In the West, the virtues of individualism, independence, self-sufficiency, and self-governance yield, not only a strong distrust of government, but also a citizenry that forms the bedrock of America’s gun culture. Their State constitutions go further than does the U.S. Constitution as to their right to “keep and bear arms”; their laws include “make my day,” “castle doctrine,” and “stand your ground” provisions; and their supreme courts interpret broadly the right of self-defense outside the home. Little wonder then, that the story that captivated the Nation last December of a voluntary security guard who saved scores of churchgoers by shooting a heavily armed killer took place in the heart of the West—in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “[I]t was me, the gunman, and God,” she humbly proclaimed.
Washington, D.C. may only be 1,500 miles from Colorado, but it is light years away in the distance that separates the two cultures. In fact, Washington proves the truth of the ubiquitous western bumper sticker, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” For while Washington has had, since 1975, perhaps the Nation’s most stringent gun control laws and boasts more law enforcement officers per capita than any other city, it annually competes for and often wins designation as the Nation’s “Murder Capital.” No wonder that, for decades, law-abiding Washingtonians complained that they may not keep weapons in their homes to provide effectively for their own self defense.