Who Defends Themselves With Guns?

The data set tracked several categories of incidents: type of crime; whether the defenders (or much more rarely, the criminals) were women and in infrequent circumstances whether or not a minor was involved (de-fender or criminal). There are other categories that provide some interesting demo-graphic, statistical, and anecdotal insights into what sort of people defend themselves with guns.

Concealed Weapon Licensees

Concealed weapon license holders have their own category. There are 285 news accounts indicating that the defender had a concealed weapon license. In some cases, the defender was in his home or business, and the license was not actually necessary—but in most of the incidents, the confrontations took place outside the home. Without the spread of “shall-issue” license laws over the last 30 years, the results might have been tragic. On May 5, 2010, a St. Louis man was robbed at gunpoint—but “fought back and shot the robber to death.” The victim was walking down the street at 8:40 p.m. when a 20-year-old robber demanded his wallet. The victim turned over his wallet—but while the robber was going through the wallet, the victim drew his handgun and shot the robber to death.

Occasionally, there are celebrity concealed weapon licensees. On April 27, 2010, Texas Governor Rick Perry was out jogging with his daughter’s Labrador retriever puppy—and a coyote mistook Perry’s puppy for food. Perry drew his .380 Ruger and shot the coyote.

Some incidents start out with rudeness but escalate rapidly to threats and violence. Sara Brereton, 31, was riding a bus in down-town Seattle with her children on April 25,2009, when a 26-year-old man turned a minor bump into a confrontation of “angry words, obscene gestures, and, finally, the man charging the woman even though she showed she had a gun.” After many months of review, prosecutors concluded that she “acted in defense of herself, her children and her partner” when she shot and killed the attacker.

Perhaps the most widely publicized shooting involving a concealed carry licensee in the last few years clearly prevented the murder of at least dozens of people. The criminal was a mentally ill young man who had already killed four people in the previous 12 hours. On December 10, 2007, Jeanne Assam used a gun in the lobby of New Life Church, in Colorado Springs. Matthew Murray was carrying “two handguns, an assault rifle and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition.” He had already killed two people in the parking lot and two others the previous night. He entered the lobby firing his rifle—but Assam, a former police officer, shot him, ending the killing spree.

It does not take much imagination to understand the likely outcome if Assam had not been armed at the scene of this horrific crime.

Pizza Delivery Drivers

Some categories in the data set may seem odd, but they turned out to be so common as to justify a separate heading. There is a reason why a Detroit pizza delivery driver invented modern soft body armor: pizza delivery drivers are apparently considered easy targets for robbery.

The data set has 34 stories in this category. A representative example is from May 11, 2010, in Mobile, Alabama. Bennett Dean, Jr., was making a pizza delivery, but when he reached the address, the lights were off. As Dean approached the front door, a robber came out from the side of the porch with a shotgun aimed at him. “I dropped my pizza bag when I drew my weapon and that got his attention. He glanced to the side, and when he glanced, I just drew my weapon, and he ran off.”

On July 13, 2006, four juveniles in Buffalo, New York attempted to rob a pizza delivery driver at gunpoint. The driver drew his own gun, and was able to hold one of the robbers for police.

The criminals of yesteryear commonly selected a target, evaluated the risk potential, and then faced the unknown hazards of executing a crime. Rather than go to all that effort, and attack a victim in their own home or shop, or in “neutral territory” on the street, criminals are now using regional Internet sales websites like Craigslist, or phoning bogus pizza orders, to lure victims to them. One such case occurred in Galion, Ohio, where a man agreed to meet a prospective seller of construction equipment. Fortunately, the buyer was a concealed carry licensee. He took two handguns with him to the meeting place in a remote quarry. The “sale” turned out to be an ambush, and the buyer was forced to empty both weapons to repel the robbers.

Unless members of today’s society recuse themselves from Craigslist, eBay, and other new millennium renditions of the yard sale, it becomes even more imperative to allow citizens the option to carry arms outside the home.