A couple in Buxton, Maine who ended up holding a burglar at gunpoint until local police arrived are actually getting a fair amount of media attention for their actions, at least locally. Eric and Missy Bartlett were commended by officers for how they handled themselves when they discovered a stranger in their homes, and the couple recently spoke to the NBC affiliate in Portland about their encounter with the intruder and why Americans should be prepared in case they find themselves in a similar situation.
“It was nerve-racking obviously. It was 3 o’clock in the morning. You don’t expect that,” Eric Bartlett said.
The couple, both certified Maine Guides and avid hunters, jumped into action. Missy dialed 911 as Eric grabbed his flashlight and gun and headed downstairs.
“I was on the phone with dispatch when I heard the banging,” Missy said.
That bang was the intruder barging in through the front door of their house. Eric said that is when he confronted the man in their dining room.
He said he immediately blinded him with a flashlight and forced him at gunpoint into a nearby bathroom. Eric never fired a shot.
That’s the best type of defensive gun use; one where the presence of the firearm is enough to prevent a crime from escalating any further. 48-year old Joseph Harmon is now spending some time in the county jail instead of a stranger’s home, and he’s facing a litany of charges including burglary, criminal mischief, and refusing to submit to arrest.
Of course, the NBC affiliate couldn’t just let the Bartletts tell their story without asking a gun control advocate to chime in as well. Rather than praise the couple for protecting themselves, “gun safety advocate” Geoff Bickford with the Maine Gun Safety Coalition bemoaned the fact that more Mainers are buying guns for self-defense, and urged new gun owners to keep ’em locked up.
“In the age of quarantine our message of gun safety is now more important that ever because not only do we have spike in sale of fire arms, but now you have kids home all day,” Bickford said.
With more gun sales, Bickford hopes to remind people about the importance of using gun locks and gun safes, especially for parents.
Of course gun owners should prevent unauthorized access to their firearms, but Bickford couldn’t even take a couple of seconds to praise the couple for how they handled the invasion of their home? Why, it’s almost like his idea of gun safety is “don’t own a gun” rather than “know when and how to appropriately use your firearm.”
The Bartletts handled themselves very well, and I appreciate them sharing their story with others. I’m sure when they went to bed that night they had no idea that their sleep would be interrupted by a stranger in their home a few hours later, but they were still prepared to handle it. Prepared, by the way, not paranoid. It doesn’t sound like the Bartletts live their life in constant fear that someone will invade their home. Quite the opposite. It sounds like they knew just what to do if that ever actually happened, and when the rhetorical became a reality, they were able to meet the crisis and come through unscathed.