CBS News Discovers the Power of Armed Citizens

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Defensive gun uses happen every day across the United States, but they rarely are covered by the national news media. Occasionally armed citizens will act to defend themselves or others in a spectacular fashion or on camera, which may result in a brief report on the nightly news, but for the most part DGUs are ignored by major press outlets.


On Sunday evening, however, the CBS News program 60 Minutes devoted an entire segment to armed citizens fighting back; not here in the United States, but in Ukraine, where civilian resistance fighters took on elements of the Russian army in the province of Kherson. Reporter Scott Pelley interviewed several of those armed civilians, some of whom had never held a gun before they took up arms in defense of their community. Others didn’t use firearms as their primary weapon of choice; instead making Molotov cocktails and other improvised weapons to engage in small-scale attacks on the occupying military force.

In secret camps, volunteers organized an underground force to harass the invaders, while others gathered windowsill intelligence to upload to the Ukrainian military.

To hear the story of how Kherson rose up, we had to head down. The Russians were one mile from here, firing artillery. So, we assembled a studio in a bunker. Here, we met Vitalii, who asked to go by his first name. He recruited 10 friends, including a coffee shop owner and a farmer. Most had never loaded a gun. He told us:

Vitalii (translated): That was our team, different people, different in age and social status. Just like that, Ukrainians.

His team of civilians improvised this base near the river. They ran hit-and-run raids including, Vitalii says, an attack on a small Russian boat.

Vitalii (translated): We [killed] all of them on the boat. A major, a captain, two lieutenants, a senior sergeant, and a soldier.

Scott Pelley: Help an American audience understand why you feel so strongly about protecting this country and these people.

Vitalii (translated): [The Russians] came to our home. Someone at the top decided that they could come to your home, tell you how to live your life, rape your wife, kill your child, smash your fields with tanks, and lay mines. You are bloody savages. No more, no less. Why defend my people? I was brought up this way.


Self-defense is a human right, and when confronted with an immediate threat to their safety and security these men and women fought back with everything they had.

I’m not knocking CBS News for covering these resistance fighters, though tying their story to continued US funding for Ukraine’s defense was a little heavy-handed, at least in my opinion. Still, 60 Minutes has always engaged in more explicit advocacy than programs like the CBS Evening News, and at least Pelley and his editors are editorializing in support of the right of self-defense.

It would be nice, however, if they’d take that same approach to domestic defensive gun uses. The long-form reporting on 60 Minutes lends itself well to an in-depth report on armed citizens using firearms to defend themselves and their families, but I doubt we’ll ever see any segment like that on the show. Cheering on collective self-defense against the Russian military is one thing, but highlighting a dad who protected his kids from an armed attacker or a woman who defended herself against an abusive ex who tried to assault her in her home is quite literally a different story… and one not likely to garner any interest or attention from CBS or any of the other major news networks.


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