Months before Illinois became the last state in the union to legalize “conceal carry,” a droll cartoon ran in the local papers. A masked man threatens another with a handgun, saying “Hand over all your valuables.”
“Nope, I’m armed,” says the would-be victim. “Just give me one minute to get my concealed gun out of its holster.”
The armed citizen movement, driven by gun makers and whipped up fear of “bad guys,” is predicated on the self-defense that carrying provides. Yet if being armed and looking for trouble were true protection, would law enforcement officers ever be killed?
It has been two years since Kaufman County, Texas District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia were shot to death in their home.
Mike McLelland carried a gun even when he walked his dog and his wife Cynthia also had a license to carry a concealed handgun. “There were guns hidden all over the house,” his son, J. R. McLelland, told the New York Times. “Behind doors, everywhere. He could have been standing next to a .40-caliber Glock and you would not have known it. When they said that he got shot, it was unbelievable because he was so well-armed and so well-versed in guns.”
Ten days before the McLellands’ murder, Tom Clements, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was similarly shot in cold blood at his home. And five days after the McLellands’ murders, Walter Eugene Crum, Sheriff of Mingo County, West Virginia, was shot and killed while eating lunch in his patrol car just a few blocks from the Mingo County Courthouse.
The spate of shocking murders of law officials left the NRA strangely silent. It temporarily stopped its catechism about good guys stopping bad guys, guns saving lives and criminals preferring “gun-free zones” for their crimes. Did the fallen officials need more guns? Should they have had their weapons drawn at all times? Even when opening the door to someone they may have known?
Being armed and trained was similarly no protection for American Sniper Chris Kyle or Keith Ratliff, the business manager of the popular YouTube gun show FPSRussia. Why? The element of surprise. Ratliff was found dead in Carnesville, Georgia of a single bullet wound in the head, reportedly surrounded by several guns. “For him not to pull out that gun and try to defend himself, he had to feel comfortable around somebody,” his brother told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV. “Either that or he was ambushed.”
When asked about the contradiction of highly armed and trained shooters not being able to defend themselves despite their arms, gun lovers offer a cascade of mewing defenses. Maybe it was a surprise attack, they say. Maybe the shooter came up behind them. Maybe they weren’t paying attention. Maybe they knew the shooter. Maybe the sun was in their eyes.
Gun lovers also don’t like to talk about instances when carriers are killed with their own weapons like Frank Petro, longtime owner of Frank’s Gun & Taxidermy Shop in Conemaugh, PA, who was killed at his dealership with his own gun last year.
And who can forget the death a few months ago of Veronica Rutledge at an Idaho Walmart, killed by her own toddler son who found her concealed gun in her purse? Clearly the bad guys she was worried about encountering at Walmart were less dangerous than her own gun.
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