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In case you’ve forgotten already, Wednesday was February 29th. That once-a-quadrennial day is sort of like a bonus. A freebie. Like a three paycheck month. A day to do something you normally wouldn’t just because you can. Of course, some people’s leap day plans aren’t as lofty as they might be. Justin Anthony Stephens, who had no criminal history, figured his extra day would be well spent invading someone’s home with a friend and doing God only knows what while he’s inside. Unfortunately for him, his plans were spoiled and now we know exactly what he’ll be doing on February 29, 2016. And every leap day thereafter . . . has the story:

Stephens and an unidentified accomplice knocked on the door of Bruce Barrett’s Petersburg Square apartment at about 7:30 p.m., sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said. When Barrett cracked the door, the two men dressed in black wearing bandanas over their faces forced their way inside and struggled with Barrett and his 15-year-old son.

“The 15-year-old broke free, retrieved his father’s .22-caliber rifle and fired at least two shots,” Morris said, adding that Stephens was shot in the back.

Stephens was found on the ground just outside the apartment, Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Morris said Stephens doesn’t have a Columbia County criminal history.

Young Master Barrett hit Stephens twice and will face no charges as the shooting’s been ruled a justifiable homicide. The second home invader beat feet and hasn’t been caught yet.

Two shots from a lowly .22. No blast from a Benelli or bullets from a Bushmaster. All it took for the kid to defend himself and his parents was a couple of rounds from what most people think of as a plinker. Go figure.

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  1. Count me in the crowd that would rather not get shot by anything including a .22LR.

    A gun that can be put to use is better than one you can’t any day.

  2. The only weapon that counts when the flag flies is mindset.Training, caliber, practice, and equipment are useless without that critical weapon of the mind.

    As to the ‘caliber’ debate, let it be stated that even fission bombs do not possess 100% kill effectiveness.It would be foolish to expect small arms of any caliber to have the same probability.

  3. After watching a few seasons of “The First 48”, I quite respect the effectiveness of both .22LR and .380 ACP.

      • The First 48 is a difficult series to watch, as many victims on that somber series would be alive today if they had been carrying themselves.

    • To be fair, if I was just shot while robbing someone or burglarizing a house, I’d probably hold off on going to the hospital until I knew I needed to. Also, most of the shootings on that show take place in bad neighborhoods with slow emergency repsonse times.

  4. I’ve recently ‘re-discovered’ the .22 LR in terms of practice and affordability. This singular account is great to hear as a legitimate DGU. Certainly a .22 LR is better than nothing, and I’m going to do my best to teach my wife how to shoot the same caliber due to the low recoil and muzzle blast.

    It’s not the end of the caliber debate in my book by any stretch, because every other major caliber has more stopping power and energy. That’s the great thing about freedom – you can use what you want.

    • +1
      I “re-discovered” the .22LR this Christmas. My wife gave me a Sig Sauer 1911-22. Beautiful pistol and I can shoot a whole magazine for the cost of just one .45ACP.

  5. Don’t overlook that three of the kids shot in Chardon, Ohio, died from .22 LR wounds and, apparently, single hits. Never a good idea discount the lethality of the lowly .22 LR.

    • Beat me to it: 10 rounds fired. Five injured including the three that sadly died. I think .22LR isn’t a good choice for carry, mainly because defending against a street mugging is unlikely to allow great accuracy. Once the fire is aimed, though, we humans are on average pretty soft targets.

  6. I’ve made the scene of many shootings involving the ‘lowly’ .22, .25, and .32 caliber handguns. In the 70’s those were actually the weapons of choice for a lot of folks in the ‘hood’, although the 9mm rose to prominence when high cap mags got popular.

    The little bullets tend to bounce around inside the body much like a pin ball. They are, in fact, quite lethal albeit not always quick. Depending of course on what they hit. The area of the body that is hit is, above all, the determining physical factor on how quickly the bad guy stops being bad. One thing that cannot be monitored or predicted is the bad dude’s mind set and determination, which can keep them going even after lethal hits with heavy calibers.

    I didn’t read any of that in a book. The street is a unique, if dangerous, laboratory.

  7. Again; the .22LR is quite lethal with proper shot placement. I’m simply not going to bet my life that I’ll have perfect shot placement when I need it so I’ll go with something with a little more margin for error.

    Also, this particular .22 shooting was a double tap from a rifle at close range.

  8. I think the stats might’ve changed in the last decade or 2, but when I was growing up, the .22 accounted for more shooting deaths than any other caliber, in the USA. Most likely, simply because they were the most abundant. In the 1970’s I’d hazard the guess that 1/2 the households in the US had a .22…

  9. There is a reason that the “lowly” .22 has been used for years by assassins, the CIA hit teams, and Russian executioners. Especially when silenced, they are extremely quiet, have a small entrance wound with little blood, and usually no exit wound. A .22 easily penetrates the skull but does not have enough residual velocity to exit–leading to scrambled brains as the bullet ricochets around until its energy is expended, and a near instantaneous kill.Russian political prisoner executions were usually carried out with a double tap to the back of the head.

    On the other hand, some states (or sheriffs) will not allow any caliber smaller than 380 on a CCW (for those states that restrict firearms like California does)because the round, absent a kill shot, is generally ineffective in stopping an assault.

  10. Nothing lowley about a tool that does the job. I’ve said it before nobody wants to be shot, even with a 22.

  11. More importantly, congratulations to that 15 year old for having the prescience to retrieve the firearm and the courage to use lethal force to protect himself and his family.

  12. While not the number one choice for up-close defense, it’s hard to argue with the .22 as a Swiss Army Knife round for the SHTF scenario. My lowly 10/22 is quite accurate past 50 yards, has never jammed in maybe 1500 rounds, and I can actually afford to stockpile a bit of ammo, vs. my other current option, .30-06. Is the .22 rifle the Ultimate Tactical Solution? Of course not. But when economic reality comes into play, it’s a solid choice. A friend who is not at all into guns (or possessed of vast disposable income) asked me what he should buy to stash away “just in case.” 10/22, some hi-cap mags, and 1000 rounds to start with – maybe $275 out the door. Plus it’s so fun to shoot, he might actually get into guns, if he follows my advice.

  13. It sounds like a good one to me too. I hope the young man who had to kill someone like that is not too traumatized by the fact. And in order to accomplish it, I hope he doesn’t become as callous and desensitized as some of you guys.

    • Funny hearing an agreement coming from you, however backhanded, since if it were up to your and your ilk, the kid and his family would’ve been defenseless and likely dead at the end of this incident.

    • If you would let your family die to avoid an unpleasant act, you are likely too callous, desensitized, and selfish to actually feel love.

      Choosing not to sacrifice of yourself by doing something unpleasant and instead letting harm befall people you love is ultimate selfishness and really unethical.

      Maybe this is your problem?

  14. “The 15-year-old broke free, retrieved his father’s .22-caliber rifle and fired at least two shots,” Morris said, adding that Stephens was shot in the back.

    Surprised the Liberal LEOs and DAs did not whine and cry about the bad guy shot in the back.

    • Just because he was shot in the back doesnt mean he was fleeing. He could have been struggling with the father, or facing off against the father when the son shot him from behind

  15. I will say that a .22lr coming from a 10-22 or Nylon 66 is somewhat different than a North American Derringer.

  16. My dad grew up during the depression and grew up tough. One of the many lessons he taught me early about guns was that the 22 was deadly. He said “the last person I saw killed was with a 22.” Stuck with me.

  17. As the saying goes, “you go to war with what you have, not with what you wish you had”.

    I would not be the least bit reluctant to use a .22 in a defensive situation. You can empty the rotary 10-round magazine of your Ruger 10/22 into a scumbag in well under 3 seconds. Regardless of how well-armed he is, by the time he even realizes he’s being shot at and how much it hurts, you’re halfway through the magazine and his immediate reaction will be to try to escape the continuing hail of bullets. Welcome to near-term tactical advantage, population: you.

  18. The .22 offers great penetration, no recoil, low noise and high reliability. What’s not to like?

  19. While having to kill at 15 years old might have a profound effect on the boy, I wonder if he can take some comfort in the knowledge that he was more courageous and sound of mind than many adults across the country, and world.

  20. I have no problem using my Mk II for defense as a last resort.
    I still prefer my .40 and 9mm if available.

    The .22lr is one of the great calibers of all time.

  21. Oh I am going to watch these comments closely. I love the 22lr because it’s cheap, fun and it is still a bullet. Of course larger calibers will travel father and have more power behind them. But I wonder how many of us have real world knowledge of the effects of a 22lr round, vs the .223 or 7.62 in regard to shooting two-legged targets.

    No, I’m not asking for anyone to test that theory!!!

    But some links to some Mythbuster’s style studies would be appreciated.

    • I don’t mean to be crass, sorry. There are LOTS of real world results (unfortunately) of the .22’s deadliness. I think the difference is in lethality vs stopping someone right now.

      2 recent events that come to mind Chardon High School and Ridderhof mall (sp?) in the Netherlands.

      • Not crass at all. I agree, “lethality vs stopping power” seems to be the argument. And perhaps I should have clarified. I mean, more video vs. written report.

        I actually wasn’t aware, until now, the caliber used in the CHS shooting.

  22. Shoot them with the biggest gun you’ve got. And if it just happens to be a .22, then you’ll just have to make it work.

  23. In today’s economy it annoys me to no end that Texas requires minimum .32 caliber for CHL test instead of a .22 caliber. How many older people such as myself would prefer to take the range test with what they shoot on a regular basis at the range. I can afford 200 rounds of .22 ammo for less than 100 rounds of even .32 caliber bullets. 2nd amendment states “right to keep and bear arms”, period! Because I practice with a .Rurger .22 SR twice a month with Ladies Shooting League at least 100 to 150 rounds each session, pretty accurate with the .22 and could afford to keep up practicing for years into the future. Not so much with the .32 Bersa pistol I’ll have use for CHL license. The most vulnerable in our society are the young and the elderly folks. Our league has a number of women in the over 55 age range and they have the same right to defend themselves with whatever caliber they can shoot accurately as do the ones in the 21+, 30, 40 age range. Hate legislators tinkering with basic rights.

  24. It’s odd in Oklahoma they encourage us to qualify with .22’s. If we bring a revolver the instructor usually loans you a semi-auto so you don’t get the revolver only on your licensee and have to go the the process and fees again if you want to use a semiautomatic later. If we take on the responsibility of carrying a gun we take on the responsibility for knowing how to use is. What we show in an 8 hour course is we know how to load the gun and witch end the bullets come out and with coaching we can sort of safely handle the gun and not much more. The institutor’s all wore body armor. They weren’t sure we were safe.

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