Bob Owens, the founder and editor of the pro-gun rights website BearingArms.com, has been found dead after writing a heart-wrenching last Facebook message.
Owens was called a “Second Amendment icon” by a Young Conservative site, which said he had died at age 46. His death was mourned by many on social media in the gun rights and conservative community.
A spokeswoman for the Police Department in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, told Heavy, “The cause of death in this case has been ruled suicide through means of self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”
“Thank you for fighting for all Americans during the time it was needed most. I will Pray for you,” wrote one supporter on his Facebook page.
Owens wrote on Facebook before noon on May 8:
At first, people commented on the thread without realizing what was happening; slowly the comments turned to grief as news spread that Owens was dead.
His Facebook page says he was Editor at BearingArms.com, lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was from Greenville, North Carolina. “The 2A community has lost a good one. Prayers Bob that you’ve finally found peace, and prayers for those you left behind,” wrote one of the many people who commented on his Facebook post. Wrote another: “A man who gave as good as he got, and a staunch defender of our 2A rights. Sincere hopes that he has found peace. Thoughts and prayers to his family, friends & loved ones.”
His death was confirmed by his co-editor on Facebook, among other writers. She wrote on BearingArms.com, “Yesterday morning, just before 11 a.m., Bob Owens’ life came to a tragic end.” A GoFundMe site has been started to raise money to help his wife and two daughters, who are ages 9 and 17. It’s called “Bob Owens Family & College Fund,” and says, “We’re at a loss for words right now, but we’re heartbroken and praying for his family. We’d like to show our love and appreciation for Bob. It’s too late to tell him face-to-face, but I hope he can see now how much we thought of him in our outpouring of support for his family.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Owens Was Found Dead on a Subdivision Street Shortly After the Facebook Message, Reports Say
According to WNCN-TV in North Carolina, Robert Eugene Owens, 46, of Fuquay-Varina, “was found dead of a possibly-self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head Monday morning on a street corner in Fuquay-Varina.” That community is about 16 miles from Raleigh.
BNO News reports that this man was the Bob Owens who was a blogger and the editor of BearingArms.com. Police said that the medical examiner’s report could take several days to complete.
Police said in a statement: “FVPD received a report at 10:54 a.m. this morning regarding an injured male, possibly injured through self-inflicted injury, at the corner of Sequoia Ridge Drive at S. Judd Parkway near a stop sign. Upon arrival, officers located a male, deceased. A firearm was located in close proximity to the male. Officers secured the scene, blocking off traffic. The Medical Examiner’s Office and CCBI were contacted to assist with the investigation. This is an ongoing investigation by the Fuquay-Varina Police Department and we will await the medical examiner’s report as to the official cause of death.
In 2016, Owens wrote a blog post about possible voter fraud in Fuquay-Varina.
The television station added that police said Owens “might have inflicted the injury on himself, but stopped short of saying that was definitely the case.” The News Observer quoted a police spokeswoman as saying, “Police are trying to determine if the death was the result of foul play or a suicide.” However, the police spokeswoman told Heavy on May 9 that the death was being investigated as a possible suicide.
WNCN-TV continued: “The body was found just before 11 a.m. near the intersection of Sequoia Ridge Drive and Judd Parkway, near a stop sign, authorities said. A firearm was found near the man’s body.”
Owens’ Facebook status was posted almost exactly at that time.
According to The News Observer, the body “was found on the sidewalk at the entrance of a subdivision late Monday morning.”
A neighbor whose address lists to Fuquay Varina wrote on Owens’ Facebook thread under his last message, “You don’t know us but we are one of your many neighbors who saw you today and are so incredibly sad that your (sic) felt you couldn’t reach out for help. I weep for your children and wife and entire family whose lives are forever changed and have to endure such horrible pain and loss.”
Wrote a relative, Eugene Owens, on the thread: “It is a major shame that you had difficulty understanding how much you have been and always will be loved.”
A friend of Owens wrote on Facebook, “A friend of mine took his life this morning. He wasn’t a close friend, but nonetheless he was a friend, and a member of my tribe. It is literally impossible for me to know or understand the battles he fought, but I respect that he felt, in that moment, that the only solution was to end his life. It doesn’t mean I agree with him, but he’s not here to argue the point and there’s nothing to be gained in being mad at him. My thoughts and sympathies go out instead to those who must cope with this sudden, shocking loss. There will be grief, and guilt, and soul-searching in the days to come. Joy will be gone from the world for a while, for the survivors dealing with the aftermath. I wish I’d had the opportunity to know him better, but I’m glad to have had the chance to know him at all. He was a good man, and the world is poorer for his sudden absence.”
Fellow writer Daniel Zimmerman, of The Truth About Guns.com, wrote of Owens, “He was a dedicated hoplophile, an avid shooter and a fierce supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and co-workers. He will be missed.”
2. Owen Was a ‘Long-Time Shooting Enthusiast’ Who Wrote About Firearms & the Second Amendment
The Bearing Arms.com bio on Owen says he was a “long-time shooting enthusiast” who “began blogging as a North Carolina native in New York at the politics-focused Confederate Yankee in 2004.”
In 2007, the bio reports, “he began writing about firearms, gun rights, and crime at Pajamas Media, and added gun and gear reviews for Shooting Illustrated in 2010.”
BearingArms describes its mission as believing in “a pre-existing, unalienable right of self-defense” and believing that “this right includes to the use of contemporary arms, ammunition, and accouterments” and “that citizens choosing to exercise their right of arms owe a duty to society to master their arms and use them in a judicious and responsible manner.”
Recent headlines included “You Won’t Believe Why Domino’s Suspended This Dallas Pizza Delivery Driver,” “San Diego Police Shoot, Kill 15-Year-Old With BB Gun,” and “Did This Concealed Carry Holder Just Stop a Mass Shooting in Texas?”
Owens’ Facebook profile said, “Husband, Father, Son, Brother, crappy shooter who writes a bit about firearms, training, and policy.” His wife’s Facebook page shows numerous loving photos of him with his children and wife.
The GoFundMe site to support his family says of Owens: “He was always defending the little guy from the bully. He always had a minute or an hour to talk, or teach, or just listen. He touched many of our lives with his genuine caring heart.”
Friends filled the comment thread under Owens’ final tragic post with tributes and laments.
“Will miss my friend Bob. I pray for his family and other friends. Bob was a great guy, a great writer, and a great friend,” wrote one. “Wow, damn Bob. I have no words beyond RIP and prayers for your family. Echoing others, for those that find yourself in such a situation….reach out, please reach out,” wrote another.
3. Owens’ Wife Left a Heartfelt Tribute for Him & His Co-Editor Wrote That ‘Life as I Knew It Ended This Morning’
Owens’ wife, Christine, has now added her own heart-breaking comment under his tragic last Facebook message. It reads, “Bob love you were nothing but a wonderful husband, loving father and giving friend. You always did what you thought was right even though it was not the popular thing to do. You were never a coward, or selfish just hurting. I Love you baby, you were my world.”
Her page is filled with photos of Owens with their daughters.
The writer who helped Owens edit BearingArms.com has confirmed his death on social media and described the emotional blow.
“Life as I knew it ended this morning,” Jennifer Jacques, Owens’ co-editor at BearingArms.com, wrote on Facebook.
“It was a privilege and an honor to call Bob Owens my friend, co-editor and work hubby, so please know that I will do everything in my power to protect him in death as I did in life. Needless to say, I am profoundly devastated. Even that phrase seems insignificant compared to what I’m feeling. I appreciate all the phone calls, emails, and texts, but please respect that I am having an extremely hard time with this and am asking everyone to just focus on and pray for his family. He would laugh at how many tissues I went through writing this status. And I would do anything to hear that laugh again. WE ARE DIMINISHED.”
BearingArms.com describes Jacques as “a wife and mother, former private detective, active in WI politics and an outspoken conservative gun owner.”
4. Owens Was Trained as a Combat Instructor & Had Hundreds of Hours of Professional Firearm Training
BearingArms.com reports that Owens was “a graduate of roughly 400 hours of professional firearms training classes, including square range and force-on force work with handguns and carbines.”
The site added that he was “a past volunteer instructor with Project Appleseed. He most recently received his Vehicle Close Quarters Combat Instructor certification from Centrifuge Training.”
According to Young Conservatives, “Bob was well-respected among conservatives and Second Amendment advocates. He would frequently take on gun control advocates in social media with his classic brand of intelligence and sharp wit, often leaving them in the dust.”
As news of Owens’ death spread on social media, many people expressed sadness. Others hit back at pro gun control supporters who made political statements about Owens’ death.
5. Owens Was Working on a Book Called ‘The Deplorables Guide to Guns’
Owens’ second-to-last Facebook post was about a project he was working on.
“Three days left and 10,000 more words to finish ‘The Deplorables Guide to Guns.’ I got this,” he wrote on May 7.
On May 5, he posted a selfie that read, “That moment when you should be working on your book, but you’re at the pharmacy because the pediatrician forgot to call in a prescription.”
And in April: “Migraine. That’s the end of the NRA show for me.” Mostly, he posted photos of himself firing guns and wrote in defense of the Second Amendment.
He was active on Twitter through May 7, when he retweeted a conservative writer’s joke about the wife of new French president Emmanuel Macron. On Twitter, he called himself, “Editor of @BearingArmsCom covering firearms news, gun laws, and use-of-force. Training junkie. Farce multiplier.”
A fan wrote on Owens’ Facebook page, “You were one of the reasons I wanted to come to the NRA and work in media. You were a standard bearer of 2A journalism that I enjoyed reading as a fan, and respected even more as a colleague and person.”
A friend, Katie Pavlich, writing at TownHall.com described deer hunting with Owens, his deep Southern accent, his friendliness, and added, “He always had my back and even offered his place in North Carolina as a safe house should anything terrible ever happen in D.C.”