"I like your gun. Give it to me."
An armed thief said that to a 21-year-old Oregon man moments before snatching his newly purchased .22-caliber handgun and fleeing the scene.
The Oregon man was robbed at gunpoint Saturday while walking down the street with his cousin. Police told local station KPTV that the thief approached the victim, asked for a cigarette and continued chatting with the two men until the conversation turned to the new semiautomatic handgun. That's when the thief dropped his amazingly straightforward line. The man did hand it over, and just like that, the gun was gone, now in illegal hands.
Good guys and bad guys: Despite talk of good guys with guns and self-defense, all available advice says that just handing over what the robber wanted was the right move here, especially since he had a weapon of his own. So, no, just having your own gun and enacting an open-carry stance does not magically make crime disappear. Sure, walking around with a loaded AK-47 might make you feel safe, but it's no guarantee someone else won't come along with a bigger gun.
There's another point: If you can look past the irony of having one's gun stolen while open-carrying, you can see the ease with which a legally purchased gun can become an illegal one. Even someone with a totally impeccable background and completely defensible reason for buying a firearm can end up unwittingly supplying a new weapon to the black market through a robbery.
Each gun can have a long life in the criminal underworld. A Minneapolis Star Tribune investigation tracked a single gun, originally purchased by a law-abiding citizen, as it made its way through the hands of various criminals and gang members. After being used in various stick-ups and even fired at police officers, the gun was made court property following an arrest and offered back to its original owner. He said he wanted nothing to do with it.
Here's hoping the 21-year-old's weapon doesn't take the same path. Either way, it's a stark reminder: Having a gun won't necessarily make you immune to crime.