German Exchange Student Learns What America Is All About

That sign up there was to remember Diren Dede in his hometown of Hamburg, Germany. That other symbol is the Turkish flag, indicating that his family came to Germany from Turkey. The kids are friends of his in a soccer club. There was a march to mourn Dede because the 17-year old had been shot and killed this past Sunday. More precisely, the teenager had been killed in Missoula, Montana, which is in the United States. Dede had been attending high school in Missoula as part of an international student exchange program. More precisely, the man who shot and killed the teenager is claiming that he was protecting his home, that Dede had entered his open garage and that gave him the right to kill Dede.

Which might be true, except for a detail or two. See, Markus Kaarma had gotten paranoid after his home had been robbed twice. He said he stayed up at night with a gun waiting for intruders. And then he did this: "On the night of the shooting, Mr. Kaarma and his partner Janelle Pflager left their garage door open, and Ms. Pflager left her purse in the garage in order to bait intruders, she told police. They set up motion sensors and a video monitor, prosecutors said. When the sensors went off just after midnight and they saw a man on the monitor screen, Mr. Kaarma went outside and fired a shotgun into the garage without warning several times."

You got that, right? Kaarma set a trap that caught Dede, and, with no threat at all to his life, Kaarma killed Dede (no easy joke will be made here about "Kaarma" and "karma." Have fun if you need to). Kaarma was arrested and released on bail. He will plead not guilty because Montana law says that you can gun down someone if you "reasonably believe" you might be harmed by an intruder.

Except that no one knows why Dede entered the garage. He might have been there to rob it. He might have been there asking for help. Either way, Kaarma was in absolutely no danger. He chose to shoot Dede after seeing him on a monitor. He fired four times with a shotgun.

Dede's family and others in Germany are wondering what the hell is wrong with a nation that is so paranoid and gun addicted that this could happen, that the perpetrator actually has a chance to go free. "America cannot continue to play cowboy...I didn't think for one night that everyone here can kill somebody just because that person entered his backyard," Dede's father said, obviously not knowing much about the United States. The German consulate has gotten involved in asking for justice for Dede. In a basic misunderstanding of how Americans operate, an official said, "The use of a gun in this case seems to us out of proportion."

According to his friends, Dede had loved his time in this country. At a charity soccer match in his honor, a banner was hung that read, "Our brother is dying while America is looking on." Yeah, they found out what this country is all about. Lesson learned.