When the gophers can't shoot back

By Kevin Avram
web posted September 6, 1999

When we were kids, we were always hunting gophers. We loved to go shooting. The rat-like pests were devastating large tracts of agricultural land, so some local governments even offered a bounty for each gopher tail. It was hardly enough to pay for shells, but when you're ten years old, every little bit seems like a fortune.

We always went shooting where the gophers were the most plentiful. And we always went where they were unarmed. If the gophers had had guns, and could have shot back, we'd have found a different favorite thing to do. Some might laugh at such an idea, but it's true. If those little rascals could have swapped rounds with us, bullet for bullet, we'd have high-tailed it out of there.

In Florida a while back, the gophers did shoot back. Some punk with a gun tried to stick up a restaurant. Unfortunately for him, Florida permits concealed weapons. A couple of customers were packing heat. Rather than standing idly by, they each put a bullet into the bad guy. He lived, but that's one crook that learned an important lesson.

In a recent issue of Enterprise Magazine, Ray Wisher tells a similar story. In the community where he works as a law enforcement officer, there was an elderly lady who lived alone in a remote area. One night three burglars decided to smash through her front door while she was home. She ran to her bedroom where she kept a gun. Terrified, she crouched behind the bed. When they came into her bedroom, she let go with a volley of four shots. Yelling, screaming, and pandemonium followed as the burglars fell over each other trying to get away. One of them was later treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Interestingly, all the burglaries that had plagued that community came to a complete halt.

This legitimate right to self-defense is the reason a father of one of the students at Columbine High School is critical of a decision by the Colorado legislature to drop a proposal allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. Dale Anema said, "I wonder, if two crazy hoodlums can walk into a 'gun-free' zone, and the police are incapable of defending the children, why would anyone want to make it harder for law-abiding adults to defend themselves and others?" It's worth thinking about - especially if we consider what might have happened in Atlanta recently, if the distraught day trader who went on a killing rampage had run into another day trader with a .38 in a shoulder holster, or a secretary with a .22 handgun in her purse.

That's why the notion that guns are responsible for crime is such an interesting phenomenon. In the 1920s, anybody in Canada could walk into a gun store, and buy pretty much whatever they wanted. There were no cruel acts of violence driving the political agenda. Yet seeking to perpetuate the notion that we need someone to blame, politicians have decided that all law-abiding gun owners should be viewed as potential criminals.

In some ways, the gun debate could be endless. But the fact remains that so far as good guys and bad guys are concerned, back when we were kids, if we had even suspected the gophers could shoot back, we'd have thought twice before we pointed a gun in their direction.

Kevin Avram is a former director of the Prairie Centre/Centre for Prairie Agriculture, and continues to sit as a member of the Prairie Centre's Advisory Board.




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