Before Indiana became a state in 1816, territorial Gov. William Henry Harrison organized the Indiana Rangers in 1807 to safeguard the Buffalo Trace – the main travel route between Louisville, Ky., and Vincennes, Ind.
The Rangers were a rough and tough band of men and some women who were well-trained and ready to protect new settlers and tradesmen. They were even a frontrunner for the later popular Texas Rangers, of whom I am an honorary member and based my television series, “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
I think the Hoosier State and the rest of the country saw the spirit of the Indiana Rangers resurrect last week in the Fort Wayne resident and feisty grandmother, Melinda Walker.
Walker was asleep in her townhouse with her 5-year-old grandson Sunday when she was awakened by three male robbers who were demanding cash and her flat-screen TV, according to the Blaze.
The men said they had a gun and threatening to take it out and use it. One of the robbers kept repeatedly saying, “She doesn’t think we have a gun. She doesn’t think we have a gun. Take it out and clean it on her,” Walker told WANE-TV.
Fearing for her grandson’s safety, she said, “All I thought was, ‘You’re getting away from my grandson.’”
So in the midst of the assault, Walker grabbed a nearby miniature toy guitar that accompanied her grandson’s “Guitar Hero” game, and she began swinging it at the intruders.
She explained, “I just reached down and picked it up, and I told them to get the hell out of my house. ‘Get out of my house! Get out of my house!’” She added, “I just kept smacking one of them.”
As the robbers backed up toward her stairwell, Walker shoved the one man “that wouldn’t shut up” and he flew halfway down the stairs. By this time, the scuffle had awakened Melinda’s husband, who rushed over and kicked another robber down stairs, too.
The thugs were up against an indefensible American institution: grandparents! They knew they met their match, so all three men fled empty-handed in a sedan-style car.
The Walkers remind me of some tenets that America’s founders rooted in our early republic: the right to protect life, limb and property, as well as the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment.
Founder Samuel Adams, delegate to the First Continental Congress, signer of Declaration of Independence and governor of Massachusetts, said, “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life, secondly to liberty, thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.”
Richard Henry Lee, another signer of the Declaration of Independence and a framer of the Second Amendment in the First Congress, wrote: “[T]o preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
According to Monticello.org – Thomas Jefferson’s official estate website, Jefferson cited in his “Legal Commonplace Book” the following passage that came from his own Italian copy of Cesare Beccaria’s “Essay on Crimes and Punishments”: “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 prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one.”
Our fourth president, James Monroe, who penned the first drafts of the U.S. Constitution and co-wrote the Federalist Papers and sponsored the Bill of Rights, wrote, “[T]he advantage of being armed [is an advantage which] the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation. … [I]n the several kingdoms of Europe … the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
Madison added, “The right of self-defense never ceases. It is among the most sacred, and alike necessary to nations and to individuals.”
John Dickinson, member of the Continental Congress, governor of Pennsylvania and member of Constitutional Convention and signer of the Constitution, recognized the right of self-defense as so unceasing and permanent that he called it a right “which God gave to you and which no inferior power has a right to take away.”
And no inferior power includes juvenile thugs in Indiana, who should feel lucky that Melinda Walker didn’t have Smith & Wesson by her side.
Though she has been burglarized twice before, I bet robbers will indeed think twice before they try to break into her house again.
To conclude, Grandma Melinda was asked if she had a message for her intruders. She replied brazenly: “I may not be a strong woman. I may not be a well woman, but you’re not going to get my stuff.”
I guess you can call that tough-spirited, guitar-wielding grandmother: Walker, Indiana Ranger.
(Want some safety tips on how to protect your house and loved ones, especially if you’re a woman? Go to SafetyChick.com.)
(Next week, I’ll pick back up my series on Thomas Jefferson and public education.)