Copyright Las Vegas Review-Journal

But no honest citizen needs a gun ... right?

Vin Suprynowicz

Sunday, December 05, 1999

One of the staple mantras of the gun grabbers – we're not supposed to think about it (since statistics show it's 99 percent wrong), just chant it until it lulls us into a feeling of sweet repose – is that, "If you own a firearm you're just as likely to have it taken away and used against you."


I guess that's why I took so quickly to a new book which Floyd Coons at Master Shooters handed me the other day. The Best Defense: True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves With a Firearm, is by Robert A. Waters, a retired vocational rehabilitation counselor from Ocala, Fla.

I defy anyone to dismiss these 14 harrowing, true-life accounts, often told in the words of the very crime victims who survived their ordeals due to one common factor: The fact that in America, we have a right to bear arms.

Take the case of 49-year-old divorcee Sammie Foust of Cape Coral, Fla.

Foust had fallen asleep cleaning house on the evening of May 9, 1996. The bed where she lay was piled with bags of old clothing she'd decided to give away, along with old purses and boxes of odds and ends.

In her housecleaning, she had also come across a tiny .25 caliber semiautomatic handgun a friend had long ago insisted she take for self-defense, though Sammie's father had warned her it was too small, advising: "Get a bigger gun." The magazine of the little .25 held four rounds. She had checked it the night before, snapped the little slide to chamber the top round, and then fallen asleep with the little gun next to her pile of pillows.

When she heard the blinds rattle in the living room the following morning, she assumed it was her cat returning. But it wasn't. It was three-time prison inmate James Wayne Horne, who had been released for the third time only a few weeks before, after serving slightly more than one year of as 10-year sentence for aggravated assault.

The robber-assailant rushed into the bedroom. Foust offered him her purse, which he dumped on the bed, finding $400 in bills. He then demanded Foust tell him the location of her jewelry box, which she did. But the man was upset with the cheap quality of the costume jewelry, returning to demand "her diamonds," viciously slashing her with a knife and beating her about the face.

"You know I'm going to kill you," he hissed. "So you might as well give it up. Die easy or die hard, bitch."

Foust directed the man to a second credenza. She knew it contained only more costume jewelry, but she needed space and time. Time to pick up the little .25, which she was amazed her assailant had not spotted ... and to figure out what to do with it.

You see, Sammie Foust had never fired a gun in her life.

She aimed for the man's center of mass and pulled the trigger. It sounded like a little cap pistol. There was no recoil, no blood. She figured the gun had misfired.

But she'd certainly managed to upset James Wayne Horne, who flew back across the room, punching her square in the face. The assailant pulled her to her feet, grabbed her wrist, and tried to wrench the gun away with one hand while pummeling her with jackhammer blows to the face with his other fist. Police later told her James Wayne Horne had knocked out four of her teeth, which she'd swallowed. The bones in her gums were crushed, and her left cheekbone was fractured. Her nose was broken and her larynx fractured. Horne pounded and slashed at her face with his knife until one eyeball was hanging out of its socket.

But he did not get the gun.

Finally, as the man drew back his arm for a knockout punch, she pointed the .25 at his stomach and fired again. She then shot Horne a fourth time, in the abdomen.

With the man atop her, pounding and pounding, Sammie Foust believed she could not survive. But finally, James Wayne Horne lay still.

When the police arrived, they found tables knocked over, chairs broken, dishes shattered, the walls and floors smeared with blood.

They found James Wayne Horne where she had left him. The medical examiner concluded the first shot had entered his mouth, the second his heart, the third and fourth bullets his abdomen and groin. He had taken nearly an hour to bleed to death.

Sammie Foust noticed the police and ambulance personnel wincing whenever they looked at her, cursing her attacker under their breath. When she finally found a mirror, she realized why. Her eye was surgically reattached that day, and permanent loss of sight was minimal. She has since run out of funds to pay for psychiatric counseling, or for the proper repair of her gums and teeth. To this day, she eats only soft food.

Foust recalled for Waters: "A policeman came back and knelt down on the driveway. He tried to pry my fingers from the gun. And he started crying and said 'I'm gonna break your fingers. I can't get them loose.' But I couldn't let go of the handle. My knuckles were swollen up, I was holding it so tight. The grip I had on that gun was what kept my attacker from getting it from me. Even as big a man as he was, he couldn't take it away."

And here I thought people like Sammie Foust would be better off if we banned all handguns. Because if she had a handgun, you see, it would just as likely be taken away and used against her.


Vin Suprynowicz, assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, is author of the book "Send in the Waco Killers."


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