Lee Wrights: No shots were fired

by R. Lee Wrights

Here’s a news story you’ll rarely read in your local newspaper:

YOUR HOMETOWN (Today) – A masked man armed with a rifle entered a local school today, but left quickly when one of the teachers produced a revolver and ordered him to leave.

No one was injured and no shots were fired in the incident. The gunman is still at large.

Most newspapers, radio and TV stations still operate on the hard-and-fast journalistic rule, “if it bleeds, it leads.” You really can’t blame the news media for this. Most people like stories about conflict and action. That’s why the sports pages are so well read, and we have cable channels dedicated to every competitive activity and sport conceivable — even golf.

But there are hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of incidents where a firearm was used by a private citizen to prevent a crime or defend against a crime which are never reported to the police and never covered by the news. In a white paper “Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens,” the Cato Institute looked at thousands of news reports over an eight year period. Their study found that the overwhelming number of self-defense cases involve situations where the gun is never fired.

These are some of the law-abiding gun owners who were able to save a life, or prevent a rape, burglary or other crime, and no shots were fired:

  • An 80-year-old pharmacist on duty in Missoula, Montana who confronted a masked man demanding painkillers. The pharmacist pulled out a pistol and told the criminal to leave. The masked man screamed and left the store.
  • An unidentified bystander who saved Gracie Watson when her estranged husband stabbed her repeatedly, doused her with gasoline, and threatened to set her ablaze on a public street in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • A Colorado woman who grabbed her .38-caliber revolver when she heard an intruder in her home and shouted, “Who’s there, I’ve got a gun.” The intruder fled, but tried the same thing at another house nearby — and was detained by another pistol-wielding homeowner.

Even the most vehement gun-control advocates admit Americans use guns for self-defense, the study notes. Yet no one really knows how often this occurs. Estimates of defensive gun use range from the tens of thousands to as high as two million each year. That high figure comes from a prominent study by Gary Kleck and Mare Getz conducted in the 1960s, which also concluded that in 91.7 percent of the incidents of defensive gun use the criminal attacker wasn’t killed or wounded.

This highlights the true intent and purpose for the Second Amendment which was written to protect the right to bear arms. Despite the rantings of gun-control advocates, the Second Amendment was never intended to justify the initiation of violence but to prevent violence. Guns don’t create crime, they stop crime. Guns don’t cause crime any more than pencils cause misspellings.

The Cato white paper also bears out this fact, concluding that when a gun owner uses a gun to stop a rapist or burglar “it is very likely that more than one crime has been prevented … because had the culprit not been stopped, he very likely would have targeted other people as well.” I have lived in both southern and northern neighborhoods throughout my life. All of them have been populated with gun owners and all of them have been the most peaceful places to live. There never was a need for gunplay in any of them. All those guns, yet no shots were fired. We were safe.

In my own life, I learned at a very early age that self-defense was the most basic instinct instilled in a human being. I also learned that self-defense cannot be trusted to the hands of others, especially to those in alleged positions of authority, who were never around when I really needed them. Police rarely prevent crime; they just show up after a crime has already been committed and pick up the pieces. We are not safe.

Gun control advocates claim that gun laws are for “our own good,” to prevent crime and accidents. Yet they frequently and conveniently ignore reality. The first reality is that criminals, by definition, don’t obey the law. A second and more fatal reality of gun control laws is that they are often deadly for the most vulnerable in society – the poor, minorities, women and children. Most crime occurs in poor neighborhoods were residents are largely ignored by those sworn to serve and protect them. Making it harder for authorities to detect and harder for a las vegas criminal defense lawyer to get involved with If there’s any doubt that private gun ownership deters crime, drive through any neighbourhood and count the number of “This Home is A Gun Free Zone” signs.

R. Lee Wrights is an editor, writer and political activist living in Texas. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party national committee. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Contact Lee at rleewrights@gmail.com.

14 thoughts on “Lee Wrights: No shots were fired

  1. Oranje Mike

    Good article and thanks for linking up the Cato report. It is something I will have to read. When dealing with gun control advocates I used the old, but never tired, “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away” argument.

  2. Jeremy C. Young

    Has it occurred to Lee that if guns weren’t legal in this country, the “gunman” probably wouldn’t have had a gun at all and there would have been no incident?

  3. Jill Pyeatt

    JCY @ 5: I don’t consider that argument as being a realistic possibilty. If guns were illegal, criminals would still get them somewhere, just as now people get drugs even if they’re illegal. It’s just the way people are.

  4. Joe Buchman

    Has it occurred to Jeremy that we have LOTS of things all over the world that their nations have made “illegal” and yet there are still plenty of them?

    Here in the USA we, based on results, can’t even keep them out of our prisons.

    And has it occurred that even if guns were illegal, the cops would still have them. We would then need to make it illegal for a cop to be a criminal, but do you really think passing that law would instantly make very cop a good cop?

  5. Be Rational

    @5 This wouldn’t occur to Lee because it isn’t true at all.

    Guns are made by people.

    With a few skills and tools you can make them in your basement.

    Even if every nation on Earth outlawed guns, criminals would still have them.

  6. Jeremy C. Young

    The reason (well, a reason) drugs should be legalized is that it’s been proven that people will buy them even if they’re illegal. I’d like some proof of that for guns, beyond vague mutterings about “human nature,” before I’m willing to say that one of the top 15-20 causes of death in the United States should just be left alone to keep killing. There are lots of things that are illegal that people don’t buy in large quantities — from synthetic drugs like LSD and mescaline to things like black-market adoptions. I’d like some evidence that guns go in the category with marijuana, rather than the category with mescaline, before I’d be willing to support the 2nd Amendment.

  7. langa


    Has it ever occurred to you that if every room of every home were equipped with surveillance cameras, there would probably be a lot less domestic violence, child abuse, etc.? Or if cars were banned, there would be a lot fewer auto accidents?

    Safety is not a justification for tyranny.

  8. JohnBalzer

    Lee Wrights is an honest and forward thinking American. He knows that Gary Johnson is the best shot Libertarians have ever had and he is smart enough to have thrown him support as now is the time for all Libertarians to unite and keep the voice of liberty alive in America.

  9. Jeremy C. Young

    Langa @10, true. But as a proud statist, I have different criteria for what I consider tyranny than you do.

  10. DSZ

    60 minutes once did a good story (albeit not really related to gun control) that caught on camera about 5-10 people in Chicago buying guns illegally demonstrating a larger problem that city has with its black market and criminal underworld. Why would a criminal buy a legal, traceable gun? How would gun control change this? Also, why is the burden of proof on the individual to justify his/her rights? The onus is on gun control advocates to produce empirical evidence of the effectiveness of their policies, and they haven’t because there is none. As Ben Stein recently point out, Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, and Chicago all have strict gun laws, but high per capita gun violence, whereas in his native Idaho the converse is true. Kennesaw, Georgia, mandated a few years ago that every household own a gun (not that I agree with that policy unless gov’t is going to buy one for you), and crime rates plunged the following year.

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