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The night I would have killed (Do not read while eating)
Boulder Weekly ^ | 8/02 | by Pamela White

Posted on 08/22/2002 1:42:56 PM PDT by AdamSelene235

The night I would have killed

Death is the last thing we should fear

- - - - - - - - - - - - by Pamela White (letters@boulderweekly.com)

On Saturday, it will be 15 years since I wanted to kill. If I'd had a gun the night of Aug. 24, 1987, at least one man-perhaps two-would have died.

I had just moved into a new apartment here in Boulder that day and was starting classes at CU after a year's maternity leave. My baby was 9 months old and had just taken his first steps. The world seemed full of possibility and promise.

But that night, two young men armed with switchblades nearly put an end to any possibility. They broke into my apartment, using the backs of their knives to shatter the glass of my kitchen window. Had I not gotten a call off to the police, I would have been raped at knife-point and perhaps killed. Who knows what they would have done to my little boy.

CU Police Officers Gary Arai and Tim McGraw arrived in time to prevent a tragedy. As they investigated the crime scene and did paperwork, I wanted to be as close to them as possible because they made me feel safe.

It wasn't their brawn I was thinking of, though I'm sure they're both formidable. It was the semi-automatic in their holsters.

"If I'd had a gun, I'd have shot them both in the face," I told Gary.

I visualized myself doing just that-holding the gun, firing at the filthy, leering smirk on the men's faces, watching their heads split like melons.

Not long after the break-in, I shared those thoughts with a former professor of mine, now a friend and mentor.

"If I'd have had a gun, I'd have shot both," I told her.

While sympathetic and full of compassion, she wasn't impressed, so I explained further.

"I would be better for me to kill them then let them attack me."

Her response, to the best of my recollection, was this: "Certainly it would be horrible if they had done what they wanted to do, but if you had shot them it could have cost you your soul."

Her words stayed with me, niggled me, pissed me off.

What was I supposed to do? Invite the attackers in so they didn't have to risk cutting themselves on glass, allow them to assault me, then offer them cigarettes?

"Hi, my name is Pam, and I'll be your rape victim tonight."

The right to defend oneself against violent criminals is etched into the American psyche. In Colorado, the "Make My Day" law allows citizens to shoot with impunity anyone who breaks into their homes if they have a reasonable belief that the intruder is going to commit a crime in their home or harm them in any way.

Had I blown their heads off, the law would have granted me immunity from prosecution. The men had taunted me from outside before breaking into my apartment, and their intent was clear on their faces. Reasonable belief? I knew what was going to happen if they managed to get a hold of me just like I know my own name. And even though they never laid hands on me, I received minor injuries from glass shards, which cut my legs.

I had no doubt at the time that I would have been justified had I blasted them into oblivion. No one would have blamed me, except perhaps the men's mothers. But then there was my mentor.

It would have cost me my soul?

At the time I wasn't certain I had one.

So many things have changed since 1987.

Gary and Tim still work for the CU Police Department, and I'm eternally grateful to them. The image of the two of them running full-tilt across an open field to get to me in time is forever set in my memory, along with the sound of my own screams. They put themselves in harm's way-one of the attackers turned on Tim, his knife drawn-for a stranger.

And my mentor's words, which seemed at best naïve, now seem crystal clear.

Spirituality is a personal thing, so I won't bore readers with the minutiae of my own perceptions. But the past few years have shown me that death is the last thing human beings should fear. Instead, we should fear the ways in which we fail to live up to our spiritual potential. Worst for us are those times when we deny the humanity of others, whether they be jerks weaving in traffic, thugs intent on harming us, or even terrorists in airplanes.

While I might have kept myself physically safe by shooting those men, I would have been placing my life and happiness above theirs. I would have been falling prey to the lie that they had the ability to harm me in any real way. I would have been forgetting the spiritual truth both about my attackers and about myself.

That truth, as far as I've been able to discern (and I do not claim to be an expert or have the inside line), is that in dying, we risk nothing. We lose nothing. All that we are, all that we've done, all that we love stays with us. When we kill, however, we negate the value of others and put our souls at risk.

This is a recent revelation. It doesn't explain why I never bought a gun, despite the years of nightmares and the paralyzing fear of being alone at night that plagued me for years after the break-in. That choice had to do with my children and my fear that they'd find the gun and become statistics.

The nightmares have ended, as has the fear of being alone. The desire to buy a gun passed long ago. But I've never written about the handgun issue because in so many ways I'm a fence-sitter.

If someone tried to break into my house again, I'd probably still call the guys who pack heat for a living. I won't carry a gun. I let them carry one for me. Second Amendment supporters would say that makes me a hypocrite or even unpatriotic.

And although I consider myself a pacifist, I know what it's like to look at a man's face and see that he's actually happy and excited about his plans for hurting you. I'm not going to tell people, women in particular, that they shouldn't defend themselves just because I believe such-and-such.

Ultimately, the decision to kill in self-defense-or for any other reason-is a personal one. Each person makes his or her choice. As with all other choices we make, we pay the spiritual consequences.

So finally, after 10 years of writing columns, I speak out on the gun issue. And the only thing I really have to say is this: Our anger and fear do more harm to us than those who make us angry or fearful. When we meet darkness with darkness, some of that darkness enters and stays inside us.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; US: Colorado
KEYWORDS: banglist
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Breathtaking stupidity.
1 posted on 08/22/2002 1:42:56 PM PDT by AdamSelene235
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To: *bang_list
Bang!
2 posted on 08/22/2002 1:43:53 PM PDT by AdamSelene235
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To: AdamSelene235
Breathtaking stupidity.

You're being too kind, Sir.

3 posted on 08/22/2002 1:45:35 PM PDT by facedown
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To: AdamSelene235
That boggles the mind. That's fine honey, you can allow someone to rape/kill/maim you and your loved ones. Me, I have other plans.
4 posted on 08/22/2002 1:47:43 PM PDT by luckodeirish
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To: AdamSelene235
She has a bright future writing lesson plans for the NEA if she wants it.
5 posted on 08/22/2002 1:48:41 PM PDT by TADSLOS
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To: AdamSelene235
While I might have kept myself physically safe by shooting those men, I would have been placing my life and happiness above theirs.

This is from the Onion, right?

6 posted on 08/22/2002 1:49:31 PM PDT by BrooklynGOP
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To: AdamSelene235
Where was her baby's daddy that night?
7 posted on 08/22/2002 1:49:54 PM PDT by Xenalyte
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To: AdamSelene235
Gosh, who is this fruit loop?
8 posted on 08/22/2002 1:50:28 PM PDT by Burn24
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To: AdamSelene235
I don't agree entirely. I don't share her choice, but the piece acknowledges the legitimacy of others making different choices and acknowledges the hypocrisy of depending on others for protection. I don't find the piece stupid therefore.
9 posted on 08/22/2002 1:50:38 PM PDT by spqrzilla9
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To: AdamSelene235

10 posted on 08/22/2002 1:50:41 PM PDT by Jaxter
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To: AdamSelene235
This is made up. Nobody that has been the victim of a crime like that can become that much of a mushy-liberal.
11 posted on 08/22/2002 1:51:43 PM PDT by The Vast Right Wing
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To: luckodeirish
Same here. I wouldn't want to be in that situation by any stretch of the imagination, but if I were, I'd be ready for that possbility, and I would not go quietly.
12 posted on 08/22/2002 1:52:10 PM PDT by hchutch
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To: AdamSelene235
"I feel in my heart that it is right, it is ethically and morally justified under any analysis, but I've just got to keep clinging to this illusion."
13 posted on 08/22/2002 1:53:26 PM PDT by SteamshipTime
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To: AdamSelene235
Our anger and fear do more harm to us than those who make us angry or fearful. When we meet darkness with darkness, some of that darkness enters and stays inside us.

Translated from the Koran, I suppose! </sarcasm>

14 posted on 08/22/2002 1:55:16 PM PDT by LurkedLongEnough
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To: AdamSelene235
Second Amendment supporters would say that makes me a hypocrite or even unpatriotic

Actually, I would call it morally bankrupt. Better her to NOT call the cops. You see, by calling for help, without taking the most basic steps to insure you own security, you place you life above those that would be REQUIRED to come to your aid.

She has a moral obligation to protect herself. Having the cops put thier lives and limbs on the line for you is just shirking your duty.

15 posted on 08/22/2002 1:55:17 PM PDT by taxcontrol
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To: AdamSelene235
"That truth, as far as I've been able to discern (and I do not claim to be an expert or have the inside line), is that in dying, we risk nothing. We lose nothing. All that we are, all that we've done, all that we love stays with us. When we kill, however, we negate the value of others and put our souls at risk."

So her 9-month-old son would have been no worse off with a dead mother? Hmmm, maybe in this instance she has a point.

16 posted on 08/22/2002 1:57:02 PM PDT by Sloth
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To: AdamSelene235
If self-defense costs one's soul, I cannot reply for others. But for myself, I respond...

Farewel happy Fields
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrours, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.

Milton, Paradise Lost, book one

17 posted on 08/22/2002 1:58:29 PM PDT by neutrino
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To: spqrzilla9
And who chooses for the little kid that was with her?
18 posted on 08/22/2002 1:58:49 PM PDT by Burn24
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To: AdamSelene235
Certainly it would be horrible if they had done what they wanted to do, but if you had shot them it could have cost you your soul.

LOL!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Thanks, I needed a good laugh today!!!!!

19 posted on 08/22/2002 2:00:01 PM PDT by Space Wrangler
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To: AdamSelene235
As I have stated on another thread...Freedom is great...but License stops at the muzzle of one's injured neighbor's gun.

Imagine how sensitive (a generally good, human thing) you would have been 3 minutes into the disemboweling of your child, and then proceed to not worry about your "feelings" one instant more.

Tomorrow, go to the "Sporting Goods" store, and be a sport like the rest of us. Believe me, I am not being off-handed at all about this. From time to time I have been too near too bad too many times in my life to come to another conclusion.

May God continue to bless you. I'm serious!

Let Freedom Ring. It can be a good thing.
20 posted on 08/22/2002 2:00:01 PM PDT by PoorMuttly
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To: Jaxter
Always have at least one gun! M85 is an excellent carry piece, not too heavy, not too large.

IMO the dork writer is a victim just waiting for a perp to seek her out!

21 posted on 08/22/2002 2:00:12 PM PDT by Don Carlos
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To: taxcontrol
Spirituality is a personal thing, so I won't bore readers with the minutiae of my own perceptions

meaning the writer is an atheist?. I guess the part about losing her soul is bravo sierra.
22 posted on 08/22/2002 2:01:34 PM PDT by ottersnot
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To: AdamSelene235
Yes, her inaction to defend herself and her family by choosing not to buy a gun, IMHO, is stupid one, but I do give her credit for realizing she should not force her personal choice on others like the anti-gun lobbies do. I wish the anti-gun lobbies would adopt this mentality of personal choice and leave us the heck alone.
23 posted on 08/22/2002 2:03:01 PM PDT by ravingnutter
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To: AdamSelene235
Interesting, her soul would still be in tact after failing to defend the life of her 9 month old son who may have been sodomized and murdered.


This is a major barf alert
24 posted on 08/22/2002 2:04:45 PM PDT by Fearless Flyers
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To: AdamSelene235
This lady made her decision for herself. She wrutes that she does not feel the need for the rest of us to emulate her decision. She is right. She has not made a stupid decision. Even in the case of her child- well, not seeking medical intervention for one's sick child is, for some, a matter of strongly held Christian belief and should be held as a parent's right.
25 posted on 08/22/2002 2:05:35 PM PDT by arthurus
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To: AdamSelene235
Think of it as evolution in action. Unfortunately, she has already reproduced.
26 posted on 08/22/2002 2:06:32 PM PDT by Poohbah
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To: AdamSelene235
Not so much. Once one admits of an eternal soul, death is an important fact, but by far from the most important one. Killing those men would have kept them from ever becoming more than thugs, and the act of killing them may have endangered her soul--killing people is funny like that: you get to like it if you do it too much. Of course, allowing them to commit such a terrible crime is not sensible, either; and if someone tried that with my wife, I guess I'd be imperiling some souls. Of course, a nonlethal but effective solution would be best.
27 posted on 08/22/2002 2:07:33 PM PDT by Pistias
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To: AdamSelene235
I would have been placing my life and happiness above theirs

Moral relativism at its worst. What a freaking idiot. It just pisses me off to know that I couldn't carry if I wanted to. (thanks, Democratic state senate...)
28 posted on 08/22/2002 2:07:36 PM PDT by July 4th
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To: The Vast Right Wing
This is complete BS!
29 posted on 08/22/2002 2:08:13 PM PDT by TheSpottedOwl
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To: taxcontrol
She has a moral obligation to protect herself.

I don't agree. If she values her life so little, that she won't defend it, that's her choice. OTOH, she does have a moral obligation to the child under her care. A single person has, IMHO, a right to be a pacifist. A mother or father has an obligation to protect her/his child(ren). This she is failing to do.

30 posted on 08/22/2002 2:09:44 PM PDT by ArrogantBustard
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To: AdamSelene235
It also helps to bear in mind that in most communities, the LAW clearly allows (expects of a reasonable, decent person) self-defense or defense of another through the application of potentially DEADLY force. But then...it takes more guts to do than letting somebody do it to you, while you scream a lot. It is negligent to do otherwise...and secondarily...your death encourages the attacker to do it again. Few Murderers repeated their crimes after being executed one way or another. It used to be called "service to the community." By the way, I will be personally grateful for any killers you prevent from plying their trade in MY neighborhood.
31 posted on 08/22/2002 2:10:02 PM PDT by PoorMuttly
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To: AdamSelene235
Lady would you let a dingo eat your baby too....
32 posted on 08/22/2002 2:12:22 PM PDT by KSCITYBOY
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To: AdamSelene235
"Breathtaking stupidity."

I disagree, she made a decision of her conscience not to use a weapon. This was not based on a unfounded fear or political reason, but a personal choice based on her own "religious" beliefs. This is not that different from the Amish in their vows of pacifisim.

I believe her conclusions are flawed based on scripture and hypocritical based on demanding others protect her but I respect her right for the base decision.

The author didn't slam the second ammendment nor others the right to carry or protect themselves. Just her own personal judgement, however flawed it may be.

NeverGore :^)

33 posted on 08/22/2002 2:12:36 PM PDT by nevergore
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To: taxcontrol
You are correct - she put those cops lives at risk, how evil and selfish of her.
34 posted on 08/22/2002 2:14:29 PM PDT by KSCITYBOY
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To: AdamSelene235
While I might have kept myself physically safe by shooting those men, I would have been placing my life and happiness above theirs. I would have been falling prey to the lie that they had the ability to harm me in any real way. I would have been forgetting the spiritual truth both about my attackers and about myself.

People like this provide a great case study in natural selection. They are the modern equivalent of the cavemen who tried to pet the saber-toothed tiger.

35 posted on 08/22/2002 2:16:36 PM PDT by RogueIsland
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To: AdamSelene235
How lonely has she become?
36 posted on 08/22/2002 2:16:40 PM PDT by abclily
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To: AdamSelene235
Only one word to reply to her lunacy:

BULLSHIrT

37 posted on 08/22/2002 2:18:32 PM PDT by Johnny Gage
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To: KSCITYBOY
A great idea from some who are strong for Second Amendment rights is this: If you REALLY, SINCERELY believe gun ownership and self-defense are wrong, tape a sign to your front door stating that this is your position and announcing that you have no weapon in the house. If you don't do this, you are doing what the political economists call "free-riding" on those who are ready to defend themselves...cloaking yourself in the aura of uncertainty about whether you have a gun in the house or not, getting fear and doubt injected into the criminals courtesy of the rest of us.
38 posted on 08/22/2002 2:19:33 PM PDT by Viet Vet in Augusta GA
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To: KSCITYBOY
A great idea from some who are strong for Second Amendment rights is this: If you REALLY, SINCERELY believe gun ownership and self-defense are wrong, tape a sign to your front door stating that this is your position and announcing that you have no weapon in the house. If you don't do this, you are doing what the political economists call "free-riding" on those who are ready to defend themselves...cloaking yourself in the aura of uncertainty about whether you have a gun in the house or not, getting fear and doubt injected into the criminals courtesy of the rest of us. In her case, she should just blow up a copy of her nice article and make a poster for her front yard and wait for the criminals to come again...
39 posted on 08/22/2002 2:21:05 PM PDT by Viet Vet in Augusta GA
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To: AdamSelene235
PART I

A NATION OF COWARDS

Jeffrey R. Snyder

OUR SOCIETY has reached a pinnacle of self-expression and respect for individuality rare or unmatched in history. Our entire popular culture -- from fashion magazines to the cinema -- positively screams the matchless worth of the individual, and glories in eccentricity, nonconformity, independent judgment, and self-determination. This enthusiasm is reflected in the prevalent notion that helping someone entails increasing that person's "self-esteem"; that if a person properly values himself, he will naturally be a happy, productive, and, in some inexplicable fashion, responsible member of society.

And yet, while people are encouraged to revel in their individuality and incalculable self-worth, the media and the law enforcement establishment continually advise us that, when confronted with the threat of lethal violence, we should not resist, but simply give the attacker what he wants. If the crime under consideration is rape, there is some notable waffling on this point, and the discussion quickly moves to how the woman can change her behavior to minimize the risk of rape, and the various ridiculous, non-lethal weapons she may acceptably carry, such as whistles, keys, mace or, that weapon which really sends shivers down a rapist's spine, the portable cellular phone.

Now how can this be? How can a person who values himself so highly calmly accept the indignity of a criminal assault? How can one who believes that the essence of his dignity lies in his self-determination passively accept the forcible deprivation of that self-determination? How can he, quietly, with great dignity and poise, simply hand over the goods?

The assumption, of course, is that there is no inconsistency. The advice not to resist a criminal assault and simply hand over the goods is founded on the notion that one's life is of incalculable value, and that no amount of property is worth it. Put aside, for a moment, the outrageousness of the suggestion that a criminal who proffers lethal violence should be treated as if he has instituted a new social contract: "I will not hurt or kill you if you give me what I want." For years, feminists have labored to educate people that rape is not about sex, but about domination, degradation, and control. Evidently, someone needs to inform the law enforcement establishment and the media that kidnapping, robbery, carjacking, and assault are not about property.

Crime is not only a complete disavowal of the social contract, but also a commandeering of the victim's person and liberty. If the individual's dignity lies in the fact that he is a moral agent engaging in actions of his own will, in free exchange with others, then crime always violates the victim's dignity. It is, in fact, an act of enslavement. Your wallet, your purse, or your car may not be worth your life, but your dignity is; and if it is not worth fighting for, it can hardly be said to exist.

The Gift of Life

Although difficult for modern man to fathom, it was once widely believed that life was a gift from God, that to not defend that life when offered violence was to hold God's gift in contempt, to be a coward and to breach one's duty to one's community. A sermon given in Philadelphia in 1747 unequivocally equated the failure to defend oneself with suicide:

He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one that hath no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self murder since God hath enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend itself.

"Cowardice" and "self-respect" have largely disappeared from public discourse. In their place we are offered "self-esteem" as the bellwether of success and a proxy for dignity. "Self-respect" implies that one recognizes standards, and judges oneself worthy by the degree to which one lives up to them. "Self-esteem" simply means that one feels good about oneself. "Dignity" used to refer to the self-mastery and fortitude with which a person conducted himself in the face of life's vicissitudes and the boorish behavior of others. Now, judging by campus speech codes, dignity requires that we never encounter a discouraging word and that others be coerced into acting respectfully, evidently on the assumption that we are powerless to prevent our degradation if exposed to the demeaning behavior of others. These are signposts proclaiming the insubstantiality of our character, the hollowness of our souls.

It is impossible to address the problem of rampant crime without talking about the moral responsibility of the intended victim. Crime is rampant because the law-abiding, each of us, condone it, excuse it, permit it, submit to it. We permit and encourage it because we do not fight back, immediately, then and there, where it happens. Crime is not rampant because we do not have enough prisons, because judges and prosecutors are too soft, because the police are hamstrung with absurd technicalities. The defect is there, in our character. We are a nation of cowards and shirkers.

Do You Feel Lucky?

In 1991, when then-Attorney General Richard Thornburgh released the FBI's annual crime statistics, he noted that it is now more likely that a person will be the victim of a violent crime than that he will be in an auto accident. Despite this, most people readily believe that the existence of the police relieves them of the responsibility to take full measures to protect themselves. The police, however, are not personal bodyguards. Rather, they act as a general deterrent to crime, both by their presence and by apprehending criminals after the fact. As numerous courts have held, they have no legal obligation to protect anyone in particular. You cannot sue them for failing to prevent you from being the victim of a crime.

Insofar as the police deter by their presence, they are very, very good. Criminals take great pains not to commit a crime in front of them. Unfortunately, the corollary is that you can pretty much bet your life (and you are) that they won't be there at the moment you actually need them.

Should you ever be the victim of an assault, a robbery, or a rape, you will find it very difficult to call the police while the act is in progress, even if you are carrying a portable cellular phone. Nevertheless, you might be interested to know how long it takes them to show up. Department of Justice statistics for 1991 show that, for all crimes of violence, only 28 percent of calls are responded to within five minutes. The idea that protection is a service people can call to have delivered and expect to receive in a timely fashion is often mocked by gun owners, who love to recite the challenge, "Call for a cop, call for an ambulance, and call for a pizza. See who shows up first."

Many people deal with the problem of crime by convincing themselves that they live, work, and travel only in special "crime-free" zones. Invariably, they react with shock and hurt surprise when they discover that criminals do not play by the rules and do not respect these imaginary boundaries. If, however, you understand that crime can occur anywhere at anytime, and if you understand that you can be maimed or mortally wounded in mere seconds, you may wish to consider whether you are willing to place the responsibility for safeguarding your life in the hands of others.

Power And Responsibility

Is your life worth protecting? If so, whose responsibility is it to protect it? If you believe that it is the police's, not only are you wrong -- since the courts universally rule that they have no legal obligation to do so -- but you face some difficult moral quandaries. How can you rightfully ask another human being to risk his life to protect yours, when you will assume no responsibility yourself? Because that is his job and we pay him to do it? Because your life is of incalculable value, but his is only worth the $30,000 salary we pay him? If you believe it reprehensible to possess the means and will to use lethal force to repel a criminal assault, how can you call upon another to do so for you?

Do you believe that you are forbidden to protect yourself because the police are better qualified to protect you, because they know what they are doing but you're a rank amateur? Put aside that this is equivalent to believing that only concert pianists may play the piano and only professional athletes may play sports. What exactly are these special qualities possessed only by the police and beyond the rest of us mere mortals?

One who values his life and takes seriously his responsibilities to his family and community will possess and cultivate the means of fighting back, and will retaliate when threatened with death or grievous injury to himself or a loved one. He will never be content to rely solely on others for his safety, or to think he has done all that is possible by being aware of his surroundings and taking measures of avoidance. Let's not mince words: He will be armed, will be trained in the use of his weapon, and will defend himself when faced with lethal violence.

Fortunately, there is a weapon for preserving life and liberty that can be wielded effectively by almost anyone -- the handgun. Small and light enough to be carried habitually, lethal, but unlike the knife or sword, not demanding great skill or strength, it truly is the "great equalizer." Requiring only hand-eye coordination and a modicum of ability to remain cool under pressure, it can be used effectively by the old and the weak against the young and the strong, by the one against the many.

The handgun is the only weapon that would give a lone female jogger a chance of prevailing against a gang of thugs intent on rape, a teacher a chance of protecting children at recess from a madman intent on massacring them, a family of tourists waiting at a mid-town subway station the means to protect themselves from a gang of teens armed with razors and knives.

But since we live in a society that by and large outlaws the carrying of arms, we are brought into the fray of the Great American Gun War. Gun control is one of the most prominent battlegrounds in our current culture wars. Yet it is unique in the half-heartedness with which our conservative leaders and pundits -- our "conservative elite" -- do battle, and have conceded the moral high ground to liberal gun control proponents. It is not a topic often written about, or written about with any great fervor, by William F. Buckley or Patrick Buchanan. As drug czar, William Bennett advised President Bush to ban "assault weapons." George Will is on record as recommending the repeal of the Second Amendment, and Jack Kemp is on record as favoring a ban on the possession of semiautomatic "assault weapons." The battle for gun rights is one fought predominantly by the common man. The beliefs of both our liberal and conservative elites are in fact abetting the criminal rampage through our society.

Selling Crime Prevention

By any rational measure, nearly all gun control proposals are hokum. The Brady Bill, for example, would not have prevented John Hinckley from obtaining a gun to shoot President Reagan; Hinckley purchased his weapon five months before the attack, and his medical records could not have served as a basis to deny his purchase of a gun, since medical records are not public documents filed with the police. Similarly, California's waiting period and background check did not stop Patrick Purdy from purchasing the "assault rifle" and handguns he used to massacre children during recess in a Stockton schoolyard; the felony conviction that would have provided the basis for stopping the sales did not exist, because Mr. Purdy's previous weapons violations were plea-bargained down from felonies to misdemeanors.

In the mid-sixties there was a public service advertising campaign targeted at car owners about the prevention of car theft. The purpose of the ad was to urge car owners not to leave their keys in their cars. The message was, "Don't help a good boy go bad." The implication was that, by leaving his keys in his car, the normal, law-abiding car owner was contributing to the delinquency of minors who, if they just weren't tempted beyond their limits, would be "good." Now, in those days people still had a fair sense of just who was responsible for whose behavior. The ad succeeded in enraging a goodly portion of the populace, and was soon dropped.

Nearly all of the gun control measures offered by Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI) and its ilk embody the same philosophy. They are founded on the belief that America's law-abiding gun owners are the source of the problem. With their unholy desire for firearms, they are creating a society awash in a sea of guns, thereby helping good boys go bad, and helping bad boys be badder. This laying of moral blame for violent crime at the feet of the law-abiding, and the implicit absolution of violent criminals for their misdeeds, naturally infuriates honest gun owners.

The files of HCI and other gun control organizations are filled with proposals to limit the availability of semiautomatic and other firearms to law-abiding citizens, and barren of proposals for apprehending and punishing violent criminals. It is ludicrous to expect that the proposals of HCI, or any gun control laws, will significantly curb crime. According to Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) statistics, fully 90 percent of violent crimes are committed without a handgun, and 93 percent of the guns obtained by violent criminals are not obtained through the lawful purchase and sale transactions that are the object of most gun control legislation. Furthermore, the number of violent criminals is minute in comparison to the number of firearms in America -- estimated by the ATF at about 200 million, approximately one-third of which are handguns. With so abundant a supply, there will always be enough guns available for those who wish to use them for nefarious ends, no matter how complete the legal prohibitions against them, or how draconian the punishment for their acquisition or use. No, the gun control proposals of HCI and other organizations are not seriously intended as crime control. Something else is at work here.

The Tyranny of the Elite

Gun control is a moral crusade against a benighted, barbaric citizenry. This is demonstrated not only by the ineffectualness of gun control in preventing crime, and by the fact that it focuses on restricting the behavior of the law-abiding rather than apprehending and punishing the guilty, but also by the execration that gun control proponents heap on gun owners and their evil instrumentality, the NRA. Gun owners are routinely portrayed as uneducated, paranoid rednecks fascinated by and prone to violence, i.e., exactly the type of person who opposes the liberal agenda and whose moral and social "re-education" is the object of liberal social policies. Typical of such bigotry is New York Gov. Mario Cuomo's famous characterization of gun-owners as "hunters who drink beer, don't vote, and lie to their wives about where they were all weekend." Similar vituperation is rained upon the NRA, characterized by Sen. Edward Kennedy as the "pusher's best friend," lampooned in political cartoons as standing for the right of children to carry firearms to school and, in general, portrayed as standing for an individual's God-given right to blow people away at will.

The stereotype is, of course, false. As criminologist and constitutional lawyer Don B. Kates, Jr. and former HCI contributor Dr. Patricia Harris have pointed out, "[s]tudies consistently show that, on the average, gun owners are better educated and have more prestigious jobs than non-owners.... Later studies show that gun owners are less likely than non-owners to approve of police brutality, violence against dissenters, etc."

Conservatives must understand that the antipathy many liberals have for gun owners arises in good measure from their statist utopianism. This habit of mind has nowhere been better explored than in The Republic. There, Plato argues that the perfectly just society is one in which an unarmed people exhibit virtue by minding their own business in the performance of their assigned functions, while the government of philosopher-kings, above the law and protected by armed guardians unquestioning in their loyalty to the state, engineers, implements, and fine-tunes the creation of that society, aided and abetted by myths that both hide and justify their totalitarian manipulation.


40 posted on 08/22/2002 2:21:44 PM PDT by handk
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To: AdamSelene235
PART II

The Unarmed Life

When columnist Carl Rowan preaches gun control and uses a gun to defend his home, when Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer seeks legislation year after year to ban semiautomatic "assault weapons" whose only purpose, we are told, is to kill people, while he is at the same time escorted by state police armed with large-capacity 9mm semiautomatic pistols, it is not simple hypocrisy. It is the workings of that habit of mind possessed by all superior beings who have taken upon themselves the terrible burden of civilizing the masses and who understand, like our Congress, that laws are for other people.

The liberal elite know that they are philosopher-kings. They know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homophobic, and inequitable -- and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way.

The private ownership of firearms is a rebuke to this utopian zeal. To own firearms is to affirm that freedom and liberty are not gifts from the state. It is to reserve final judgment about whether the state is encroaching on freedom and liberty, to stand ready to defend that freedom with more than mere words, and to stand outside the state's totalitarian reach.

The Florida Experience

The elitist distrust of the people underlying the gun control movement is illustrated beautifully in HCI's campaign against a new concealed-carry law in Florida. Prior to 1987, the Florida law permitting the issuance of concealed-carry permits was administered at the county level. The law was vague, and, as a result, was subject to conflicting interpretation and political manipulation. Permits were issued principally to security personnel and the privileged few with political connections. Permits were valid only within the county of issuance.

In 1987, however, Florida enacted a uniform concealed-carry law which mandates that county authorities issue a permit to anyone who satisfies certain objective criteria. The law requires that a permit be issued to any applicant who is a resident, at least twenty-one years of age, has no criminal record, no record of alcohol or drug abuse, no history of mental illness, and provides evidence of having satisfactorily completed a firearms safety course offered by the NRA or other competent instructor. The applicant must provide a set of fingerprints, after which the authorities make a background check. The permit must be issued or denied within ninety days, is valid throughout the state, and must be renewed every three years, which provides authorities a regular means of reevaluating whether the permit holder still qualifies.

Passage of this legislation was vehemently opposed by HCI and the media. The law, they said, would lead to citizens shooting each other over everyday disputes involving fender benders, impolite behavior, and other slights to their dignity. Terms like "Florida, the Gunshine State" and "Dodge City East" were coined to suggest that the state, and those seeking passage of the law, were encouraging individuals to act as judge, jury, and executioner in a "Death Wish" society.

No HCI campaign more clearly demonstrates the elitist beliefs underlying the campaign to eradicate gun ownership. Given the qualifications required of permit holders, HCI and the media can only believe that common, law-abiding citizens are seething cauldrons of homicidal rage, ready to kill to avenge any slight to their dignity, eager to seek out and summarily execute the lawless. Only lack of immediate access to a gun restrains them and prevents the blood from flowing in the streets. They are so mentally and morally deficient that they would mistake a permit to carry a weapon in self-defense as a state-sanctioned license to kill at will.

Did the dire predictions come true? Despite the fact that Miami and Dade County have severe problems with the drug trade, the homicide rate fell in Florida following enactment of this law, as it did in Oregon following enactment of similar legislation there. There are, in addition, several documented cases of new permit holders successfully using their weapons to defend themselves. Information from the Florida Department of State shows that, from the beginning of the program in 1987 through June 1993, 160,823 permits have been issued, and only 530, or about 0.33 percent of the applicants, have been denied a permit for failure to satisfy the criteria, indicating that the law is benefitting those whom it was intended to benefit -- the law-abiding. Only 16 permits, less than 1/100th of 1 percent, have been revoked due to the post-issuance commission of a crime involving a firearm.

The Florida legislation has been used as a model for legislation adopted by Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Mississippi. There are, in addition, seven other states (Maine, North and South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and, with the exception of cities with a population in excess of 1 million, Pennsylvania) which provide that concealed-carry permits must be issued to law-abiding citizens who satisfy various objective criteria. Finally, no permit is required at all in Vermont. Altogether, then, there are thirteen states in which law-abiding citizens who wish to carry arms to defend themselves may do so. While no one appears to have compiled the statistics from all of these jurisdictions, there is certainly an ample data base for those seeking the truth about the trustworthiness of law-abiding citizens who carry firearms.

Other evidence also suggests that armed citizens are very responsible in using guns to defend themselves. Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, using surveys and other data, has determined that armed citizens defend their lives or property with firearms against criminals approximately 1 million times a year. In 98 percent of these instances, the citizen merely brandishes the weapon or fires a warning shot. Only in 2 percent of the cases do citizens actually shoot their assailants. In defending themselves with their firearms, armed citizens kill 2,000 to 3,000 criminals each year, three times the number killed by the police. A nationwide study by Kates, the constitutional lawyer and criminologist, found 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, over five times as high.

It is simply not possible to square the numbers above and the experience of Florida with the notions that honest, law-abiding gun owners are borderline psychopaths itching for an excuse to shoot someone, vigilantes eager to seek out and summarily execute the lawless, or incompetent fools incapable of determining when it is proper to use lethal force in defense of their lives. Nor upon reflection should these results seem surprising. Rape, robbery, and attempted murder are not typically actions rife with ambiguity or subtlety, requiring special powers of observation and great book-learning to discern. When a man pulls a knife on a woman and says, "You're coming with me," her judgment that a crime is being committed is not likely to be in error. There is little chance that she is going to shoot the wrong person. It is the police, because they are rarely at the scene of the crime when it occurs, who are more likely to find themselves in circumstances where guilt and innocence are not so clear-cut, and in which the probability for mistakes is higher.

Arms and Liberty

Classical republican philosophy has long recognized the critical relationship between personal liberty and the possession of arms by a people ready and willing to use them. Political theorists as dissimilar as Niccolo Machiavelli, Sir Thomas More, James Harrington, Algernon Sidney, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all shared the view that the possession of arms is vital for resisting tyranny, and that to be disarmed by one's government is tantamount to being enslaved by it. The possession of arms by the people is the ultimate warrant that government governs only with the consent of the governed. As Kates has shown, the Second Amendment is as much a product of this political philosophy as it is of the American experience in the Revolutionary War. Yet our conservative elite has abandoned this aspect of republican theory. Although our conservative pundits recognize and embrace gun owners as allies in other arenas, their battle for gun rights is desultory. The problem here is not a statist utopianism, although goodness knows that liberals are not alone in the confidence they have in the state's ability to solve society's problems. Rather, the problem seems to lie in certain cultural traits shared by our conservative and liberal elites.

One such trait is an abounding faith in the power of the word. The failure of our conservative elite to defend the Second Amendment stems in great measure from an overestimation of the power of the rights set forth in the First Amendment, and a general undervaluation of action. Implicit in calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment is the assumption that our First Amendment rights are sufficient to preserve our liberty. The belief is that liberty can be preserved as long as men freely speak their minds; that there is no tyranny or abuse that can survive being exposed in the press; and that the truth need only be disclosed for the culprits to be shamed. The people will act, and the truth shall set us, and keep us, free.

History is not kind to this belief, tending rather to support the view of Hobbes, Machiavelli, and other republican theorists that only people willing and able to defend themselves can preserve their liberties. While it may be tempting and comforting to believe that the existence of mass electronic communication has forever altered the balance of power between the state and its subjects, the belief has certainly not been tested by time, and what little history there is in the age of mass communication is not especially encouraging. The camera, radio, and press are mere tools and, like guns, can be used for good or ill. Hitler, after all, was a masterful orator, used radio to very good effect, and is well known to have pioneered and exploited the propaganda opportunities afforded by film. And then, of course, there were the Brownshirts, who knew very well how to quell dissent among intellectuals.

Polite Society

In addition to being enamored of the power of words, our conservative elite shares with liberals the notion that an armed society is just not civilized or progressive, that massive gun ownership is a blot on our civilization. This association of personal disarmament with civilized behavior is one of the great unexamined beliefs of our time.

Should you read English literature from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, you will discover numerous references to the fact that a gentleman, especially when out at night or traveling, armed himself with a sword or a pistol against the chance of encountering a highwayman or other such predator. This does not appear to have shocked the ladies accompanying him. True, for the most part there were no police in those days, but we have already addressed the notion that the presence of the police absolves people of the responsibility to look after their safety, and in any event the existence of the police cannot be said to have reduced crime to negligible levels.

It is by no means obvious why it is "civilized" to permit oneself to fall easy prey to criminal violence, and to permit criminals to continue unobstructed in their evil ways. While it may be that a society in which crime is so rare that no one ever needs to carry a weapon is "civilized," a society that stigmatizes the carrying of weapons by the law-abiding -- because it distrusts its citizens more than it fears rapists, robbers, and murderers -- certainly cannot claim this distinction. Perhaps the notion that defending oneself with lethal force is not "civilized" arises from the view that violence is always wrong, or the view that each human being is of such intrinsic worth that it is wrong to kill anyone under any circumstances. The necessary implication of these propositions, however, is that life is not worth defending. Far from being "civilized," the beliefs that counterviolence and killing are always wrong are an invitation to the spread of barbarism. Such beliefs announce loudly and clearly that those who do not respect the lives and property of others will rule over those who do.

In truth, one who believes it wrong to arm himself against criminal violence shows contempt of God's gift of life (or, in modern parlance, does not properly value himself), does not live up to his responsibilities to his family and community, and proclaims himself mentally and morally deficient, because he does not trust himself to behave responsibly. In truth, a state that deprives its law-abiding citizens of the means to effectively defend themselves is not civilized but barbarous, becoming an accomplice of murderers, rapists, and thugs and revealing its totalitarian nature by its tacit admission that the disorganized, random havoc created by criminals is far less a threat than are men and women who believe themselves free and independent, and act accordingly.

While gun control proponents and other advocates of a kinder, gentler society incessantly decry our "armed society," in truth we do not live in an armed society. We live in a society in which violent criminals and agents of the state habitually carry weapons, and in which many law-abiding citizens own firearms but do not go about armed. Department of Justice statistics indicate that 87 percent of all violent crimes occur outside the home. Essentially, although tens of millions own firearms, we are an unarmed society.

Take Back the Night

Clearly the police and the courts are not providing a significant brake on criminal activity. While liberals call for more poverty, education, and drug treatment programs, conservatives take a more direct tack. George Will advocates a massive increase in the number of police and a shift toward "community-based policing." Meanwhile, the NRA and many conservative leaders call for laws that would require violent criminals serve at least 85 percent of their sentences and would place repeat offenders permanently behind bars.

Our society suffers greatly from the beliefs that only official action is legitimate and that the state is the source of our earthly salvation. Both liberal and conservative prescriptions for violent crime suffer from the "not in my job description" school of thought regarding the responsibilities of the law-abiding citizen, and from an overestimation of the ability of the state to provide society's moral moorings. As long as law-abiding citizens assume no personal responsibility for combatting crime, liberal and conservative programs will fail to contain it.

Judging by the numerous articles about concealed-carry in gun magazines, the growing number of products advertised for such purpose, and the increase in the number of concealed-carry applications in states with mandatory-issuance laws, more and more people, including growing numbers of women, are carrying firearms for self-defense. Since there are still many states in which the issuance of permits is discretionary and in which law enforcement officials routinely deny applications, many people have been put to the hard choice between protecting their lives or respecting the law. Some of these people have learned the hard way, by being the victim of a crime, or by seeing a friend or loved one raped, robbed, or murdered, that violent crime can happen to anyone, anywhere at anytime, and that crime is not about sex or property but life, liberty, and dignity.

The laws proscribing concealed-carry of firearms by honest, law-abiding citizens breed nothing but disrespect for the law. As the Founding Fathers knew well, a government that does not trust its honest, law-abiding, taxpaying citizens with the means of self-defense is not itself worthy of trust. Laws disarming honest citizens proclaim that the government is the master, not the servant, of the people. A federal law along the lines of the Florida statute -- overriding all contradictory state and local laws and acknowledging that the carrying of firearms by law-abiding citizens is a privilege and immunity of citizenship -- is needed to correct the outrageous conduct of state and local officials operating under discretionary licensing systems.

What we certainly do not need is more gun control. Those who call for the repeal of the Second Amendment so that we can really begin controlling firearms betray a serious misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights to the people, such that its repeal would legitimately confer upon government the powers otherwise proscribed. The Bill of Rights is the list of the fundamental, inalienable rights, endowed in man by his Creator, that define what it means to be a free and independent people, the rights which must exist to ensure that government governs only with the consent of the people.

At one time this was even understood by the Supreme Court. In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the first case in which the Court had an opportunity to interpret the Second Amendment, it stated that the right confirmed by the Second Amendment "is not a right granted by the constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence." The repeal of the Second Amendment would no more render the outlawing of firearms legitimate than the repeal of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment would authorize the government to imprison and kill people at will. A government that abrogates any of the Bill of Rights, with or without majoritarian approval, forever acts illegitimately, becomes tyrannical, and loses the moral right to govern.

This is the uncompromising understanding reflected in the warning that America's gun owners will not go gently into that good, utopian night: "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands." While liberals take this statement as evidence of the retrograde, violent nature of gun owners, we gun owners hope that liberals hold equally strong sentiments about their printing presses, word processors, and television cameras. The republic depends upon fervent devotion to all our fundamental rights.


41 posted on 08/22/2002 2:22:01 PM PDT by handk
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To: LurkedLongEnough
What fear? I'm too good a shot to be afraid I'd miss....
42 posted on 08/22/2002 2:23:30 PM PDT by HeadOn
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To: The Vast Right Wing
Oh no, it's not made up. You aren't taking into account that this woman has spent the last 15 years in the People's Republic of Boulder.

They are almost all wacko leftwing lunatics up there. The place is an embarrassment to the state of Colorado.

43 posted on 08/22/2002 2:25:35 PM PDT by Myrean
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To: AdamSelene235
Wow this was such a great article... until the section you bolded. How can anyone have had that experience and not understand the right to selfdefense through any means necessary? I hope her kid turned out smarter.
44 posted on 08/22/2002 2:26:08 PM PDT by discostu
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To: AdamSelene235
That truth, as far as I've been able to discern (and I do not claim to be an expert or have the inside line), is that in dying, we risk nothing. We lose nothing. All that we are, all that we've done, all that we love stays with us. When we kill, however, we negate the value of others and put our souls at risk.

Breathtaking stupidity, indeed! It is also incredibly selfish. I wonder if her kid would've been better off at age 9 months if he had witnessed Mommy being raped and killed, screaming the whole time. I wonder if he'd have been better off growing up without a mother. Maybe he'd have been so traumatized that he'd have ended up on drugs and killed someone by accident or to finance his habit? I wonder if the world is better off with those 2 scumbags still alive - if they've committed any crimes, especially violent ones, then the answer is certainly "no." Finally, using the infantile "reasoning" of this monumentally stupid woman, would the world be better off if she'd been raped and killed? Would the world be as well off without her (presumably decent) raising of a child (or several children), without any acts of charity that she's done, without the love and kindness that she's surely shown to her family and friends? And what if she had other kids after this incident - without the timely appearance of the police officers that saved her life, those kids and all of their descendants would never exist. All of their good deeds wouldn't ever take place. This woman clearly hasn't thought this through very much, despite having had 15 years to do so.

When we meet darkness with darkness, some of that darkness enters and stays inside us.

It may enter you, but it stays only at your sufferance. I would say that the contrary is true. I'd say that the soul of a good person who was challenged or tempted by evil, and who successfully resisted it, is better off than if the challenge or temptation had never occurred.

It doesn't explain why I never bought a gun.... That choice had to do with my children and my fear that they'd find the gun and become statistics.

Well, maybe she's right here. Someone so stupid as to not know how to lock up a gun probably shouldn't have one.

If someone tried to break into my house again, I'd probably still call the guys who pack heat for a living. I won't carry a gun. I let them carry one for me. Second Amendment supporters would say that makes me a hypocrite or even unpatriotic.

Well, patriotism has nothing to do with protecting yourself from criminals (except the 9/11 variety, but that's a different issue), so I wouldn't call her unpatriotic. I would call her a hypocrite, since that is exactly what she is. How is it OK for someone else to defend her, to place their life on the line, because she's chosen to be vulnerable? This is saying that she values their lives even less than her own.

This lady was extraordinarily lucky that the cops showed up in time, and probably won't be so lucky if a repeat of this incident occurs. If they'd been busy elsewhere when the call came, or if the perps had been smart enough to cut the phone line, then she and possibly her kid would be dead. She has taken this improbable gift and learned nothing from it. The central thing that she hasn't learned, and perhaps never will, is that evil triumphs if good people do nothing. Killing someone who has so few morals that they would rape and probably kill an innocent woman with a child is not something that loses you your soul - rather, it is a good deed that enhances the soul. This is not to say that one should go out and look to do this, but it is certainly an applicable principle if this choice is thrust upon you.

She's a hypocrite in another way, as well. She claims not to oppose the right of others to carry concealed or to use deadly force to defend themselves. However, her publishing of this article couldn't possibly have been intended to aid the cause of armed self defense in Colorado.

45 posted on 08/22/2002 2:26:37 PM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: AdamSelene235
Wow. This woman appears to have completely fried the logic circuit in her wet-ware. The absolutely breath-taking disconnect from reality is so absurd it boarders on delusional.

My advice to her would be to put down the granola bar and seek professional help.

46 posted on 08/22/2002 2:26:48 PM PDT by Dead Corpse
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To: nevergore
I disagree, she made a decision of her conscience not to use a weapon. This was not based on a unfounded fear or political reason, but a personal choice based on her own "religious" beliefs. This is not that different from the Amish in their vows of pacifisim.

That's nice.

I think people should be free to behave this way just as I should be free to tell them they are living in fantasy world.

47 posted on 08/22/2002 2:29:59 PM PDT by AdamSelene235
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To: AdamSelene235
"...the only thing I really have to say is this: Our anger and fear do more harm to us than those who make us angry or fearful. When we meet darkness with darkness, some of that darkness enters and stays inside us."

Ah, but we *don't* meet darkness with darkness. We meet it with a brilliant flash of burning gunpowder.

I knew this would be a sickening article when I saw "Boulder" up at the top. This woman is truly one of the new "Eloi". The Morlocks almost got you once before, Ms. White... you've used up your measure of good luck.

48 posted on 08/22/2002 2:31:27 PM PDT by Charles Martel
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To: Don Carlos
IMO the dork writer is a victim just waiting for a perp to seek her out!

She's even more stupid than she seems. Any perp reading this article has a guaranteed defenseless victim.

49 posted on 08/22/2002 2:31:32 PM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: AdamSelene235
...but if you had shot them it could have cost you your soul.

Maybe I don't have a soul... But I would have unloaded half of my 15 round beretta 9mm clip into those guys. Then I would have finished my ham sandwich as I was calling the police to come pick up the bodies...

50 posted on 08/22/2002 2:33:02 PM PDT by TheEngineer
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