The radio in my car was tuned to WHO-Radio  in Des Moines at the 4pm “Top of the Hour” newscast today. Newsman Gary Barrett explained that the grandson of Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell* had warded off an armed intruder to the rural Boswell household with a shotgun.   The man was already attacking one of the women in the household and fled the scene after being confronted by the younger Boswell.

In an amazing display of hutzpah, the story ended with a quote from (I believe) a law-enforcement officer suggesting that residents should not take out their firearms when faced with an intruder because

  1. They might wrestle the gun from you and do you harm
  2. If you let them take whatever they want from you, they will USUALLY just leave you unharmed.
How fool-hardy because
  1. One of the purposes of owning a gun is to see to it that they don’t take all your stuff.
  2. In the case at hand, it appears the masked gunman was after more than stuff, if you catch my drift.
  3. There is no indication the man would have left the Boswell family unharmed, in fact, there were minor injuries.
  4. Were the Boswells supposed to wait for the arrival of the police to come to their rural home by “chance”?
  5. The man was already armed.
This reminds me of the policy of some convenient stores, requiring employees to give the robbers whatever they want.   Now it certainly may be wise to cooperate if you are unarmed.   But there is no moral requirement that you allow the bad guys to rule the day.
*Boswell has a consistent record or protecting the Second Amendment.
10 comments
  1. David…
    Gary Barrett here.I didn’t write the story myself, but I screen what I put in my newscasts.  It was another perspective to the story, which is something I endeavor to do in my newscasts.  Give you as many perspectives and let you draw your own conclusions. Our WHO Radio listeners are intelligent enough to make up their own minds-I don’t try to do that for you.And you probably missed my 5pm newscast where I featured audio from Decatur County’s sheriff at the Boswell news conference where he said that, given the circumstances, what Boswell did was probably best at the time.  I couldn’t have put that in the 4pm news conference because at the time he was just getting ready to say it.  And that sheriff also said that training for businesses on dealing with armed robbers says to always give ’em what they want and let ’em go. Businesses have to worry about bystanders being injured-and about being sued by the robber (another debate topic for another time!).  You are right that this scenario doesn’t always work in the home.That said, would you agree that it’s not always smart to pull a gun on someone who has a gun unless you are ready to shoot to kill immediately, which the grandson didn’t do? In this case, the other guy chickened out.  But what if instead he fired off a few rounds into Boswell’s wife and daughter after seeing the grandson’s gun before the grandson got in position to be able to fire? Even if the intruder was shot and killed, at that point it really worth it?  And your statements about what the gunman wanted…he wanted money, and said so to every person he assaulted. (Boswell said so in the news conference)  Assuming something else is wicked thought.So there’s my clarification.  If I personally disagreed with most of your statements, I’d debate you. But I feel that here, as in my newscasts-as Paul Harvey used to say-you need “the rest of the story”.

    It wasn’t a “goofy anti-gun story”…it was a reaction by Des Moines Police to the story and it gave us the chance to interact and maybe spur interest for the kinds of legislative action that was blocked in the Iowa Senate this year.  

    Thanks for enduring my response.  

    1. @c1cf9748e080e3020211bf82ad89b989:disqus I have always known you to be a fair reporter.  And your posts are always welcome here.
      Perhaps you should not have included the DM police bit until you got the other side.   Surely you see how goofy it looks to listen to a story where a heroic young man saves a life, and instead of his heroism being proclaimed, the local authorities say “don’t do that”.”But what if instead”

      What if the family had no money at home, then what?   Offer to take him down to the ATM and make a withdrawal?
      What if he decided to unload on everybody in anger?   At least the gunman would have gotten away safe, and three or four others would be dead.

      Do you think this robber will be back, or will he go down to the next farm house where they take the advice of the Des Moines Police?    Gun Ownership and Gun Use are deterrents.   Guns never used don’t deter.

      The “wicked” comment was unjustified.  You said the would-be-robber told those he attacked that he wanted money. He apparently didn’t tell the young hero.   So, the hero, seeing his mother(?) being assaulted could not know what his intentions were.   Neither he nor I had the information left out of the 4 pm story, so there is no need to get personal.

      When an intruder comes armed, I suspect he is ready to use it and without cause or justification.

      1. David, I do believe that this whole incident has been a great motivator for a greater discussion on the use of deadly force.

        But as Sgt. Scott just explained on Jan Mickelson’s show, not everyone is as prepared as you are to defend themselves with a weapon.

        And, our laws are so complicated-some would say convoluted-that if you did use deadly force to defend yourself against an intruder, you-the victim being attacked-could end up on trial. 

        That’s enough to give pause.  I would encourage anyone who missed Mickelson’s show today to listen to the podcast of it when it comes out later today or tomorrow.  Sgt. Scott lays out all the complications of the law that we now face-and talks about how preparation is key.

        As I tried to point out before, having a gun isn’t the guarantee of protection.  You have to be trained how to fire it, understand the law to know when you can, and be mentally trained to know when to shoot to avoid unintended consequences.

      2. “And, our laws are so complicated-some would say convoluted-that if you did use deadly force to defend yourself against an intruder, you-the victim being attacked-could end up on trial. 
        That’s enough to give pause.” 

        It may only give pause to those who are unwilling to go to jail to save the lives of their families.  I, of course, have no opposition to people being trained, but that was not the earlier story.  It was “keep your gun out of the issue”.  Nothing was said in the 4 O’clock story about training.  Just as you stand by your earlier story, I stand by mine.

    2. Reasonable minds will differ about the best way to handle this situation. The Des Moines police officer may have been speaking from experience, having seen the aftermath of things going very wrong when a crime victim pulled out a gun. No point in pretending it’s always safer to confront an armed robber with your own weapon.

    3. Reasonable minds will differ about the best way to handle this situation. The Des Moines police officer may have been speaking from experience, having seen the aftermath of things going very wrong when a crime victim pulled out a gun. No point in pretending it’s always safer to confront an armed robber with your own weapon.

  2. Gary Barrett, this is the exact reason Iowa needs a castle doctrine law. If I defend myself from a invader, why should he or his surviving family be allowed to sue me for defending myself? 

  3. “2. If you let them take whatever they want from you, they will USUALLY just leave you unharmed.”
    And what if what they want is your life? Or your daughter’s?  Some (most?) LE agencies wish that “civilians”, as they call us, remain compliant with the criminals’ requests, as a sheep.  I am not interested in even considering that possibility. I don’t care if the criminal has vowed not to harm his/her victims. I will assume he/she will, so I’m not granting the benefit of the doubt. Police job is to secure the crime scene until the coroner arrives, thanks but no thanks.  Read Jeff Cooper. Then act accordingly.

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