What if He Would Have Had a Gun?

James Vernon is 75 years old and teaches chess to children at his local library.  Last week, he jumped into action when an attacker threatened the children he teaches.

According to The Pekin Daily Times:

Sixteen children were getting a chess lesson from James Vernon in a room at the library when 19-year-old Dustin Brown allegedly came in with a hunting knife in each hand screaming that he was going to kill people. Vernon tells the Washington Post that one thought went through his mind: “This can’t happen here and I’m not going to let it happen. These kids are my responsibility right now.”

Vernon got in front of Brown while the kids hid under tables behind him. “I tried to settle him down,” Vernon tells the Daily Times. “I didn’t, but I did deflect his attention.” The kids were able to get out of the room to safety, and Vernon observed Brown was right-handed by the way he handled his knives.

Brown allegedly slashed at Vernon, but—knowing which hand the attack was coming from—Vernon blocked the knife, suffering cut arteries and a tendon in the process.

“I should have hit his wrist,” Vernon tells the Daily Times. “That’s how you’re trained, but it’s been half a century.”

Vernon threw Brown onto a table, hit him until he released the knives, and held him down until library staff and police arrived. “I was operating at the animal level for a few seconds there,” he tells the Post, adding that his 75-year-old body, complete with weak knees, a bum shoulder, and high blood pressure, held up fine.

The quick thinking and action of James Vernon is commendable, and the parents of those 16 precious children are certainly grateful for it.  Vernon is a hero, and he should be celebrated.  But, what if he would have had a gun?  If Vernon had had a gun, he could have been able to act more quickly.  He would have been able to subdue Brown without as much threat to his own physical wellbeing.

But guns are not allowed in public libraries.  In several states, including Illinois, even people who take the time to apply for and get licensed to conceal and carry a gun are prohibited from doing so in a library and several other public buildings like hospitals and schools.

The truth is, prohibiting all guns from specific places puts a giant target on those spaces for criminals to easily access them without a concern about being stopped by anyone but police.  By the time police can respond, it is often too late.