'Gun nuts' arrested outside Holland Tunnel were on a mission to rescue girl from heroin den

Not one to cry, I bawled when I read this article about a trio of "gun nuts" arrested outside the Holland Tunnel early on June 22.  I don't know why, but I have tremendous difficulty dealing with stories about drug overdoses in young people.  I could barely watch the movies Traffic and Trainspotting.  Lives thrown away – often tremendously talented people who make a bad decision one day, sometimes riddled with addiction, that almost always starts with pot and general "partying."  Flawed young people, yes, but rarely rotten apples.

When you lose a child to a disease or an accident, it's excruciating.  We might curse at G-d and ask "why," but we usually know they are random events, mostly beyond our control.  Not so with your run-of-the-mill drug overdose.  As caring humans, we always feel as though there must have been something we could have done – even when we don't know the families.  A drug overdose is like a suicide in that respect.  Personally, it tears me up inside.

On one of my trips back to the Bay Area, I got off the plane to news that two students my son knew had overdosed.  One was at a party at college – everyone thought he'd fallen asleep.  Not so.  The other hiked up one of the surrounding hills, took some drugs, and hung himself.  Good kids.  Talented kids.  Good families.  Good Lord.

It is a sadness unique to itself.      

As parents, we love those little lives we bring into the world with every ounce of our being.  We protect and nurture them.  We want the best for them.  It's a cliché, but a parent never gets over losing a child.  When they are lost to drugs, the void left behind is cavernous, the regrets haunting.

With today's heroin epidemic, anyone who crusades against drugs is a real-life Avenger to me.  This leads me to "vigilante" numero uno: John Cramsey.  The ultimate do-gooder for all the right reasons.   

According to this article, he lost his 20-year old daughter in February to a heroin overdose and administers an anti-heroin Facebook group called "Enough is Enough."  He helps addicts and pressures authorities to do more to punish dealers.  To top that off, he funds their rehab out of his own pocket, according to the mother of Kimberly Arendt, the young lady arrested along with Cramsey – a recovering addict herself. 

Apparently, the 16-year-old they were going to extract from a drug den woke up to find her friend dead from an overdose in the bed next to her.  This probably freaked her out to the point of reaching out to Kimberly for help.  I have little doubt she wanted out even though she denied this when questioned by the police.  That's not unusual – she probably didn't want to admit to cops that she was involved with heroin, a death, and drug dealers, let alone reveal the location of their den. 

OK, so maybe they shouldn't have gone all vigilante and stuff.  But we also know that the police can and will only do so much – they need warrants and probable cause.  They often arrive after the fact.  If she was scared and denied needing help, there's little they could do.

Early reports omitted the fact that one decal on the car read, "Shoot your local heroin dealer."  Amen, brother.  Who would object to that?

I hope someone does some crowdfunding to raise money – if they need it – for their defense. 

And in their defense, these guys are heroes but have been treated, at least by the media, like potential terrorists.  They were labeled "vigilantes," which really is a misnomer.  They aren't seeking revenge while doing good deeds.  They are operating from the deepest reaches of their heart to prevent others from having to endure the gut-wrenching lessons they had to endure.

There is a thesaurus's worth of words to describe John Cramsey, Dean Smith, and Kimberly Arendt: heroes, saviors, good Samaritans, champions, warriors, guardian angels, protectors, rescuers.  Not "vigilante" or "gun nut."

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