Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Armed Citizen

This week I reread "From My Cold, Dead Fingers: Why American Needs Guns" by Sheriff Richard Mack. I do recommend the book for those considering the question of the 2nd Amendment. Unfortunately the possibly apocryphal "liberty teeth" quotation* is included, but the majority of the book is based on solid research. While it's a bit older, the statistical trends haven't changed much. The only caveat I'd include is that Sheriff Mack sees conspiracy where there may only be special interest or incompetence rather than malice.

Most of the book is based on thorough research and Sheriff Mack's own experiences. Several stories and statements underscore the desirable and positive influence of lawful firearms ownership in our society, including the following:

A group of Cambodians at a housing project in Los Angeles used M-1s and Kalashnikovs to put down an attack by the Bloods in May of 1988. (Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1988)

Drug dealers terrorized Piru Street in Los Angeles until two gang members were shot and wounded by a "block watch" leader, attracting the attention of police. (Washington Times, November 25, 1988, p. C6)

Korean merchants protected their property during the 1992 Los Angeles riots with "assault weapons." ("The 'Assault Weapon' Panic," Morgan and Kopel, p. 60) [Note: this reminds me of armed citizens protecting their lives and property following Hurricane Katrina, when many police had fled the area and the ones who remained busied themselves confiscating the firearms of lawful citizens instead of facing the criminals taking advantage of the confusion.]

Off-duty Army Rangers launched a "free-fire" offensive against crack-cocaine dealers in Tacoma, Washington, using handguns, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles, and driving the drug dealers from their streets. (Rocky Mountain News, September 29, 1989, p. 4)

It's clear that when the police can't help, or can't respond quickly enough, the concept of every citizen being part of the militia isn't a dead concept. It's alive and well. Gun control advocates would like to pretend the world is safer than it is, and hope that banning all guns will help make their illusion reality. While I'm sincerely glad that Americans are largely safe, and appreciate our fine police officers for making that a reality, the truth is we haven't gotten to the point that private ownership of firearms isn't necessary for safety and security.

We're nowhere close to the point where Americans should happily trust their government to be eternally beneficent. That is simply not the nature of human beings, unfortunately. The 2nd Amendment is as relevent today as it was when it was written, because as I've stated before, the Founders based the Constitution not on contemporary political theory of the 1700's, but on the immutable principles of human nature. The question of gun control is not one of hunting or accident statistics, or even criminal use. It is simply, "How much do you trust your government?" If it is enough to turn in all your guns, you may need to study more history and more of human nature.

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When it comes to the statistics, however, honest review often makes skeptics into 2nd amendment supporters. Such is the case with Gary Kleck (a liberal statistician) and Professor Hans Toch. Toch studied causes and cures for violence in America for the Eisenhower Administration, and then firmly believed that taking guns out of society would reduce violence. The preponderance of evidence gathered since his opinion of the 1960's and today changed his mind:
"...when used for protection, firearms can seriously inhibit aggression and can provide a psychological buffer against the fear of crime. Furthermore, the fact that national patters show little violent crime where guns are most dense implies that guns do not elicit aggression in any meaningful way. Quite the contrary, these findings suggest that high saturations of guns in places, or something correlated with that condition, inhibit illegal agression." (Psychology and Social Advocacy, eds. P. Suefeld & P. tetlock, "Research & Policy: The Case of Gun Control," Toch & Lizotte, Hemisphere Press, New York, NY, 1990.)
Without further ado, here are the stories of self-defense.

When a young man showed up at Breaux's Jewelers in New Orleans dressed as an old lady-complete with a walker, purse, gray wig and tan dress-the ruse was good enough to get him buzzed inside. But storeowner Mike Breaux quickly saw through the disguise and drew his handgun just as police say the suspect started to pull a handgun out of his purse and leap over the counter. Breaux fired, striking and incapacitating the would-be robber. From outside, a second suspect fired several shots through the glass front door as Breaux and one of his employees, who had picked up the first suspect's gun, returned fire. Breaux was grazed by a bullet before the wounded man fled with yet another accomplice. The second suspect turned up at a hospital later with gunshot wounds to his neck, back and arm. The first suspect was taken from the store by ambulance. Both men were listed in critical condition. (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA, 07/20/2005)

Gayle Martin was sound asleep when the doorbell rang at 5 a.m., but he didn't open the door because he didn't recognize either of the two men standing on his porch. He continued watching the men through his front window as they went around his house and began battering his back door. Within moments, the two thugs came crashing through the door into the kitchen and living room area. That's when Martin drew his .357 Mag. and fired three shots, causing the men to run away. "They were in the house," Martin said. "They had just broken in. I didn't let them get any farther." Authorities found the home invaders nearby, both suffering from gunshot wounds. Grant County Sheriff Randy Middleton called Martin lucky to be alive, adding, "He's a good shot." (Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, OH, 07/10/2005)

The two masked men who burst into a North Fort Myers, Fla., pharmacy demanding drugs didn't notice the pharmacy technician, who was a concealed-weapons permit holder, crouched in the back. When one robber leapt onto the countertop and waved a pistol at the clerk, the technician took action, opening fire with a .45-cal. pistol and hitting the armed man in the stomach. Both suspects fled the scene. Police believed the wounded man was a career criminal with 14 felony convictions since 1990 who was released from prison in January. "I knew for sure this guy was going to kill me," the technician said. "I was so afraid. I knew if I died, [the clerk] was going to die." (The News-Press, Fort Myers, FL, 06/07/2005)

Christine Peacock was pulling through a fast-food drive-through when a man ordered her to stop and hand over her belongings. Because she was in her boyfriend's car, the normally unarmed Peacock had a gun handy. When she drew it, the mere sight of the firearm caused the would-be robber to flee the scene. It was a scary incident that completely changed Peacock's opinion of concealed carry. "I didn't believe that everybody should carry a gun at all times; I thought it was too overprotective," she said. "[Now] I plan on enrolling in a concealed weapons permit class, and purchasing my own gun [to have] with me at all times." (Florida Today, Melbourne, FL, 06/19/2005)

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If it weren't for a Vienna, Ill., woman's quick thinking, she and her husband might both be dead. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Albert Rolens heard his dogs barking and went to investigate, finding a partially opened sliding door. When he reached to close it, a man wearing a stocking cap, gloves and a large coat thrust a rifle through the open door and forced his way inside. The intruder instructed Rolens to wake his wife and unplug the telephones. The couple told the intruder to leave, but he refused to go without their granddaughter, his former girlfriend. After several tense minutes, Mrs. Rolens convinced the intruder to let her husband go to the bathroom to take some medication. Once there, Albert entered an attached bedroom and retrieved his .45-cal. revolver, which he pointed at the man, again telling him to leave. When Mrs. Rolens grabbed a cell phone and ran to call 9-1-1, the intruder darted after her. Fearing for his wife's safety, Albert shot the gunman once in the head, killing him. (The Vienna Times, Vienna, IL, 06/09/2005)

Just one day after a Dallas, Texas, woman sought a protective order against her ex-boyfriend, he confronted her outside her home, blocking her way. Upon noticing the disturbance, a neighbor came to her aid and helped her get inside as the ex-boyfriend left. Once in her home, she closed the door and the neighbor left, but the ex-boyfriend returned. When he bashed down her door, the frightened woman drew her firearm, shooting and killing him. "She was trying to protect herself," said Dallas police Sgt. Gil Cerda. (The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX, 07/02/2005)

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Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
Armed Student Saves 10 People,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,
Crime Spree Stopped with the Simple Presentation of a Firearm.

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work,
Scotland holds a Summit on their Failed Gun Policies, Chicago's gun ban continues to fail,
Real Women's Rights (This one includes one of my favorite personal accounts),
Opposition to CA AB 2062,
Knife Control?!,
Protecting Children through Gun Control?,
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy,
A Contrast to VA Tech.

Thoughts just prior to the release of DC v. Heller, with one of the best appellate court quotations ever.

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

Carrying a Firearm is an Inherently Civilized Act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?

*The "liberty teeth" quotation is attributed to George Washington, but doesn't appear to be authentic. There are many quotations by respected founders that support the position of 2nd Amendment advocates, so it's not really necessary to manufacture new ones and give false attribution. I've tried to find a source on this and so far haven't come up with anything reliable. For the interested, the quotation I've seen is:
"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence. To secure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference--they deserve a place of honor with all that is good."
There are several things that make me doubt the authenticity of the quotation beyond being unable to source it. "Keystone under independence" might invoke an arch supporting the idea of independence, but is awkward. It would be better stated, "keystone of independence" creating the comparison of independence to an arch, with firearms being the vital keystone or capstone. Also, "peace, security and happiness" seems more modern. Many of the founders probably would have said, "life, liberty and property." If the quotation doesn't originate with George Washington, it's unfortunate the author didn't publish it sans false attribution and allow it to stand on its own merits.

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