Not long ago on the east coast of Florida, a 30-something thug broke into the home of an elderly lady. His biggest and final surprise came when he found himself staring down the barrel of the dear lady's pistol, with which she promptly shot him dead.
In my hometown, a Korean grocer has shot dead two would-be robbers on two separate occasions. Since the last one died on his floor, no one has tried to rob that particular store again.
I relay these two anecdotes to remind you that as much as we might doubt it, we live in relatively the same situation as our ancestors. We live in a country in which there are brigands, bandits, killers and rapists. If they choose us as victims, then we, like our ancestors on the frontier, will have to deal with them.
Most police work involves investigating crimes that have already happened. No city has enough officers to be 60 seconds away from every home and business. Unless you are married to one, the police won't be there when you need them. Even if you get a call off, you will have to deal with the criminal until the police arrive. You have only two choices: You can put your life and health and that of your family at the mercy of the criminal, or you can defend yourself and your family.
Every state in the union has laws that allow self-defense, even taking the life of another, if you have reason to believe you or your family is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. You can only defend life, not property. You can't shoot somebody running out the door with your television set. In fact, you can't shoot anybody who is running away from you. In most states, police officers have the authority to shoot fleeing felons, but private citizens do not.
I know several very tough South Korean tae kwon do masters, but any of them will tell you that if you anticipate a need to defend your life, buy a gun. A gun solves the combat problem of distance. Nobody can hit or kick you until you are within range of his fist and foot. With a gun, you can stay 10 or 15 yards away and deliver a lethal blow.
The ideal self-defense weapons are the shotgun and the handgun. The trouble with a shotgun is that if you shoot somebody in your living room, you will probably have to replace the carpet and repaint the walls. A shotgun at close range creates a terrible wound. They are difficult to store and virtually impossible to carry in our urban environment.
The handgun is small and can be concealed. More than 30 states now allow honest citizens to get permits to carry concealed weapons. I believe this is a factor in the lower crime rate.
Gun ownership involves responsibilities. You have a responsibility to keep your weapon in a safe and secure location, out of the reach of children. If you have children, you have a responsibility to teach them gun safety. You have a responsibility to become so familiar with your gun that you can use it in the dark under stress. You have a responsibility to become proficient with it — at least proficient enough to put all your shots in a circle the size of a dinner plate. You have a responsibility to know the applicable laws and to obey them. Remember, the gun is an inanimate object with no brain. It will kill anybody or anything in front of the barrel when it's fired.
You must also decide ahead of any confrontation whether you are willing to take a human life. If you turn on the lights and your dead burglar is a 17-year-old kid with an angelic face, can you live with that? Can you face the family of the person you kill? Can you handle the police investigation? If the answers are "no" or "I don't know," then forgo the gun and buy pepper spray and running shoes.
The best self-defense strategy is to avoid a gunfight in the first place. Secure your home with stout doors and good locks, outside lighting and an alarm system, if you can afford it. Don't open your door to strangers at night. Stay alert when you are on the streets, and don't look like a victim. The right to life may come from God, but the responsibility for defending it is yours.
June 27, 2005
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969 to 1971, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.
© 2005 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.