Don’t Shoot the Sheepdogs

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On a Monday morning in late August, 2010, Carolyn Gruder had no idea how her job would change her life. She put on her uniform and went to work like normal, in the early days of the new school year. Gruder worked as a school resource officer at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, Tennessee.


Later that morning, an irate, armed gunman entered the school and pointed a 0.38 caliber pistol at Principal Melanie Riden in the entryway of the school. The school went on lock-down immediately.


Gruder drew her weapon and pushed the principal behind her to allow Riden to escape down the hall. Gruder then negotiated with the gunman until it became necessary to shoot him, which she and two police officers, who arrived later, did when threatened. He died at the hospital. No students witnessed the shooting. No students were harmed during the shooting.


Didn’t hear about that one? It’s because only the bad guy died due to the quick thinking and accurate shooting of Gruder.


Have you ever heard the name Neil Gardner?


Gardner was the off-duty sheriff’s deputy who was assigned to Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. That was the day all Coloradoans remember as the Columbine Shooting Day. Many left-leaning blogs like Slate, Huffington Post and DailyKos have recently brought up Gardner as an example of the failure of armed guards at schools, per the National Rifle Association’s suggestion to post more armed guards in schools.


Their opinion is based on the fact that Gardner was unsuccessful in “neutralizing” shooter Eric Harris when they exchanged fire, I suppose. However, I see it a little differently.


While Gardner and Harris were engaged in their gunfight, numerous students were able to escape the scene and therefore, were saved. I’m sure these students’ parents would say they were very happy with the fact that someone was on scene to distract one of the shooters even for a few seconds and take the risk of being shot in lieu of their children.


Right after the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, I was sent a blanket email blast from a friend, asking me to sign a petition to Congress and President Obama supporting gun control measures. I respectfully declined and here’s a portion of what I wrote to her, explaining why:


Every year, numerous incidents are prevented because of a lawful use of a gun. I’ve heard between 2.5 and 3 million. This means that every 12 seconds, someone is saved by a legally armed person. This statistic has stayed consistent for 25+ years.


In other words, if those people hadn’t had guns to protect others, upwards of 2.5 million people annually would not be with us. Of course we don’t hear these stories because no one is hurt. It’s not newsworthy.


Newtown, Connecticut, the Aurora Colorado theater shooting, Taft High School, Platte Canyon High School, etc all have something in common – the shootings happened in a “gun-free” zone. Unfortunately crazy people and bad guys don’t care about those rules.

The incident everyone conveniently forgets is the December 2007 shooting as Colorado Springs’ New Life Church, where Jeanne Assam, with her legally-carried gun, neutralized the shooter during a packed service. If she had not taken the shot (because she wasn’t allowed to carry a gun), how many dozens of people would have been killed by him? I go to a huge church and I’m very comforted that the security is armed and will take care of us if anything happens.


The vast majority of people who chose to carry guns legally are the sheepdogs of society. They have stepped up to take it upon themselves to protect the sheep of our country from the wolves who are the criminals. These people have chosen to make sure we stay safe in violent situations. If we take that fundamental right away from them, the wolves eat the sheep.


Here is the fact that totally changed my mind on guns (because I used to be vehemently anti-gun): Bad people do not care about gun control laws. They are going to get a gun no matter what. In fact, when we outlaw guns, we create a very lucrative and highly dangerous black market for guns that the criminals actually profit from. It’s much better for them for guns to be illegal. Much worse for general society.


States with stricter gun laws ALL have much higher incidents of violent crime. Why? Because in states where gun laws are less restrictive, such as Texas, it is much more likely there are people carrying guns for self-defense. The criminals know this and choose to go to places where their chances of getting shot are much lower. Chicago, a city with some of the strictest gun laws, surpassed 500 murders in 2012. Gun control is clearly not suppressing anything in that city.


Criminals will find ways to kill innocents no matter if there are guns or not – your own house is filled with weapons: kitchen knives, the iron, hammers, screwdrivers, ballpoint pens, knitting needles, golf clubs, baseball bats, even the rocks in your landscaping or someone’s bare hands. Criminals don’t need a gun to kill our families but we can definitely make them stop if they choose that path by defending ourselves with a gun.


Another thing that really changed my thought process was when it was explained to me that the mindset of that killer is to kill. He has already made that decision. You are not going to stop those events if you have nothing to stop them with.


If they are going to kill you anyway, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to make sure that does not happen? If your child was in that school in Newtown and you had the opportunity to kill that shooter, because he was pointing his gun at your child, wouldn’t you want the option to make sure your child stays alive and a sick, angry killer dies? Or would you say “so sorry, it’s illegal for me to have a gun, therefore, I can’t stop you,” and your child doesn’t come home that night? No way.

(Side note:  It’s also disingenuous to have this debate without discussing the effect of personality drugs and mental health evaluations for all of these shooters but that’s a different column).

That’s why I can’t support gun control. It makes society very dangerous to allow the criminals to take over and handcuff the heroes, sheepdogs and law-abiding citizens who want to protect our children.

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