It's a story not even anti-gun media outlets could ignore. Matthew Murray allegedly wrote online, "All I want to do is kill and injure as many [Christians] ... as I can.” Police say he made good on his word, first by killing two young students at a missionary training center outside Denver. His next target was a gathering of 7,000 people in and around the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. With a rifle and a backpack full of ammunition, Murray entered the church and opened fire. Sadly, two sisters were killed. One man yelled to distract the gunman and was shot in the arm. That's when volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam, who has a concealed-carry permit and once worked in law enforcement, yelled, "Surrender!" Armed with a handgun, she walked toward Murray and shot him several times. "It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God,” Assam recalls. His twisted plan foiled, the immobilized gunman killed himself. (Associated Press, 12/11/07)
Hygens Labidou was operating his roofing truck when two men began yelling about his driving. According to police, the men, who were white, got out of their vehicle and yelled racial slurs while approaching Labidou, who is black. The men pounded on the truck and tried to yank Labidou out through the door. One of them was armed with a knife. "[Expletive], get out of the truck!" they screamed. But Labidou is a concealed carry permit holder. In fear of his life, he drew a handgun and shot both men twice. One suspect died and the other went to jail. Labidou was not injured. (Miami Herald, Miami, FL, 12/19/07)
Rob Pierce, Jr. was walking to dinner when two men, one a self proclaimed Crips gang member and the other wielding a handgun, accosted him. With a gun to his back, Pierce was dragged across the street to a dimly lit area and told he was about to be killed. "It was like hell,” he explained. Pierce, a concealed-carry permit holder, drew a .357 revolver and shot one of the suspects, causing both suspects to flee. They were later apprehended. Northampton County, Pa., District Attorney John Morganelli said he hoped the incident would teach "these young thugs" that the good guys might be armed. "We don't expect our citizens to wait and get shot. As long as I'm district attorney here, I'm probably going to err on the side of the citizen,” Morganelli said, adding he supports concealed carry laws. (The Morning Call, Allentown, PA, 12/06/07)
His new home recently completed, Ken Foshee sat on the back deck with his wife and 17-year-old grandson. The last thing he expected was an attack by armed assailants. Police say the suspects demanded money and forced Foshee and his wife inside the home. One of the men shot Foshee in the hand. Meanwhile, the grandson ran next door and alerted his uncle, Ronnie Foshee, to the situation. Ronnie grabbed a gun and ran to the scene. Finding a man holding a knife to his mother's throat, he fired a shot and the suspect fled. The other suspect was in the bedroom, severely beating Ken Foshee. Ronnie shot his father's assailant, killing him. (The Macon Telegraph, Macon, GA,12/20/07)
A teenager and several other juveniles were enjoying one another's company when three men knocked on the door. Police say the men asked about buying shoes, which didn't arouse suspicion because the teen's parents are street vendors. That changed when the men forced their way inside and began burglarizing the residence. Apparently underestimated, the teen grabbed a .41 O-bore shotgun and shot one of the intruders. The men fled, but the injured suspect collapsed and died. A handgun was found in his pocket. (The Vicksburg Post, Vicksburg, MS, 12/31/07)
DANGER! Gun-Free Zone
When thoughtful people consider the concept of "gun-free zones,” words like "futility" come to mind. But in light of recent horrific events, there is another word that more accurately sums it up: "dangerous.”
The peril of gun-free zones for law abiding citizens was demonstrated by two terrifying events involving two sociopaths bent on murdering many innocent people at random. One involved helpless victims denied the life-saving force of firearms, and the other was marked by the intervention of a courageous private citizen armed with a carry permit and a semi-automatic handgun.
The first act of public terror and mass murder occurred December 5, 2007, at a busy mall packed with Christmas shoppers in Omaha, Nebraska.
Described by an eyewitness as "smiling" as he fired, the twisted 19-year-old murderer killed eight innocent people before he committed suicide. In doing so, he failed to obey the signs that announced firearms were prohibited in the mall, just as he violated a host of laws prohibiting murder and mayhem.
His motive? Fame. Media attention. He was a disciple of the Columbine High School murderers.
There was an immediate demand by the media and the gun ban crowd to know where he obtained the firearm. And there was a predictable demand for a ban on semi-autos.
The truth, deemed irrelevant by the media, is that the Omaha murderer stole his rifle from his father. He was also a convicted drug felon and his mere possession of any firearm was a federal felony.
So this twisted young man broke gun laws. He broke laws against murder. He broke the mall's "no guns" policy. Perhaps he even parked in a handicapped zone. In the end, it was all irrelevant.
What is relevant is that there was no law-abiding person in this gun-free zone equipped to meet his evil through the good use of deadly force. Reportedly, the gun-free zone covered mall security guards as well.
An eyewitness, in an anonymous Web posting, wrote: "I am not allowed to carry a gun at all in Westroads Mall. If the laws did not oppress my rights ... I would certainly have had it in the mall.
"Honestly, and as God as my witness, when I saw him shooting and as I watched for a few seconds trying to figure out what he was going to do and what I should do, the thought that went through my mind was, 'If I had a gun, I have a perfect shot:"
Gun-free zones? Whether it is by edict of private business, or by government, there is no proclamation that can stop an evil person from committing an evil act. There is no law that can stop an evil person from obtaining an instrument to commit evil. Look at our worst, most restrictive top-security prisons. Violent criminals-under 24-hour monitored lock-down and constant scrutiny of guards-make lethal weapons to commit murder and assault.
Within four days of the Omaha mass murders, another killer-likely encouraged by the media attention to the Omaha killer-acted. This 24-year-old, with a similarly bent mindset but more heavily armed than his role model, began a two-location murder spree. Just after midnight, Sunday, December 9, this disaffected church member entered the Youth With a Mission training center in Arvada, Colorado (a Denver suburb), and began randomly shooting. When he was through, two young people died and two others were critically wounded.
Some 13 hours later, at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, the killer murdered two teenage sisters. At the entrance hall of the large church, he was prepared to randomly take many more innocent lives. That is, until he was confronted by a private citizen armed with a semi-automatic handgun.
Her name is Jeanne Assam, a participant in the church's volunteer security force of parishioners with Right-to-Carry permits. Jeanne Assam exhibited extraordinary courage, advancing and firing well-aimed shots, as the murderer was firing at her. Unflinchingly, she nailed him. Wounded, he committed suicide.
Assam was aided by a 59-year-old Vietnam veteran, Larry Bourbonais, who distracted the killer-and for his efforts, was shot in the arm. It is Bourbonais who recounted the story of Assam's extraordinary heroism.
There were thousands of people on the church campus at the time. There is no doubt that had Assam not taken her stand and used her personal firearm, the carnage inflicted by the murderer would have been massive.
Remarkably, much of the media reaction was positive, but some hid behind the idea that she was a security guard and thus held powers and rights beyond those of ordinary citizens. But in fact, this extraordinary woman was not a "super guard,” she was a super citizen, who exercised her rights and showed remarkable bravery.
As the senseless tragedy of Omaha and the drama of Colorado Springs were unfolding, the U.S. Supreme Court was preparing to hear the Heller v. District of Columbia case, the most important case ever on the viability of the Second Amendment-on whether or not the most dangerous gun-ban zone in America is constitutional. At stake is the 30-year-old law under which defense in the home by the law-abiding residents of the nation's capital using any firearm is a criminal act. If the high court upholds the individual right to keep and bear arms, it may mark the beginning of the end to the dangerous futility of gun-free zones, which leave innocent citizens as easy prey for those who ignore the laws of the land.
March is Women's History Month and March 8, 2008 marks the 99th anniversary of International Women's Day, so visiting the concept of women as national leaders seems especially appropriate in this election year.
"Madame President." As applied to NRA's first woman president, Marion. Hammer, and to my immediate predecessor, Sandy Froman, the appellation "Madame President" has enjoyed a very positive connotation among gun owners and other defenders of American freedom.
Both of these courageous, intelligent and energetic women of integrity made fine presidents for America's largest, oldest and most powerful civil rights organization. NRA was ready for, and greatly benefited from, having these two great women at its helm, but is America's "ship-of-state" ready for Hillary Clinton to take command?
Will America's first woman president be a Godsend to the cause of freedom-as were Presidents Hammer and Froman-or could she be freedom's worst nightmare?
As you read this column, the 2008 primary election season is well under way and we will soon know who the two major parties will choose as their candidates to become America's next president. As of this writing in early January (just after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary), Senator Clinton could well be one of those chosen to stand for election in November.
If she were elected, whom would she appoint as federal judges? Remember, she voted against both Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Would Joe Biden be her Secretary of State? And whom would she send to the U.N.-her husband Bill? Whom would she name as her Attorney General-Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Schumer, or another Janet Reno? And whom would she name to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE)?
Make no mistake: Hillary Rodham Clinton's position on the Second Amendment is clear. She supported the Million Mom March for more anti-gun laws. She pledged to work with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to impose mandatory nationwide licensing of every gun owner and registration of every gun. And she has called for trigger-lock mandates for handguns; punitive sanctions on parents whose children use firearms to commit crimes; one-gun-a-month schemes to ration Second Amendment rights; and a variety of other anti-gun policies.
Regardless of who the next president may be, and regardless of whom the parties may eventually nominate, NRA must prepare for the worst.
We must prepare to defend freedom at all levels, from the White House to the state house to city hall.
Not only will Americans elect their next president in November, but also 12 governors, 35 U.s. Senators, all 435 members of Congress, thousands of state legislators from Alabama to Wyoming, and countless county and municipal officials-all of whom can have a profound and prolonged effect on your rights.
Freedom is in peril in 2008, and we must strengthen our defenses-now, not later.
What can we do? Well, whatever NRA does, it can only do with your active support and participation; so here is what I am calling upon you to do:
NRA has proven by example that America is ready for its first woman president. But will America's first female president be a woman of the people, by the people and for the people in the mold of Marion Hammer and Sandy Froman-or will she be a woman in the mold of Hillary Clinton? Only time and the American electorate will tell. But whoever it may be, we must be prepared to defend firearm freedom throughout America, and we will.
Freedom is not free. Freedom must be earned, cherished and defended every hour of every day.
Because the cause of individual freedom depends upon each individual's commitment, I'm calling on you to redouble your commitment to the cause of freedom now.
United we can do anything!