OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Roosevelt Rappley, 23, walked into a Dollar General store in Dayton, Ohio last week with the clear intent to commit a crime. He decided to brandish a loaded handgun at the clerk, and to demand money from the till. No one made him do it. The choice was his.
After that, he no longer had the right to make any choices.
The clerk – a concealed carry permit holder – withdrew a gun, pointed it at Rappley’s chest and fired in self defense. Rappley returned fire, but hit no one; he then stumbled outside in an attempt to flee and collapsed on the ground. He was pronounced dead when authorities arrived at the scene.
Now the internet is in an uproar over who had more rights in this case – the armed robber, who authorities believe may have been involved in a string of other Dayton-area retail robberies, or the store clerk who defended himself. How is this even a question?
Here is the best thing that could have happened in this scenario: Rappley being raised to have morals and common sense. That way, he would have understood how wrong and dangerously stupid it is to commit armed robbery.
The second-best thing? It happened: “No other injuries were reported.”
There were customers, the store clerk and other employees inside during the attempted robbery, but Rappley was the only one hurt by his actions that day. I know it sounds harsh and uncaring to see that as a good thing; after all, someone died. Someone’s son. Someone’s brother.
Sorry, but it’s just the truth: The outcome could have been much worse. According to a University of California, Berkeley study of victim injury and death in urban robbery, shootings account for more than 80 percent of commercial (and other location) robbery killings.
Rappley’s siblings have made some outrageous comments in an attempt to cast responsibility for their younger brother’s death on the clerk who practiced lawful self defense, saving innocent lives. They claim the man had no business bringing a gun to work for protection. Against an armed robber. They also say the clerk should have just called the cops…while staring down the barrel of Rappley’s loaded gun.
The most infuriating quote came from Rochelle:
Oh. Well. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.
I know. It’s inconceivable. I’m still shaking my head, too.
Maybe Rochelle and Tone Rappley really believe those preposterous things; many people seem to have a warped view of personal responsibility and morality these days. But maybe they just need to blame someone – anyone – else. They have already lost another sibling due to gun violence; perhaps this is just their way of coping.
I’m sure Rappley’s brother and sister remember a very different person than the one who walked into that store last week and threatened innocent people. They probably recall playing games together, opening Christmas gifts in their pajamas, calling each other names, fighting over who got to ride in the front seat, and all the other things siblings do. I’m sure they remember times their brother chose to do the right thing, when he stood by them during hard times and showed them he cared. They knew him before he started down a self-destructive path and turned himself into a story on the 11 o’clock news.
I am sorry for the Rappley family’s loss, of course. I’m not trying to gloss over their very real pain and grief. But in the end, his choices were bad ones. And those choices had very real and permanent consequences. I’m just glad no one else had to suffer or become a statistic because of them.