Why a Self-Described Gun Hater is Now Lawfully Carrying a Pistol in L.A.

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Irving Kristol famously described neoconservatives as liberals who'd been "mugged by reality". That phrase is equally apt to describe a growing number of gun owners in the United States, who've decided that as much as they dislike firearms, they're going to exercise their right to keep and bear arms because they hate being the victim of a crime even more. 

Ron Knox is one of those gun owners who just a few years ago could never have imagined himself carrying a pistol for self-defense. But after trying and failing to fend off a pair of dognappers who beat him and stole his beloved French bulldog Albert as the two were heading home from a doctor's appointment in January of last year, Knox decided he needed something more than pepper spray to keep himself and his companion safe. 

Knox was incredibly lucky not to have been seriously injured or killed in the attack. Police ended up arresting two men in connection with stealing Albert, and subsequently charged one of them with homicide that had taken place two months earlier. When authorities took 28-year-old  Mauricio Veloz into custody, they also managed to rescue Albert and return him to a grateful Knox, who says the ordeal inspired him to do something he would have considered unthinkable before Albert was snatched away from him. 

"I got a gun license. I hate guns. But if you want to have a dog in L.A. you have to have a gun. They shoot me, no problem. But no one will touch Albert again." he tells Los Angeles. York believes the only way to stop the uptick in violence around dog theft is to change the law to make treasured pet thefts a crime similar "to kidnapping a child." 

"All I hear about is dogs being taken, over and over, and it's treated like someone got robbed of their cell phone," York says. "There is no real punishment when it should be treated on the same level as kidnapping a child."

I'm not an attorney, but I would caution Knox that police and prosecutors might very well charge him with a crime if he shoots someone who's stealing Albert without threatening his owner with physical harm. Pets are treated as property under California law, and state statute requires that individuals have a reasonable belief that they or someone else is facing the threat of death or great bodily injury before they are justified in using deadly force. 

In other words, even though French Bulldogs have become the most popular target of thieves in the L.A. area, in large part because they've become one of the most popular breeds over the last few years, you don't have the right to shoot someone just because they're trying to make off with your canine companion. 

French Bulldogs became America's favorite dog last year — unseating the Labrador Retriever for the first time in three decades — and the rise in popularity for the flat-faced breed has made them an expensive luxury item that can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $12,000. Celebrities also love Frenchies and are often photographed with their fur babies, raising the dogs' profile even higher. Rappers Snoop Dogg and Meghan Thee Stallion; actors Reese Witherspoon and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson; and country stars Dolly Parton and Lainey Wilson are among the famous Frenchie owners. 

"People steal Frenchies because it's easy money," private investigator Tom Moran tells Los Angeles. ."They are sold quickly on a corner, or posted on social media for sale,and it's a crime that has barely any consequences."

Even soft-on-crime District Attorney George Gascon (or at least his spokesperson) agrees that the punishment for stealing a family pet is too low, though I doubt he'd be in favor of allowing deadly force to prevent one from being snatched away.  

"Theft of French bulldogs isn’t just a crime against property; it’s a heart wrenching loss for dog owners," says Gascon's Chief of Staff Tiffany Blackwell. "Every stolen companion represents a broken bond and shattered sense of security."

Now, I have to confess I'm not a big fan of the whole "fur baby" thing. As much as I love my pets, they're not my children, but I can at least empathize with those who've had their beloved companions stolen from them, only to have the law treat the matter as just a simple theft of property. More importantly, however, I'm 100 percent behind Knox's decision to legally arm himself in self-defense when he walks Albert these days. He's not the only one who's been the victim of violent assailants eager to get their hands on the pricey pets, and I doubt he'll be the last. 

Despite a rash of high-profile gunpoint robberies, home invasions, and pet store burglaries targeting French Bulldogs across the city, stealing furry companions does not lead to kidnapping charges. 

And York is hardly the only man violently brutalized at by gun-wielding crooks targeting French Bulldogs. In late 2022, a man was robbed at gunpoint of his two Frenchies as he walked over the Sixth Street Bridge in the Arts District. That same month Cynthia Nelson was walking her two Frenchies in Studio City — nine months pregnant — when a man jumped out of a parked car with a gun and demanded the dogs. 

As Los Angles reminds its readers, it was just three years ago that armed assailants shot a dog walker who was taking Lady Gaga's two French bulldogs out for a stroll. Since then, the attacks on the humans caring for these dogs have become increasingly common, and thugs have killed for much less than a French bulldog they can sell on the black market for thousands of dollars. 

Unfortunately, getting a concealed carry permit isn't exactly quick or painless in Los Angeles County. It costs residents more than $200 to obtain a permit, and according to the lawsuit filed by California Rifle & Pistol Association, it's taking the sheriff's department more than twelve months (or seven dog years) to process many applications at the moment.  

Pet owners who want the peace of mind of knowing they can defend themselves from violent dognappers still have far too many barriers between themselves and their Second Amendment rights in Los Angeles and many other California cities and counties. Still, groups like CRPA, SAF, FPC, GOA, and Gun Owners of California are hard at work to remove those roadblocks and help them protect themselves (if not their "property") from harm. If they're successful in challenging the lengthy and needless delays in CRPA v. LASD, L.A. residents will have a much easier time exercising their right to bear arms, and maybe dognappers will think twice about violently assaulting people like Knox or trying to rob them of their furry friends.