How can citizens protect themselves from violent offenders? According to one sheriff in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the answer is simple: Arm yourselves. Sheriff Chuck Wright vented his frustration after a suspect with a long record of violent crimes allegedly attacked a woman walking her dog near a park, forced her to disrobe and attempted to rape her. Police tracked down Walter Lance and witnesses picked him out of a lineup, but Wright wistfully lamented that citizens with carry permits weren’t on hand to stop Lance — one way or another:

Sheriff Chuck Wright opened his news conference by saying, “Our form of justice is not making it.”

He said, “Carry a concealed weapon. That’ll fix it.” …

Wright said, “It’s too bad someone with a concealed weapons permit didn’t walk by. That would fix it.” He said people are tired of doing the right thing and criminals getting away with their actions.

He said several times, “I want you to get a concealed weapons permit.”

At one point, Wright held up a fanny pack and said, “They make this right here where you can conceal a small pistol in them. They got one called The Judge that shoots a .45 or a .410 shell. You ain’t got to be accurate; you just have to get close.”

Wright said, “I’m tired of looking at victims saying, ‘There’s life after this’ … I’m tired of saying, ‘We’re sorry, we can’t keep them in jail.'”

Undoubtedly, those who champion gun-control laws as a way to lower crime rates (including no shortage of law-enforcement chiefs) will explode in outrage.  Arming citizens in the name of public safety will encourage vigilante justice, they’ll claim, and result in an explosion of both crime and accidental shootings that will eclipse the problems we currently see.  In my column for The Week, I puncture those claims as myths based on the actual results of liberalizing permit issuance laws in Minnesota, and point out what the true danger to the community is:

In 2003, at the time of the current law’s passage, opponents predicted dire consequences, including a rapid increase in murders, duels in the street, and more fights that ended in shootings than in fisticuffs. Critics warned about vigilantes roaming the streets to deal rough justice to anyone who looked out of place.

None of this materialized. Crime rates did not rise; in fact, they fell over an eight-year period, as the index of violent crime in 2002 went from 267.2 per 100,000 people to 236.0 in 2010. Murders dropped from 2.5 to 1.8, forcible rapes from 45.2 to 33.9, robberies from 78.4 to 63.9, and aggravated assaults from 141.4 to 136.4. Carry permits may or may not have impacted these declines, but they certainly did not push the crime rate upward. …

This gets to the heart of the right to self-defense and the wisdom of the Second Amendment. The role of law enforcement is to keep the peace where possible, and to investigate crimes when they occur. The police could not possibly keep all citizens safe at all times. Law-abiding citizens need to prepare for self-defense, not because the police can’t enforce the law in general, but because the police can’t prevent crime from occurring in every situation and keep each individual safe in every situation. …

As we have seen in Minnesota, a properly prepared citizen presents no special danger to his community, and an argument can be made that each law-abiding permit holder enhances security. The same cannot be said for the properly prepared violent offender in the midst of a disarmed populace. When a sheriff tells citizens that the solution to violent crime is self-defense, perhaps people should pay attention. Perhaps the media should take note as well.

My column also includes the Evanovich case, which I used to demonstrate the media bias against carry permits in a post on Saturday after the Hennepin County Attorney cleared the Good Samaritan who attempted to retrieve the purse stolen by yet another repeat violent offender, only to have a gun pulled on him.  Not only did the CA clear the shooting as justifiable self-defense, he also commended the unnamed man for coming to the aid of his fellow citizen.  However, I wasn’t surprised to see this as the first comment at The Week on my piece:

Edward, in your opening story about the robber that was stalked by the Samaritan why do you overlook the fact that if the Samaritan hadn’t been packing, the robber wouldn’t have died? And over a purse and a beating? And the fact that this is a ‘Cinderella Story’ of concealed firearms? You’re consistently disingenuous and shortsighted, blogman.

So the armed robber got “stalked” by the Good Samaritan?  Really?  And no, I don’t overlook the fact that Evanovich would still be alive if the Good Samaritan hadn’t been “packing,” but still alive to continue his violent crime spree, which consisted of beating isolated and unarmed middle-aged women for their purses; it was the third such crime in nine days by Evanovich.  It was Evanovich that brought the pistol to the crime (he used it to to beat the woman), and it was Evanovich who drew the gun to keep his stolen property.  Unless the commenter wants to take the position that a robber should own his booty unchallenged by polite society, Evanovich’s own choices determined his fate.

As I wrote, shooting a gun at another human being is the second-worst outcome for self-defense, but it beats the absolute worst outcome.