Marilyn Writes

Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 year banking career, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association (ABA) published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking: the Complete Blueprint, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the ABA and trained private bankers in Singapore.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Defensive Gun Use: Unmentioned Miracle

Tuesday October 26, 2004, Grand Junction Free Press

(c) Copyright 2003, Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall, All Rights Reserved Grammy's Axioms, Special to the Free Press
By Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall
Axiom: If you avoid truth, you will likely meet it on the day when, for you, there is no sunset and no dawning.

       There are approximately two million defensive gun uses (DGU's) per year by law abiding citizens. That was one of the findings in a national survey conducted by a Florida State University criminologist.
     There is talk in the Gulf Coast area hit by Katrina about removing guns from the hands of legal owners. We need to give the concept of self-responsibility some thought. In truth, New Orleans was a perfect example of why people need access to guns for self protection.
     It was not legal gun owners shooting at rescue personnel. It was people in the Super Dome without guns that allowed rape and murder to occur. Anyone who thinks about it has to conclude that law enforcement -- local, state, federal -- is unable to protect large numbers of people when disasters occur.
     Close to my home on Colorado’s West slope, we read about a recent DGU… a man in DeBeque. In his home (and after helping three young men with a stalled vehicle), he was stabbed over and over again by the three violence-prone intruders he had aided. The man was able to get to a 44-Magnum pistol he kept in his desk drawer. He pointed the gun and fired… and it saved his life.
     “If I’d had a trigger lock, I’d be dead,” he said. “If my pistol had been in a gun safe, I’d be dead. If the bullets were stored separate, I’d be dead. They were going to kill me.”
     Each year, firearms are used about 60 times more often to protect the lives of potential victims than they are used to commit crimes.
     According to the Gun Owners Foundation, conceal carry laws have dropped murder and crime rates in the states that have enacted them. From 1977 to 1992, one comprehensive study says states that passed conceal carry laws reduced their murder rates by 8.5 percent, rapes by 5 percent, and aggravated assaults by 7 percent. Robberies were reduced by 3 percent.
     People are generally surprised to hear how many more times people use guns to save themselves from harm than they do to cause harm to others. If defensive gun use occurs so often, why do we hear so little about it? If violence sells media news, what difference does it make whether the violence results from a victim or a perpetrator? It matters when someone has an agenda.
      It is estimated that guns are used for protection more than 6,000 times a day. During the first two weeks of May 2004, only 20 cases were publicized. Less than 8 percent of the time an attacker is wounded or killed in the name of self defense. Brandishing the gun or firing a warning shot scares attackers and stops the intended crime.
     Vermont is one of the safest five states in the nation. There, you may carry a gun without getting permission or paying a fee and without any waiting period. Vermont has remained one of the safest states in America. It twice received the “Safest State Award.”
     During the ten years (1987-1997) after Florida passed conceal carry laws, 478,248 people got conceal carry permits. The homicide rate in Florida fell 39 percent during that ten-year period, according to FBI reports.
     In 1976, Georgia and Wisconsin both passed conceal carry legislation. Georgia’s law made it easier to get permits immediately; Wisconsin’s law required a 48-hour waiting period. Georgia’s homicide rate dropped by 21 percent, Wisconsin’s rate rose 33 percent during the same period. Criminals, it seems, find using guns on innocent victims less appealing when innocent victims may themselves be armed.
     A 61 year-old man who lived in a quiet, remote canyon in Yucaipa, California, had a Winchester Defender 12-ga. Shotgun for home defense. One night he had an intruder. He cocked the shotgun, chambering a shell, and the burglar almost died of fright. Larson called 911 and held the intruder until police arrived.
     Two burglars broke into a woman’s home in Decatur, IN. She saw the intruders outside before they broke in and told her stepson. He grabbed a 20-ga. Shotgun. The intruders began to beat the woman with a fire extinguisher. The stepson shot one in the chest. The second fled, but was caught.
     In Albuquerque, police got a 5:30 a.m. call saying someone was trying to break into a man’s home. According to the police, while the man waited for help the homeowner shot the intruder in the arm in self defense.
     In Toledo, Ohio, a store employee wounded one of two robbers. The employee had received his concealed handgun permit just three days earlier.
     The truth is: The primary job of police is to protect society. It is impossible for them to respond to each crisis call. For each police officer, there are close to 2,000 citizens needing protection. The truth is: Criminals do not want to be shot to death any more than their victims do. The truth is: it took over an hour for police to respond to over 150,000 violent crimes last year.
     The biggest truth: If you are a gun owner, everyone in your household needs proper training on how to use, secure, and care for firearms.