What of the crimes, massacres prevented?

A reader who refers to himself as “a common-sense liberal” writes in:

“In view of the agonized calls for increased restrictions on firearm ownership resurrected by the recent shooting in Arizona, could you write a column with meaningful statistics on death and injury nationwide prevented by the civilian ownership of firearms?

“The number of incidents described in the ‘Armed Citizen’ column in the NRA’s ‘American Rifleman’ publication; the reluctance of the national media to acknowledge the same type of occurrences; and my estimation of incidents not reported lead me to believe that a great deal of good has occurred because of the private ownership of firearms.

“I personally have experienced two instances, not reported, where the presence of a handgun on my behalf has been instrumental in preventing a very likely attack. …

“I think (your readers) might be influenced to re-examine their point of view regarding firearm ownership if they were exposed to statistics in its favor.”

My correspondent’s point is well-taken. When some idiot drives up on the sidewalk and kills three people with his Chevy, no one demands “Chevy control” with waiting periods, background checks, etc.

In response, the hoplophobes shriek: “Chevys have a legitimate use! Guns have no use except for killing.”

Actually, handguns are used millions of times per year in self-defense, without even being fired. When the potential rapist or assailant becomes aware his intended victim has a handgun, he goes away. There’s usually no police report.

Most gun uses don’t involve killing. They don’t even involve discharging a round. And that’s before we even talk about the benefit of having a populace that knows how to shoot when a war breaks out. If guns “have no use except for killing,” does that mean every time a cop straps on his duty pistol, he’s hoping he gets to kill someone with it? Don’t most culprits allow themselves to be arrested without making the cop draw his gun?

It’s hard to quantify “defensive gun uses” precisely because most don’t show up on countable police reports.

I contacted Gun Owners of America this week to ask for their best current estimate. Spokesman Robert Duggar responded: “We’re not aware of any new studies. As far as we know, the old annual usage numbers of 2.5 million by Gary Kleck” (www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html or www.pulpless.com/gunclock/kleck2.html) “and 1.5 million by the Clinton Justice Department are the latest estimates out there.”

I did write a column following a similar incident in 1999, when racist nut Benjamin Nathaniel Smith killed two and wounded nine in a series of drive-by shootings of blacks, Asian-Americans and Orthodox Jews in Illinois and Indiana before dying in a struggle with police on the Fourth of July.

Back then, I pointed out: “No one mentions that again, as in Colin Ferguson’s terrible shooting spree on the Long Island Railroad a few years back (in a jurisdiction where none of the victims was allowed to carry arms), and as in the worst American mass shooting in recent memory, in which 23 occupants of the Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, were shot down like dogs because state law required them to leave their firearms out in their cars … none of Benjamin Nathaniel Smith’s victims was armed.”

(If Arizonans are so “overarmed” because of “lax gun laws,” as we’re now told, how did last weekend’s nut empty a whole magazine before being tackled? Why was no one else there armed and able to stop him?)

“ ’Oh, being armed is no solution,’ the mincing minions of genocide will surely simper,” I continued in that 1999 column. ” ‘The bad guy will only take your gun away and use it on you.’ ”

I responded by detailing the mass shooting spree that never occurred in Santa Clara, Calif., that Fourth of July weekend. That’s right: the one that never occurred. Funny how crime sprees that are prevented by law-abiding citizens with guns never make the front page, isn’t it?

Reuters reported on July 6, 1999: “A shootout at a California shooting range ended a bizarre hostage drama … Sgt. Anton Morec of the Santa Clara Police Department said the aspiring gunman, 21-year-old Richard Gable Stevens … ‘intended to go out in a blaze of glory,’ noting Stevens had accumulated more than 100 rounds of ammunition for his rented 9 mm semi-automatic weapon.

“ ’It certainly looks like he intended to take a lot more people out.’

“Morec said Stevens arrived at the National Shooting Club Monday evening and rented the rifle for target practice. … After several minutes on the range, however, Stevens returned to the club’s gun store and shot at the ceiling. He then herded three store employees out the door into an alley, saying he intended to kill them.

“Unknown to Stevens, one store employee was carrying a .45-caliber handgun concealed beneath his shirt. When Stevens looked away, the employee fired, hitting Stevens several times in the chest and bringing him to the ground.”

After Stevens was hospitalized, police found a note to his parents, predicting they would be bankrupted by lawsuits from the relatives of his intended “victims.” Reuters said police concluded that, “The quick action by the gun club employee may have headed off a massacre.”

Sounds like the Santa Clara gunman intended to do pretty much what this Jared Loughner twerp did in Tucson last Saturday, doesn’t it? What was different? One law-abiding citizen with a gun and the willingness to use it.

World Net Daily reports, “One person who has not only experienced such a scenario firsthand, but who shot back against terrorists and defended friends and family in his church — and went on to write one of the most powerful books ever on the right and duty of Christians to be armed — is South African Charl Van Wyk. …

“‘Grenades were exploding in flashes of light. Pews shattered under the blasts, sending splinters flying through the air,’ he recalls of the July 25, 1993, St. James Church Massacre. ‘An automatic assault rifle was being fired and was fast ripping the pews — and whoever, whatever was in its trajectory — to pieces. We were being attacked!’ …

“‘Instinctively, I knelt down behind the bench in front of me and pulled out my .38 special snub-nosed revolver, which I always carried with me,’ he writes in ‘Shooting Back.’ ‘I would have felt undressed without it. Many people could not understand why I would carry a firearm into a church service, but I argued that this was a particularly dangerous time in South Africa.’ ”

The terrorists killed 11 and wounded 58. But Van Wyk, firing back, wounding one of the attackers, driving the others away, saving countless lives.

What? Nothing like that could ever happen in America?

Look up New Life Church, Colorado Springs, December 2007. And note church member Jeanne Assam, who stopped that massacre, is a volunteer “civilian,” with a license to carry concealed.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, and author of the novel “The Black Arrow.” See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.

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