In Praise Of Not Being A Good Victim

As published in The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H., all rights reserved.

Ever notice that even courage is subject to a double standard? We honor those who overcome the innate fear of death to act in defense of our country. Yet, those who do likewise in defense of life and property are frequently admonished for not being good victims. People like Tony Nader must find this hard to take.

Nader was working one April evening at Bella Variety, a convenience store on Chestnut Street in Nashua. Customers present knew Nader carried a sidearm, but there’s always some doofus who doesn’t get the word.

Sure enough, a would-be robber wielding a revolver and wearing a bandana charged through the door. He threw a bag on the counter and yelled at Nader to fill it with cash.

While threatening to kill everybody, the robber – described by police as a light-skinned black male in his early 20s, about six feet tall with a slim build – stuck his gun in Nader’s face. To motivate Nader, the gunman punctuated his threats with profanity and cocked the revolver.

Nader picked up the bag as though he were going to comply with the demand. Instead, he dropped it. This distracted the gunman for an instant. That’s all Nader needed to grab the robber’s pistol with one hand and pull the semiautomatic from his belt with the other.

When faced with resistance, the robber’s tough-guy facade wilted like an over-watered petunia. He pulled away and ran. Nader gave chase, but called it quits.

Not so for the robber. He went where victims are more cooperative and held up another market.

One might be forgiven for thinking Nader’s bravery would at least be mentioned by someone. Not in today’s society. What Nader did was politically incorrect.

Nashua police implied Nader should have been a good victim and freely given his property to the criminal. The spokesman said, “The more weapons become involved, the more chance somebody could get hurt.”

Obviously, the spokesman was regurgitating department policy, but is insisting that people always be good, defenseless victims sound advice? An Internet search on convenience store robberies raises serious doubts. Numerous incidents are documented in which robbers murdered helpless and compliant victims for reasons known only to those robbers.

In Westland, Mich., Michael Lamont Schofield robbed a convenience store. In the process he killed four people and wounded two others. His girlfriend, Leslie Gordon, acted as lookout while Schofield methodically fired one shot into each of the two unarmed clerks and four customers. That they were all good victims while they waited to die was irrelevant to the killers.

In another instance, two men killed an unarmed convenience store clerk in Houston, Texas. Neighbors told investigators the clerk was a nervous person in fear of the local crime rate. They said he’d have given no resistance and would have given his money over freely. Once again, being a good victim didn’t matter to the criminals.

These and other such stories lead to an ominous conclusion: criminals are incapable of feeling sympathy for their victims. Hence, posing no threat holds little promise of avoiding harm. And that’s not all. In many cases, the absence of a threat actually attracts criminals.

John Lott is a former economics and law professor at the University of Chicago. In his book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” he argues that very point. It was exemplified when Minnesota’s recently adopted concealed carry law went into effect.

Most businesspeople quickly armed themselves, but a minority who equated guns with evil were appalled. To protest their armed colleagues, they put up signs proclaiming their businesses “gun free.” Guess where the criminals went.

After several armed robberies in gun-free stores the intellectual light went on. Anti-gun proprietors quietly stopped advertising the fact they were not armed.

However, this change of heart pales beside that of the nationally acclaimed Charleston, S.C., Police Chief Reuben Greenberg. He had always viewed citizens defending themselves with firearms negatively.

That changed when Greenberg encountered evidence contrary to his views. A good example is the record of one downtown business in a high-crime area. Despite its location, it hadn’t been held up in 20 years. Greenberg found criminals avoided it because they were aware the owner and the employees all packed pistols.

The radical, UC-Berkely educated Greenberg reassessed his self-defense position. Now, he no longer discourages those who wish to protect themselves. This inflames some people and impresses others. Regardless, it shows that Charleston’s first black police chief is not a prisoner of ideology. If only this were true of more law enforcement people.

It certainly wasn’t true of the Nashua police spokesman, who said of Nader’s action, “Not only do we not encourage it, we seriously frown on it.” In making that remark he not only showed contempt for Nader’s courage, but he also conveyed a veiled threat to others who might someday be faced with the choice of defending their lives or becoming good victims.

That’s just more grief for people in crime-risky occupations to worry about, but for Tony Nader it shouldn’t be a concern. He’s already established that Bella Variety is not a good place to rob.

Joe Konopka is a technical writer who lives in Hudson.