Life On The Border: Better Be Armed

On MSNBC’s Buchanan & Press program (1/16/03), the liberal co-host, Bill Press, hysterically and ignorantly attacked Glenn Spencer, president of the Arizona-based American Border Patrol, asking him: “Why is it a good idea to have a bunch of armed vigilantes out there roaming around the desert stirring up trouble?”

Well, one reason it’s a good idea for armed private citizens to defend themselves, their families and their property against illegal immigrants is because the Federal Government and local law enforcement are failing miserably at this job.

For example, Cochise County, Arizona, is so large it can fit the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut in its 6,200 square miles. It has 86 miles of international border with Mexico. Two years ago, the number of illegal immigrants flowing through Cochise County was about three times the number of residents of the county, according to County Attorney Chris Roll. Now, Roll says, the number of illegal immigrants coming into the County is still high, maybe 100,000 a month, with two-thirds of these illegals getting away and going on to Phoenix.

Carol Capas, the Public Information Officer for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, says that to patrol their 6,200 square mile area with its 86 miles of border with Mexico their Department has 56 officers.

But, let’s get personal. If Bill Press really wanted to know why we need private individuals, sometimes armed, to try and stop illegal immigrants before they break into our country, he should have a chat with Wayne Lockridge of Bisbee, Arizona, which is in Cochise County.

In April of 2001, according to a story in the Arizona Daily Star, Lockridge noticed a broken window in a travel trailer in the backyard of his home in Gold Gulch, an area said to be “a major thoroughfare” for illegal immigrants. Entering the trailer with his .38 revolver, Lockridge discovered 10 to 15 illegal immigrants. When he saw one of these illegals with a butcher knife in his hand, he shot the man.

According to Cochise County Sheriff Department spokesman Capas, the man Lockridge shot was charged with first degree trespass, a class six felony. This charge was subsequently downgraded to a class one misdemeanor. But County Attorney Chris Roll declined to prosecute. Instead, the man who was shot received medical care (at taxpayer’s expense) and was allowed to go back to Mexico.

A veteran local journalist, who has covered illegal immigration in Cochise County since 1985 but asked not to be identified by name, says: “I am not aware of anybody being prosecuted for criminal trespass when it involved an [illegal] migrant.” He adds that the problem is not just that County Attorney Chris Roll won’t prosecute such illegals, but that “most of the time,” when the Sheriff’s Department is called about illegal immigrants on private property, they are told to call the Border Patrol. The Border Patrol comes out “but doesn’t care about the trespassing charge.” So, this never goes into the books as a trespassing charge.

In an interview, Wayne Lockridge says “yes, of course” he thinks the man he shot should have been prosecuted but he’s not surprised that he wasn’t since local law enforcement officials are overwhelmed by the illegal immigrant problem. Noting that County Attorney Roll is “not a very vigorous prosecutor about anything,” Lockridge says he guesses Roll and other local law enforcement officials “just want this kind of thing to go away so they let [illegal immigrants] go away.”

Lockridge says yes, he does indeed feel “betrayed and let down” by Roll’s failure to prosecute the man he shot who he believed was coming at him with the butcher knife. Commenting on the growing number of private persons, some with guns, trying to stop illegal immigrants before they cross into Arizona, Lockridge says: “Well, you have to do this. You can’t wait for the government to take care of your problems. You’re on your own in this country.” He adds that things could have been worse: “At least I didn’t get prosecuted.”

So, Bill Press meet Wayne Lockridge. He’s one compelling answer to your absurd question of why, increasingly, we need private, sometimes armed, persons guarding our borders against illegal immigrants. Oh, and the Wayne Lockridges of the world are not the ones “stirring up trouble.” They are simply law-abiding citizens trying to do what the Federal Government and local law enforcement officials are demonstrably incapable of doing.