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News & Editorials

Operation Self Defense
Taking Aim At the Gun Control Arguments

by Barbara Renner
Director, Operation Self Defense

January 8, 2002 -- For years gun rights activists had little more than statistics when it came time to refute anti-gun rhetoric. Gun control proponents seemed to have an advantage in that newspapers and other media readily reported tragic firearms accidents and deaths resulting from guns in the hands of criminals. Those of us on the gun rights side knew there were thousands of instances where guns actually saved innocent victims, but these incidents either weren’t reported at all or they were buried in the back pages of small hometown newspapers.

One gun rights supporter that realized early in the debate the importance of locating and highlighting these positive uses of firearms was Robert Waters. In 1998 he published his first book, The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves With a Firearm in which he related the tales of ordinary citizens who were suddenly thrust into the unthinkable and found the courage to fight back. Robert assembled a team of volunteers that regularly searched the Internet to locate similar stories and as his files began to swell, he turned to Angel Shamaya for help in reporting the increasing number of stories his volunteers were finding. (Robert has since published a second book: Guns Save Lives: True Stories of Americans Defending Their Lives with Firearms)

Thus was born Operation Self Defense nearly one and a half years ago. With nearly 200 volunteers searching almost 500 news sources, rare is the day that a visitor won’t find an incident of legal, armed self-defense by a fellow citizen posted on the website. Further, these articles have provided valuable background information for numerous editorialists and columnists as well as a useful source of information for reporters from television, newspapers and other media outlets. 

As a result of Operation Self Defense, those of us who hold the Bill of Rights dear no longer have to rely on vague statistics to argue in support of the Second Amendment. We have names, dates and places to sustain our views. For example, when the anti-self-defense crowd pushes trigger locks, we can cite example after example where a trigger lock may have resulted in a victim’s injury or death. When they cite the statistics regarding children and firearms, we can agree that incidents in which children die as result of gun crime and firearms accidents are truly tragic events and that we want to find ways to prevent them as much as the gun control groups do. But, thanks to Operation Self Defense, we can also point out the numerous examples where firearms have saved children from harm. The same holds true for waiting periods, restraining orders, dialing 9-1-1, and many of the other arguments the anti-gun folks use to support their views.

As Director of Operation Self Defense, I would like to pay tribute to those who devote a few minutes of each day to help us locate reports of armed self-defense. Without them our project would not be possible nor would it be the phenomenal success that it is. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, we are making a difference!

To those of you who have not joined our team, I would like to extend an invitation to join us. It costs nothing and requires but a few minutes a day. With thousands of online news sources, our job is far from complete. Perhaps you could add one more resolution to this year’s list and help make a difference in protecting and securing our right to armed self-defense. Visit the Operation Self Defense home page today and sign up.


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Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — C. S. LEWIS

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