June 17, 2003 Tuesday

TRANSCRIPT: # 061700cb.471
LENGTH: 7362 words
BYLINE: Joe Scarborough

A Phoenix man is robbed by four armed gunmen, then chases them down in his
Hummer. Renowned Reagan speechwriter and author Peggy Noonan discusses President Bush. The woman at the center of the Roe vs. Wade debate says she was used.


Tonight on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: A Phoenix man is robbed by four armed gunmen, then a split decision to chase them down in his Hummer. The robbers are caught. Their getaway car is totaled. Is this sort of vigilante justice acceptable? We'll talk about it in tonight's "Real Deal."

And renowned Reagan speechwriter and author Peggy Noonan on President Bush: Is he really unbeatable? We're going to have "The View From SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. "

And Roe's big regret: why the woman at the center of the Roe vs. Wade debate says she was used.

And then we'll have supermodel and conservative activist Kathy Ireland. And she's going to tell us why she's taking a brave stand against Hollywood orthodoxy.

And a nationwide billboard campaign praying that the president supports a Jewish state. Evangelical Christians say the president should follow a Biblical road map as the only way to Mideast peace.

You're about to enter SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: no passport required, no vigilantes allowed.

Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I'm Joe Scarborough. I hope you're having a great evening.

Now, what would you do if you heard a burglar in your home, you went upstairs, and found him inside your child's room? Now, if you had a gun, you'd probably aim it at him. And if he ran at you, you'd probably defend yourself and your family. And if you lived in New York, you could end up actually sharing the same jail cell with the convict who was hovering over your kid's bed. If you don't believe it, stick around.

It's time for the "Real Deal."

Now, when I was in Congress, I lived on Capitol Hill for a year. I spent the rest of the time in my office or living in Virginia. Why? Because life three blocks from the United States Capitol was too dangerous then. Neighbors working on the Hill were routinely held up. They had their cars burglarized and had their houses broken into. And many of these attacks were brazen and they were done in broad daylight.

It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally did. These frequent attacks came in my neighborhood because Washington has the most extreme gun control laws in America and no one working on Capitol Hill could afford to have their name showing up in "The Washington Post" on some illegal weapons charge. Ah, but the thugs who victimized the neighborhood, they didn't share the same concerns. So they roamed at will and they terrorized law-abiding citizens, citizens who were not allowed to defend themselves or their children from such attacks.

Now, I always thought it would have taken only one or two Hill staffers firing back in self-defense to send a very clear message to criminals that open season on Capitol Hill was over. But you know what? As crazy as the gun laws are in Washington, D.C., there is a sad story in the state of New York of a man who was actually prosecuted by the government for defending his family against an armed intruder.

Ron Dixon moved from Florida to New York. He worked seven days a week at two jobs and was looking for the American dream somewhere in Brooklyn. But after shooting a burglar who charged at him inside his house, state prosecutors decided to spend as much time nailing Dixon as they did on the burglar, who was also, by the way, a habitual offender.

Dixon bought and registered his gun in the state of Florida and he was going through the process of getting it licensed in New York state, which, let me tell you, it's a bureaucratic nightmare in and of itself. Gun control activists seem to hate to admit that guns do save lives. Some studies have suggested that they save as many as 2-2.5 million lives a year. And "The National Review" recently cited Justice Department studies showing that criminals' greatest fear while committing a crime is facing an armed citizen, like Ron Dixon, who has the ability and the willingness to defend his home, to defend his family and to defend his life.

You know what? The bumper sticker's right, even if it's simple. If you outlaw guns, then only the outlaws will have guns. It is that simple. And it's tonight's "Real Deal."

With me now to discuss where to draw the line between self-defense and vigilante justice are defense attorney Keith Watters, and John Lott, who is author of "The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control is Wrong."
John, let me begin with you.

Are you surprised by the story in New York of Mr. Dixon, who defends his family from a burglar who comes into his house and then he may get sent to jail?

No, I'm not surprised by the story. I mean, I guess the thing that's surprising is how little coverage these defensive uses get.

People use defensive gun uses, as you say, about two million times a year, but yet it's pretty hard for most people to remember when the last time they heard a story on the news about someone using a gun defensively. The only reason why this story is getting the attention it is, is because something went wrong, in the sense that the person was arrested and -- but the vast majority of times, you never would hear of any story.

You just don't hear it. You don't hear the 2.5 million times a year that actually gun save the lives, not only of the gun owner, but of the gun owner's family.
Let me bring in Keith.

Keith, you've heard the story of what's happened in New York state. You can certainly understand why many Americans would be very concerned that a law-abiding citizen in his own home, defending his family from a criminal with a long, long rap sheet would be sent to jail.

Joe, let's get the facts straight. First of all, he's not charged with shooting the individual. He was charged with a weapons violation for illegally having a gun. New York has a very strict Sullivan Law. And to have your license in process is not good enough.

But, I mean, judges, though, aren't robots. They can look at facts of the case.


WATTERS: He was offered four weekends in jail for his crime of not registering a gun. That sends a message that guns are not permissible. Now, to the other point

Yes, go ahead.

Keith, Keith, but getting to the other point, though, this guy works seven days a week. He works five days a week and then works two days on the weekend.


I agree. He's probably a good -- he's probably a good guy. And maybe, if I were the judge, I wouldn't send him to jail at all. But the law is the law. And if he violated the law by not having a registered gun, then he broke the law, like anybody else.

LOTT: But he was going through the process of getting it registered.


WATTERS: That doesn't mean anything. I could be going through the process of getting a driver's license. That doesn't mean I can drive.

LOTT: But the unfortunate thing about the law is, you're forcing people for six months or a year to live in New York without being able to defend themselves, because the state is so...

WATTERS: Oh, no. Crime rates are down all over the country.

LOTT: That's not the point.

WATTERS: And I don't know where this 2.5 million figure comes from.

SCARBOROUGH: Hey, we'll give you that in a minute.


WATTERS: Of all the homicides committed last year, 154 were justifiable, with people using guns correctly. Thousands and thousands of people die each year.


SCARBOROUGH: Cut off the mikes. Cut off the mikes. Cut off the mikes.

Listen, we've got to keep this moving. I want to go on to a next point. On Saturday night in Phoenix, Arizona, Peter Shepherd's (ph) business was robbed by four armed men who escaped in a getaway car. Taking matters into his own hands, Shepherd jumped into his $50,000 Hummer. He chased the robbers down and ran over their car, sending three of the suspects to the hospital. And here's why Shepherd says he took matters into his own hands.


If they're going to do this to us, and they're going to get away from it, and they're going to hurt the employees here, they're going to come back again.


All right, John, this is really not the same thing as shooting somebody in your home. This guy chased these guys down and ran them over. Isn't that getting close to vigilante justice?

Well, sure. I guess you could call it an assault vehicle that was used in this case.

But when people use guns defensively, they're very reticent to do that. Fewer than one out of every 1,000 times that people use guns defensively is the attacker killed.

SCARBOROUGH: OK, Keith, hold on, hold on, hold on. Hold the statistics for a second. Let's talk about this specific case, though. What if this guy had a gun, chased these guys out of his store, and then shot them? Is that acceptable to you?


LOTT: No, it's not.

Yes, I would agree. I think that's unjustifiable use of force, deadly force. His life was not in imminent danger at that point. That's when you're justified in using force, when you're afraid you're about to get killed or hurt. He's not a police officer.


John, what's your take on this?

The law is very clear. You are allowed to use force that's commensurate to the risk that you're facing. If somebody's running away from you, you have no right to go and shoot them in the back. But if they're approaching you, if they're threatening you or someone else, you're allowed to go and defend yourself.

All right, Keith, you said that crime was down. I want to read you some statistics that were just released by the FBI recently. Murder is actually up an astounding 12.4 percent from last year in the suburbs. And rape is up 4 percent nationwide.

But the long-term trends on crime are way down all across the country.

The long-term trends are down. But, at the same time, don't you think it's problematic, if places like Washington, D.C., New York City, and other urban areas make it hard for citizens like Ron Dixon to get a gun permit, so he can protect his family?

Because I think it's a fallacy. I think this is crime-baiting the NRA types put out there, that you got a right to have a gun to protect yourself. We don't live in the Wild Wild West days. You go to a country like Canada, England, Japan, there's virtually no gun crime whatsoever, because they're not allowed to have guns. We've got to get out of Wild Wild West mentality in this country.

John Lott, respond, 15 seconds. Then we've got to go.


Police are extremely important for stopping crime, but they can't be there all the time. And you have to ask, what do you recommend that somebody do when they're having to confront a criminal by themselves. And by far, the safest course of action for someone to take in that case is to have a gun.


They usually end up killing a loved one.

All right. Thank you, John Lott. All right. Thank you, John Lott.

Thank you, Keith Watters. We appreciate you being here tonight.

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Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been added to Nexis:

There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use increase from 2 to 3 now.

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