This Op-Ed was submitted to the Kingsport Times news by Nikki Goeser in response to an editorial by Debbie Arrington and a blog by a “concerned citizen of Kingsport.” It specifically address The Safe Commute Bill being considered in Tennessee. It also highlights the fallacy of gun-free zones.
Nikki’s husband was gunned down in front of her in 2009 by a stalker obsessed with her. Though a “right to carry” permit holder in Tennessee, state law prohibited her from carrying in the establishment where she and her husband worked, rendering them defenseless. Nikki is the 2012 recipient of the NRA’s Sybil Ludington Women’s Freedom Award and Ohioan’s for Concealed Carry’s Tony Gordon Memorial Award for her efforts in educating citizens on the importance of the Second Amendment.
After reading Debbie Arrington’s piece on “Ramsey’s claim about ‘zero problem’ with permit holders dead wrong,” I thought I should give my perspective as a victim of a violent crime on her article and on gun control.
The 13 cases from over a six year period given by Ms.Arrington based on the Violence Policy Center’s claim of permit holders ‘gone wild,’ misrepresents the majority of good citizens in Tennessee that have handgun carry permits. The 13 examples come on the Violence Policy Center’s reading of news reports, but most of these cases involve arrests. Yet, there is a problem with that. When people use a gun in public, even if it turns out to have involved legitimate self-defense, they will be arrested. To count all those as bad cases is worse than extremely misleading, since many of those cases will turn out to be precise examples where we wanted permit holders to have guns.
Take Arrington’s example from Ashland City, where a permit holder shot a man during an argument in a shopping center parking lot. The man shot was able to wrestle the gun away from the permit holder and kill him with his own gun. Yet, Arrington leaves out a very important point: it was the non-permit holder, Ryan Dickens, who the permit holder shot, who was charged with the crime. If the permit holder had been behaving irresponsibly, as Arrington would like the readers to believe, police would have said that Dickens was behaving in self-defense.
There is further bias with these cases. If someone gets arrested, there will be a news story. But if the charges are dropped, it is unlikely that there will be another news story. Even the cases that the DA offices go ahead with prosecuting, they usually have a low conviction rate, much lower than their typical conviction rate. This is another reason not to rely on arrests but rather convictions.
The fact remains that less than 1% of handgun carry permit holders do anything criminal with a gun. There are over 376,000 permit holders currently in Tennessee according to the Department of Safety. I can’t think of any segment of society that is more law abiding.
Having lived the nightmare of being stalked, I can tell you that there is a legitimate need for citizens to be able to provide for their own self defense. When seconds count, the police are minutes away. I’ve been there and know this. Businesses that ban law abiding citizens with a permit from having the gun locked in their vehicle, disarm that person all day long. They will not have the gun with them going to and from work and everywhere they stop in between, which creates easy prey for any kind of predator whether it be a stalker, rapist, car-jacker, robber etc..
Let’s face it, there are evil people that walk amongst us everyday. I wish we lived in a Utopia where everyone followed the Golden Rule, but that unfortunately is not reality. Our founding fathers knew that we as a citizenry in America needed to be able to protect ourselves from enemies foreign and domestic. Please don’t ever hand over your rights because of the actions of a few who used God’s gift of free will for evil.
Losing my husband at the hands of a man carrying a gun illegally has been tough. But never once did I blame the gun. I blame the murderer and those who legislated me out of my right to defend my husband. I hope our Legislators will pass the Safe Commute Bill. I’m sorry but the right for me to defend my life is more important than someone’s right to own land.