By Ann Y. Smith, NRAWomansOutlook.org
How many Massachusetts non-gun owners suddenly felt a vulnerability never previously experienced, reeling at not being able to protect their families as they were rendered dependent on a scattered, exhausted police force?
Like most Americans, I was both captivated and horrified by the events that unfolded on national TV last week, as the at-large suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was sought out door-to-door by local law enforcement. It was tense and unnerving, and save for the flash-bangs lobbed into the blood-stained boat that ultimately gave him up, and the robotic arm that peeled back the boat’s tarp, the police work was as old-fashioned as it gets: “Don’t answer your doors unless it’s for a uniformed police officer,” was the mandate for all of Watertown, Mass. Stay indoors.
And while on the surface it was common-sense advice that even the blithest citizens understood, what else were the cops supposed to offer up? Yes, eventually a police officer was going to appear at their door, inquire if everything was OK and perform a flashlight scan behind shrubbery and perhaps a detached garage. But the suspect was crafty. He might have been watching from nearby, remaining elusive until a uniformed officer finished performing a location sweep. That might have been how he was able to slip into the backyard boat for what he thought was going to be an extended, if not permanent, stay.
So I stepped into a pair of Bostonians (a distinguished brand, indeed). What would I do if my hometown were suddenly held hostage? This was no drill, not a scene from “The Town,” and not an over-reaction to a situation that might be defused. This was as absolute as it gets. A mad bomber, a cop-killer, with no regard for human life—especially his own—was on the loose. No one had to ponder his motives, or whether he could be reasoned with.
Granted, Boston folks are unique, to say the least. I know many of them. Challenge their grit and they will answer with a collective resolve so strong it’ll make even a terrorist, well, opt to hole up in a dry-docked boat. They chose the wrong town, I told my husband. And while a homeowner’s keen eye ultimately led law enforcement to take him before anyone else did, I speculated what an armed Bostonian would have done if they’d encountered this deranged young man first. But in all likelihood it would not involve a firearm. In 1998 Massachusetts passed what is still considered some the toughest gun legislation in the country, all in an effort to make their state safer from gun violence. As it turns out, according to a recent Boston Globe article, within a few years the number of active gun licenses had plummeted from 1.5 million to 200,000, and crime, namely violent crime and gun crime in particular, had risen anywhere from 20 percent to 26 percent. The odds that this kid would choose a home with no lawful resident firearm owner were pretty high.
That said, there is no question what my husband and I would have been doing while the town sweep was in progress. We’d lock our doors, stay glued to the local news and make sure our firearms and plenty of ammo were accessible until the siege was over, and beyond. In the event an extremely dangerous, wanted murderer tried to invade my home, I wouldn’t have to wait for a foot-patrol officer to knock on my door. And I dare say there wouldn’t be a chance of the police interrogating him if he succeeded at making himself an unwelcome guest in our home.
But I wonder how many Massachusetts non-gun owners suddenly felt a vulnerability never previously experienced, reeling at the possibility of not being able to protect their families as they were rendered dependent on a scattered, exhausted police force, and consumed by the actions of unstable men. It was truly the stuff of nightmares. Were they phoning their gun-owning friends or family members to pronounce their Second Amendment epiphanies? I welcome a first-hand account from anyone in the Boston vicinity who reconsidered the idea of a firearm for personal protection throughout that terrifying ordeal, or if they were on the receiving end of one of those phone-a-friend calls. As a woman who is frequently home alone when my husband travels, I am constantly reviewing my options should something unexpected occur. And most of them involve having my firearm within reach. My friends who have rejected gun ownership in the name of safety are welcome to phone me.
Editor’s note: Ann Y. Smith edits the new NRA Women’s site NRA Woman’s Outlook. Now you just have to check this site out – click here to visit NRAWomansOutlook.org.