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ARMED NEIGHBORS

by Annie

 

If you think an armed neighbor is a threat to the safety of you and your loved ones,
 
perhaps it is time to think again!

 
As she prepared for bed on November 18, 2000, Colorado Springs resident Jean Zamirripa heard noises – noises that sounded like someone trying to break in through her back door.  Aware that a 56-year-old woman and 74-year-old woman in her neighborhood had recently been raped, the 72-year-old grandmother decided to take no chances.  She retrieved the loaded .38-caliber revolver, purchased at a friend’s insistence, from its hiding place beneath her bed.  Barefoot and clad in her nightgown, the retired medical assistant made her way to the back of her house and braced her elbow on a countertop to steady her shaking hands.  She heard the storm door open and within an instant, a man was bursting through the back door, ripping it off its molding.  Full of fear, but prepared to act, Jean held her position as the intruder fell to the floor.  When he at last stood up, Jean fired.  Four shots rang out from her revolver, 3 of which hit their target.  The intruder fled.  Jean reloaded and dialed 9-1-1. 

The intruder, Anthony Peralez, bleeding from two wounds to his arm and one to his abdomen made his way to his parked automobile.  As he raced from the scene, he hit two parked cars and eventually came to a stop in the parking lot of a car dealership, where he was found by police and arrested. 

As the investigation took shape in the ensuing days, police became aware of similarities between the invasion of Jean’s home and the rapes of three other women in the Colorado Springs area, including the two rapes in Jean’s neighborhood.  Through DNA and other evidence, police were able to connect Peralez to those crimes and on August 22, 2001, Peralez was found guilty of 51 charges, including sexual assault.  Peralez will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. 

Immediately following the break-in Jean told reporters, “I’ve always felt that homeowners should have the right to have protection.  It’s time people know they can defend themselves from this kind of thing.  It doesn’t matter where you live or how old you are.  This is how the world is.”  Later, Jean expressed gratitude to her friend Carl Duncan for persuading her to keep a gun in her home.  “Were it not for him,” she said, “I might not be here.” 

Jean’s advice to the rest of us: “The only thing I could say to anyone is you can never let your guard down … at any age.” 

Good advice.  But Jean’s story conveys so much more.  Her story clearly illustrates the benefit of armed citizens – armed neighbors.  

In a day and age when anti-self-defense activists are encouraging their followers to harass, shame and badger their neighbors into giving up their best means of self-defense, Jean has used that same means – a gun – to secure safety for her neighbors and her community.  She has used a gun to rid her community of a terrible threat – a danger to the health, even the lives, of those living near her.  How many women in Colorado Springs can rest easier because of Jean’s actions?  Ten?  A hundred?  A thousand?  More? 

If Jean had not had a gun, what would the outcome of her story be?  Would we be reading about her brutal rape or even her murder?  Would Peralez have continued to add to his list of victims?  How many more?  How many lives ruined?  Should people like Jean continue to be vilified because they have chosen to own a firearm and are willing to use it to protect not only themselves, but their families, their neighbors, even strangers, from those who prey upon us?  

Jean Zamirripa is a bona fide hero.  Sgt. Rod Walker, head of the Colorado Springs Police Department's major crimes unit said of Jean, “She did everything right and kept her wits about her.  She’s a hero, not because she shot someone, but because of all the clear thinking and everything she did prior to the shooting.”  Jean’s actions not only put a career criminal – a serial rapist – behind bars for good, but protected all of us from any further assaults by this scum.  Anti-self-defense advocates should thank their lucky stars that people like Jean are still willing to face danger dead on and stop it.  They should thank her for doing what they cannot, or will not, do – take responsibility for the protection of themselves and their loved ones. 

I have but one question for the anti-rights activists:  If Jean Zamirripa had not had a gun and had not been willing to use it for lawful self-defense, who would Peralez have targeted next?  You, your mother, your daughter?  If you think an armed neighbor is a threat to your safety, perhaps it is time to think again.  Your life may depend upon it! 

Articles appearing in The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colorado, on November 23, 28, December 1, 29, 2000, February 6, 2001 and August 15, 16 and 23, 2001 were used in the preparation of this article.


Annie's articles may be disseminated for non-commercial purposes as long as credit (including our Web address) is given to The Cody Express.

 

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