“Ladd, you deceive for a living, so it’s hard to take you seriously, or view you as an adult. Petulant teen delinquent, maybe.” — Bob Owens, 12/4/12
Yesterday morning, the founder and editor of the pro-gun news website
“Bearing Arms,” blogger Bob Owens, shot and killed himself near a stop sign outside the entrance of a Fuquay-Varina subdivision in North Carolina.
Minutes before his body was found, at 10:51 AM, Owens posted the following on his Facebook account:
In the end, it turns out that I’m not strong. I’m a coward, and a selfish son of a bitch. I’m sorry.
Bob was my age. 46. I’m stunned today at this news.
During the 17 years I’ve been involved in the gun violence prevention movement, this is one of the most shocking events I can remember. When I worked at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence as a communications director, I wrote about pro-gun activists who took their own lives, but Owens is on a whole other level.
Bob was the EPITOME of what America considers to be a “gun nut,” and very well-known and respected on his side of the issue. His faith in firearms — personally, politically — was total. Bob favored a society in which citizens were heavily armed and in direct conflict with their government — violently when necessary.
If firearms training and proficiency could prevent gun suicide, then Bob would still be with us today. As BearingArms.com reported, Owens was “a graduate of roughly 400 hours of professional firearms training classes, including square range and force-on force work with handguns and carbines.” He was also “a past volunteer instructor with Project Appleseed” who “recently received his Vehicle Close Quarters Combat Instructor certification from Centrifuge Training.”
At the time of Bob’s death, he was working on a book entitled “The Deplorables Guide to Guns.”
I clashed with Owens frequently during my time at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV). He compared me to Stalin. He called me a liar, a sociopath, even a pedophile.
I remember Bob’s writing on the issue even before he joined PJ Media in 2007. Here are some things he wrote about me in his blog postings:
· A Face of Gun Control
[“Like most left wing totalitarians, Everitt wants Americans disarmed. He confuses — purposefully — loyalty to specific regime with loyalty to the Constitution.”]
· Alleged Pedophile’s Sister Says “It Was Awesome” That 11 Year-Old Shot Her Murderous Brother
[“It’s unfair to say that gun control cultists like [the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s] Sarah Brady, [Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense founder] Shannon Watts, and Ladd Everitt want a world safe for knife-crazed pedophiles. That is, however, the precise result of the kind of of laws and policies that they support with a zealot’s unreasoning gleam in their eyes.”]
· The Insurrectionist They Would Have Me Be
[CSGV executive director Josh] Horwitz and CSGV communications director Ladd Everitt have a long, well-documented (and frankly, amusing) practice of calling anyone who still believes in the Constitution and Bill of Rights an ‘insurrectionist.’ I proudly wear his shrill, toothless epithet as a badge of honor.”]
Bob also liked to bark at me on Twitter.
· On January 7, 2016, Bob tweeted a sketch video by conservative comedian Steven Crowder in which Crowder mockingly played a politician informing his constituents about the risks of owning a firearm. “One of the more spot-on Ladd Everitt impersonations (@CSGV) that you’ll ever see!” Bob commented.
· On March 20, 2015, Bob tweeted, “[unarmed, African-American shopper] John Crawford was killed [by a police officer responding to a call from a customer in Walmart] because of what you advocate, Ladd.”
· On February 9, 2013, Bob tweeted,” It just struck me: [mass shooter] Christopher Dorner sounds a LOT like sociopath Ladd Everitt, of @CSGV. When is his shooting spree?”
My conflict with him came to a head in October 2015, when Bob wrote the following in a blog post entitled “Gun Confiscation Fantasies are Fast-Tracking the Democrat Party to Destruction.”
I merely hope that we get to the 2016 elections … These radicals are pushing hard for action [on gun laws], now, and they’re proving with every passing day that reason and constitutionality are the least of their concerns. We do not want a civil war against the radical left wing of the Democrat Party, but let it be made abundantly clear that if they start one, they will be utterly destroyed by armed free citizens, as the Founders intended.
At the top of the post, Bob posted a picture of gallows with the caption, “This is where the survivors of the Democrat rebellion will meet their end.”
My boss at the time, CSGV executive director Josh Horwitz, wrote a terrific piece at Huffington Post responding to Bob’s article. Bob knew that Josh and I opposed his insurrectionism on the same, constitutional grounds.
Bob spent a great deal of time attacking and threatening others. He clearly was not a happy person. I think that guns served a purpose in his life that he saw as indispensable. He was going to fiercely defend his way of life — which depends on loose gun laws and government that [in reality] is the antithesis of totalitarian (at least as far as white men are concerned) — to the bitter end.
I believe Bob would have continued to adhere to his radical pro-gun stance even if he had known he would ultimately take his life with a gun. The modern-day Cult of the Gun that is embraced by a decreasing minority of Americans (only one in five Americans now owns a gun, and we’re talking about a minority of that population) is not rational. That’s a shame, because it makes it that much harder to save men like Bob in the future.
Bob might have hated my guts, but his death brings me no joy whatsoever. Any of us can fall into crisis. That could be me tomorrow. Bob has a surviving family that is hurting right now. There’s nothing to celebrate here. I can disagree with the man’s words and actions without wanting him dead. We are not mortal enemies. We are countrymen.
I offer my condolences to his survivors. Anyone who wants to support Bob’s wife and two daughters, ages 9 and 17, can do so at the family’s GoFundMe page here.
We can’t ignore the fact that this tragedy confirms everything that gun violence prevention advocates have been preaching for decades — that a gun in the home is far more likely to be used in the violent death of a home occupant (i.e., you or someone you love) as opposed to a home invader.
Are deaths like Bob’s worth enduring because (theoretically) they are the price we must pay to hold a “tyrannical” government at bay? Because that’s what it’s come down to.
I see many of Bob’s friends in the pro-gun community offering kind words on his behalf. These words are heartfelt and important. But I would ask them:
· What are you going to do the next time a gun-owning friend like Bob is in crisis?
· Would you consider supporting policies that allow family members of people in crisis to petition judges for the temporary removal of their loved-one’s firearms (typically 1 year)?
Bob got it wrong with his last Facebook post. He didn’t engage in an act of cowardice by taking his own life. He was a human being dealing with real-life issues that challenge us all. He didn’t get the help he needed and he had immediate access to firearms.
I certainly wasn’t Bob’s friend — he’d be the first to tell you — but if I could have helped to secure his firearms when he was struggling, I would have. He could have had many good years ahead with his family.
I’m all for doing more to save the next Bob. [And let’s be honest, we all have a Bob in our lives, someone we cared about who took their own life with a firearm.]
Isn’t life more important than violently defying our constitutional government and fellow citizens?