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The Best Defense:
True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves

by Robert Waters

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Keep and Bear Arms

Keep and Bear Arms

Operation Self Defense FAQ

Because self-defense is a basic human right...

and people need to know the truth about how many people use guns to legally defend life, liberty and property.

Newspaper Index | Back to OpSD

OpSD Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the question below to be taken to your answer:

We do our best to add new questions to this site as quickly as they come in. If your question is not answered here, please contact us to get it answered.

What does a Net Detective do?

A Net Detective reads a number of assigned/chosen news websites every day and reports any stories about armed self defense back to Operation Self Defense. This is done by sending an email to (That email address is for use by the general public. Net Detectives are provided a special email address once their Application is approved. Anyone can submit stories to this address, but only members of Operation Self Defense will be recognized and credited.)

For More Specifics...

1. When you find a self defense story, copy the URL (web address) of the story into an email. Copying and pasting the text of the story into the email is also very helpful.

2. Put the two-letter abbreviation of the state in which the self defense took place in the subject line of the message. Also type a short 'headline' that describes the story. Example: (TX) Armed intruder shot by homeowner.

3. If you are sending the story from an email address other than the one we have listed for you, please include the email address you used in your Application as well -- so that we may properly credit you for having found a useable story.

4. Send the email to (That email address is for use by the general public. Net Detectives are provided a special email address once their Application is approved. Anyone can submit stories to this address, but only members of Operation Self Defense will be recognized and credited.)

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Application to Join OpSD

How much time is involved?

That depends on how many news websites you agree to review. If you choose only one, it will probably take less than five minutes per day. Most of our current Net Detectives review between three and ten sites every day which may take 10 minutes to an hour.

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Application to Join OpSD

What's a good way to find self defense stories?

The best way is to read all the headlines in the paper's main news sections on the news websites. Self defense stories usually appear in the national, local or metro sections of the paper. Some sites have a special "Crime & Courts" section. These are your best bets for finding stories for OpSD.

You can also do a search of your news websites for a few "keywords" like: gun, handgun, defense, attack, self-defense, shooting, rifle, pistol, shotgun, home invasion, thwart, etc. This method is not foolproof though, so use it carefully. It is always best to make a quick run-through of the headlines to be sure nothing is missed.

Important Note: You must be careful to not be misled by anti-gun editors who like to play down the fact that a citizen used a firearm for self defense. A headline reading "Shooting Victim Found in Hallway" might sound like a story about a tragic murder; but it is worthwhile to read a story with such a headline because you may find out that the "victim" had just invaded a nearby apartment and was shot by the resident in self defense.

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Application to Join OpSD

What do I get out of this?

In a word... Satisfaction.

Our rights are under constant assault from freedom-robbing politicians and left-wing extremists in the mainstream media. Sometimes it seems like we are shaking our fists at a hurricane. Operation Self Defense is an easy way to be a part of an important process to quell the hurricanes of falsehoods, half-truths and outright lies that are spun by the liberal media. The best part is that we are actually using the local media to expose the biases of the national media. Irony at its best!

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Application to Join OpSD

What do you do with the stories?

All stories submitted will be reviewed by members of the OpSD team to assure that they meet our criteria. Instances of firearms use that are clearly self defense are:

  • published as links directly to the stories on's home page and on Operation Self Defense's home page,
  • sent as links to our Operation Self Defense email subscriber list,
  • archived first in our current archives and then, once it's completed, in our searchable database that will launch with thousands of such stories as soon as we can complete that portion of our project.

We also send some of these stories to leaders of the pro-Second Amendment movement, members of the senate and the house, national news media outlets, and pro-RKBA researchers -- and there are discussions happening behind the scenes for how best to get these stories out through radio and television.

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Application to Join OpSD

Why are you asking for so much personal information on your Application Form?

1) If you are an anti-gun person attempting to sabotage our efforts to bring the truth to our brothers and sisters, we will find out and make sure you regret having done so -- through a variety of creative, legal means.

2) If you are a pro-gun ally but your answer to the questions don't fully address what we need to know from you, we would like to personally connect with you to make sure all of your questions are answered and that you're clear on your responsibilities as a member of Operation Self Defense.

If your concern involves the potential for your information to be shared anywhere besides among Operation Self Defense and Directors, please read's very clear and strongly worded Privacy Policy. OpSD's affiliation with KABA means KABA's policies apply.

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Application to Join OpSD

What if I never find an armed self defense story?

This may appear to be a flip answer, but it isn't. Keep Looking!

If you notice a feeling of frustration arise when you look but don't find an armed self defense story, know that in covering your base, your diligence and persistence assure that one cannot slip through. This is particularly true in states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois which don't recognize their citizen's right to carry. It is even more important to find self defense stories in these states since they happen so rarely. OpSD Assistant Director David Miller, has the following to say on this subject, 

"I have searched dozens of online newspapers every day for nine months and I have found exactly seven stories, five of which were clear-cut enough to include in Operation Self Defense. I check papers in Ohio, which is not a right-to-carry state, so self defense stories are few and far between. But when I do find one, it is a very rare and sweet victory. It is worth it to keep looking!"

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Application to Join OpSD

What happens when I take a vacation?

Hey, we're not slave-drivers. This is voluntary teamwork. Go on, have fun, be safe, and come back refreshed!

All we ask is that if you can't check the news websites to which you've committed, please notify us in advance so we can be sure that someone else will cover for you. We will need a list of the papers you cover and the dates you will be gone. This is the reason we have certain members of our team designated as "floaters".

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Application to Join OpSD

What is a "floater?"

Floaters are the people who allow you to take vacations and know that your base is covered -- removing the unnecessary feeling of guilt you might otherwise feel when taking a hiatus.

A floater is a person who checks news websites that are usually someone else's responsibility -- to provide that person the space to take a recess from their regular OpSD activities. Floaters receive periodic messages from the OpSD directors informing them of upcoming holes in the OpSD net and how long the holes will need to be filled. To be considered as a floater, be sure to say so on the OpSD Application.

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Application to Join OpSD

Where do I select the newspapers I'd like to monitor?

We have a comprehensive list of online news sources. When you submit your OpSD Application, one of the questions asks you to list the news sources you'd like to cover.  If your first choices are already taken (marked on the news resource lists with a symbol: ), you might want to consider being a floater, or choosing from newspapers in a different state for a different perspective on the world.

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Application to Join OpSD

What if the newspapers I want to cover are not on your list?

We are pleased as can be to expand our lists of online news websites, and we're eager to add your new additions right away.  If you know of an online news resource that isn't on our list, please list it on your OpSD Application, and please include a link to the site. You will obviously have "first dibs" on that source. (Finders keepers!) 

If you subscribe to a hard copy of a newspaper that doesn't have an online edition, please make a note of that fact on your OpSD Application. We will happily add you to our list of Net Detectives, but we will make other arrangements for submitting your stories that include -- if you're willing -- scanned images or rewrites we'd be pleased to have you do.

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Application to Join OpSD

What if I want to increase or decrease the number of news organizations I review?

If you find your time allows for review of more sources or that you have taken on too many, contact the OpSD team at the email address you are/were given at the time of your Application's approval.

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Application to Join OpSD

What are the criteria that constitute a worthy submission?

If the story you find meets the following requirements, then it should be sent in for consideration.

  • The self-defender used a firearm to defend life, liberty or property.
  • The use of force was a reasonable solution to the situation, from the point-of-view of the self-defender.
  • The self defender was morally right to use force to stop the threat. (Yes, this does require a "value judgment.")

Be sure that you don't shy away from stories in which the self defender was charged with a crime. In some areas of our "free country" there are so many anti-rights district attorneys trying to make a name for themselves, charges are first handed down and later dropped. In fact, it may be that we can help the people who are wrongfully charged in some cases.

Hypothetical Examples: 

A woman is walking in a national park and is attacked by a cougar. She shoots it dead, but is charged with illegal possession and discharge of a firearm on federal property.

A principal runs to his car in his school's parking lot to retrieve his pistol. He uses the firearm to hold a school-shooting suspect for police. He is charged with felony possession of a firearm in a school "criminal safety zone". Not only would we like to see and share such a story, we'd like to rally people to his defense, as well.

Another criteria to consider when assessing whether or not to send in a story might be, "If I was in the self-defender's shoes, might I have done the same thing or something similar?"

Finally, if you're ever in doubt and just can't decide, send it in and if it doesn't quite fit, we'll let you know -- and let you know why, to help you hone your skills as an OpSD Net Detective.

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Application to Join OpSD

Why is OpSD important?

For everyday people including those who oppose the individual right to keep and bear arms:

To open their eyes to the fact that crime can happen anywhere, and that guns are a good thing for lawful people to have for self-defense.

For casual gun owners: 

To reinforce the reasons to own a gun and persuade them to take self-defense training and carry concealed when and where it hasn't been outlawed by oath-breaking public servants.

For conscientious gun owners: 

To strengthen their resolve to be alert and prepared, and to keep guns at the ready to defend life, liberty and property.

For gun rights activists: 

To use as ammo when writing, speaking, debating and helping people see that we simply respect the inalienable rights enumerated by America's Founders.

For the media: 

To provide access to the armed self-defense stories they might not otherwise see in hopes that those with integrity will begin more balanced reporting.

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Application to Join OpSD

If you have a question that isn't answered here, feel free to send it to with a subject of 'OPSD QUESTION'.

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