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Friday, July 20, 2012

An Armed Society is a Polite Society

“Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” — Thomas Jefferson

This post has been updated as of July 21, 2012

In thinking about last night’s shootings at the Cineplex in Aurora, Colorado I wondered what would have happened had several people in the theater had been legally armed. Eye witness reports state the alleged shooter, James Holmes, was standing against the screen and shooting the people who were running out of the theater. To a person trained in the use of a gun Holmes, silhouetted against the screen, was a perfect target Even though he was wearing body armor and a helmet the bullets hitting is vest would have diverted his aim and a good shot would have put one in the face or legs. It would have been the last thing in the world that Holmes would have expected – being shot at.

There was no way the police could have arrived on the scene fast enough to prevent any of people from being killed or wounded even though they were stationed outside of theater doing security duty for the Batman movie premier. It doesn’t take long to get off 50, 60 or 70 shots from a semi-automatic pistol or rifle. As a person who has experience at the range I can empty a 10 round 9mm clip in about 5 seconds and hit somewhere on the target.

I recall after the shooting of Representative Giffords and 17 others outside of a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona a man was interviewed who claimed he was walking out of the adjacent drug store, heard the shots and was pulling his concealed weapon as he approached the scene. By the time he arrived the crowd had subdued Jared Loughner and he added to their ability to hold him down without using his weapon. When asked if he would have shot Loughner his answer was a firm yes.

In the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings where a crazed gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others when he walked into a crowded classroom with two guns and began firing away. Once again had one or two persons in the classroom be armed the death toll would have been much less, if any at all.

At Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, when the Muslin fanatic Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army Major serving as a psychiatrist, stood on his desk yelling Allāhu Akbar (God is Great) and shot 42 people killing 13 in the army processing center. He was finally shot and subdued by a civilian security agent who rushed inside the building. Once again none of the soldiers in the center were armed nor was the civilian agent stationed inside the center.

In these three examples 109 people were shot with 51 being killed because no one was there to stop the shooter. In all three cases there was no way the police could have arrived on the scene in time to stop the shooter – they never can.

I had my first gun, a .22 caliber rifle at the age of 15 and I learned how to shoot and gun safety from the person who gave me the gun, a Navy veteran. Unlike most people who never owned of fired a gun I was not afraid of guns and had respect for their use. Several years ago I took my daughter to a range and introduced her to guns so she would understand how to use one.

People who clamor for more gun control have never handled, owned or fired a gun so they are afraid of them. This is why they want to control guns. They have an irrational fear of guns and believe every gun owner is some type Neanderthal member of the NRA who wants to go around scaring people or worse. This could not be further from the truth.

Now let’s take a look at what happens when a person has a weapon and uses it on scene to protect the lives of others during an armed robbery.

According to a local ABC report on July 18, 2012 in an Internet Café in Ocala, Florida an elderly man foiled an armed robbery attempt in Florida by pulling out his own gun and shooting the would-be bandits.

A surveillance camera caught 71-year-old Samuel Williams jump out of his seat and head toward the two armed men. The men were trying to rob the Internet cafe in Ocala. One suspect was shot in the arm -- the other one in the buttocks and right hip. Both 19-year-olds were later arrested and taken to a hospital. The men have been charged with armed robbery. Williams has a license to carry a concealed weapon and does not face any charges.

The site reports:

“The Internet cafe patron who shot and injured two men as they tried to rob the business will likely not face any criminal charges.

Based on what I have seen and what I know at this time, I don’t anticipate filing any charges,” said Bill Gladson of the State Attorney’s Office.

Gladson said he has reviewed the security surveillance video from the cafe. While he still awaits final reports from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, he said the shooting appeared justified.

Samuel Williams, 71, who fired the shots, has a concealed weapons permit, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Under Florida law, a person is allowed to use deadly force if he or she fears death or serious injury to themselves or others. As long as the person isn’t committing a crime and is in a place where he or she has a right to be, they are considered to be acting within the law.

Williams, who lives in Ocala, could not be reached for comment on Monday. But at least one of his 30 fellow patrons at the cafe wants to thank him.

“I think he is wonderful. If he wouldn’t have been there, there could have been some innocent people shot,” said Mary Beach.

Beach was sitting in with her back to the door Friday night and didn’t realize what was happening until she heard shots.

“I heard pop, pop; then pop, pop, pop, all at once,” she said. “In the confusion I never really got to see his (Williams) face.”

Surveillance video of the incident was released on Monday by the Sheriff’s Office. It shows two masked men entering the Palms Internet Cafe, 8444 SW State Road 200, just before 10 p.m. Friday. One of the men had a gun.

Williams was seated toward the back of the cafe dressed in a white shirt, shorts and baseball cap.

One of the masked men, identified as Duwayne Henderson, 19, comes in pointing a handgun at customers. The second man, Davis Dawkins, 19, is seen swinging a bat at something off screen, which was later identified as a $1,200 computer screen.

As Henderson turns his back, Williams pulls out a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun, stands from his chair, takes two steps, nearly drops to one knee, and fires two shots at Henderson, who bolts for the front door.

Williams takes several more steps toward the door and continues firing as Henderson and Dawkins fall over one another trying to exit the building. The two eventually run off screen.

Both men were shot by Williams. Their wounds were not life-threatening. Each was arrested hours later and charged with attempted armed robbery with a firearm and felony criminal mischief.

Henderson remained in the Marion County Jail late Monday in lieu of a $31,000 bond. Dawkins was released Sunday after posting an $11,000 bond.

Internet cafes are regulated by the state. They offer sweepstakes entries, which are used to buy time on computer terminals that simulate casino-style games. The operations, which have sprung up around the county and the state, are known to deal in cash.”

In watching the security video below you will see Mr. Williams move off his stool at the upper left of the frame and begin shooting perpetrators without hesitation and using the proper firing stance.

There have been studies and books written about the safety that gun ownership brings. Criminal do not like to encounter and armed victim. Not every one of these armed citizens Charles Bronson, but I hope the criminals think they are. Another fact is that gun ownership among women is on the increase, The Washington Times reported that a 2009 showed 80% of the women purchasing guns did so for self-defense:

“American women are buying guns and taking aim on firing ranges in growing numbers, according to a recent study and interviews with gun-shop owners.

A 2009 study found 70 percent of shop owners reported more female buyers.

The study, conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Southwick Associates, also found 80 percent of the female gun-buyers who responded said they purchased a gun for self-defense, followed by 35 percent for target practice and 24 percent for hunting.

Women and shop owners interviewed by The Washington Times offered similar, narrow-ranging explanations for the increases — largely self-defense and concerns about the possibility President Obama would further restrict gun ownership.”

Update: July 21, 2012

According to a report in NEWSMAX Gun Foes Mobilize in Wake of 'Batman' Theater Shooting:

“Within hours of a madman opening fire in a crowded movie theater on Aurora, Colo., gun-control advocates began to use the theater shooting spree, which left 12 dead and 71 wounded, to push their agenda.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent gun-control advocate, led the way, citing the massacre on a radio broadcast Friday morning, insisting that statements of sympathy and concern from President Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s campaigns were not enough.

“Soothing words are nice,” said Bloomberg. “But maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic?’”

Bloomberg urged the nation’s governors to speak out about the shooting as well.

“I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day. It’s just got to stop,” he said. “And instead of these two people, President Obama and Gov. Romney, talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place. OK. Tell us how. And this is a problem.”

Bloomberg added: “No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them, concretely, not just in generalities, specifically, ‘What are they going to do about guns?’”

The country seemed to be in for yet another round in the debate of whether gun-ownership creates violence or prevents it. Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said he could not understand why there was apparently no-one in the theater with a weapon who could take gunman James Holmes out before he could create more mayhem.

"It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?" Gohmert asked.

By Saturday much of the liberal media had weighed in with calls for more control. In an editorial, The Washington Post wrote, "There is no rational basis for allowing ordinary Americans to purchase assault rifles. They’re not necessary for hunting, and they’re not needed for self-defense."

It added, "Yes, the Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to own a gun, but it does not preclude reasonable regulation for public safety. Yes, mass killings occur in societies with stronger gun laws, but not with such regularity — and not against the backdrop of daily gun violence, both criminal and accidental, that distinguishes the United States."

Gail Collins in The New York Times likened gun-control advocates to suffragettes who had a long slog before winning their case, while columnist Dan Froomkin complained on the Huffington Post that politicians are responding "with pieties rather than policy proposals."

Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter who represents the Aurora area where the shooting occurred, said of Holmes: “I don’t know why he had such easy access to guns.”

Perlmutter said it was “premature” to consider political issues, however his Democratic colleague in the House, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York was not so bashful. “We as a nation should … not continue to ignore avenues to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future," said McCarthy, whose husband was shot to death on the Long Island Railroad in 1993.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence posted a petition on its web site asking for signatures from those who felt the Aurora tragedy was a reason to help prod lawmakers towards more gun control legislation.

The campaign, founded by former Reagan press secretary James Brady after he was wounded in the assassination attempt on his boss, said the “horrendous shooting” is “yet another tragic reminder that we have a national problem of easy availability of guns in this country.”

Dennis Henigan, vice-president of the campaign told CBS News it is time for President Barack Obama to act on gun control. "The president has not shown sufficient leadership on the gun issue," he said.

Referring to other shootings such as those at Columbine School, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood and Tucson, he said, "We hope that the cumulative impact of these continuing tragedies will ultimately lead our politicians to begin to respond to the need for public safety, the need to stop this violence, instead of simply doing the bidding of the gun lobby."

"This being an election year, I believe that the American people will say, as they say over and over again, 'enough is enough,'" added Henigan.

Media figures too joined in the fray. CNN talk show host Piers Morgan tweeted extensively on the issue, saying, among other things, that “America has got to do something about its gun laws. Now is the time.”

He later added, “More Americans will buy guns after this, to defend themselves and so the dangerous spiral descents. When/how does it stop.” Within seconds, he added, "Lunatics like this will always try and get guns. It should be 100,000 times harder than it is for them to do so.”

In a later tweet, the British talk show host said, “Colorado shooter, Holmes, bought all four of his guns LEGALLY at Gander Mtn & Bas Pro Shop. Still the ‘wrong time’ to debate gun control?”

Larry King, the man Morgan replaced on CNN also tweeted support for more gun control. “We remain one of the few countries in the world where anyone in the world can get a gun. In this case a machine gun. This is absurd,” wrote King.

Arianna Huffington of the liberal Huffington Post tweeted, “People might say it’s too early to have the gun discussion Mayor Bloomberg wants. Actually it’s too late.”

Author Salman Rushdie created a firestorm of criticism on his Twitter page after he tweeted, "The 'right to bear arms' is the real Bane of America." Bane is the name of the villain in "The Dark Knight Rises."

He followed that message with, "Anyone else tired of presidential candidates saying they value American life but never a sane word about gun control?"

On the other side of the Twitter debate, singer Chris Daughtry tweeted, "Stricter gun laws will not stop SICK people from getting access to guns. Laws & rules are not in the forefront of the mind of a criminal."

The NRA was staying quiet until the all the details surrounding the shooting become clear. Spokesman Andrew Arulanandams told Newsmax: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and indeed the whole Aurora community. We will not make any further statements until all the facts are known.”

Support for gun control has fallen in recent years. Gallup says 78 percent wanted stricter gun laws in 1990, falling to 62 percent by 1995. By 2007 it was 51 percent and last year just 44 percent.”

According to a report by the Gun Owners of America guns save more lives than they take; prevent more injuries than they inflict:

  • “Guns used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year -- or about 6,850 times a day. This means that each year, firearms are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives.
  • Of the 2.5 million times citizens use their guns to defend themselves every year, the overwhelming majority merely brandish their gun or fire a warning shot to scare off their attackers. Less than 8% of the time, a citizen will kill or wound his/her attacker.
  • As many as 200,000 women use a gun every year to defend themselves against sexual abuse.
  • Even anti-gun Clinton researchers concede that guns are used 1.5 million times annually for self-defense. According to the Clinton Justice Department, there are as many as 1.5 million cases of self-defense every year. The National Institute of Justice published this figure in 1997 as part of "Guns in America" -- a study which was authored by noted anti-gun criminologists Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig.
  • Armed citizens kill more crooks than do the police. Citizens shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals as police do every year (1,527 to 606).6 And readers of Newsweek learned that "only 2 percent of civilian shootings involved an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal. The 'error rate' for the police, however, was 11 percent, more than five times as high."
  • Handguns are the weapon of choice for self-defense. Citizens use handguns to protect themselves over 1.9 million times a year. Many of these self-defense handguns could be labeled as "Saturday Night Specials."

The GOA Report continues:

Concealed carry laws help reduce crime.

Nationwide: one-half million self-defense uses. Every year, as many as one-half million citizens defend themselves with a firearm away from home.* Concealed carry laws are dropping crime rates across the country. A comprehensive national study determined in 1996 that violent crime fell after states made it legal to carry concealed firearms. The results of the study showed:

  • States which passed concealed carry laws reduced their murder rate by 8.5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7% and robbery by 3%;and
  • If those states not having concealed carry laws had adopted such laws in 1992, then approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, 60,000 aggravated assaults and over 11,000 robberies would have been avoided yearly.
  • Vermont: one of the safest five states in the country. In Vermont, citizens can carry a firearm without getting permission... without paying a fee... or without going through any kind of government-imposed waiting period. And yet for ten years in a row, Vermont has remained one of the top-five, safest states in the union -- having three times received the "Safest State Award."
  • Florida: concealed carry helps slash the murder rates in the state. In the fifteen years following the passage of Florida's concealed carry law in 1987, over 800,000 permits to carry firearms were issued to people in the state.13 FBI reports show that the homicide rate in Florida, which in 1987 was much higher than the national average, fell 52% during that 15-year period -- thus putting the Florida rate below the national average.
  • Do firearms carry laws result in chaos? No. Consider the case of Florida. A citizen in the Sunshine State is far more likely to be attacked by an alligator than to be assaulted by a concealed carry holder
  • During the first fifteen years that the Florida law was in effect, alligator attacks outpaced the number of crimes committed by carry holders by a 229 to 155 margin.
  • And even the 155 "crimes" committed by concealed carry permit holders are somewhat misleading as most of these infractions resulted from Floridians who accidentally carried their firearms into restricted areas, such as an airport.

Criminals avoid armed citizens.

Kennesaw, GA. In 1982, this suburb of Atlanta passed a law requiring heads of households to keep at least one firearm in the house. The residential burglary rate subsequently dropped 89% in Kennesaw, compared to the modest 10.4% drop in Georgia as a whole.

  • Ten years later (1991), the residential burglary rate in Kennesaw was still 72% lower than it had been in 1981, before the law was passed.
  • Nationwide. Statistical comparisons with other countries show that burglars in the United States are far less apt to enter an occupied home than their foreign counterparts who live in countries where fewer civilians own firearms. Consider the following rates showing how often a homeowner is present when a burglar strikes:
  • Homeowner occupancy rate in the gun control countries of Great Britain, Canada and Netherlands: 45% (average of the three countries); and,
  • Homeowner occupancy rate in the United States: 12.7%.

Rapes averted when women carry or use firearms for protection

  • Orlando, FL. In 1966-67, the media highly publicized a safety course which taught Orlando women how to use guns. The result: Orlando's rape rate dropped 88% in 1967, whereas the rape rate remained constant in the rest of Florida and the nation.
  • Nationwide. In 1979, the Carter Justice Department found that of more than 32,000 attempted rapes, 32% were actually committed. But when a woman was armed with a gun or knife, only 3% of the attempted rapes were actually successful.
Justice Department study:
  • 3/5 of felons polled agreed that "a criminal is not going to mess around with a victim he knows is armed with a gun."
  • 74% of felons polled agreed that "one reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is that they fear being shot during the crime."
57% of felons polled agreed that "criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police”

With all of this evidence we still have progressives wanting to ban guns. They want to give the edge to the criminals for they will always have plenty of guns. It will be the innocent victims who will be unarmed. When I asked a local deputy sheriff, who was our neighborhood watch liaison with the sheriff’s department about the wisdom of keeping a gun in the house his answer was simple and direct. He said “I do”.

So I leave you with the guidance from Thomas Jefferson when he said; “Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.”

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