It Should Have Been a Defensive Gun Use: Los Angeles Edition

The Los Angeles Times reports that a woman was murdered in Los Angeles Sunday night when a man walked up behind her, aimed a shotgun at her head, and pulled the trigger, leaving police scrambling to find a motive. “Carrie Jean Melvin and her boyfriend were walking through their Hollywood neighborhood on their way to get some food when someone walked up behind them, aimed a shotgun at her head and pulled the trigger.” . . .

The gunman jumped into a black sedan and drove off. Melvin died at the scene.

On Monday, the motive for the brazen attack the night before remained as mysterious as the gunman. An LAPD homicide detective said investigators were still trying to determine why Melvin, 30, was shot and not other people who were on the street at the time. Her boyfriend was unharmed, police said….

Skaggs said investigators believe the shooting was an isolated incident because the circumstances didn’t match any recent crimes. But he acknowledged it was “alarming because of the nature of the violence.”

The initial information indicated the gunman acted alone, Skaggs said. He was described as a black man in his mid-20s, about 6 feet tall, wearing dark clothes, including a dark hooded jacket

California has a patchwork of laws concerning armed self-defense. The city of Los Angeles takes a rather dim view of the subject:

The issuance of licenses enabling a private citizen to carry a concealed weapon (CCW)
is of great concern to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The Department’s
overriding policy is that no concealed weapon license should be granted merely for the
personal convenience of the applicant. No position or job classification in itself shall
constitute good cause for the issuance, or for the denial, of a CCW license. Each
application shall be individually reviewed for cause, and the applicant will be notified by
writing within 90 days of the application, or within 30 days after receipt of the applicant’s
criminal background check from the Department of Justice, that the CCW license was
either approved or denied.

The Los Angeles County’s Sheriff’s Department didn’t want a mere citizen like Ms. Melvin to have the right to carry a firearm for her “personal convenience.” They appear to have accomplished their mission in that respect.

Of course, merely having a weapon wouldn’t have guaranteed Ms. Melvin’s safety in and of itself. A bit of training is always a must, and a dose of situational awareness might have helped, too. And from the reports of the incident, it’s quite possible she never stood a chance.

But it is unconscionable that in 21st-century America, government officials in California take it upon themselves to deny this fundamental civil right, regardless of the fact that it gives carte blanche to thugs and criminals like the one who murdered Ms. Melvin. We can talk about all of that once people actually have the right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed them in the constitution — a right denied the citizenry in Los Angeles.

So what has the Sheriff’s Department been up to? Well, it turns out that Monday was the 22nd Annual Gun Destruction!

On Monday, July 6, 2015, Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced the destruction of approximately 3,400 weapons confiscated within in Los Angeles County. This action comes typically in July, in compliance with California Penal Code 18005(c), which calls for weapons unable to be sold to the public or returned to their owners, to be destroyed….

“Gerdau and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department both aim to support a healthy and safe community,” said Mark Olson, Vice President and General Manager of the Gerdau Steel Mill in Rancho Cucamonga. “This activity transforms weapons that were intended or used to inflict harm into a product that improves our landscape and economy in Southern California.”

Disgraceful. Shameful. Disgusting. Cowardly.

[Hat tip: PocketProtector @]


DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.


  1. avatar Jon in CO says:

    It amazes me how those firearms will be melted down and turned into some form of “modern art” and it will make people feel safe and warm and fuzzy and secure and and and…that same metal was once in a different shape, and was reigning terror and fear upon the people. Not sure I understand that type of thinking.

    1. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

      They can melt my weapons into art and feel as fuzzy as they like….after they shoot me dead.

    2. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      Modern art made out of confiscated and destroyed firearms? It’s as ugly as the idea it represents.

      1. avatar lasttoknow says:

        Just like when Missy Michele decided to terminate Boko Haram by taking selfies with some other whiners holding signs stating, “Bring our girls back !” That was a truly brave and bold statement of solidarity that was proportionally effective. Feeling warm, feeling good, making sympathetic statements sums up the entirety of the moral resources possessed by Missy Michele and her girl friends.

  2. avatar JWM says:

    The guy with her either whacked her or had it done. Robert Blake style. Why did shotgun target just her and not the eyewitness right next to her? No robbery attempt and the catch all discription, black guy in a hoodie. Like the woman that drowned her own kids. Scary black man did it, Not.

    1. avatar Rokurota says:

      Why not random? We’re in a new age of insanity. Unhinged people do inscrutable stuff. I wish every evil action had a clean motive, but sometimes it’s just the crazies. We don’t like random acts of violence (like the shooting in SF or the Beltway snipings) because it means we’re never 100% safe. But isn’t that what we’ve been preaching?

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        I have no way of knowing, but that was close to my first guess as well. IF the situation occurred as described, my first thought was “initiation” or something similar.

      2. avatar JWM says:

        Just guessing. I’m no expert. These random killings tend to work out to be some close family member, husband, father, mother, etc. At least in my following of the news.

        It well could have been a gang thing or totally random madman. But don’t be surprised if in a week the boy friend is charged in her murder.

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    A hit? A gang initiation? A hate crime? Sunday?

    Looks like another perfect day; I love LA.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      My guess would be a gang initiation or a way to prove himself to his gang, or simply to prove his “manhood” as he sees it to his peers. Clearly he’s a nut job. Most likely a psychopath.

      I doubt there is any connection between this very nice woman and this piece of feces.

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        Ah…I should have read down just a few more lines!

        Yep; something in that ballpark was my first thought for “motive” as well.

      2. avatar In4apennyIn4apound says:

        “Clearly he’s a nut job. Most likely a psychopath.”

        Quit playing to the mental health angle, which is just about control and accept evil exists. The anti-gun statists are playing from the Art of War, which is for the long haul war, not short little battles they let us win, which are Pyrrhic to the Constitution.
        He is just an evil little government raised savage doing what they were bred to do. The scary thing is that if the victim would have defended themselves from the protected class member, the victims lives would still be over, only the state would be seeking to cause the victims harm, now.

        1. avatar Benny the Jew says:

          I agree. I know murderes seem nuts compared to you and me, but is it a real mental disorder? It could be that some people are just evil, no “crazy” to it. I wonder if there’s a predisposition to it for some people, as in are some people just born bad, or at least veer that way more naturally than others.
          Either way, I’m with you; maybe a few really are crazy, but most are just human waste.

        2. avatar In4apennyIn4apound says:

          @BennytheJew–“I wonder if there’s a predisposition to it for some people, as in are some people just born bad, or at least veer that way more naturally than others.”

          Brother, I can’t believe in my soul or mind that your premise is correct that people are born evil. The battle for good an evil is waged in a man’s heart not his genetics, since it is called free will to choose your path. Nature vs. Nurture is outdated because all humans are a sum of their experiences relating to self-control in an uncontrollable world.

  4. avatar fishydude says:

    Random? Sounds more like targeted. Even if the victim was chosen at random like a gang initiation, it was still a very precise action taken.
    And if the victim was white, that implies something else too.

  5. avatar ron says:

    Why isn’t it being investigated as a Hate Crime?

    1. avatar PeterW says:

      Hating white people isn’t against the law

      1. avatar Red In Texas says:

        Its reparations, Ron. Didn’t you get the memo in 08?

    2. avatar bob says:

      #White lives don’t matter.

      1. avatar Bob says:

        White lives don’t matter when black people end them.

        There, I said it.

      2. avatar Kelly in GA says:

        Hashtags don’t have spaces.

  6. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    The second amendment is not a priority with California voters. Civil rights for firearms, civil rights to self defense, knife civil rights. These are not on the list of civil rights in California.

    However having a civil right to be in California illegally from another country and shooting a daughter in the head next to her father seems ok in San Francisco.

    1. avatar Stan says:

      Unfortunately, you are 100% correct.

      1. avatar Removed_californian says:

        There is a reason why I am the Removed californian…

    2. avatar tmm says:

      Thinking about the may issue situations many people find themselves subject to, it is wrong to place the burden of proof upon the citizen to demonstrate need, the burden of proof should be on the state to demonstrate the need to restrict the exercise of RKBA.

  7. avatar DKW says:

    I don’t understand some of these “It Should Have Been a Defensive Gun Use” articles.

    1. Was the person shot or her companion a gun owner? Yes or No.
    2. Did they express a desire in the past to carry a gun for protection? Yes or No.
    3. Were they actually denied from carrying a gun? Yes or No.
    4. Was there anybody around then that could have met items 2 or 3? Yes or no.

    Unless all of these answers were yes, this is not a “It should have been a defensive gun use” article. Even if you can answer a YES to all of these, the person who did this came up from behind and shot with no warning to anybody (yes, you can talk about situational awareness, but that only goes so far).

    This is a tragic story but does not rise to the level of the title.

    1. avatar Tommycat says:

      Thank you, That’s what i was thinking… Maybe it could have ended with the boyfriend shooting the bad guy, but the result is that the woman would still be dead from a shotgun to the head.

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        And, if the perp indeed did just turn tail and run after discharging his one shell, the boyfirend would be in jail for shooting someone in the back (i.e., not a defensive use).

    2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      It seems you are missing the much bigger point of the “It Should Have Been a Defensive Gun Use” series…or at the very least, this PARTICULAR example.

      This article is about the systematic denial of all gun rights in a practical sense in the Peoples Republic of California. That her choice, or even that she HAS such a choice, is taken away before the conversation begins, is a moral crime.

      1. avatar DKW says:

        100% disagree.

        Even though this happened in CA, if this same thing happened in TX, or GA (where I live), or any other Gun friendly state, I would say the same thing. Unless she or her companion were known to have been gun owners or wanted a carry permit, then I you could argue that.

        Hell, you could argue all gun crimes in which the victim didn’t have a gun could be “It should have been a defensive gun use” article. Some people just don’t want to own or carry a gun, that is their choice.

        1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

          “Unless she or her companion were known to have been gun owners or wanted a carry permit, then I you could argue that.”

          —–> Point


          Sorry, man, but you are looking at the term DGU too narrowly. This is not about pulling a gun and stopping one particular any jurisdiction.

          It’s about the cultural system (be it via laws or peer pressure) that exists that takes away the choice to even have a chance to defend oneself.

          Sorry you are not getting that.

    3. avatar MarkPA says:

      I understand your line of reasoning; however, I don’t agree with your conclusion.

      In many situations described along the lines of this case the victim would probably have been shot and killed. Even with good situational awareness, we are all still vulnerable. Nevertheless, the perp didn’t have a Constitutional right to a cake-walk. He might have been stopped before he could have made his escape. Once a gun carrier hears a pound bang sound, sees an apparent victim lying in the street and a man with a gun running away it’s pretty clear that there is a problem. There is probable cause to believe the person running might be a threat to others; sufficient to justify a citizen’s arrest. At that point, the person running away with a gun might raise that gun to resist the arrest; whereupon, there is a pretext for self-defense.

      A self-defense shot might not stop the escape; however, there is a reasonable likelihood that it would leave a wound requiring medical attention. Thereupon, the police could connect the dots.

      Bearing all the foregoing possibilities in mind, some perps wouldn’t commit the crime with a reasonable likelihood of getting caught after killing their victims. Others would, of course, and if stopped or seriously wounded, would be caught.

      There is no easy escape by saying that no one in the vicinity of the crime had applied for a permit if the jurisdiction was Won’t-Issue. Such an argument is reasonable only if-and-when Shall-Issue has been in effect for a considerable period of time such that carry has become commonplace.

  8. avatar John L. says:

    “California Penal Code 18005(c), which calls for weapons unable to be sold to the public or returned to their owners, to be destroyed….”

    I wonder how much effort is made to sell those firearms. Certainly in the time I lived in CA, I never heard of a police or sheriff department auction of seized weapons.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I guess you didn’t get the memo. There are no such things as guns that can be “sold to the public”. That’s why they have buy backs–citizens should not have guns. The prior Sheriff (or at least the undersheriff responsible for issuing CCWs, maybe both) testified in a deposition that “more guns on the street means more crime.” And since the Sheriff has a public policy mandate to reduce crime, it is necessary to limit or reduce the number of guns on the street–so no CCW for you. Mr. and Mrs. America, turn in your guns. You are only going to get hurt if you don’t. [As an aside, no one in the Sheriff’s Office–or in the LAPD for that mater–could point to any study that supported their conclusion.]

  9. avatar VTPATRIOT says:

    “….scrambling to find a motive.”? Really, now. Why does it matter? Pure evil.

  10. avatar gsnyder says:

    Denying lawful citizens their Constitutional Right of self-defense only serves the criminal. Sad to hear and authorities should be ashamed.

  11. avatar Fuque says:

    I doubt it was random… Iv read about a few people who at times I wonder why noone has done it to them.. There are some truly nasty people out there who happen to run into someone nastier than they are Gender aside..

  12. avatar styrgwillidar says:

    …. as the 9th circuit court re-hears the Peruta case regarding the discretionary issues system in California….

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      ..this will convince them that no good can come from having armed citizens in the street. A gun would not have saved this woman, and a shootout wold likely have caused grievous injury or death to bystanders who have a right to “feel safe”.

  13. avatar notguiltfree says:

    It’s to bad that these psychotic idiots that do these things aren’t targeting the bureaucrats instead of the populace, probably things would move a little faster on the apprehension front if the police chiefs were under the gun, so to speak………

  14. avatar iCONOCLAST says:

    The author sounds as alarmingly disingenuous as most anti gun writers.

    Tell me how a gun license is going to keep anybody from being stalked and shot in the back of the head?

    I mean come on, really?

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      If that’s all you got out of the article (which apparently you did not read past the headline and stinger paragraph), it says much more about you than it does about the author’s message.

      1. avatar iCONOCLAST says:

        Sure buddy, if you say so.

  15. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Damn…I don’t know how it could be a DGU. It sounds like a lethal “knockout game”-yeah we live in an evil world. It could totally be random-like that poor white woman in SF murdered by an illegal alien criminal…

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “Damn…I don’t know how it could be a DGU.”

      Think bigger picture than THIS victim drawing and firing on THIS assailant.

      There are many types of DGU’s and many ways guns provide bona fide defense.

      If CA was not the cesspool of “anti-rights” that it is, and if MORE PEOPLE in CA carried (both openly and concealed), there is at least a greater probability that this particular a-hole and folks like him would be stopped.

      The article was about denial of basic human rights, not whether or not this lady could have fought off this attacker.

      1. avatar Red In Texas says:

        The woman in NJ waiting for her permit was a “should have been a DGU”, this situation is a long reach, at best.

      2. avatar Former Water Walker says:

        MY bigger picture is she had her head blown off in a surprise random attack-but thanks for the finger wag. Yes-peoples rights are denied in Commiefornia-and they are denied by people voting them in. Like in Illinois where I live. Do you even have a point JR? Most “points from TTAG” have a lot to do with readership/comments/clickbait-and I do my part in clicking…

      3. avatar iCONOCLAST says:

        Hey fella, if the author thinks his thoughts are to be defended, let him defend them.
        You going around flaming everybody that disagrees with his premise is annoying, at best.

      4. avatar SteveInCO says:

        The article may have been trying to talk about the denial of basic human rights, but had those rights not, in fact, been denied, it would have made no difference.

        If one wants to talk about the harm that denial of rights causes, one needs to pick an example where it would have made a difference had the rights not been denied.

        The larger point is valid, but this incident doesn’t actually lend support to it. And that’s why people are complaining about the article, it’s logically fallacious even if it comes to the right conclusion.

  16. avatar Mark Chamberlain says:

    I think I would be looking at a possible hired hit job on this one to include looking closely at the boyfriend as the one doing the hiring and then work through all her other known associates looking for a motive. After exhausting those possibilities, then I would be looking at a possible gang initiation killing.

  17. avatar doesky2 says:

    Cue the race hustlers……

    ….oops…never mind….wrong color pattern.

  18. avatar In4apennyIn4apound says:

    “Of course, merely having a weapon wouldn’t have guaranteed Ms. Melvin’s safety in and of itself.”
    Being denied the option for the best tool for self defense was the only guarantee that left Ms. Melvin’s safety at the will of an evil man intent upon harm.

    “A bit of training is always a must, and a dose of situational awareness might have helped, too. And from the reports of the incident, it’s quite possible she never stood a chance.”

    “This lady was obviously a liberal who didn’t get to survive her conversion to becoming a conservative, which is usually the process that is followed by such an encounter. Situational Awareness is a must and if she would have applied being observant she may still be alive. Who in their right mind in these current times, besides a liberal or another black person, especially in a large city allows a young black male to walk up behind them in the dark of night and assumes he is there to help you. Profiling is only wrong if you are a government employee.

  19. avatar Gunr says:

    Living in Komifornia is just the SHITS!

  20. avatar Gatha58 says:

    How could this happen ? Isn’t LA a “gun free zone” ? Excessive gun restrictions did not stop this from happening. That should be the headline.

  21. avatar Southern Cross says:

    My thoughts are either a “gang initiation” by killing some random person or a targeted hit based on the victim’s family or associates.

  22. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Former LAPD chief Gates got into some hot water for saying the following, but stuck to his guns, as ’twere:

    “As to concealed weapons, while I cant tell you to carry them, we [the LAPD] would much rather that we caught you with them than that a bad guy caught you without them.”

    Pretty strong words, methinks.

  23. avatar george from fort worth says:

    if i were a gang member, i would relish the ability to deny guns to rival gangs. law enforcement is no different from a gang….except that shiny badge thing. and we are the rival gang(s).

  24. avatar Gregolas says:

    It should have been avoided. This was failure of personal security. Hit or not, this woman was in “Condition White” to let a man with a shotgun get that close unawares. A man epwith a long arm should be easily detectable under the most rudimentary observation.

  25. avatar duroSIG556R says:

    Probably some gang initiation.

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