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Gimme Back My Bullets

by Robert A. Waters
Author, The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a Firearm


In most states, they'd at least have had a chance.

The seven victims in the recent Wakefield murders were sitting ducks. As anti-gun Governor Paul Celluci said, "I don't know how you can get any tougher [gun laws]" than in Massachusetts. Translate that to mean that the victims were helpless because of the state's restrictive gun laws.

When "Mucko" McDermott took three guns into Edgewater Technologies, he broke nearly a dozen laws. And that's before he even started shooting.

A fact often ignored by gun control zealots is that crooks and wackos don't obey the law. But in states where laws are more favorable to gun-owners, thousands of Americans use guns each year to ward off robbers, rapists, burglars, stalkers, and murderers.

Here are a few recent examples.

On January 5, 2001, two teenagers walked into a crowded hair supply store in Indianapolis. Wearing masks and brandishing a .40-caliber handgun, they announced that they were holding up the place. The owner, Thomas N. Williams, pulled his own revolver and fired a single shot at the thugs. While one robber fled, the owner held the second at gun-point until police arrived. No charges were filed against the storeowner. A police spokesman said, "He was in fear of his life, having a handgun pointed at him during a robbery." Had the business-owner not had a gun, this could have become another massacre with the criminals shooting employees and customers.

Seventy-year-old locksmith Ephraim Briggs, owner of Chuck's Locksmith in Richmond, Virginia, was hard at work the day before Christmas. A customer came in and asked Briggs to make a key. As the locksmith turned around to reach for a blank, the customer picked up the fifty-pound key-cutting machine and smashed it down on the business-owner's head. He then ordered Briggs to give him money. The shopowner, bleeding from a gash in the back of his head, handed up his wallet to the robber. But as the man reached for the billfold, he dropped the key-cutting machine to the floor. Briggs used the distraction to pull out a .38-caliber handgun and shoot the robber. The wounded man was quickly arrested. Briggs, a Korean War veteran, was back at work the day after Christmas. "What happened is not going to bother me at all," he said. "I'm just going on about my business."

On the night of November 21, 2000, Jean Zamarripa was alone in her Colorado Springs, Colorado home when she heard a noise in her backyard. The widow turned on her outside lights, but couldn't see where the noise was coming from. "Who's out there?" she asked. Suddenly a man, later identified as Anthony Peralez, rammed his shoulder against the dead-bolted back door, ripping it from its hinges. Zamarripa, who had armed herself with a handgun, emptied it into the intruder. She reloaded, then called police. Peralez ran out to his car, but wrecked it as he was fleeing the scene. He was taken to the hospital for gunshot wounds to the chest, then arrested. The wounded man was suspected of being the serial rapist who had been preying on elderly women in the same neighborhood for several months. A police spokesman said, "[Zamarripa] did everything right and kept her wits about her. She's a hero not because she shot someone, but because of all the clear thinking and everything she did prior to the shooting." The shooting fell under Colorado's "Make My Day" law and no charges were filed against the homeowner.

On November 29, 2000, three armed robbers burst into Cash America Pawn Shop in Orlando, Florida. According to the Orlando Sentinel, "Employees said they were afraid for their lives when the suspects drew guns on them." There were also four customers in the store, including a woman with her baby. Employees and customers were herded into a walk-in safe while the bandits looted the store of cash and jewelry. But as they attempted to escape, the nervous driver made the mistake of colliding with a car driven by Eliseo Nunez. When the robbers kept going, Nunez, a medical assistant, gave chase, calling 911 on his cell phone. Suddenly, the suspects pulled over, jumped from the car, and aimed several weapons at Nunez. Before they could get off a single round, the motorist opened fire. The robbers panicked and fled on foot. Deputies, who used police dogs to track down the crooks, hailed Nunez as a hero, and refused to charge him with any crime.

Inevitably, lawsuits against Edgewater Technologies and gun manufacturers and the gunshops that sold McDermott his weapons will flow into the courts. I hope the victims' relatives will save a few rounds of lawsuits for Governor Celluci and the cowardly Massachusetts politicians who took away the employees' right to defend themselves.

Mr. Waters is the author of The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a Firearm. Read other articles from him at

Related Reading:  The Wakefield Archives