It is obvious from the number of crimes now being committed by certain young teenagers that their home training didn’t include much lecturing on the subject of “choices and consequences.” The decisions they make in this life will have either a positive or negative response. But their choice is free will, meaning they made the decision to do or not do something and are thus responsible for the consequences that follow.

A young man, Charles Macklin, 17, was in the 1400 block of North Lockwood last Monday, Aug. 21. News reports said an off-duty Fire Department lieutenant left his car running while speaking with a neighbor. Charles saw an opportunity to steal a car and jumped in. The off-duty firefighter had a valid concealed-carry permit and proceeded to prevent his car from being stolen. In the process of protecting his property, the car owner shot Charles, who paid the ultimate price of losing his life because he made a bad choice. That choice had a corresponding consequence of death.

Charles’ family, led by a sister who wasn’t raised with him and Revolution Club Chicago, has been leading a protest on the block against the man who shot and killed him. Their contention is that the facts don’t add up. Charles’ blood is on the ground, meaning that he got out of the car. The tire marks on the ground are swerved, from where he crashed the car. Charles was shot in the chest, but the front window of the Jeep isn’t cracked.

I can understand the family’s pain at losing someone who was so young and in such a fashion. But as a community, we need to address the fact that we have teens who are using bad judgment that comes with being that age, are committing crimes against adults with concealed-carry permits who are utilizing their training to protect their property. 

I know human life is not equivalent to property. But in this stressful era when we are living in a society that places financial burdens beyond belief on us, a man willing to shoot a thief over a car isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

Earlier this summer we had a somewhat similar case: 16-year-old Damon Price died because he chose the wrong person to rob at the Madison and Austin branch of the US Bank in Oak Park. The 24-year-old victim was licensed and carrying a concealed weapon. Damon had a weapon, too. There was a shootout and Damon took a bullet to the chest and died. 

The first basic lesson all of us need to teach our young, and practice ourselves, is that if it doesn’t belong to you, keep your hands off it. Car theft is a real crime. It sounds easy when those who have lost someone profess that the person whose car was stolen can get a new one. But why should the onus be on the one whose property is being stolen as opposed to the thief doing the stealing? The same goes for robbery.

If we don’t want our young people, who are already losing their lives to senseless violence, to die because of bad choices, then talk to them daily about the consequences of their actions. I am sure Charles didn’t plan on the outcome being what it was. But had he walked past the car, he would still be alive today. 

Choices have consequences.