The short version: Caleb Gordley, 16, grounded, sneaks out, gets hammered, tries to go home, goes to wrong house, sets off alarm, freaked-out homeowner shoots and kills him.

In one sense, it’s hard to blame the guy who shot Caleb. Everyone says he’s a good guy and a good neighbor. He’s a volunteer firefighter. And Caleb didn’t even respond to a warning shot (in retrospect, because he was tanked – but it’s hard to know that at the time).

But to me this case just speaks to the deep perversity of American gun culture. Loudon County, VA is an exceptionally safe place to live. The true probability that Caleb Gordley was a danger was vanishingly small. But the homeowner had a gun. And like many people who have a gun, the gun talks to you, practically sings to you, reminding you that when danger comes, you will be ready. And when “danger” came to Pullman Court, this guy was ready. He was armed. He was going to defend his castle and his family. Everything in his life – everything in his upbringing and the culture that had reuslted in him arming himself in the first place – had prepared him for that one moment where he could say “and that’s why I have a gun.”

And Caleb Gordley is dead.

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