Ngoc Le heard his wife’s screams and ran from the back of the wireless store he owns in Camden, New Jersey. His wife was behind the counter, as was a masked man wielding a knife. The man brandished the blade, herding the couple into a back room. Once there, he tied the 28-year old businessman to a chair, then proceeded to rape 22-year old Kelly Le. Once the brutal rape had finished, he slit the couple’s throats, then ran away. There was no 2nd Amendment, no right to own a gun, and Antonio Diaz Reyes got away with murder.
That isn’t actually how the events of December 31st, 2004 played out. We do have a 2nd Amendment in this country, after all. So when Antonio Reyes held Kelly Le at knifepoint, Ngoc Le was able to shoot and kill the attacker with his legally owned firearm. DNA tests later determined that Reyes was responsible for a string of rapes in downtown Camden that had terrorized the city for months. The Le’s were shaken by what happened, but there were no regrets.
I was reminded of this armed citizen story when I read Tom Derby’s recent piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Derby, an English and reading teacher in Camden, New Jersey, says it’s time for the 2nd Amendment to go away. In fact, he says, “The premise of the Second Amendment, the need for minutemen, no longer exists. In a free society we must rely on the police. We have more important rights to fight for than the right to bear arms.”
Mr. Derby is an English teacher, so perhaps he can be forgiven for not knowing that the U.S. government has said our individual security and safety is not guaranteed by the law enforcement in this country. There are several Supreme Court decisions that hold citizens have no constitutional guarantee of protection by police (South v. Maryland and Castle Rock v. Gonzalez come immediately to mind), and many more decisions have been made at lower levels (in the case of Warren v. District of Columbia, for example, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that “a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.”). Despite what Mr. Derby says, we are responsible for our individual safety. The law enforcement community performs a valuable service each and every day, but any cop will tell you that they can’t be your personal bodyguard.
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