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Linda Chavez

Friday, September 1st, 2000

Linda Chavez, Founder and President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, is the designated recipient of the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month Award for September.

In nominating Ms. Chavez for the Award, John Michael Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, noted that “Linda recently demonstrated publicly her commitment to the right to keep and bear arms. She suffered unwarranted public criticism and even ridicule as a result of her principled stand. She did not back down and continued to assert her principles. She certainly is most deserving of this Award.”

On May 13, on the Public Broadcasting Service’s television talk show, “To the Contrary,” the show’s host, Bonnie Erbe, spoke out in support of the anti-gun Million Mom March.

Chavez, at the time a regular panelist on the show, broke ranks with the reigning orthodoxy as espoused by Erbe. Linda announced she recently bought a gun at a gun show.

“If you’re someone like me,” said Chavez, 52, “who lives out in a rural area – if someone breaks into my house and wants to murder or rape me or steal all of my property, it’ll take half an hour for a policeman to get to me.”

Erbe, angered, said to Chavez, “if you look at the statistics, I would bet that you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning, Linda, than living where you live, and at your age, being raped.”

After that incident, Linda, who lives in Loudoun County, Virginia, resigned from the show and sent its producer statistics that showed she indeed has a far better chance of being raped than felled by lightning.

When National Review’s Web site ran an article on the controversy, Erbe responded with a series of e-mails to Chavez, calling her an “overgrown Catholic school girl” and suggesting “you get into therapy. Otherwise you’re going to continue to be miserable and in denial the rest of your life.”

Chavez said she has had it with the program.

In a nationally syndicated column last September, Linda wrote, “I purchased my first revolver some 25 years ago, after my husband was mugged on the streets of Washington, D. C. The only time I had occasion to use it to protect myself, I couldn’t get to it in time. A young male intruder snuck into my house through a door carelessly left unlocked. He hid in a corner of my front hall while I was putting my newborn son down for a nap in the bassinet in my living room.

“Luckily, I saw the man out of the corner of my eye as I walked toward the kitchen, but the gun was upstairs, with a trigger lock on it. Without letting the intruder know I’d seen him, I walked directly to the kitchen, picked up the phone, and called the police. Only then did I turn to face the young man, all six feet four inches of him, looming over me, now standing in the middle of the living room.

“I have no idea what his intentions were. As soon as I informed him the police were on their way, he acted as if I had insulted him grievously and calmly walked out the front door through which he’d entered. When he hit the sidewalk, he began running. The police came a few minutes later, but never caught him, despite my careful, detailed description.

“I sometimes wonder what I would have done if my gun had been nearby. I like to think I would have remained calm – even with a gun in hand – and done pretty much what I did without one, which was to summon help from the police. Oddly, even the knowledge that I had a gun upstairs probably emboldened me not to scream when I saw the man lurking in my hall. One of the more careful studies of the subject, by University of Chicago professor John Lott, suggests that some two million crimes are averted each year because the potential victim is armed…

“It would be wonderful if we could pass a law that kept guns out of the hands of murderers and other criminals. But I don’t know of one that could, short of a total ban on all firearms in private possession, which would require repealing the Second Amendment to the Constitution and confiscating the more than 200 million guns now in private hands in the United States.

“The prospect of more mass shootings is frightening, but so is the idea of the government attempting to seize every privately owned gun. Even if it were possible for the government to commandeer every gun in the country, do we really want the assault on civil liberties such a plan would entail? Prohibiting guns today would be about as successful as prohibiting alcohol was in the ‘20s.

“I hope I never have to use my gun for self-protection. But living as I now do, in an isolated rural area, I can’t count on the police to come to my rescue if I ever encounter another intruder. So long as there are criminals out there, I feel safer knowing that I can protect myself.”

Born June 17, 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Linda married Christopher Gersten on June 15, 1967, received her BA from the University of Colorado in 1970, pursued a doctoral program at UCLA 1970-1972, and became the mother of three, David, Pablo and Rudy.

Linda, who served as Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1983-1985, and Director of Public Liaison at the White House, 1985, was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Maryland in 1986 but lost to Barbara Mikulski in the general election.

She was President of U.S. English from August, 1987 to October, 1988, and, from 1989 to 1994, Director of the Center for the New American Community at the Manhattan Institute. In 1995, Linda founded the Center for Equal Opportunity, a non-profit, public policy research organization, which publishes studies and holds conferences on race, ethnicity, immigration and assimilation.

A political commentator since 1987, Linda writes a weekly column for Creators Syndicate, which appears in newspapers in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, D. C. and elsewhere. Her articles have appeared also in the Reader’s Digest, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, and National Review among others. She is a regular guest on various television programs, including the McLaughlin Group, the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline and other programs.