“Mayor, we’ve got a big problem on our hands,” said Police Chief Bud Anderson to Mike Branden, mayor of Palm City, Florida, a small city of 100,000 old-fashioned Americans, sitting in the middle of the Florida panhandle. It was a beautiful spring day in April.
Bud Anderson was a handsome man, in his thirties, dark brown hair, blue eyes, a wide, easy mouth. He wore a light-blue short-sleeve shirt and jeans. Mayor Mike Branden also dressed casually, was in his forties, tall, and well-built. He used to be an orange-grower, his family going back generations in Palm City. He had a weather-beaten face, strong mouth, and calloused hands the size of baseball mitts. He had just been elected mayor in November and won the election on his promise to clean up crime in the city.
Over the last five years, the city had become a little Silicon Valley, with computer companies moving in by the droves because there were no corporate taxes in Florida or in Palm City. The city was prospering, and the newly-rich computer millionaires and their employees with stock options were all building big, fancy houses by the river. The money and big houses had attracted thieves. The city crime rate had been exploding, especially home burglaries and rapes. All the women in the city were scared and up in arms over the crime spree, and wanted something done. Mayor Branden promised to do something about it.
“Bud, tell me what you think the problem is,” Mike Branden said. “Tell me what you think we can do.”
“Well, Mike,” Bud Anderson said, “I think the thieves and rapists have it too easy. They’re smart. They case the mark’s house carefully before they break-in. They only break in when they know the wife is home alone. But that’s not the real problem, Mike.”
“The real problem is that women are defenseless. You may not know this, being so new as Mayor, but about five years ago the previous Mayor passed gun laws that made it illegal to have a gun in the house, and illegal to use one in self-defense against a burglar or rapist. He also made it illegal for anyone to carry a concealed gun outside the house. That’s when our troubles started, Mayor.”
Mike Branden grew up with guns ever since he was a boy. He belonged to the National Rifle Association. He loved skeet shooting and bought his kids their first rifles when they were eight years old. He taught them how to shoot straight and how to use a gun safely. His wife also owned a rifle and handgun, shared his love for skeet shooting, and was a crack shot. Mayor Mike Branden was not a college graduate, but he had guts, common sense, and imagination. He immediately saw the problem and the solution.
“Well, I think we’ll change those gun laws, Bud. Thieves and rapists have it too easy around here. They know they can rob houses and rape women with no risk.
“Let’s put the risk back. Let’s see what happens when they get shot if they break into a house or bother one of our women. I’m sick to death of all the gun laws in this country, so let’s try a little experiment. I’ll convince the City Council to revoke our gun-control laws. Next, I’ll convince them to pass a new law requiring every man and woman in Palm City to own a handgun or shotgun and know how to use them safely. I want a pistol and shotgun in every home. I want every woman walking around town with a concealed gun in her purse or under her dress. Let’s see what happens when we change the laws. Let’s see what happens when we give the victims a way to defend themselves.”
“I also want you to put a series of ads in the Palm City Gazette and Daily Press that announces the new laws, so everyone knows that every Palm City resident will soon be armed. I want you to set up gun safety and training courses on the local firing ranges, so we know that every woman in this town will be dead shot.”
Bud Anderson’s eyes lit up with admiration for his new Mayor. He had been wanting to revoke those gun laws for the last five years but never dreamed of the daring plan the new Mayor now wanted to put into action.
“That’s a damned fantastic idea, Mike. You’re going to make a hell of a Mayor. I think the citizens in this town are going to love you. They’re going to have a great time learning how to use a gun again, especially the women. I know the women will form gun clubs. They’ll probably want to buy designer guns with pretty colors. Hell, I might even buy a pearl-handled 45 myself.”
Mike Branden laughed out loud at his Police Chief’s boyish enthusiasm. He said, “I think the new laws should be in place in about a month, Bud. Let’s meet again in about three months and you can tell me whether we’ve had any success with the plan.”
Bud Anderson gave a mock salute to his Mayor, said “yes, sir,” and walked out the door into the Spring sunshine.
THREE MONTHS LATER:
It’s a hot July day in the Mayor’s office, and Police Chief Anderson and Mike Branden are having an enthusiastic conversation.
“Mike, mother-of-god did your plan work! The crime rate has dropped like a rock in Palm City. Burglaries are down 80 percent. Rapes are down 90 percent. I’ve never seen anything like it. It all started about two months ago, Mike. There was a burglary gang that had been hitting most of the houses. Well, about ten of them have been shot, three killed in the last two months. As soon as the burglar alarm goes off, the women took their guns from their purses and started shooting. I’ve interrogated some of the thieves we caught. They’re pretty stupid and don’t read much, so they weren’t aware of the new gun laws. They thought we were still operating under the old laws. You should have seen the shock on their faces. They were mad as hell. They never expected pretty young housewives to be spraying them with semi-automatic fire. They were mad as hell at you.”
“Then there were the rapists who didn’t know about the new gun laws either, the ones who prayed on women at night in the shopping-mall parking lots. Did they get the shock of their lives! About twenty of them have been shot already, five killed. They just came up to the women, brazen like thinking they could get away with anything like they used to. Then the girls suddenly pulled out their pretty pistols and started firing away. You should hear how the women laughed with glee and pride when they told me their stories. They told me how thankful they were to have their guns. I think all the women in this town love you now, Mike. It’s a good thing you’re already married.”
“I think the bad guys are getting the picture, Mike. Burglars and rapists are getting scarce in Palm City. Matter of fact, I just got a call from Ben Radley, Police Chief at Hampton Bay. They still have the same idiotic gun-control laws we had here. Seems they’ve been getting a sharp rise in house burglaries and rapes there. Looks like our bad guys are moving on to the easier ground in Hampton Bay. I sure feel sorry for the people in that town right now. Ben Radley wants to talk to you real bad. He wants to know how you got crime down so fast in Palm City. Who knows, Mike, maybe what you did here will spread all over the country. I hope so.”
“One other thing, Mike. Every teacher and principal in every public school in this town now carries a concealed gun. Every one of the kids knows this, and they now feel really safe in the schools. They’re not worrying anymore about one of their deranged teenage friends suddenly going on a shooting spree, like what happened at Columbine High School. If anything happens, they know they don’t have to wait an hour for the cops to show up. They know the teachers and principals can protect them. Did you know math and reading scores are going up at the schools, too? It’s the damndest thing.”
“Mike, I think you’re going to be Mayor in this town for as long as you like. I hope you stay on forever because Palm City folks are really grateful to you. At first, they were a little skeptical about your plans. But now, after they’ve seen the results, you couldn’t get them to give up their guns anymore. We’re even getting calls from newspapers, magazines, and TV stations all over the country.
Fox News wants to interview you, did you know that? They called me this morning. You’re becoming a celebrity, by god!”
Mike Branden laughed out loud. “Me, an orange grower, a celebrity? Forget the interviews, Bud. How about we go fishing this afternoon after work? It’s getting kind of quiet around here, just the way I like it.”
Bud Anderson, grinning, stuck out his hand to shake Mike’s big, calloused hand, for he now counted Mike Branden as a good friend. That afternoon, they caught a dozen trout at Briar Creek lake. It was a fine afternoon.