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Dial 911 and Die

by Robert A. Waters


I recently conducted an online interview with Richard Stevens, Attorney at Law, author of "Dial 911 and Die." The book was published by Mazel Freedom Press, Inc., in 1999. Go to if you'd like more information about this book.

To say that "Dial 911 and Die" is one of the most important pro-freedom books of the year is an understatement.

In the interview, Stevens wrote, "When it comes to self-defense, people must not give up their personal right to arms to the same government that owes them no duty of self-protection." And that is the premise of the book--hundreds of court cases have established the principle that law enforcement agencies do not exist to protect individuals. Therefore, Stevens argues, it is criminal for cities, states, and the Federal government to pass gun control laws which take away the individual's right to protect himself or herself.

Stevens graduated magna cum laude from the University of San Diego School of Law. He taught for several years at the law schools of George Washington University and George Mason University. Currently, he specializes in preparing trial court motions and appellate court briefs in Washington, D. C. Stevens is also Editor of the Firearms Sentinel, a publication of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

RW -- Do you think the average American realizes that most law enforcement agencies cannot be successfully sued?

RS -- Many people have never thought about it. That is why it shocks most people to learn this truth, and sometimes it takes a while for the enormity of the facts to set in.

RW -- I look at your book as a wake-up call to America. If government can't protect citizens, we have to protect ourselves. Do you agree?

RS -- I agree, but I put it the other way around. We have the right and duty to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The police cannot guarantee our safety, and they often cannot prevent crimes. Meanwhile, the law says the police don't have to protect us as individuals.

RW -- I like the fact that you used real-life stories to illustrate points you wished to make. How did you locate the cases you wrote about?

RS -- There are two main sources of the law: the statutes enacted by state legislatures, and state appellate court decisions. There are standard references and legal encyclopedias that I used to get started. From the standard references, the legal encyclopedias and digests of cases, I located the court cases.

After reading the cases, I used the Shepard's Citations books to discover whether the cases were still in force or had been reversed or overturned. If the cases are still valid statements of law, then they were used in the book.

RW -- Which cases affected you most (of those you wrote about)?

RS -- Hartzler vs. City of San Jose (California). This one completely shocked me. In law school, we had been learning how manufacturers owe legal duties to buyers of products to be sure the products are safe; how landlords owe legal duties to tenants to protect them from foreseeable criminal attacks; and how homeowners owe legal duties to make sure that visitors don't trip and fall on their property.

Then we turned the page and found that governments owe no legal duty to do the one thing that you'd think they are supposed to do: protect citizens from criminal attack.

Another case that really bothered me was the DeShaney Case in Wisconsin. The county welfare authorities placed a young boy with an abusive father who tortured and beat him until he was permanently mentally damaged and had to be institutionalized. There were lots of warning signs and the county case worker saw tons of evidence that the child was being abused, yet the case worker failed to intervene. The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not require states to protect their citizens, such as this young boy.

While I have to agree with the court's decision on strict legal grounds in this case, I was horrified by the larger moral issue: why can the government agency charged with protecting children escape legal liability for failing to carry out that duty--when a homeowner can be successfully sued if a would-be burglar trips and falls on the owner's property?

In another case, Ford vs. Town of Grafton (Massachusetts), a woman got a restraining order to protect herself from a crazed violent ex-boyfriend. But the police didn't enforce it and the boyfriend attacked her and nearly killed her. This case is particularly appalling because the police actually advised the woman to "get a gun" since they couldn't protect her. The court in that rabidly anti-firearms state later used the "get a gun" warning against her. The court said that the police adequately warned her and therefore had no duty to protect her.

RW -- At the end of the book, you've included a chapter entitled, "Forty-five stories with a happy ending." Why?

RS -- To show that citizens can successfully protect themselves using firearms, and that guns do save and protect lives.

RW -- What would you like for readers to take away from your book?

RS -- That you are responsible for your own protection. If you give up your right to armed self-defense and accept a telephone number for protection, then you trust a system that legally owes you nothing.

The book also gives you the tools to confront gun control advocates. Citizens must ask the hard questions: "Mr. Mayor, the law says that the government and the police have no duty to protect me and my family from criminal attack. Why do you want to make it harder for me to obtain and use firearms with your 'gun control' proposals when you aren't legally responsible to protect me?"

RW -- Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I highly recommend your book. It is a great read, and provides a harsh dose of reality to those who would accept gun restrictions. It also provides a compelling rationale for opposing the gun-banners.

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


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