In the hands of ordinary citizens, guns do save lives.
Here I am, going along in my comfortable oblivion, living my life as if everything is fine and dandy, never suspecting there was a night not so long ago when my son was fighting for his life. And then I was blindsided while we were in Utah when Jacob finally shared an experience from about six months ago.
"I didn't tell you when it happened, Mom, " he told me, "because I didn't want you to worry." No mother ever wants to hear a story that begins with those words.
Last year before moving to Utah, Jacob bought a pistol. He felt strongly about the need for self-defense, especially now that he's a family man. While I wholeheartedly support the right to bear arms without being burdened by ridiculous regulations, guns still make me nervous, and I wasn't too thrilled for my boy to be carrying one. He has had a moderate amount of experience with firearms, but I kept reminding him to take some gun courses to gain just a little more expertise.
His wife was about as thrilled as I was. She, too, was nervous around guns and wasn't comfortable having one so close at hand. Besides, as she told him often, "It's a waste of money."
And then, late one dark winter night, Jacob came out of a store to discover he'd locked his keys in his car. In a poorly-lit, vacant corner of the parking lot, he spent quite some time jimmying the lock, but he finally got the door open. Right at that moment, he realized there was someone behind him, and he felt a gun pressed against the back of his head.
"Give me everything you've got," said a tense male voice. Jacob said that, during the experience, it seemed obvious that the guy was affected by drugs of some kind.
Terrified for his life, Jacob told the man that he'd give him whatever he could find in the car, and he started fumbling around inside the vehicle. In his mind, though, he was focused on finding his gun, which was between the seats.
Here's where those tender mercies come in. Danielle verified for us that Jacob had stopped carrying his gun sometime before this incident and left it at home over a long period of time. That very morning, however, he'd felt impressed to take the gun with him. Thankfully, he'd obeyed that quiet voice.
Once he had the pistol in his hand, he started to back out of the car. Whether the other man saw Jacob's gun or not no one knows, but Jacob felt something that told him the thug was starting to pull the trigger. Jacob whirled and fired, hitting the man in the hand. The injured hood ran off into the darkness.
"Did he drop the gun?" I asked, wide-eyed.
"Yes," Jacob answered, "and a couple of fingers, too."
He went on to describe the gun lying on the ground, with one finger still on the trigger and the other nearby. Both were still twitching. Ugh.
He immediately called 911 and police officers quickly arrived. The criminal was nowhere to be found, but they soon caught him when he checked into a hospital. I guess having two fingers blown off isn't something you can ignore. Jacob said he was told later that the fingers were too chewed up by the bullet to be reattached.
There were no charges against Jacob since it was a clear-cut case of self-defense. However, the officers warned Jacob that the thug who'd threatened him could accuse him of attempted murder and create months or years of legal hassles. Jacob was surprised when they told him it's usually better in self-defense cases to kill the person who's trying to hurt you.
Luckily, in this case, the gunman did not try to press charges. With his disembodied finger still on the trigger, I suppose it would be hard to convince a jury that he'd meant no harm. Since there was no trial and Jacob was never called upon to testify, this criminal must have accepted a plea deal. Jacob was told that he is now serving ten years in prison.
So there I was, sitting in our resort condo, a little shocked and trying to digest what Jacob had just shared. Then I asked, "So, did you intend to shoot him in the hand?" I was wondering if my son had suddenly become a sharpshooter.
Jacob laughed. "Mom, I just pointed the gun and fired. I was shaking so bad, all I wanted was to scare him off!"
Needless to say, Danielle's opinion of owning a gun has undergone a drastic change. Far from being a waste of money, she completely believes it saved her husband's life that night. I agree.
There will be liberals out there who say the gunman might not have intended to shoot my son, that he would have simply taken whatever Jacob gave him and left, that the presence of Jacob's gun only aggravated the situation. As if that makes any difference to me. If someone threatens another person's life with any kind of weapon, they deserve to die. Especially when the person they threaten is my child. And nothing anyone says will ever change my opinion.
A gun in the right hands is a blessing. And I am very grateful for the gun in my son's hand that night and the still, small voice that urged him to take it with him that day. I know it saved his life...and perhaps even the lives of others this thug hadn't yet met.