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Better Late Than Never,
Growing Numbers Of Americans
Realizing Importance Of Self-Defense

by Larry Pratt
Executive Director, Gun Owners of America

October 29, 2001

One of the good things that has occurred in the wake of the murderous terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, has been that a growing number of Americans are realizing the importance of self-defense.

Important, because more than ever people are realizing that the government cannot protect them.

The Washington Post (10/2/2001) reports that area gun dealers and law enforcement statistics reveal that fear of suspected terrorists living in their communities and the threat of more attacks has caused "a surge in gun sales" following September 11. Many of the buyers are said to be "buying firearms for the first time." Applications to buy handguns in Maryland more than doubled during the week of September 11; Virginia State Police said background checks on those seeking to buy handguns, rifles and shotguns were up 32 percent during this same time period.

The Post quotes one 29 year-old mother of a 4 year-old son -- who bought a handgun in Virginia but previously had never fired a gun until now -- as saying: 

"You don't know what's next, so you have to plan ahead. It's not to be taken lightly, but when you weigh that against keeping your family safe, you have to."

Also quoted by the Post is another Virginia resident identified only as Tom who bought a 9mm semi-automatic handgun. He brought his wife and 14 year-old daughter to a range for shooting practice. His wife says she never thought they'd let their daughter practice with a gun but now it is necessary.

NBC's Today show (10/10/2001) reports that women across the country are signing up in record numbers for gun safety courses, that "more women than ever are taking matters into their own hands." One unidentified woman on this program says she will not rely only on law enforcement to protect her: 

"But yet if someone is coming at me, I feel that we should have as much security, knowing that if I'm going to pick up a gun, I'm not going to be afraid to use it."

NBC reporter George Lewis says that Mary Cummings, owner of the Tactical Edge gun shop in West Palm Beach, Florida, says "business is booming. It's so brisk, in fact, women are even coming in during lunch hour to buy guns and sign up for shooting classes." Lewis, who notes that gun sales to women increased more than 60 percent during a three week period in some parts of the country, says "a lot of women who feel insecure are heading for the nearest firing range."

Time magazine (10/8/2001) says Marietta, Ohio, is the kind of place where people hang signs on their porches that read: 


The Associated Press (10/2/2001) reports that after September 11 "a rising number of Connecticut residents reached for a gun." State Police say that residents bought 5,397 guns in September -- an increase of 41 percent over September of last year.

Another Associated Press story (10/2/2001) about increased gun sales in Virginia quotes Darren Guthrie, manager of All American Guns in Fairfax, as saying that citizens are "finally waking up and realizing that they are responsible for their own security." And the CBS Morning News (10/2/2001) reports that in California "gun sales have jumped 42 percent."

Also encouraging is the fact that airline pilots and passengers are realizing the importance of self-defense. The Washington Post (10/19/2001) quotes Gregg Overman, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association in Ft. Worth, Texas -- which represents 11,500 American Airline pilots -- as disagreeing with those who are against pilots having guns. Overman says: "We favor lethal weapons."

In a front-page story, the New York Times (10/11/2001) reports that airline passengers are vowing to resist any future hijackers. This story notes there is "a new breed of traveler" in the skies, passengers like Gordon Langford who is quoted as saying he would "do whatever it takes, or go down fighting."

Another passenger, 245-pound Donald Avery, is quoted as saying: 

"It's a sorry man that would sit still during a hijacking now. It would be a bad idea for someone to try to hijack a plane while I'm on it, I'll tell you that. I think the American citizenry as a whole, especially males, are pretty pumped about this now."

The Times says interviews with passengers headed to a dozen destinations "suggest that most people now believe that passengers have the right, indeed the obligation, to act." Nina Baker, flying from Seattle to Salt Lake, says: 

"In the past, we allowed ourselves to be passive victims because we figured it was safer. Now we know it is not safer. I think anyone who's out to hijack a plane now should expect to be killed."

In his excellent book, A Nation Of Cowards (Accurate Press, 2001), Jeff Snyder says: 

"Our society suffers greatly from the beliefs that only official action is legitimate and that the state is the source of our earthly salvation.... As long as law-abiding citizens assume no personal responsibility for combating crime, liberal and conservative programs will fail to contain it."

Well, it appears -- at least in the short-run following September 11 -- that an increasing number of such citizens are realizing that that they have both a right and a duty, a personal responsibility, to defend themselves. I hope and pray that this continues.

At the very least, so-called "homeland defense" begins at home. And this means that against foreign or domestic terrorists we must defend ourselves the same way our forefathers did -- by having a proper firearm for home defense and knowing how to use it.


Printer Version

"You seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all contitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy... The Contitution has erected no such single tribunal." --Thomas Jefferson, 1820

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