A couple murdered in their home - a perfect example of why Americans have the right to bear arms - and must keep it. Opinion, by Chuck Baldwin.

The Billings Murders
By Chuck Baldwin

By now, most Americans are familiar with the horrific murder of a Pensacola,
Florida, couple by the name of Byrd and Melanie Billings. They were the
parents of 17 children, 13 of whom were adopted--most of whom had
disabilities. This case hits home with me, because they lived in my hometown
of Pensacola. I did not know them personally, but they were fairly well
known around town. Byrd was a well-to-do businessman who owned a used car
business and financial loan service.

Byrd and Melanie were shot to death in their own home a week ago Thursday.
So far, eight people have been arrested in the case: seven men and one
woman. The seven men are each charged with two open counts of murder, and
the woman is charged with accessory to murder after the fact. Law
enforcement officials said yesterday that at least one more "person of
interest" is being sought.

The Billings murder case was broken open by the fact that their home was
equipped with a surveillance system, which recorded the vehicle used to
transport the murderers to the home and probably much of the criminal
activity inside the house, although the sheriff's office has not released
the video of what was recorded inside the house. The video of the van led
police to the suspects. Our State Attorney, Bill Eddins, says that all of
the perpetrators who actively took part in the shootings are in custody. At
least five of the men were inside the house when the murders took place; and
police said the killers were in and out of the house in four minutes.

In a news conference yesterday, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan and
State Attorney Bill Eddins said they have the murder "weapon or weapons."
They also said that the remaining "person of interest" was supposed to
disable the surveillance system but did not do so, which is why the system
was still operational when the crimes occurred. In addition, Morgan and
Eddins said the motive was robbery, because a small safe was taken from the
house, but that other motives could also apply to the killings. Federal
agencies are also assisting with the Billings murders, including the FBI,

To my way of thinking, this case smacks of much more than a robbery gone
badly. There were at least eight, and maybe nine, people involved. Maybe
more. The invasion and killings were perpetrated in less than four minutes,
by multiple assailants, and with "military precision." The home invasion
took place at approximately 7:30 p.m. local time. And at the time of the
shooting, nine of the Billings children were in the home.

I believe murder, not robbery, was the motive. Extraordinary planning and
the number of personnel involved indicate to me that the Billings were
executed, and that robbery was an afterthought--or was even intended to be a
ruse to mislead law enforcement. The real reason behind the killings may
never be known, of course.

Regardless of the "why" and "how" of the killings, one thing is painfully
obvious: a violent attack took place against a man and his wife inside their
own home. And while the circumstances of the Billings case may be
sensational, the simple fact that a couple was murdered inside their own
home has become rather commonplace throughout the United States. Nationwide,
home invasions are skyrocketing.

Home is the one place where most of us feel safe and protected. Even those
who have a keen sense of self-defense feel free to let their guard down at
home. And, sadly, most people do not possess a keen sense of self-defense.
Most people have the deluded opinion that law enforcement will protect them.
But even law enforcement professionals will tell you it is not their job to
protect citizens; it is their job to apprehend and bring those who have
committed crimes to justice. In other words, after you are dead, the cops
will try to catch the guys who killed you.

It is time that people wake up to the fact that the responsibility of
self-defense rests with each individual citizen. We are all vulnerable to
attack--even in our homes! For this reason, our federal Constitution and
most (if not all) State constitutions recognize the Natural Law right of
people to keep and bear arms.

Over the past 40-plus years, however, miscreants in Washington, D.C., and in
our State capitols have been whittling away at the right of the people to
keep and bear arms. Lawful gun dealers are being harangued and harassed out
of existence by the BATFE. Law enforcement agencies and State prosecutors
often side with criminals when they are shot in self-defense by intended
victims (especially in the Northeast). The media often characterizes lawful
gun owners as "gun nuts" or "militia members" to try to create the
impression that they are "dangerous" or "extremist." Public
education--especially higher education--is often a willing participant in
helping to demonize gun owners. Even Hollywood often uses its influence to
sway public opinion against gun owners. All this, coupled with a natural
lazy tendency of urban living, equates to a careless and defenseless
society: something both would-be tyrants in government and street criminals

Fortunately, America's founders were wiser than most of today's generation.
They understood the relationship between the citizen's right (and
determination) to keep and bear arms and his or her safety and security.

For example, Thomas Jefferson said, "No free man shall ever be debarred the
use of arms." He also said, "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . .
disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes .
. . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the
assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an
unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

Likewise, Thomas Paine said, "[A]rms, like laws, discourage and keep the
invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as
property . . . Horrid mischief would ensue were one-half the world deprived
of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart
of man, the weak will become prey to the strong. The history of every age
and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments
when they prove themselves."

The Billings double murder is the latest example of just how vulnerable we
all are to the violent tendencies of evil people. For this reason (and
more), every American should (1) resist any and all attempts by government
to curtail or restrict our legal right to keep and bear arms, and (2)
purchase, practice with, and always keep our own personal firearms handy.
Furthermore, we should always live in a heightened "state of alert" (even in
our own homes), because both our lives and our liberty may depend on it.

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(c) Chuck Baldwin


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