This is a story of my experiences with a gun to stop crimes, and how it differs from the stereotypes. In my life, I have personally used a gun to end an altercation three times. A rape, an armed car robbery, and a drug dealer or pederast trying to pedal something on a not so helpless young lad.
Rape is not acceptable
I happened to be hunting in the woods near the house where I grew up (very rural Orange County – Santiago hills). I wasn’t really hunting — but I did take a gun with me a lot when hiking, because "you never know". And I’d been followed by a pack of Coyote’s during a bad season once (which is very abnormal — they don’t usually pack, and they don’t usually get near humans), and occasionally I’d shoot rabbit, dove, quail or rattlesnake. All of which were pretty tasty (and the latter made nice belts or hat bands). Anyway, one day I was minding my own business, when I heard screams. I ran onto a scene where some guy had driven rather far out a dirt trail (a few miles) and had torn the top off some woman and was progressing towards rape when I said in a rather loud voice, "is there a problem here?!" He saw the .22 rifle, and decided that it was time for him to leave the scene. I didn’t escalate anything, and wasn’t pointing the gun in a threatening manner. Just the fact that the tool of equalization was there, meant that once again the strong could not abuse the weak with impunity.
Since he was a very large guy, and I was only a scrawny late teen, I’m not sure what would have happened if the gun hadn’t have been present. The woman was pretty convinced of what was going to happen — and was very thankful for me, and the gun, showing up.
I drove her to a gas station (so they could get her car out which was stuck out in the creek). I let her handle the legal aspects of pressing charges but as in many rape cases it was someone she knew, and I don’t think she ever pressed charges. But that really isn’t the point — if a gun had not been there, then another crime would have been committed, and things probably would have been much worse.
The fact is the guns are equalizers and are the most effective tool for the physically weak to resist the physically strong. Now I’ve studied Martial Arts, and have used other weapons (like pepper spray, knives, sticks and so on) — but guns are far more effective. Without the right to own guns (by law abiding citizens), society turns inward and allows more crime (out of fear of getting involved). There are still very obvious risks of getting involved whether you have a gun or not — but at least the bullies can’t abuse the weak with complete impunity. The founding fathers felt we needed to allow the weak to defend themselves against the strong, for good reasons. When seconds count, the police are 30 minutes away. So if you’d rather avoid the crime, than just hope they’ll be punished after they’re done, then allowing guns is the best way to do that.
Grand Theft Auto
Another time (my late 20s) I saw some young kid looking in car windows at the condominium where I lived. It was just too suspicious, and there had been a few breaks in during that year.
I turned my light on, so he could see me, and I stared him down from my window (which could see some of the parking area). He saw me and he decided to go underneath the condos (where there was more parking) but it didn’t look like he was leaving.
The kid looked suspicious, and I shouldn’t just have to tolerate the crime — but there wasn’t enough to warrant calling the police (yet). Someone looking in a car window or three isn’t a crime (even if suspicious) and by the time the police got there, any event would be over.
With a big sigh, I got my gun and hid it in the small of my back (just in case), and went down stairs. When I came around the corner to the parking structure, he was and a partner were next to a car (Volkswagen Jetta) with a broken window.
They were both about 18 – 20ish (I was about 7 years older), and they looked either Hispanic or South-asian (it can be hard to tell on some kids). I was thinking about making a citizens arrest right there — having them lay on the ground until the police came. I don’t think citizens should have to ignore what is wrong out of fear.
But as we sat there staring at each other, I could just see it in their eyes — they would be stupid enough (and young and "invincible" enough) to make a move at me. I had been a Martial Arts instructor for quite a while, and I was pretty good at reading people — I wasn’t afraid of two kids who were my size, but I didn’t want to have to kill them out of their own stupidity: and I would have done so because of the responsibilities I have to myself and my family to survive such a confrontation.
Multiple attackers is always dangerous and not to be trifled with, and I didn’t know what weapons they had, so it would have to end fast if anything started.
I decided to just "shoo them away" and not to try to arrest them — maybe they would learn the error of their ways by this opportunity. I doubted it, they were too cocksure. So we just had a staring contest. They got in aggressive posture to try to intimidate me into leaving, and I gave them a look that let them know that I was not going to let them commit the crime and that they had better not make a move towards me. I had 20′, which was barely enough time to draw, if they moved.
It was only about 5 or 10 seconds, that seemed like many minutes — but they decided (reluctantly, and wisely) to leave. I could make too much noise and wasn’t afraid of them, so they knew not to escalate things.
I was still observing the area and the car, when a third kid crawled out of the car (he was either stealing the stereo or preparing to steal the whole car).
As he got out of the car, I noticed he had a large knife. Actually, it was long, flat, with a handle and metallic flat part — but he was sort of hiding it behind his leg, so I’m not sure if it wasn’t just a specialized tool to get the stereo out, or rework the ignition of the car. But he started coming towards me, probably because I was sort of in his path of escape (there was a wall the other way). I wasn’t taking any chances (he had a weapon), I stepped backwards as I pulled the gun and took the safety off.
I didn’t point it at him (yet), because you never aim a gun at anything you aren’t prepared to shoot (immediately) — but if he had made a move at me then HE would have forced me to kill him.
He had the proper response, which was to turn white and not make a move towards me and realize how dangerous his actions were making this situation.
I backed up enough that he could safely get around the car (without coming close to me), and get out of the area.
He moved very slowly around the car, and as soon as he got around the car (and the wall of a parking garage) I heard him take off like a scalded cat.
Again, I know I had the choice of making a citizens arrest on the spot (you can’t get caught much more red-handed than these kids) — but by that point my entire decision making process was completely on how to get out of the situation without being forced to kill these dumb kids. Guns are about responsibility and they do escalate situations — but they are not the only thing that escalates a situation. He had a weapon — there was no doubt that the situation was escalated already. I was not going to tolerate the crime — and by the time I realized it was a crime, the situation was already becoming very risky and it was a good thing that I had a gun.
Still, I wasn’t going to push things either. I hoped that with the experience that the kids would learn a lesson and rethink their choices — but I doubt that happened, since later that week we had some more car stereos stolen (and a couple cars)…from the other side of the complex. Such is life.
I don’t regret my decisions — but then I don’t think I would have regretted them even if the kids had made me shoot them.
The cops came and I discussed what had happened and the kids descriptions and so on. The facts are that having the gun again probably helped the situation a lot. Without it, my confidence level may have been lessened enough to have any one of them (or group of them) move on me. Maybe I could have gotten away, maybe not, maybe I would have seriously hurt them or they would have hurt me — the point is that the gun helped (in my mind), and I’m the one that should have the right to make such decisions for myself.
Those Hollywood Hills
The first time, I’d ever pulled a gun, was to encourage a rather large sexual predator to leave a minor alone, and also leave the area. The minor happened to be me.
I was hunting rabbit as a young teen (say 14 or 15 years old) with a pistol, in the hills of Hollywood. People don’t realize what islands of wilderness exist surrounded by city. But I used to like rabbit, and near Griffith Park Observatory, there was quite a few miles of hills. I used to stay summers with my Uncle, and would do various jobs during the week, and occasionally slip up in the hills and hunt during spare time. I’d silenced the pistol, so as to not disturb anyone (and get the attention of the cops), and I had sewn a holster into the lining of this dodgers windbreaker I used to wear. It was really a strange contrast to have Sunset Strip and my hunting wilderness within walking distance. (Quite different predators and prey).
Some guy happened to be following me around the hills and trails (I was quite a ways out), and I was suspicious. So I ducked behind some trees, and let him walk by on the trail. Then I spotted him a while later, and rinse and repeat.
Finally I was stalking a rabbit I’d seen/hear, quite a ways down the trail, when he came up on me.
Him, "Hey, boy… do you like excitement?"
Me [not thinking], "Yeah, I suppose."
Him, getting a lewd look, "are you in the mood for some?"
Now I wasn’t quite sure if he was implying sex with a minor, or some other form of excitement (drugs), but the rabbit heard the voices, and chose to pop its head up at the sound.
I saw an opportunity, and quickly drew the concealed pistol and killed the rabbit from about 50′. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a clean shot, where they fall over dead. It was one where the bunny did a horrid death scream, and ran around flailing a bit before it died. I hate that unnecessary suffering.
I reloaded quickly, slipped the gun back into my jacket, and turned to let the guy know (again), that I was not interested in his wares (whatever they were). He had turned white and was backing up. And after a few yards, he decided to literally run away. It wasn’t like I was going to shoot him or anything (unless he tried abduction or force) — but I had switched from prey to predator in one impotence-inducing instant, and he wanted nothing to do with that (or me).
Actually, I think the thing that had freaked him out was that I had silenced the gun.
There was no way to know how far the guy would have taken the advances. I got the impression at the time that he wasn’t going to use force, but he was being persistent — and you never know. I know his attitude changed.
Most would probably consider a pederast a drug peddler approaching young boys in the woods something to be concerned about. But parks in Hollywood hills, at dusk, can be like that. I do feel sort of bad about scaring him like that. And in hindsight, letting him know that I had a weapon at all, may not have been the brightest move. I should have just left. But I was still a kid — and that rabbit tasted good.
Now I realize the plural of anecdote is not data, and I’m not trying to say this is representative of everyone with a gun. But the media loves to bombard us with selective anecdotes about how guns ruined lives, but almost never about the many, many millions of times a year more, where they are just used for hobby, sport or self defense. This is just some of those. You can read my experience shooting  if you want another.
In all three cases the results could have been far more tragic had I not had a gun.
Of course these experiences are rare. Most people will never have to deal with any of these events. Let alone 3 different ones. I’m just lucky I guess (sarcasm) — I’ve been hit by a car 4 times (not one even vaguely my fault), broken my left arm 4 different times, found one suicide victim, saw another jump (actually more land outside my window of a rather tall office building). Cracked my head open in the Sierra Mountains (and get flown out by Helicopter). Survived two (very minor) parachute malfunctions while skydiving (out of two jumps). Oh well, it keeps life interesting and gives me stories to tell. I’m just one of those people that has things happen around (and too), and has learned to be observant enough to catch on to what is going on around them. (Call it a defense mechanism).
In all cases I could have ignored the situation or been apathetic or concerned only about self-preservation — and some say should not have done anything and just let society continue its entropy into anarchy out of disinterest or fear. But I think society is made better when people stand up for what is right, do get involved and stop injustice. I’m not saying they should seek out trouble or be vigilantes, but we should not hide from our societal responsibilities (and what goes on around us) out of blinding fear.
My wife (then girlfriend) was anti-guns and afraid of guns before we got together. But I believe in guns and gun safety. I wouldn’t tolerate her being around guns (which I had in my condo) without learning how to handle them. So I quickly taught her the basics of guns — how to unload, reload, activate the safety, and gun safety basics. This gave her enough confidence to ask to go shooting. After that, her attitude flip-flopped 180 degrees after a few quick lessons. She "got it", guns are a dangerous tool that deserves respect and proper safety, just like a car — but like a car is used far more often for good (or for fun) than for harm. Guns are used 2.5M times a year to stop crimes or preserve self, and only 8K to murder, and 3/4ths of those are by blacks and latino’s, usually in gang related crimes. So the good to bad ratio is extremely positive. Which makes sense since most people are responsible, law abiding, and would only use a gun for defense or to stop a wrong rather than to commit one. If you fear/distrust guns, it seems like you really just fear/distrust your neighbors. I also recommend that everyon take a gun safety class, take a shooting class, and learn about the tool before they fear it, so they can at least make their opinions from a position of experience and not ignorance or fear of the unknown.
A bad law is never going to convince me that I shouldn’t have the right to defend myself (or others). The only thing bad gun laws can do is convert me from being a law-abiding peace-loving citizen (that feels a responsibility for protecting himself and his neighbors/friends/family), into a law-ignoring peace-loving criminal (that may eventually be imprisoned because some well-meaning fascists think it would be better for society than to allow me my constitutional and inalienable rights).
I often ask gun-control advocates how many people they’re willing to persecute (imprison or have killed) for their cause. I’m not just being a dick, I’m sincerely asking the question. But most are afraid or unwilling to answer. If they could learn to answer it to themselves, we might have a lot more liberty and tolerance in the world.
- What’s shooting like: http://igeek.com/?p=731