During my recent trip to Delray Beach I schmoozed with a sunstroke of New Yorkers and New Jerseyites. The conversation inevitably turned to careers and thus, guns. Every mid-Atlantic merrymaker I met said they didn’t keep a gun at home. All of them had a story about someone who needed a home defense gun—and didn’t have one. “One of my neighbors woke-up with someone pointing a shotgun at them,” a woman of a certain age recounted. “He knocked the gun away and wrestled the guy to the floor. The guy stabbed him [the neighbor] in the arm and got away.” Which left me wondering: how many degrees of separation are there between any given non-gun owner and someone who needed a gun but didn’t have one? How close does violent crime have to get before a non-gun owner decides its time to tool-up?

45 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Know Anyone Who Needed A Gun—And Didn’t Have One?

  1. Me. San Francisco, May 26, 2009, 1:30 pm, 6’5″ 260-pounds of muscle-bound lunatic with a 2×4. He was Casey-at-the-bat, I was the ball. He was crazy, I was 5 feet away.

    I desperately needed a gun, and I didn’t have one.

    For those following the story, Sheriff Wife Beater remains in office, continues the policy of never issuing CCWs, and specifically refuses to meet with me to explain himself.

    Nuts to that.

  2. That would be me… sort of. I was living alone in an apartment. The design of the apartment was such that the door was on the ground floor, as was the garage. But, immediately upon entering, a stairway led to the apartment on the 2nd floor. My bedroom was over the garage.

    One night at 4:00 am, somehow my internal radar was still turned on. I woke up and bolted upright into a sitting position upon hearing my apartment door open. Someone just came into my apartment! Nobody else has a key. I know I locked it.

    I could hear my heart pounding. I could feel the hair on my neck literally stand on end. I grabbed the nearest thing I could improvise into a weapon – a screwdriver on my desk. I slowly stepped out into the hallway, and then I heard the door close, the bolt lock, and a key removed. Holy crap! Whoever that was… had a key! But, he had left.

    I ran back into my room to look out the window, so I could observe who it was. I saw a golf cart leaving. Aha! Apartment maintenance dude! I slipped on some shorts, a shirt, and some shoes very quickly. Then I left my apartment to go on the hunt.

    To say I was pissed is a tremendous understatement. I found the golf cart and then the elderly maintenance man came out of an apartment as I arrived. I was ready to tear him a new one. I got very much in his face and interrogated him as to why he came into my apartment and why he had a key. He was very flustered and stammered out that he realized he was in the wrong place as soon as he walked in. “Damn right you were in the wrong place you *************** (bleep!). You’re lucky to be alive, because I would have killed you!” Mind you…. youth (I was about 29 y.o.) and major adrenaline dump. He apologized profusely and I went home still shaking.

    At 6 am, the apartment complex manager called me. She had already been told what happened by the maintenance guy. I explained to her that she and the complex could have a major legal issue (not to mention a dead employee) on their hands. There was no reason for him to be in my apartment. And, at 4:00 am, I can ONLY assume anyone coming into my apartment is a bad guy. She said the old guy was preparing apartments for new tenants, and he likes to get an early start. I reminded her he might meet an “early end,” if he goes into the wrong apartment again.

    As a result of that incident, the apartment complex changed their policies for maintenance. No more master keys. Apartment-specific keys would have to be checked out during regular business hours.

    While it turned out to be (presumably) an innocent encounter in the wee hours of the night for this then single guy living alone… It illustrated to me that I was extremely vulnerable. I had NOTHING (in the way of traditional weapons) to defend myself. The potential bad guy was already IN my apartment. Calling 911 would have just directed law enforcement where to find the forensic evidence. I spoke with my dad about the incident, and he offered to buy me a gun (I didn’t have much money then). So, I got my first pistol – a Glock 19. That was about 20 years ago, and I still have the G19 along with a “few more” guns.

    I didn’t “need” a gun on that night. But, I was quite literally “rudely awakened” to the reality that I might some day. And, as they say, “I’d rather have one and not need it, than not have one and need it.”

    It also illustrated to me how our most primitive instincts still serve us in the modern day. I can sleep through a lot of stuff. But, that night, for some reason, the mere turning of a deadbolt and opening of a door around the corner and down a flight of stairs from my bedroom woke me up from a cold sleep. My brain / “radar” recognized a possible threat and woke me up. It was a helluva way to wake up, I tell ya!

  3. One of my daughters was a grad student out-of-state, and the victim of domestic violence. She got a restraining order (order of protection) against her ex-boyfriend, who was also required by the judge to attend “classes” to control his emotions and anger (which he never did).

    About a week after getting the protective order against him, she called me from her car, crying over the phone; he was stalking her, and was now following her home from school, yelling at her out of his car window.

    I told her to hang up and dial 911, and tell dispatch that she had an order of protection against him, but he was following her. She did not want to call 911, but spoke to me, several hundred miles away, and otherwise helpless to assist her. While she was on my cell phone, I found the desk sergeant phone number from her local police station, and called it on my office phone, while I had her on the cell phone. We carried on a 3-way conversation.

    I directed her to pull into the police station parking lot as she approached it, which she did, and then told her to run to the front door. Her ex followed her in, and violently assaulted her IN THE POLICE STATION. He was immediately restrained, and arrested. At trial he received 90 days in jail, and a year’s probation, and her protective order was made permanent (actually expired after 2 years).

    Although she did not have a pistol at that time, she was an experienced shot as she shot competitively with one of my S&W .38’s, and did very well.

    Once she got over the emotional roller coaster of the assaults, she vowed “never again” as she feared the sense of being helpless.

    She quickly applied for and qualified for a CHL, originally carrying my old AMT .380 backup, which we practiced with. Now, a few years after the incident, she has a sub-compact 9mm (Ruger LC9), and is in the market for a Ruger SR40C Stainless. Her husband, from a gun-unfriendly environment, is not comfortable with her having a gun on her or even in the house, especially with a young daughter.

    • Her husband, from a gun-unfriendly environment, is not comfortable with her having a gun on her or even in the house, especially with a young daughter.

      If I was you, I would come down like a wall of bricks on sonny in law. I am an OFWG with adult daughters, so I know the feeling.

      • On my last visit, I took him to the range, at HIS request. I explained proper safety to him before I even let him touch the 9mm that I brought for him to use. I gave him a good set of muffs for hearing protection, and a good set of shooting glasses for eye safety.

        I demonstrated handgun safety to him, and showed him how to safely hold and sight the EMPTY pistol. I fired a magazine of WWB 115gr FMJ as a demonstration, and handed him a full magazine. He hesitated for about 2 minutes to insert the magazine, and he told me to do it. I set the safety, and with the muzzle pointed downrange, handed the 9mm to him, and he refused to touch it. He said that he had to think about it for a few minutes.

        After the pause, he finally had the courage to fire a few shots downrange, actually getting some hits on a silhouette target at 10 yards. Before emptying the magazine, he engaged the safety, and with the muzzle properly pointed downrange, he handed the pistol back to me and said that he has had enough.

        We are going again to see my grand-daughter in a few weeks, and my daughter wants me to go with her to buy a new pistol, hoping to get a Ruger SR40C, or another compact .40 to carry concealed (she has a CHL). She grew up in a “gun” house and is comfortable around guns, even to the point of being a competitive pistol shooter when in high school and college. She wants us ALL to go to her local range for a family day out. Her husband, my son-in-law, is not so sure that he wants to go.

        I wonder how he will feel when he finds out that I have a Chipmunk .22 rifle for my young grand-daughter, to be given to her at the range!

    • Is it weird that i focused mainly on the 90 days in jail? ONLY 3 month for (already violent behavior and a restraining) to follow a woman in her car, chase her into the police station and assault her IN THE POLICE STATION!!!!

  4. I PCS’ed to a new base, and received an invite from the other Airmen on post to go out my first weekend there. As the night went on my party went from place to place, each successive house party more sketchy than the previous. 3am that morning Im at a trailer when the evening is broken by a woman walking in bleeding from the nose.

    Chalking the matter up to an inconvenient nosebleed, I get back to talking with my acquaintances when someone walks in ranting about some Mexican outside with a .38 revolver talking about killing everyone in the trailer. After that I somehow wound up behind the screen door outside ,clutching one scared female Airman in my arms as I contemplated how to stop a gun toting moron from shooting us both dead.

    911? It was a cosmic joke. We were so far away from civilization the cops could jump into a Blackhawk chopper and still took over 15 minutes to get there.

    Medical attention? Not an option for the same reason, unless the hospital had one of those X-men patterned SR71s with hover capability.

    After making a hasty escape I thought to myself had the scumbag come around the corner Id be dead on the spot. No more trailer parties, and no more being unarmed in public. In one’s darkest hour the police, mayor, Feds , and SWAT unit will not be there to save you.

  5. Following for interest. I have never personally known someone who needed a gun but didn’t have one.

    Do I live in dream land, or is my experience more typical?

    • I live in northern Utah, surrounded by mormons and overzealous cops. I know four people who have come to me asking for my opinions on carry weapons and how to carry, since I’m apparently the “gun guy”. Three of those four are women who won’t say why they have the sudden interest. The most recent one, one of my sisters, has to fight sudden tears whenever anyone asks about her new sense of extreme insecurity around strangers.

      Chances are you know a few people who’ve needed a gun they didn’t have, they just haven’t seen a reason to tell you the story yet.

  6. Yours truly. NYer here. In “Safe Suburbia” I was shadowed by someone along the trails of a long and narrow park. (This was well before I acquired my first firearm). The guy had a vacant look on his face, like he was high or drunk or something, but he was definitely following me specifically.
    I eventually “lost” him until I see him emerge from the woods, walk a straight line that took him a few feet from my car, and then keep on going.
    It occurred to me during this whole time that if he closed in on me with a knife or rock or just his fists, I’d be fighting for my life, and quite possibly losing (I’m not a big guy and not at all educated in the fighting arts). I really, really wished I had a gun with me, but even then it would have remained holstered or discreetly tucked into a pocket unless he did actually close in on me and initiate an assault.

    I recently had an operation, and kept my Glock handy for the first two nights of my recovery, because I felt so enfeebled by the lingering anesthesia effects. It was *enormously* comforting to have it nearby.

  7. This is an absolutely true story from Ft. Worth TX: 2 days ago, my 55yr old mother, who works from home and lives alone, was well…working at home. Sometime during the daytime hours, she suddenly heard VERY loud pounding on her front door, followed immediately by incessant doorbell ringing for 5 minutes. This was a bad guy looking for unoccupied homes to burglarize, as is becoming common nationwide. She peeked through the peephole and realized she recognized this man from 2 weeks earlier, who had pulled the same damn thing then! He was motioning to his accomplice in a car parked on the street to “come on”. She was understandably quite scared, and luckily has a home alarm system so she hit the immediate ARM button, grabbed the phone and an old baseball bat, and ran to an adjacent room while dialing 911. As she was peeking through one of the front bedroom windows, the man moved from the door to peek through the same window. When he did, he saw her there, and luckily freaked the f*** out, tripping over himself while running away. The cops arrived within a minute later (no more than 5 minutes total she told me, which I thought was just plain amazing; much better than where I live and I know from experience) and searched the neighborhood but apparently did not find these BGs. A year ago her home was burglarized successfully while she was away, so this really upset her. The point is, she REALLY needed a gun and didn’t have one. Luckily, she has woken up to the unfortunate realities of modern America and went to the range today to try out a few guns. She has never really fired a gun before, so this is new and slightly intimidating to her. I’m thankful that on her first try, she found a competent instructor that was more than happy to help walk her through basic safety, cleaning, shooting on a running course to get her heart rate up, shooting in the dark etc. Apparently she shot a 9mm Springfield XD at 6yds and had a grouping within 2 inches, with 3 shots passing through the same hole! I’m very proud of her for taking the necessary steps to learn the ropes and become yet another proud gun owner in the Great State of Texas. But she definitely needed a gun and didn’t have it when it mattered. “Never again” she told me. 🙂

  8. I’m not sure if this qualifies, but I’m giving it a shot:

    I was coming back from a night ski trip when on the side of the freeway crossing the mountains there was a car with some people waving lights at me. Mind you, it was past 11pm, on the top of the mountains in the middle of nowhere.
    Without any consideration for my safety I pulled over to see if I could help… A few seconds later I realized that if the people in the stranded vehicle had less than honorable intentions, I was a sitting duck which at least volunteered to donate the car (best case scenario for a bad encounter). It turned out to be just a flat tire, but it was a good wake-up call for me.
    So, I’m not carrying a gun because I’m afraid that somebody may be coming after me, but for the added peace of mind that allows me to not let fear stand in the way of a good deed.

  9. Do You Know Anyone Who Needed A Gun—And Didn’t Have One?

    Yeah. Me. Twice. That sh!t will never happen again.

  10. I’m originally from Brazil and we still have family down there. A few years ago, the brother of my cousin’s boyfriend at the time was murdered in a carjacking. I’m sketchy on the details, but I think they got the drop on him, so he might not have been able to do anything, with or without a gun. But maybe a gun would have given him a chance.

  11. bank robbery in provo, UT. I was makiny a deposit atthe first teller. Nobody died, but a policeman was shot. Thats when I got my ccw. 6 years later I moved to Los Angeles. Funny how that changes everything.

  12. Robert, Your criteria for who needed a gun and didn’t have one is too loose. Those people would all have to be dead or seriously damaged. When you limit your search to those who REALLY needed a gun, you’ll see it doesn’t even compare to the accidents.

    • I guess I don’t see the point of this post. And stats have already proved that guns are used successfully for self defense many more times than they are for murder or accidents.

      • I guess in Mike’s world you’re not justified in using a gun unless the guy is actively succeeding in killing you. And then only maybe. On alternate Tuesdays. If you’re not a “hidden criminal”.

    • I would beg to differ from seeing victims from armed robbery calls. I used to get those nearly every night where victims were unarmed and someone or a group of people would either brandish a firearm or knife and demand money. On occasion, the victim(s) would get beaten, stabbed, shot, or killed.

      Let me reiterate that this was a NIGHTLY OCCURRENCE. This would sometimes happen two or three times per night. Only twice do I remember the victim using a firearm to defend themselves. Once the victim used a baseball bat but was badly injured during the robbery (home invasion).

      My point is that even in the “South,” where firearms are prevalent, one can witness firsthand just how a firearm may have prevented a life altering physical injury or life itself.

      So MikeB, where are these stats you speak of? Who do you think REALLY needs a gun? Because I think everyone who can legally own one should be allowed to carry one. That is where we differ.

      • We sure do differ, and not only you and me, but you and most normal people too.

        You see, as much as you like to deny it, most people don’t agree with that, even most gun owners.

        • Care to back up those assertions? Preferably with something peer-reviewed, please. And don’t give us the old “I’ve posted proof many times” line. Just copy and paste the link(s) if that’s the case.

        • The links he cites to always end up being bullshit since they don’t:

          1. Cite their own sources
          2. Cite accepted methods and analysis

        • Define normal. This is something I’ve experienced. We were told to cook the stats since the FBI tracks them through our reports.

          So instead of making crap up, why don’t you answer the questions I’ve posed?

          Have you witnessed any of this? Have you done anything other than spread lies, rumors, and bullshit stats? I await your response.

        • “lies, rumors and bullshit stats” huh?

          You mean like when I say that closing the private sale loophole would prevent some bad guys from getting guns as easily as they do now? Or is it when I say that registering guns to licensed owners and then following up with a renewal of the registration after three months would eliminate straw purchasing?

          Bucause I provide no links or proof for those two statements, they’re what, “lies” or “rumors,” maybe?

          Why don’t you use your head for a minute and try to be a tiny bit honest. It won’t hurt you to admit that I’m right about this.

        • Actually I still don’t buy it. Most of these guns recovered at crime scenes are stolen. You can make all the restrictive laws you want about locking this or that up, but I’ve seen stolen vehicles used as a way into shops. Sure criminals could privately purchase firearms, but more often than not they are stolen. Of these stolen firearms, most of them also have the serial numbers ground down.

          You actually did mention in a previous discussion that you would link to some “research” as you put it. The only thing you linked to was a Harvard professor working for an anti gun group. That’s like me advocating safe cigarettes and getting numbers from the tobacco industry. Not only that, there was ZERO documentation on how he arrived at the numbers other than a big mess of different sources with no distinction of how they were put together.

          Using my head and thinking through common sense means thinking through REAL WORLD experiences I have personally experienced and not “someone who knows better for my own good” theorizes. Your gun control schemes have failed time and again throughout history. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

        • Moonshine, there may have been studies that show that, in fact I may have even posted about them in the past, but I don’t remember. And I’m not digging for them. I put it to you, other than your fellow gun-rights fellows, among your family and acquaintances, don’t you find it like I said? Most people, even most gun owners are not into this stuff like you guys are. Most people don’t give a shit. Isn’t that one of the purposes of this blog and others like it, to raise awareness? That’s because it’s greatly needed.

        • Again, the mysterious “many studies.” You’ve sourced exactly ONE. Also, what are we “actually into?” You’ve never framed a definition for anything and just loosely wrap it around any and everything.

          I guess so many people don’t give a shit that as soon as someone with an anti-2a history comes up to the oval office, there is a historical increase in firearms sales.

          We will probably all agree that this blog is to raise awareness firearms related issues such as safety; but this blog represents all firearms related topics.

    • Mikey, you’re on the same team as Sheriff Wife Beater here in San Francisco. Because of people like you, I faced a huge, deranged man, unexpectedly and with no patio indication that anything would happen. He was just a homeless lump, one of the countless lumps in SF citizens walk past thousands of times each day. It was a bright, sunny afternoon in a perfectly “safe” neighborhood. Nothing signaled an attack, and the loon never said a word. Not once. Not after he swung and hit my back, not as he chased me, not as he prowled at the perimeter of the open loading dock I ran into, yelling for the police. Not. One. Word.

      He was crazy. I felt no anger toward that man. I still don’t. But I do despise Sheriff Hennesy (at the time) and Sheriff Wife Beater today for denying me a basic, God-given Civil Right.

      And I also despise Asst. District Attorney Dennis Morris who chose to charge this loon with a misdemeanor–effectively a jaywalking ticket for nearly ending my life, or paralyzingly me.

      It takes substantial will on my part, when I think about it, to not despise you and people like you, Mikey. But I don’t. If I did, I’d be continuously angry, living in liberal, as I do. And that’s no way to live.

      I didn’t die, obviously, nor was I paralyzed, Mikey. No thanks to you and your ilk.

      • Kirk, Your harrowing story has no more weight in this argument than any one of the thousands of stories I’ve posted about in which a gun was misused. Yet, you seem to think it does and you get all personal about it.

        I guess I do the same thing, come to think of it. It’s thanks to you and your “ilk” as you said, I guess that’s the new buzzword now that you guys have finally gotten off “draconian,” that we have so much gun availability to unfit and dangerous people.

        • Mikey all you do is throw around emotion not fact. The only dangerous one who probably doesn’t need to own a gun here is you.

          You keep claiming you have all this research and data and all you link to is ONE uncited and discredited book with an obvious ax to grind. We are citing numbers taken from CDC, DOJ, and other governmental sources. We aren’t citing from NRA pamphlets. How about you actually put out some of these Earth-shattering research numbers?

          Now you are out to bother people about their choice of adjectives and nouns. Seriously quit trolling and do what you said you were going to do.

        • I don’t remember saying I’d do anything. But the fact is I have presented the kinds of “proof” you’re talking about. Usually however, I use my head and common sense and challenge you to do the same. Stats and surveys can be found to support both sides of the argument.

          I don’t claim I “have all this research and data.” As you keep pointing out, I avoid that.

        • You have linked to ONE book with cooked stats. How hard is it to put up a link? Seriously. You keep saying you have shown all this in a nutshell yet you’ve never linked more than once (that I have seen). That link was from some youth violence thing in Harvard.

          Other than “common sense” and unsupported research, what do you really have MikeB?

  13. Well, a guy I used to work with and represented our company on the West Coast was killed by a punk at a gas-convenience store in the LA area for a gang initiation rite.
    I can think of a couple times I wished I had a gun on me at the former South Town Mall in Fort Wayne with color gangs in the parking lot making eyes and comments about family and I one night. I pretended I did have a gun and got everyone in the car quick.

  14. The only story I have on needing a gun: “Old man, well early 50s in New Orleans for a convention. Walking back to the hotel after a long night of drinking in the Quarter.” Young kid steps out of alley, demanding money and waving a .38. Guy said go to hell, youth shot him, through and through. Old guy takes gun and beats the kids face in with it. Old guy had through and though his rather ample belly, youth ended up in ICU because his entire face was caved in.

    • I think the young kid needed a second gun. Just kidding.

      I’m only sorry the kid survived. He attempted to kill a complete stranger for a few dollars. Animals like that do not deserve to live, and the sooner we eliminate them the better. I hope the kid spent the rest of his short life on death row.

      • are you sure? the liberals i spoke to said he can be rehabilitated and what was the older genterman doing holding a gun after he drank? lucky he didnt kill anyone and besides, hes was only a kid. And why risk your life or the “troubled” youths life for a couple a bucks, just give em what they want. Hell, the old man should have bought him dinner for being so generous

  15. When I was 15 I was at home skipping school, just wasting time on the computer when I heard the door bell ring 3 times. I didn’t bother answering & all of a sudden I heard a loud thump, then a loud crack followed by the voices of 2 guys rushing into my home. It’s not a big home and the only exit was the door that the 2 guys had just kicked in. I scrambled to my room & grabbed a large knife, I tried making an escape out the bedroom window but my bed blocked too much of the window for me to fit through. All I could do was wait by my bedroom door & hope I didn’t have to go stab crazy (& likely get destroyed in the process).

    Maybe the noise of me scrambling 10 feet from the computer to my bedroom door alerted the would be burglars to someones presence so they decided to leave or they didn’t immediately see anything of value they could just grab & run away with. After about 5 minutes of not hearing anything I crept out of my room, grabbed the phone & called 911.

    The thieves broke into 18 other homes before they got to mine & I was the first to call 911. The thieves were caught with the help of dogs & fortunately got decent sentences.

    Every once it a while I wonder what would have happened if I had answered the door when the thieves came ringing. Would they have made something up & left or would they have plowed right through me & rushed into my home?

  16. A friend of mine was working delivering pizza as a second job in Fitchburg. Walked up to one door and a kid came up behind and and shoved something in his back and demanded his wallet. For some unknown reason, my friend told the kid to F off and turned around. The kid had a cell phone, not a gun, and ran away. My friend applied for his permit the next day and has been carrying since.

    • Does that really make sense to you, VV? And you accuse our side of being afraid of inanimate objects.

      “OMG, the kid could have had a gun.”

      Your genius friend, just like most of you, will never need to use his gun. But the likelihood that he’ll “forget there’s one in the chamber” someday, or that he’ll blow his top and misuse the gun, or that it will get stolen by a bad guy are all more likely than that it will save him someday.

      • Mike, since apparently you can successfully foresee the future, evident by you knowing that he will never need to use the gun, would you please tell me the MegaMillions winning numbers?

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