Packing for a trip has taken on new meaning as a growing number of Americans respond to rising crime rates by arming themselves before hitting the road. Who can blame them?
America’s homicide rate is up a whopping 28 percent from 2019 to 2020, and recruiting agents has never been more difficult, as the thin blue line is stretched past the breaking point in many parts of the country, including some of our largest cities where the crime wave is not increasing. end in sight.
Many Americans have abandoned the idea that politicians will solve the problem and instead buy handguns for personal defense and learn to use them. Nearly 22 million Americans have a concealed object permit, and some 22 states have removed the need for a carry-anything permit, assuming such laws never stopped criminals anyway.
Firearms are used 1.7 million times a year in America for self-defense, according to Georgetown University political economist William English, who commissioned the largest personal defense study ever conducted in the US. It’s a statistic rarely reported by the mainstream media. What worries many travelers in particular is the arbitrariness of so many violent acts – surveillance videos of such attacks are now flooding social media in chilling reminders that police are minutes away when seconds count.
“You really can’t predict where crime will strike anymore,” says Dan Predovich, the former Colorado police officer turned personal defense trainer. “Many of the people who attend my classes have experienced what it’s like to be helpless in the face of evil…and they never want to be in that situation again.”
I recently traveled to South Carolina to shoot a variety of handguns with Walther’s Jens Krogh, an expert marksman, who has seen firsthand the rise in gun sales, driven by fear of crime.
“A lot of parents feel a sense of responsibility, above all, to keep their families safe,” he says. “That could be from criminals, wild animals in the hinterland. Threats can come from anywhere, anytime.”
Walther is a 137-year-old German gunsmith whose brand was made famous by Ian Fleming’s James Bond character. They are also widely known as some of the best made and most reliable handguns in the world – handy features for people who buy them as a kind of life insurance policy.
While many Bond fans can win a bar bet that the charismatic Fleming character originally wore the Walther PPK (Polizei Pistole Kriminal) and later the Walther P99, few know the backstory of how Fleming was convinced to change Bond’s wearing from a Beretta .25.
In 1956, after reading the recently released Diamonds Are Forever, a Glasgow-based firearms instructor named Geoffrey Boothroyd begged Fleming to reconsider his choice of the .25 Beretta for Bond.
“This kind of rifle is truly a ladies’ rifle…” Boothroyd wrote. “May I suggest that Mr. Bond is armed with a revolver?” Fleming was convinced by Boothroyd that he should switch weapons.
“I’m very curious to see him [Bond] live as long as possible,” replied Fleming, “and I shall be most grateful for any further technical advice you would like to give him.”
Other Walther fans included none other than Elvis Presley, The King who owned a silver PPK with “TCB” (acronym for Taking Care of Business, Elvis’ favorite phrase). Elvis presented a gold plated PPK with ivory handles to his friend and actor Jack Lord. Lord next played CIA agent Felix Leiter, starring Sean Connery in Dr. no.
Whether you buy Walther handguns or others, one thing is certain, says Mark Olivia of the National Shooting Sports Foundation: “Americans are exercising their Second Amendment rights in numbers greater than they were a generation ago.”
Nearly 35 million guns have been sold since President Biden’s election, adding to an estimated nearly 415 million privately owned firearms in the United States, of which 171 million are handguns.
For those who see the concealed carry movement as central to turning the US crime wave, that’s bad news for criminals — both at home and on the road.