Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Case For Conceal Carry?

A story about a woman who held a burglar by gunpoint in Cedar County has been lighting up my phone and e-mail inbox. It's sparked quite the debate over the right to bear arms.

57-year-old Jane Downey earned her conceal carry permit two years ago in Springfield. Last week, she put it to use when she found a burglar in the closet of her sister's house. She used her .38-caliber pistol to keep the man in his place until authorities could arrive.

Watch it HERE.

Now, viewers are calling with questions, compliments and complaints.

"Tonight's report by David Catanese was incredibly fair and I feel does a world of good for folks out there with misconceptions about CCW holders. There are thousands of Missourians who legally carry firearms on a daily basis for protection from ever increasing violence in our communities. Most of those that do so are labeled as "gun nuts", primarily by the media. I encourage you to keep up the good work and honest reporting concerning law-abiding citizens who choose to protect themselves," wrote Blake Rosenfelder.

Another wonders if the story would have been portrayed the same if she didn't have a conceal and carry permit. Yet another questioned what would have happened if she actually shot him.

Viewer Thomas Hosmer writes that my story was "irresponsible" and a missed opportunity.

"This is a very complicated issue in itself but to have it broad stroked, as this piece was presented, was sad," Hosmer wrote in an e-mail to me. "Then the news team anchors even suggested that the people who were against this issue 'had to agree that this was the right thing to do" (Ethan Forhetz).'"

"Well, we all agree that it is best that she was safe. But it is irresponsible journalism to assume that we should all go out and purchase a gun to be safe. What about the rest of the world and guns. This could have been a chance to educate kids and the rest of this region of both sides dealing with guns. Missed opportunity!," said Hosmer.

I think Hosmer's wrong to say we encouraged anyone to go out and purchase a gun. But I also see his larger point. I think he's on base to suggest that we could have used the opportunity to frame a wider debate over guns. But I also think that's a different story.

The idea was mostly to chronicle this woman's amazing tale of handling a burglar in a rural part of Cedar County -- alone. It wasn't meant to be overtly political. But I understand that perception is reality, and I always appreciate a worthwhile suggestion. You can frame a story a dozen different ways -- but this was mostly a straight up, news piece on what happened and where.

In the end, it may be worth a follow-up to go deeper, so viewers can decide whether this law does more or less to reduce crime and keep people safe.

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