(What Columbine COULD have been!!)

By Ann Coulter

 Remember this name: Thomas Glenn Terry. It won't be bandied
 quite as much as "Mark O. Barton" over the next few weeks,
 but it should be. Two armed men burst into Shoney's restaurant
 in Anniston, Alabama and herded the patrons and employees into
 a walk-in refrigerator, at gun point. The robbers kept the
 manager behind for his assistance as they looted the
 restaurant. One patron, however, also remained behind.
 Thomas Glenn Terry had opted against being locked in a
 refrigerator, and hid from the attackers under a table.

 As one of the armed robbers ransacked the cash register,
 another patroled the restaurant. When he came across
 Mr. Terry, he pulled his gun.

 But unlike the recent victims in Atlanta, this victim
 was armed. Using his own legally concealed handgun,
 Terry shot and killed the robber. The other armed robber,
 who had had his gun trained on the manager, then opened
 fire on Terry. Terry shot back, mortally wounding the
 second robber. The two dozen hostages were released
 unharmed. Only the criminals -- who had been armed
 with stolen guns by the way -- didn't make it out alive.

 You probably hadn't heard of the Shoney's restaurant
 incident. In the media's boundless capacity to stultify
 the public with sensational news stories, they have made
 places like Littleton, Colorado household names. But
 "Anniston, Alabama" doesn't ring a bell.

 A massacre is a story. Thwarting a massacre isn't.
 once you know about Anniston, and similar averted tragedies,
 something will start to leap out at you as you read news
 accounts of gunmen shooting scores of innocents. Massacre
 stories always include a terrifying account of how the killers
 proceeded from victim to victim, pausing to reload, and
 shooting again. Mass murder requires that the victims be

 Thomas Glenn Terry, though heroic, is not altogether
 unique. Two years ago in Pearl, Mississippi a deranged
 student shot and killed two of his classmates. Fortunately,
 Joel Myrick, the assistant principal had a gun in his car.
 He prevented the shooting from becoming a Littleton level
 massacre by holding the student at gunpoint until the police

 A year later, in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, a 14-year-old boy
 opened fire at an eighth-grade graduation dance, killing a
 teacher and wounding three others. A single murder did not
 become a mass murder only because a near-by restaurant owner,
 James Strand, happened to be armed. As the shooter stopped
 to reload, Strand immobilized the shooter, holding him for
 over ten minutes, until the police appeared. A lot of killing
 can be accomplished in ten minutes when none of your victims
 is armed.

 How long did it take the police to arrive in Atlanta?
 Barton walked into one office building in Atlanta shot four
 people dead, then left the building, ambled across the street,
 entered another building, and killed at least five more people.
 As in Littleton there are film clips of policemen scaling the
 building's walls to rescue terrified and completely defenseless
 people inside.

 Most striking in the news reports of Barton's shooting
 spree was this: Fully three hours after the shooting, some
 people were still hiding in the building. Hiding. Waiting
 like pigs before the slaughter. Because none of them was
 armed. None but the madman.

 But for some reason, the government's response is always to
 disarm more citizens. Not to disarm itself, by the way, but
 to disarm people other than the police who show up 15 minutes
 after the shooting has begun. This isn't a complaint about the
 police, they simply can't be everywhere at once. It's a plea
 for more citizen guards. There may be bad citizens, but, let
 me remind you, there are also bad police. Why are they the
 only ones don't have to hide in their offices when madmen
 with guns show up?

 More guns will not create more Mark Bartons. Guns can do a
 lot of things, like protect you from lunatics, but they don't
 make you criminally insane. Consider Mr. Barton. The initial
 reports have been that he killed his children because his stock
 porfolio had declined. Well, that's a rational response. Whether
 it was his stocks or his wife or the weather -- he killed his

 This is a madman. In the absence of a gun, he could
 have used an axe, a bomb, or a machette. One of the most
 efficient murder sprees this century was accomplished not with
 guns, but with machettes. Madmen in Rwanda murdered almost
 one million people in under four months, with machettes.

 If only Thomas Glenn Terry had been there.

What do you think? Email me at with your questions or comments.

Created:September 12, 1999
Last updated: January 10, 2004