Granny deserves self-defense

Posted: Nov 16, 2005 2:05 PM

It was just after midnight last Wednesday when Susan Buxton realized all was not well in her Arlington, Texas home.  The 66-year old was getting ready to let her dogs out before she went to bed when she noticed her 28-year old granddaughter was still awake.  “I asked her, ‘What are you doing up?’ and she says, ‘Gigi, I heard glass breaking.’”

That didn’t raise too many alarm bells for the grandmother, but when she discovered a muddy footprint on her back porch, she knew someone was in the house.  Luckily, Susan Buxton wasn’t alone.  Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson have been Susan Buxton’s constant companions for the past twelve years, ever since a stranger tried to abduct another granddaughter from her front yard. 

So, armed with her .38 and a flashlight, Susan Buxton went through every room in her home.  Just like in the movies, it wasn’t until she had searched every room that she knew where the intruder was.  Hiding in her closet in her art room, Christopher Lessner saw the door swing open.  He looked at her and whispered, “Shhhh”. 

Buxton was having none of it.  Pointing her pistol at the intruder, she told him to get down on the floor.  Then she yelled for her granddaughter to call police.  When Lessner tried to grab the gun, Susan Buxton shot him.  He fled the home, bleeding from the leg, and Susan Buxton shot at him again.  This time she missed.  Police later found him cowering under a neighbor’s backyard deck. 

Half a country away and just twenty four hours later, 60-year old Thomas Morganstern woke up to noises in his Roselle, Delaware home.  Unlike Susan Buxton, Morganstern didn’t have to go looking for the source of the noise.  When he opened his eyes he saw two strange men in his bedroom.  Morganstern grabbed a handgun and followed the pair as they ran down his stairs. 

In the living room, the two fired at Morganstern, missing him.  He returned fire, and hit both assailants.  They fled the house, and police found them hours later.  One was hiding near Morganstern’s detatched garage.  The other was lying under bushes across the street, dead. 

Just a day after Thomas Morganstern saved his life, , 65-year old Roland Burns woke up to find a stranger in his home in Rush, Kentucky.  He too grabbed a firearm.  He too told the intruder to leave.  And he too eventually had to defend himself when 32-year old Shannon Conley refused to obey that order.  According to Kentucky State Police Trooper Ed Ginter, “"Mr. Burns ordered the man to leave the home. A struggle ensued, and Mr. Conley was fatally wounded."

What chance would a 66-year old grandmother have against a bigger, stronger, man a third of her age?  What chance would a 60-year old man have against two men, armed and in their 20’s?  And what chance would a 65-year old have against a man half his age?  Without an equalizer, ,these individuals would have no chance.  Because that equalizer was a firearm, all three are alive today. 

Americans over the age of 65 are now the most likely age group to be armed, according to the General Social Survey, part of the National Opinion Research Center at the Unversity of Chicago.  The reasons for this are almost as varied as the individuals who make up that demographic.  Some are life-long gun owners.  Others have picked up firearms as they got older for reasons of personal safety.  In Arizona alone, more than 30-thousand people between the ages of 50 and 69 have concealed hangun licenses, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. 

If seniors are the most likely owners of firearms in this country, then they’re also the most likely victims of gun control laws.  A day before Susan Buxton confronted the intruder in her home, voters in San Francisco banned handguns from their city.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 70,000 San Franciscans over the age of 65.  How many of these are gun owners who are now being told to disarm?  How many will be victims of crime now that the street thugs have been notified of an unarmed populace? 

And yet, proponents of gun control continue to insist that these seniors are putting themselves more at risk by simply owning a gun.  Appearing on Fox’s ‘Hannity and Colmes” last week, Michael Beard of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said, “The privatization of public safety is a dangerous situation in our society.”  He also revealed he doesn’t have a gun in home.  Of course, he can’t legally own one.  He lives in Washington, D.C., home to a firearms ban since 1976 and the nation’s murder capitol 14 of the last 15 years.  Still, Beard says he doesn’t need a gun.  He has a telephone. 

89-year old Lois Cannady had a phone.  She used it to call 911 in Durham County, North Carolina on June 5th, 2002 to report an intruder in her home.  By the time police arrived, four minutes later, she had been murdered.  Michael Beard can perhaps take comfort in the fact that he’s not an octogenarian, and could possibly fend off an attacker for four minutes.  But the average response time in Washington, D.C. in 2004 was 8 minutes and 25 seconds.  Are you prepared to go almost three rounds with a criminal who may be armed with a gun? 

The 98,624 people in San Francisco who voted to ban handguns may be willing to try and duke it out with an armed thug.  But the fact they’ve now denied the more than 70,000 senior citzens in the city the opportunity to choose another means of protection is shameful.  A lawsuit has been filed seeking to overturn the handgun ban as a violation of state law.  Let’s hope the judges have more common sense than a majority of San Fran’s voters.