Erasing The Armed Citizen

posted on October 26, 2015
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Gun control supporters and their lapdogs in the media work ceaselessly to create and maintain false narratives about guns and gun ownership in the United States. Most recently, anti-gun advocates have been working overtime to convince the public that firearms are only “rarely” used for self-defense. We know this is false, and we fight them at every turn. 

With twisted statistics and junk science, anti-gun zealots continue to push the falsehood of “rare” defensive gun use because they know that for the vast majority of Americans, the right to self-defense is not negotiable. It is a firmly held, core belief that cuts across all demographic groups in all areas of the country. For those arrayed against us, this reality is a major barrier to the ultimate destruction of our Second Amendment-protected freedoms, so they continue to push the falsehood of “rare” defensive gun use to undermine opinion and advance their agenda. While the abandonment of logic and reason is normally considered a weakness, for gun control advocates, it’s a strategy.

Far from “rare,” self-defensive gun uses occur each and every day in the United States, with armed citizens coming from every age group, religion, race and ethnicity. Self-defense includes men and women, the rich and the poor, and it takes place in every corner of our great nation. In short, armed citizens are as diverse as the country itself, but all share the uniquely American right to self-defense regardless of background or circumstance. 

Here are a few of their stories: 

Perhaps the most high-profile recent instance of armed self-defense involved former CNN employees Lynne Russell and Chuck de Caro. The married couple were staying at a motel in Albuquerque, N.M., in late June. According to the Albuquerque Journal, as Russell went to retrieve an item from the couple’s vehicle, she was approached by an armed criminal who forced Russell into her motel room. The couple tried to reason with the man. While doing so, Russell was able to assist de Caro in retrieving one of the two pistols the couple, who both have Right-to-Carry permits, kept in the room. Once armed, de Caro fired at their attacker, fatally wounding the criminal. De Caro was struck by the thief’s return fire, but he survived. 

After the ordeal, Russell made clear just how much she values the right to self-defense, telling Fox News, “The discussion over the debate to own a gun is just ridiculous. As Americans, we have the right to bear arms, and as humans, the right to protect ourselves.”

In April, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, a driver for the ride-sharing cell phone app Uber was traveling near Chicago’s Logan Square when a man opened fire on a crowd of pedestrians.

The driver, a Right-to-Carry permit holder who wisely took advantage of Illinois’ relatively new carry law, retrieved a firearm and shot the active gunman several times, halting the attack before any innocent people were injured.  

Despite this driver’s heroic actions in saving countless lives, Uber subsequently, and inexplicably, enacted a policy barring its drivers and passengers from carrying firearms while utilizing the service.

In July, the owner of a clothing store in Milwaukee was forced to defend his shop when a group of five criminals attempted a daring robbery. The thieves tried to get inside the store by using a van to smash through the store’s security doors. While the criminals were attempting to get in through the mangled doors, owner Rami Murrar retrieved a semi-automatic rifle—which gun control advocates (including Vice President Joe “Buy a Shotgun” Biden) have labeled “assault weapons” and attempt to portray as ineffective for self-defense—and proceeded to defend himself with it. The criminals fled empty-handed.Armed citizens are as diverse as the country itself, but all share the uniquely American right to self-defense regardless of background or circumstance.

That same month, a customer at Academy Sports and Outdoors in Topeka, Kan., helped halt an armed robbery. Joey Tapley, 24, was at the store’s gun counter buying ammunition when three robbers entered the store and attempted to steal firearms. Tapley responded to the threat by drawing a gun and confronting the thieves. His actions forced one of the robbers to drop the guns he was trying to carry out of the store. Tapley later told Topeka’s WIBW that he was carrying his gun that day thanks to Kansas’ recently enacted law that allows residents to exercise their right to carry without a permit. 

In August, 14-year-old Andrew Mason was at home in North Las Vegas when a pair of home invaders entered the property. Andrew took quick action, corralling his siblings into an upstairs closet and retrieving a rifle and cell phone. As Andrew explained to a local media outlet, when one of the home invaders came upon him, “I had my gun loaded and ready to shoot, but when he saw me he just took off running.” Andrew’s father Keiwa Mason told reporters, “I believe in the right to bear arms, and it’s not like [Andrew] was foreign to it. We go to the shooting range quite often.” 

Also in August, a frequent burglary victim took action to defend his Rockland, Maine, home. As reported by the Portland Press Herald, 67-year-old Harvey Lembo, a retired lobsterman who uses a motorized wheelchair, purchased a revolver after being the victim of five burglaries in six years. Later that night, Lembo awakened to find a home invader inside his apartment looking for prescription medication. Lembo retrieved the revolver, mounted his wheelchair, and confronted the criminal. At first Lembo attempted to hold the thief at gunpoint until police arrived, but was forced to shoot when the criminal acted “erratically.” Lembo delivered a non-fatal shot to the thief’s shoulder. 

These stories are but a few real-world examples that anti-gun advocates will never tell the public about. As these anecdotes attest, violence can strike anywhere and armed citizens are saving countless lives, in many cases without ever firing a shot.

The recent push to convince the public that guns aren’t used for self-defenseis being advanced by many anti-gun groups, but this false narrative is especially favored by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). This summer, VPC released a “study” titled, “Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use.” The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times were quick to uncritically parrot VPC talking points, without delving further into the facts. 

I’ve written about VPC’s bogus studies in the past, but because the media continues to report the false narrative about “rare” self-defensive gun uses, it’s imperative to challenge their falsehoods with the facts yet again. Honest data and practical experience make it abundantly clear that Americans from all walks of life frequently use firearms for the defense of themselves and others. 

VPC’s conclusions rely on justifiable homicide data collected by the FBI from reports by law enforcement agencies. Gary Kleck, a Florida State University professor of criminology, wrote “Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control” in 1997. In that book, the researcher explains “[f]or a variety of reasons, the FBI counts of civilian justifiable homicides represent only a minority of all civilian legal defensive homicides.” In a later book, “Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control,” published in 2001, Kleck notes, “[d]etailed local homicide data suggest that the total number of civilian lawful defensive homicides could be four times higher than the FBI civilian justifiable homicide count.” In short, the VPC relies on the wrong data to draw biased conclusions.

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times reports also focused on the group’s sensationalist conclusions regarding justifiable homicides. This whole line of thinking ignores the nature of defensive firearm use, because in the vast majority of cases, homicides do not occur. In fact, as many of the anecdotes above describe, most instances don’t involve even the discharge of a firearm. As Kleck explains in his 2001 book, “[i]n the typical defensive gun use, the victim merely points the gun at the offender, or displays or verbally refers to the weapon in a threatening way … and this is sufficient to accomplish the ends of the victim.” 

Honest data and practical experience make it abundantly clear that Americans from all walks of life frequently use firearms for the defense of themselves and others. Any attempt to claim otherwise purposefully ignores the best available information, or, more simply, is willfully walking through life with political blinders on. However, none of this is a surprise. While the abandonment of logic and reason is normally considered a weakness, for gun control advocates, it’s a strategy. 

But this strategy will fail. When the media reports on the junk science of “rare” self-defensive gun uses, Americans aren’t buying it. And this is true no matter how often this false narrative is repeated. A majority of Americans believe in the right to self-defense and understand—through our common and shared experiences—that countless lives are saved by those exercising their Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms. There’s nothing unusual or “rare” about it. And with the help of all NRA members standing united, there’s nothing they can do to change it.


U.S. Capitol building
U.S. Capitol building

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