There was no

Published 2:31 pm Sunday, December 7, 2008

By Staff
O.K. Corral, thank God
We’d like to offer the Secret Service a remedial class in geography:
This is a poor, rural part of the south. When people see strange men snooping around their property, they’re likely to investigate, possibly with gun in hand.
Last week, two Secret Service agents nearly got a fatal lesson on that point.
They wanted to interview a 78-year-old lady about something — it’s not really clear what, and it doesn’t really matter to our story — so they pulled into her driveway in an unmarked car.
The two men, who weren’t wearing uniforms, got out and went to the door. They knocked on the front door, but the lady didn’t answer. She was on the phone with her son, who lives down the street.
The agents then started knocking on all the other doors on the home. The lady told her son that strange men were walking around her home.
Like a good child, her son drove over to investigate. And that’s where things got a little hairy.
The Secret Service agents were in their car, getting ready to leave when the son pulled into her driveway.
They got out of their car. He got out of his truck, with a gun.
They shouted who they were, and he dropped his gun. Then his mother saw the men with guns pointed at her sons and called 911. The agents pounded on her door, and she answered with a pistol, which she pointed out the door.
The agents scurried back, and the son yelled to his mother who the men were, so she went and put her gun away.
No one was hurt, no one was charged, and the whole thing is being written off as a silly misunderstanding. Which is good.
In his press release, Seth Edwards, district attorney for the Second Prosecutorial District, which includes Beaufort County, was quoted as saying, “The (mother and son) are lucky they didn’t get shot,” and “Drawing a gun at the first sighting of a stranger is not the best practice.”
We would like to try to offer some more advice: The federal agents were lucky they didn’t get shot.
They shouldn’t go poking around on people’s property. If they insist on poking around, they should be clearly labeled.
Lose the suits. Or grab a jacket with “federal agent” stenciled across the back. Or come in a cruiser with a label on the door. They make magnetic door signs for cars these days. Those would be perfect for agents wanting to have a low profile and avoid unnecessary buckshot.
Secret Service agents are no doubt eager to get the job done, but if they’re just canvassing the neighborhood, maybe they don’t need to be poking around people’s backyards.
They need to be thorough, no doubt, but if anyone other than our very closest neighbors or kin just started roaming around our mothers’ properties, we’d be very deeply unhappy.
We know we would never just start strolling around a stranger’s property. We like to avoid getting shot at, whenever possible, as a policy.
We’re not advocating running around with firearms, but we also don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a gun on your own mother’s property.
Good job to Edwards and the feds for not leveling any charges at these people. They didn’t do anything wrong, and it really was just a big misunderstanding.
Next time, the Secret Service should try calling ahead or wearing some sort of label. Or they could just act like polite people, not over-eager missionaries.