Bill Lahti lives on a hill along Lahti Road in Woodland, Washington. His great-grandparents moved to the area from Montana years ago. Last week, he arrived on his property to find two burglars in his family’s home. Lahti pulled his gun.
As Lahti told KATU, “Monday night, I roll up, and there’s their truck backed up to the front door in the yard…Door was about, probably, four inches open. I could see the light through there. So, I came up, jumped out of my truck, kicked the door open and there they were.”
“They” was 21-year-old Jared Barker and 18-year-old Aaron Vigna.
As KATU reports, Lahti pulled his pistol and told the two men to get on their knees. He then called 911 to report the incident.
It’s important to note that Lahti acted fully within his legal range. A spokesperson for the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said that the citizen’s arrest was a positive example of someone arming themselves legally, safely, and with proper training.
However, this case emerges as a national debate over gun ownership and gun safety intensifies. In recent years, studies have shown that states with weaker gun control laws have higher rates of gun deaths. Or, inversely, stricter state gun laws are correlated to fewer state gun deaths.
A study at the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that across any measure, places with more guns have more homicides. They also noted that this conclusion holds to places outside the US. The report reiterates that, according to their finding, more guns are associated to more firearm homicides, however, more guns did not associate with more non-firearm homicides.
It should also be noted that a full three-fifths of gun deaths in the United States are suicides. A study published in the International Review of Law and Economics stated a relationship between firearm prevalence and suicide. The report adds that gun ownership causes substitution towards gun-suicide over other methods of suicide.
Bill Lahti’s case may be one example of safe and legal gun ownership assisting in the arrest of criminals, the national gun debate does continue.