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This past Monday night, a gunman walked into a popular Salt Lake City mall and opened fire with a shotgun. The trench coat-clad gunman was heavily armed and intended to kill as many people as he could. He killed five people before being challenged by an armed off-duty police officer. Once again, a gun saved lives.
Salt Lake City's police chief said, "There is no question that his [the off-duty policeman's] quick actions saved the lives of numerous other people."
According to press reports, "Ken Hammond, an off-duty officer from Ogden, north of Salt Lake City, jumped up from his seat at a restaurant after hearing gunfire and cornered the gunman, exchanging fire with him until other officers arrived." The miscreant was killed in the ensuing shootout.
Mr. Hammond said, "I feel like I was there and did what I had to do."
The mall was crowded with Valentine's Day shoppers. Doubtless, had the off-duty officer not confronted the gunman, the death toll would have been staggering.
The incident in Salt Lake City is merely the latest example of how an armed citizen saved the lives of innocent people. Professor Gary Kleck of the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University has meticulously documented that handguns are used to resist criminals on more than two million occasions annually-far more often than they are used by criminals to commit crimes.
More often than not, the citizen-defender is not even required to discharge his or her weapon, as the mere sight of a firearm is enough to thwart many potential acts of criminality. I can personally attest to at least two occasions when the display of a handgun by a member of my immediate family prompted a would-be criminal to quickly leave the scene.
In addition, noted author and gun rights advocate Don Kates reminds us that Professor John Lott's book, The Bias Against Guns, states categorically that at least three American massacres have been stopped by civilians with guns. Make that four now.
At last count, forty states have some sort of concealed carry law. Two states, Vermont and Alaska, do not even require their citizens to obtain a concealed carry permit in order to legally carry a concealed weapon. It is no coincidence that the states and cities that deny their citizens the right to legally carry a handgun for self defense have the highest crime rates. Just ask yourself: Would I rather take a midnight walk in downtown Montpelier or in downtown Chicago? It is an undeniable fact that an armed citizenry is much safer than a disarmed citizenry.
With Nancy Pelosi and her gun-grabbing Democrats now in charge of Congress, and with neocon President G. W. Bush already on record as supporting Bill Clinton's gun ban, it is doubly important that the American people diligently defend their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Not only does safety on America's streets depend on it, so does liberty itself.