The Argus Leader has an article today about the debate over the mandated defenselessness inherent to "gun-free zones," versus permitting peaceable citizens to provide for their own defense, by not insisting they be without a defensive firearm. This debate, of course, is receiving renewed attention in recent days, in the aftermath of Jeanne Assam's courageous stand against an enraged lunatic--a stand that almost certainly saved countless lives. Ms. Assam, a private citizen who is licensed in the state of Colorado to carry a concealed firearm, is a parishioner at the New Life Church in Colorado where the attack took place, and had volunteered to help provide security. This, clearly, is extremely fortuitous (except for the killer, whose rampage was cut short).
The article did not, unfortunately, point out the contrast between the attack on New Life Church, and the much bloodier one, just days earlier, at the Westroads Mall, in Omaha, Nebraska. This mall had a "No Guns" policy--a policy that carried the force of law. Could an armed citizen have stopped that killer before the death toll had grown so horrifically high? We will never know. What we do know is that the killer's intended victims would at least have had a chance--a chance that was instead denied them by mall policy.
Some gun rights advocacy groups have been quick to notice--and to point out--the value of honoring citizens' right to self-defense.
"Normally when there is a shooting of this nature somebody isn't there armed to shoot back. There are all kinds of calls for gun control. Here, because somebody was able to shoot back, our opponents are silent," Alan Gottlieb says. He founded the Second Amendment Federation in Bellevue, Wash., and helped write "America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age."Notice that I say some gun rights advocacy groups want to enter a serious, national discussion regarding the lethal policies of victim disarmament seen in so many places across the country--the main point of this blog post is that not all of them seem to agree.
He awarded Assam the SAF's third Eleanor Roosevelt Award, named after the former first lady who, Gottlieb said, regularly carried a revolver for personal protection. Gottlieb says "most people have firearms to protect themselves. They will not risk their life to protect anybody else." Assam "is a very courageous woman. She's at the top of the pyramid."
The National Rifle Association is walking a carefully even line on Assam.And why not "politicize this now," Rachel--the other side certainly is (and here, and here, etc.). Then again, considering who it is who issues your marching orders, I suppose I should not be surprised.
"Every time there is a tragedy like this everyone wants to talk about new laws that can protect people better," says NRA spokeswoman Rachel Parsons.
"What we really need to focus on is that gun control is not the answer. ... Controlling the criminal is the answer to this.
"You have to commend the lady. She did an honorable thing, a brave thing. But politicizing this now is not what we need to do."
It would seem that Mr. Codrea's question--"Is it time yet?"--has been answered. The answer is "no."