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Weighing the Risks

Robert Waters

I ain't making this stuff up, folks!

The gun-banners' arguments against armed self-defense are so weak as to be caricatures of lunacy.

Three examples will suffice.

After Sandra Suter, a Florida permit holder, used her handgun to stop a knife-wielding assailant at a local Walmart, Kim Mariani, Spokesperson for Handgun Control, Inc., weighed in.

"God forbid something went wrong," she said. "It just escalates the situation, and a lot of times it's unnecessary."

The assailant had already slashed two employees, and was rampaging about the store threatening others. Suter drew her pistol and ordered the madman to stop. Looking down the barrel of a .40-caliber semiautomatic gave him a quick burst of sanity. He quietly surrendered to the grandmother.

HCI's prescription for dealing with violence leaves out armed self-defense. They'd have Sandra Suter stand by and watch while the thug kills or maims a few people.

Not only should we watch and do nothing if we see someone else being attacked, according to the gun-banners, we should meekly comply with every demand if we are attacked.

On a muggy summer night, Jacksonville, Florida resident Susan Gonzalez sat on her couch watching television. Suddenly, two masked home invaders burst through her front door. Terrified, she ran into her bedroom and slammed the door shut. But one of the intruders fired through the door, striking Rodriguez in the chest.

As her husband fought the intruders, Susan Gonzalez retrieved a .22-caliber revolver and shot one of the men dead.

Susan and Mike Gonzalez were hospitalized with gunshot wounds, but eventually recovered.

Law enforcement officials and the local media credited the actions of the homeowner with saving her own life and the life of her husband.

So it was interesting to note the response of Nancy Hwa, Spokesperson for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, when asked if Mrs. Rodriguez's actions were warranted.

After acknowledging that fighting for her life was an appropriate response, Hwa added this caveat. "Incidences like Mrs. Gonzalez's are very rare," she proclaimed. "People have to weigh the risk of losing a TV, jewelry, or whatever vs. losing their life."

Hwa's comments, typical of those from the anti-gun lobby, deserve scrutiny.

In an attempt to minimize the pro-gun position, she dragged out the old lie that Gonzalez's defense of her home was an isolated case. This is so blatantly false that it's hard to understand how people can maintain that position with a straight face. Twenty years of studies have shown that anywhere from several hundred thousand to more than two million people use guns each year to defend their lives and the lives of others.

On a personal note, my own case files consist of thousands of newspaper clippings of such cases. And each week I add more.

Hwa's final conclusion reeks with arrogance. "People have to weigh the risk of losing a TV, jewelry, or whatever vs. losing their life."

Maintaining a passive-aggressive posture, the spokesperson implies that if Susan Gonzalez had just given up her television set to the invaders, things would have turned out nifty.

Whatever you do, don't resist.

That's the lie the Wendy's victims bought in the recent New York City slayings. Indications are that the employees didn't fight back, that they handed over the money. But the robbers weren't the least bit grateful--they executed the entire staff. Only two of seven employees survived.

And it's the same lie sold to a Charlotte, North Carolina cab-driver who was recently held up at gunpoint. Robbed of $ 30.00, he was locked in the trunk of his cab. As they were leaving, just for fun the robbers pumped five slugs into the closed trunk, nearly killing the compliant cabbie.

To many of us, it makes sense to conclude that an armed assailant is dangerous, and that he may try to kill you. Otherwise, why would he be armed?

There's no doubt that Sandra Suter and Susan Gonzalez weighed the risks and made the right decision. There's no doubt that thousands of Americans weigh the risks and use guns to save lives each year. And there's no doubt the gun-banners want to take the right of armed self-defense from us.

They know better than you and I how to stop the violence.

Instead of bullets, use words.

Jessica Flag, of the eighty thousand Million Moms, framed their argument so that we can understand it. "The best way to deal with a person with a gun," she said, "is to say, 'I know you're upset.' Compassion is the answer. They are human beings and want the same things I do. Try to be compassionate with them and relate to them."


You bet!

Mr. Waters is the author of The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a Firearm.


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Allowing riflery training while decrying gun violence doesn't send a mixed message any more than does supporting a wrestling team while opposing schoolyard brawls. CHICAGO TRIBUNE

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