have happened anywhere. Even along this rustic stretch of the highway. I read recently that bullets struck a woman’s house during a road rage incident here in Tampa Bay. A car passed a van on a residential street and tempers flared. The drivers exchanged gunshots, missing each other but hitting the house.

It’s the kind of thing that happened all the time when Sandra and I lived in Miami, and it’s spreading to other parts of Florida. Across America it’s an epidemic.

AAA reports that there were 1,300 road rage incidents last year and in 300 of them someone died. Summer is an especially dangerous time to take to the highway. Apparently, when the temperature rises, tempers get more explosive.

The Fourth of July weekend is just a few days away, and the nation’s roads will be even more jam-packed than usual. In the traffic and the heat, with the frustrations and the annoyances, there are bound to be “road rage” incidents everywhere – even in our tranquil part of inland Florida.

Bullets will be flying. This is America, and Americans have a constitutional right to “bear arms,” remember?

And what about stay-at-home codgers like me? Does the Constitution say anything about our right to sit and swing without getting in the way of a stray bullet?

You think the Supreme Court might want to consider that issue?

I guess not.

Click here for a report of the I-4 incident.

Click here to read about road rage in Tampa Bay.