In a good percentage of the article on this website, I’ve discussed how guns are wrongfully blamed for society’s woes, which are properly attributed to violent individuals rather than inanimate objects. A terrible case from Florida, involving a 15 year old boy who was set on fire, really drives that point home:
As reported, a 15 year old Michael Brewer is said to have borrowed $40 from another teenager, Matthew Bent, to buy a video game. When Brewer didn’t repay the loan, Bent allegedly tried to steal Brewer’s father’s bicycle as repayment, only to have Brewer call the police. Bent was reportedly arrested, taken to juvenile detention, then released. Bent is said to have met up with four friends, who got a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and went to go find Brewer in order to get revenge. Upon finding Brewer, the group of teenagers allegedly doused him with the rubbing alcohol. Another teenager who was part of the group, a 15 year old named Jesus Mendez, then allegedly set Brewer on fire with a lighter. Brewer ran, on fire, for 150 yards and jumped into a swimming pool to extinguish himself, police say. He reportedly suffered burns to 80% of his body, and was taken to the hospital burn unit in critical condition. The director of the hospital burn center reportedly said that in the best case (assuming Brewer survives), he expects Brewer to spend many months in the intensive care unit, to undergo many skin graft operations, and to need occupational therapy. The teenagers who allegedly perpetrated the attack were charged with aggravated battery. Mendez also reportedly faces a charge of attempted second-degree murder. If Brewer dies, all five could face murder charges, police say. All of the charged teenagers reportedly have previous juvenile records.
Writing articles for this website over the last year and half, not to mention taking criminal law courses in law school, have led me to read about some pretty horrible crimes. While ranking crimes in terms of their terribleness is not something I like to try and do, I am confident that this is one of the worst ones I’ve read or written about. I cannot imagine the terror this boy must have felt as he was doused with alcohol, or the pain he must have felt while on fire. Nor can I conceive of the physical and emotional pain that he will feel for months and months to come, if he is lucky enough to survive. I am similarly unable to imagine what this must be like for his family. If the suspects in this crime are found guilty, I sincerely hope that they are punished to the fullest extent of the law.
So why am I writing about a teenager in Florida being set on fire, on my gun-related website, where I try to keep the focus on guns? Simple: this terrible attack shows once again that it is evil humans, not firearms or any other tools, that are to blame for the heinous acts that occur with depressing regularity in our society. Here we have a boy who was set on fire using two ordinary items – rubbing alcohol and a lighter. Rubbing alcohol has many legitimate purposes, including use as a life-saving disinfectant. Lighters similarly have many legitimate purposes, including starting barbecue grills. Yet here these two tools were allegedly used with great success to torture and permanently disfigure a 15 year old boy. The lesson to be learned here is that those with evil intentions can use just about any tool to kill and maim their victims.