A senseless crime leaves me wondering, "What if...?"

By Tim Inwood

I, for one, was nauseated by the news of the slaughter of Byrd and Melanie Billings at their home in Pensacola, Florida. These were wonderful people who had done very well in life and were using their fortune to help raise special needs children whom they had adopted. Sadly, media coverage of their large family and unusual circumstances brought unwanted attention from the criminal element in our society.

On July 9th, in a well-planned home invasion, seven armed men entered the Billings home via different entrances. They were only in the house for four minutes and on the property for ten minutes, but what was left in the wake of those ten minutes was devastating. As they made their getaway with their stolen plunder, they left two decent people dead and the children who were in the home traumatized.

The execution of the break-in was flawed, in that the thug whose task was to disable the home security surveillance system failed. The cameras caught the crime and recorded it. This has been useful, as the police have used this evidence to round up the guilty. Sadly it was worthless in stopping or deterring the crime in the first place. Thus far, eight people have been arrested; seven men for the actual home invasion and a forty-seven year old woman who is said to have been instrumental in the planning.

As news stories have unfolded about the events, I have heard nothing about firearms in the Billings home, just the security system and cameras. As we know, the system detected and recorded that thugs were on the grounds minutes before entering the home, so surely the Billings knew for a minute or so what was coming, but put up no resistance or fight. I therefore assume there were no guns available for the defense of the family. I found myself wondering, "What if Byrd Billing had been carrying a firearm?"

Now granted, in a home invasion by seven armed men, the odds of winning are not good. However, Byrd would have had an advantage in the knowledge of how his home was laid out. Also, the type of firearm would have been crucial in winning against such odds. Obviously, a five- or six-shot revolver would not have carried the day. However the very types of guns some in Congress and the Obama White House would like to ban would have helped a great deal.

Obviously, with special needs children in the home, one would not want to leave a loaded, semi-automatic rifle like an AR-15 or AKM lying about. However, carrying a firearm with the ability to repel such numbers is not out of the question. Had Byrd Billings or his wife been carrying something in the class of a Glock 19 with a spare magazine, they would have had thirty shots at their disposal. This would have given them ample firepower for dealing with seven miscreants, if he were able to react quickly. Indeed the outcome may have been very different. The Glock 19 is light accurate and reliable. It would have been ideal, though there are certainly other pistols that would have also fit this role nicely.

Now, of course, all of this contemplation about what might have happened had they been armed is just idle speculation. We cannot know what would have happened. But we do know this: It appears Byrd and Melanie Billings relied solely on their security system for their defense and no firearms. They are now dead.

How often we have seen the commercial where the thug eyes the victim as they crash through the door, only to be frightened off by the sirens and reassuring phone call from the XYZ security company that help is on the way? Sadly, this is not how it always works, and this case appears to be a sad example of it.

The problem, if you are out in the country, is that frequently help is ten or more minutes away, and if you have something the thug wants, he will tolerate the noise and get what he wants in the brief time they know they have. Again in the Billings case, they were on the property and gone in ten minutes.

Now, some might ask who carries a gun like the Glock 19 around the home. The answer is simple, I do. It is light in weight, no burden at all to carry. Living in the country as I do, it is a comfort and gives piece of mind. As an old boy scout, I always embraced the concept of being prepared. In a world where such terrible things happen, anyone who views such preparedness as paranoia is living in detached state of reality.

So, keep in mind, friends, that the only thing that will protect you if a thug comes into your home is your trusty firearm. Your security system is a good back up calling for help...but not much more.

I hope you will do your part to protect the types of firearms that would have been crucial in thwarting a home invasion where several thugs break in at once. A semi-auto rifle or pistol holding more than ten rounds of ammunition can be critical in saving your life. Don't let Congress or Barack Obama take that option from you. Do your part by joining a pro-gun organization and get involved in the fight to protect your Second Amendment rights today.

Our prayers and sympathies go out to the Billings family. We hope that by discussing this issue it will help others to prepare to keep such a tragedy from occurring again.

Tim Inwood is the current Legislative Liaison and Past President of the Clinton County Farmers and Sportsmen Association, an Endowment Member of the NRA and Life Member of the OGCA, Republican Central Committeeman for Chester Township A, in Clinton County, Ohio, and a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.

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