As the White House tackles the issue of gun control, a Georgia woman who shot a would-be burglar in her home is being hailed as a model of responsible gun ownership.
Melinda Herman, an Atlanta-area mother, shot a home intruder five times in the face and neck on Friday, in defense of herself and her 9-year-old twins, according to police. The intruder was identified as Paul Ali Slater, who had been released from jail in August, and is now receiving medical treatment.
According to police reports, Slater repeatedly rang the family’s doorbell in Loganville, Ga., that morning, prompting the woman to call her husband. She was advised to take her children and hide in a crawlspace, while her husband dialed 911. Slater reportedly used a crowbar to break into the home, and was rummaging through the house until he made his way to the family’s hiding place.
“He opens the closet door and finds himself staring down the barrel of a .38 revolver,” Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Police released the 911 tapes that reveal the woman being calmly coached by her husband, Donnie Herman, who is reminding her of everything she learned during recent visits to a shooting range.
“Just remember everything that I showed you, everything that I taught you, alright?” Donnie Herman tells his wife on the 911 tape.
“If he opens that door, you shoot him, you understand?”
After six gunshots are heard on the tape, the husband starts screaming.
“She’s shooting him! She’s shooting him!” he tells the operator.
“Shoot him again! Shoot him!” he tells his wife.
“She shot him,” Donnie Herman told the operator. “A lot.”
Slater was then pleading for his life, Donnie Herman told the 911 operator.
The woman fired six times, striking Slater with five bullets. Slater was still conscious, however, and the mother of two ordered him to stay on the ground while she fled with the children. Slater made his way to his car and escaped before police arrived, but he pulled over in a neighbor’s driveway, requesting medical attention. He was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center.
On “Good Morning America” yesterday, Donnie Herman called his wife a hero. She did what “any responsible gun owner would do,” he said.
He told Channel 2 Action News, “She protected her kids. She did what she was supposed to do.”
Herman’s story got tweeted by the National Rifle Association, while many other supporters expressed their admiration online for Herman, calling her a hero.
Sheriff Chapman said he was proud of the way she handled the situation.
“This lady decided that she wasn’t going to be a victim, and I think everyone else looks at this and hopes they have the courage” to do what she did, he said Wednesday.
But although Herman’s actions will be juxtaposed with the efforts by Vice President Joe Biden to forge a set of gun control recommendations for President Obama, the Washington debate is about assault rifles and large-capacity magazines, not about .38-caliber revolvers. It is unlikely that Washington lawmakers would try to stop an American from buying a .38.
Biden said yesterday that the president might use an executive order — in addition to legislation — to try to curb mass murders with firearms.
Sitting beside Attorney General Eric Holder before a cross-section of gun-control advocates, Biden affirmed that the Obama administration was serious about making substantive changes. The president is trying to ride the wave of public revulsion at the massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20-year-old Adam Lanza used assault weapons to kill 20 children and six educators, in addition to killing his mother and himself.
Washington has not pushed for significant gun control measures in nearly 20 years, since President Bill Clinton got an assault weapons ban through Congress. Biden was instrumental in getting the ban through.
But the ban was allowed to expire in 2004 during the Bush administration, as Congressional members feared retaliation from the powerful National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists.
“The president is going to act,” Biden said. “There are executive orders, there’s executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet. But we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and the rest of the Cabinet members, as well as legislative action that we believe is required.”
Biden is scheduled to sit down with gun owners and gun rights groups, such as the NRA, that oppose new gun restrictions.
In a sign of how potentially troublesome this issue is for gun retailers, Walmart, whose stores are the largest seller of guns in the country, at first told The Wall Street Journal that it would not be sending anyone to the meeting because none of its executives were available. But David Tovar, the vice president for Walmart corporate communications, changed his tune on Wednesday morning.
“We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate,” Tovar said in a statement. “We take this issue very seriously and are committed to staying engaged in this discussion as the administration and Congress work toward a consensus on the right path forward.”