"I'm being stalked! Can you help me?" (protection from assault) (Lethal Force)
This month Massad Ayoob discusses how to help a customer in trouble. As the Brady Law goes into effect and the five day waiting period is enforced, a firearm purchase may not be a viable solution. Other options must be considered and a dealer with the right information may help save a life.
"One of the most terrifying things a dealer can hear from a customer," says SI Editor Scott Farrell, "is, 'I'm being stalked!"'
In the time of the Brady Law, the problem is exacerbated. We gun people warned that victims in this situation would be helpless for the time of the waiting period if they didn't already own a gun. What to do?
At this writing, the ramifications of Brady have not yet been fully realized. You'll want to stay on top of any provision that allows an emergency exemption to be made for a stalking victim. Could you or someone else lend a gun in such an exigent circumstance? State law or local law may prevent it. In at least one state, it is a crime to loan your gun to another person.
Let's look at some other options:
As I've said in this column many times before, body armor is a natural line for you to stock. Who will it appeal to? The same people who come into your store to buy defensive handguns - for just the same reasons.
The stalking victim will have a particularly high motivation to buy and there's no waiting period.
Chances are, if the stalking victim is just now coming to you, she or he is not already a gun owner. That means they probably don't have a clue how to use it under stress. They're going to need training, preferably in an accelerated program. Are you offering defensive firearms training now? It is, after all, a logical "branch market" for what you're selling.
If not, do you maintain the addresses and phone numbers of local firearms instructors known to you to be ethical and competent? At moments like this, you'll be glad you did.
Another option, if the customer's pocketbook can handle it, is to call one or more of the major private firearms academies to find out if they can accommodate this customer on short notice. A number of problems are now solved:
First, that damn waiting period is spent in the most meaningful way possible. Second, by the time the customer can take delivery of it, they'll be proficient in the fiream's use.
Third, so long as they haven't told the wrong people where they're going, they're away from home and out of harm's way during this vulnerable period. Finally, they'll be safe even if a relentless stalker tracks them there. Jeff Cooper was fond of calling his academy grounds, Gunsite, "The Safest Place on Earth." If the chief instructor is notified of the situation, arrangements can be made for the student to have extra security during this period.
Problem - Wrong!
In every stalking case I've come in contact with, some bozo with a Rambo complex has told the victim something like, "There's only one way to solve the problem: Hunt the stalker down and kill him first."
Good grief! That's easy to say when you're a couch potato who doesn't et closer to real impending violence than watching the "Steven Seagal Film Festival" on HBO. But advising the intended victims to shed their mantle of innocence and become a murderer is just what Sarah Brady and company expect you to do.
Indeed, you should warn the customer that she or he may be given that kind of stupid advice, and you should explain clearly why it must not be taken.
Attacking the problem - Right
Make certain that the customer has advised the local police of the situation. ask who is in charge of the investigation at the police department. Touch base with that investigator, or perhaps with someone you may know better at the police department.
Your call confirms to the cops that this matter is getting serious, and that the victim us bit exaggerating his or her fear of the stalker. The cop doesn't want this to have to end in a shoot-out between stalker and victim. It makes the department look like it failed to do its job, and it may get a little more done at the police department level as a result.
You also want alternative options for referral. Familiarize yourself with the Crisis Hotlines and Domestic Abuse Shelters in your community. You'll find them listed in the front of the telephone book under community services.
You also want alternative options for referral. Familiarize yourself with the Crisis Hotlines and Domesti Abuse Shelters in your community. You'll find them listed in the front of the telephone book under community services.
Many of these groups have the capability of putting the victim into a reasonably secure shelter or safe house until things are quared away. These groups also work closely with the police and make efforts to get the progress of the investigation accelerated. Remember, the ideal solution is to get the stalker off the streets and into custory, not to have your customer, probably a novice with guns, go against the odds in a "mano-a-mano" shoot-out with an obsessed weirdo who has had ample time to equip himself, prepare, and even rehearsal and attack.
When it's all over, a lot of these people will go back to being light-weight yuppies, whimpering to themselves, "Oh, dear me, how could I have thought about arming myself with a nasty, deadly gun?" There's not much you can do for them. Just be glad that you helped keep them from being murdered this time.
However, some of the others will have come to appreaciate he sense of real-world confidence and security that comes from owning a defensive firearm and knowing how to use it competently and responsibly. They'll stay gun ownerss. They will very likely decide to buy more and to shoot more.
And when that happens, they'll bring their business to the dealer who went an extra mile to keep them safe.
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|Date:||Apr 1, 1994|
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