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Kids and Guns

Kids and Guns

by Robert A. Waters


Give a kid a gun and he suddenly becomes a monster, shooting up schools and blowing away anyone whom he perceives has wronged him. Right?

That's what the mainstream media would have you think. While such incidences do occur on rare occasions, many other times kids use guns to save lives. But these stories don't fit the media stereotype and therefore get no national exposure.

On Sunday afternoon, March 19, 1985, Jacqueline Roland, a mother of two, heard a noise outside her home near Bethel, Oklahoma. As she went to investigate, she told her six-year-old son Jimmy to get the family gun. In addition to Jimmy, four other children were in the home at the time.

As Mrs. Roland stepped outside, a masked man grabbed her and placed a knife to her throat. Jimmy Roland, following his mother's instructions, walked outside with a .22-caliber rifle. Seeing the masked man holding his mother, the youngster aimed the gun at the assailant's head and cried, "Turn my mommy loose!"

"Put the gun down!" the masked man snapped.

Instead, Jimmy Roland cocked it.

According to Pottawotomie County Sheriff Paul Abel, "the man apparently thought the boy was going to shoot him. He loosened his grip on Mrs. Roland and she broke away." The assailant fled but was soon captured, along with two accomplices. All were lifelong criminals and predators.

Sheriff Abel had nothing but praise for six-year-old Jimmy Roland. "In all likelihood," the sheriff said, "he saved every one of those people's lives...They're just average people who taught their child safety with guns from the time they were real little, because there are guns in that house as there are in most of the houses around here."

In a barrio near Compton, California, eighteen miles south of Los Angeles, Hispanics have to fight every day just to survive. According to an Associated Press article, on March 30, 1999, at around noon, two robbers entered the 99 Cents Plus Mini Market. The sixty-two-year-old owner, a grandmother whose name was not released, was working the counter along with a teenage employee. Her twelve-year-old grandson was also in the store.

One of the robbers pointed a "machine pistol" at the owner and demanded money from the cash drawer. The teenage employee knocked the gun away, and began struggling with the robber.

As they were fighting, Dennis Smith, the second robber, began beating the owner. He knocked the grandmother to the floor and continued to punch her while she was down.

Her twelve-year-old grandson grabbed a handgun and fired several shots, hitting Smith four times. He died a few hours later. The other robber escaped.

The twelve-year-old was not charged.

Juan Zamora, who owns a shop next door, summed up the desperation of those trying to earn an honest living in the barrio. "Always they have troubles because everybody try to steal," he said. "The police come very late. They come after one hour, after three hours, after four hours. Everybody is still afraid. Nobody protects us."

Adam Cummins, 38, of Wichita, Kansas, was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. He could function normally at times, then he would snap and become violent. Because of his mental illness, Kathryn Adams, his mother, had raised Cummins' fifteen-year-old daughter.

On May 17, 2000, at 10:00 p.m., a visibly agitated Cummins appeared at Adams' home. Having first-hand knowledge of his violent tendencies, she locked the front door and refused to let him inside. Undeterred, he kicked in the door.

As the crazed man launched a vicious assault on the terrified woman, Adams yelled for her grand-daughter to "get the gun." In the meantime, Cummins hit Adams several times with a claw hammer, fracturing her skull.

As the assault continued, the fifteen-year-old ran to a nightstand in her grandmothers' upstairs bedroom and pulled out a handgun. By this time, Cummins had bludgeoned his mother into unconsciousness.

Then he started up the stairs.

His daughter met him at the top of the stairs. She fired one shot, striking Cummins in the abdomen, ending the assault. He died a few minutes later. According to a story in the Wichita Eagle, Kathryn Adams remained in critical condition with a fractured skull.

Jim McNiece, principal of Northeast Magnet High School, where the girl attended, stated that the school had provided counseling for the traumatized teen. "She has a lot of support from family and friends at school," he said. "She's a nice kid, and is worried about her grandmother. That's where all the attention of the family is focused."

Police said that over a long period, Cummins had had many dealings with law enforcement officials and mental health agencies. He had threatened police officers, mental health workers, and his ex-wife (the mother of the fifteen-year-old). For years he had fought with his wife and mother for custody of the girl. The family had tried numerous times to have him institutionalized. On the day he died, he'd called his ex-wife and threatened to kill her.

Police credited the fifteen-year-old girl with using appropriate force to stop a vicious assault.

Kids and guns.

Did anyone see these cases on the national news shows?

Mr. Waters is the author of The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a Firearm. Read other articles from him at


Printer Version

No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion. James Burgh, Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses [London, 1774-1775].

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