Someone's Breaking In

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Someone's trying to break in.

As I stand inside the apartment door, I hear somebody outside, fiddling with the lock. And I know - as they soon will - I've left the door unlocked.

Whoever's out there, the only thing between us - an unlocked door.

As the scraping noises on the lock intensify, so does the thump thump thump of my beating heart. Slowly, the door cracks open. I stand there - clueless, weaponless and terrified.

The door opens wider. And wider. A stranger - a tall young woman - stares at me. I stare back, my hands shaking.


She speaks first: "Who are you?"

"I live here. Who are you?"

She glares at me, then slowly turns toward the door. "Oh my god. This is 202. I live in 302. I am so, so sorry."

I exhale; hear her do the same.

Once we both calm down, she heads upstairs, leaving me to ponder what just happened. And what didn't happen.

Here's what didn't happen. If I'd had a gun, my neighbor would be dead. If she'd had a gun, I'd be dead.

In an age when more Americans are buying more guns than ever, that reality keeps coming back: If we'd had guns, at least one of us would be dead.

Instead, we're both alive. Shaken, not interred.

Those who argue for armed America always say, "Good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns."

Maybe. But on this day in America, two San Franciscans spared each other's lives ... by not having guns.

With a Perspective, I'm Jules Older.

Jules Older is a writer living in San Francisco.