That Scared the Crap Out of Me, That Someone Could Have a Gun in the Store'
On Monday, May 22, Sandra Suter was standing in the check-out line of the Wal-Mart in Spring Hill, Fla. when she saw several store employees wrestling with a knife-wielding man.
The employees had apprehended 50-year-old Willie J. Redding of Brookville--reported by the St. Petersburg Times to have previous convictions for selling drugs and dealing in stolen property--attempting to steal a VCR.
Dropping his loot, Redding pulled a small blade and lunged, cutting two employees, according to a Hernando County sheriff's report.
"Drop the knife! Drop the knife!" one of the bleeding employees was yelling.
Mrs. Suter, a 53-year-old grandmother, reacted as she had been trained.
"I have a concealed weapons permit," she announced as she walked up to the armed assailant and presented the .40-caliber pistol she keeps in her purse. "Either drop the knife, or I'll shoot you."
Getting smart in a hurry, Mr. Redding surrendered, was jailed, and gained release the next day on $3,000 bond.
"I just did what I thought was right," Grandma Suter told Jamie Malernee of the St. Petersburg Times. "It was the first time I've ever had to pull my gun other than at the firing range."
Suter's husband and grown children are calling the 5-foot-3 homemaker "a hero," reporter Malernee admits.
But then the Times story goes on:
"Spokesmen for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and Wal-Mart advise civilians not to get involved in such situations. 'We want to keep our stores a pleasant place to shop, so we would never encourage our customers to arm themselves,' said Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams. ...
"Shopper Lorinda Smith, who was in the candy aisle during the confrontation, said Tuesday that she was more frightened by Suter's gun then the man's knife.
" 'That scared the c--- out of me, that someone could have a gun in the store,' said Smith of Hernando Beach. 'This one lady was in there with her children and when she saw (the gun) she was like, "Get on the ground! Get on the ground!" If I was there with my kids, I would have had a heart attack.' "
Frightened at the sight of a responsible fellow citizen--a five-foot-three grandmother--using a legally licensed handgun to stop a crime without even firing a shot.
Think about that. Would the ladies have been frightened if uniformed policemen had shown up and brandished guns in the process of arresting three-time loser Willie Redding? Of course not--even though, statistically, police officers accidentally shoot the wrong person in far more cases than do citizens with legally issued concealed-carry permits.
"NRA officials did not return phone calls," reporter Malernee continues. "Kim Mariani, spokeswoman for Handgun Control Inc., said Suter's actions, while brave, could have hurt someone.
" 'God forbid something went wrong," Mariani said. "It just escalates the situation, and a lot of times it's unnecessary.' "
Reporter Jamie Malernee has clearly done what she thought was her job, calling all parties who might be expected to comment on the incident. (We'll leave aside for the moment the fact that the NRA, which endorsed the gun control bills of 1934 and 1968 and the Brady Bill, actually comprises a larger gun control advocacy group than Handgun Control--that placing a call to Gun Owners of America or JPFO might have been more appropriate in any search for "balance.")
But clearly, the formulaic structure of this story--even though it's admirably complete--seeks to "balance" any implication that the carrying and use of firearms by law-abiding citizens is natural or proper.
I believe something important is going on, here.