Thursday, April 12, 2007

"What Would I Have Done if I Hadn't Had That Gun?"

After ABC's 20/20 announced that they were looking for stories of self defense involving firearms, I was floored. For years now, I've been posting civilian gun defense stories to Free Republic. After sending stories to the Civilian Gun Defense Blog for more than a year, I was invited to join the staff of the blog and help find and post stories. So this was right up my alley.

One problem; ABC is looking for personal stories. I don't have any personal stories. They are all stories of someone else. Solution? Call the someone elses and tell them 20/20 is looking for them.

So it was that I searched for stories of local interest, and used the online White Pages to locate phone numbers of people mentioned in news articles.

That's how I wound up talking with Holton Smith, age 86, a WWII veteran. (His story is here.) It's a little awkward when you're a stranger calling someone up to tell them 20/20 may want to use your story. I think it took a few minutes for him to decide I was on his side; he was more inclined to relate some war experiences. But he described the day when he awoke to find two thugs breaking into his house. At first, he thought it was some rude person, banging the door and ringing the bell at the same time. Then he thought it could be a medical emergancy.

When the invaders broke in, Smith grabbed a .38 special out of a drawer. The weapon was still in its holster, but he leveled it at the intruder, who rapidly turned and ran. At first, Smith thought the gun was not visible, so he pulled it out and fired two warning shots. He later examined the gun in the holster and found the barrel stuck out enough to be visible.

Smith doesn't want to be cast as a hero. Initially, he declined my offer to send his story to 20/20. I explained that his story may help correct some misperceptions about firearms. He agreed that there was too much of an effort to take gun rights away. “People that is anti-gun, I’d like to ask them, what would I have done if I hadn’t had that gun?” Smith asked. "What would have happened to me if there was no help nearby, no neighbors nearby, what would he have done if I hadn’t had the gun? The answer is, maybe he wouldn’t have run away, maybe he would. Maybe he was the type not to leave witnesses."

“I strictly believe that people should have the right to protect themselves,” Smith explained. At age 86, he added a concealed carry permit to his pilot's license.

“The police told me that day that it would change me, and it did.”

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