Marnita Carter knows she’s lucky to be alive. The 54-year-old mother of three was waiting for the Chicago public bus that would take her to work early Saturday morning when a man walked up to her, pulled out a gun, and told her to hand over her belongings. Noticing people across the street, Carter screamed for help—and then she went for the robber’s gun.
As she wrestled with her attacker, Carter says some men walked over from across the street and yelled at her assailant to stop what he was doing. Carter yelled that she was being robbed. She screamed that he had a gun. And she says the men walked back across the street, leaving her alone.
Eventually she grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger, striking the robber in the hand. But he regained the pistol and pointed it at her head. She recalls him telling her, “(Expletive), you shot me with my own gun. Now I'm gonna shoot your (expletive).”
He pointed the gun at Carter’s head and pulled the trigger. She heard a click. And then her attacker ran. A short time later, police arrested the man they believe is the attacker. Dennis Evans is 23 years old, lives with his mom, and according to police is a known gang member. The courts say he was on probation for a felony larceny charge from earlier this year. And Carter says if she’s robbed again, she won’t fight back.
“That’s wrong for me to risk my life when I’ve got kids,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “And all they’ve got is me.”
I understand why Carter may feel that way, but the truth is she wasn’t risking her life. Her attacker risked her life, and for what? The contents of her purse? The alternative to fighting back is to trust that the guy pointing a gun at you cares enough about you as a human being to not pull the trigger. And sadly, that comes with its own risks.
There is no perfect way to protect yourself against a robbery, nor to defend yourself.Two days before Carter was robbed in Chicago, Gerard Grandzol was robbed outside of his home in Philadelphia. The two armed men demanded his wallet. Grandzol complied. They demanded his car keys. Grandzol handed them over, but tried to get his 2-year-old daughter out of her car seat. According to police, a 16-year old suspect shot Grandzol twice in the head. The 16-year-old has been arrested, along with his 21-year-old brother. Philly cops say they’ve had run-ins with both in the past. The 21-year-old has already accrued half a dozen arrests, though it’s unclear if he’s been convicted of any previous crimes.
There is no perfect way to protect yourself against a robbery, nor to defend yourself. You’re always going to be playing the odds, in a situation you didn’t ask for. You’re not putting your life at risk by fighting back or by cooperating. Your life is already at risk because some punk decided that you were going to be his next target. But I hate to see a woman like Carter decide that no matter what, she’s not going to fight back in the future. After all, if she hadn’t pulled the trigger and shot her attacker, his gun wouldn’t have jammed until after he’d fired at least one shot at her. Fighting back might very well have saved her life.
I know carrying a firearm for self-defense won’t ward off armed robbers or carjackers like garlic to a vampire. I know carrying a concealed pistol doesn’t guarantee that I’d be able to use it if my life were ever in imminent danger.
I also know that asking me to entrust my life to the stranger pointing a gun at me is a bridge too far. I carry because if, God forbid, my life ever is in mortal danger, and I have the chance to protect myself or others, I want to be able to do so. It’s as simple as that.
Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.