There are people who should know better, of course. But the seeming majority of gun control advocates are simply oblivious to the necessity of keeping guns in the hands of honest, peaceful individuals. Their exposure to guns begins and ends only with tragedies.
As the Don B. Kates, Jr. quote I posted recently noted: “Gun prohibition is the brainchild of white middle-class liberals who are oblivious to the situation of poor and minority people living in areas where the police have given up on crime control.”
I have engaged in many conversations with gun control advocates during the last few weeks . It turns out that none of them have had any direct exposure to crime. They’ve never had occasion to call 9-1-1. They’ve never feared for their lives. To them, the system works and guns are unnecessary - an opinion borne from literal ignorance. Now, I don’t mean ignorance disparagingly (though in some cases it may be warranted) - I mean ignorance as it is defined: a lack of knowledge or information.
In many of these conversations, in order to provide some perspective, I offered some of my own personal experiences. And in one of these conversations, I was even able to persuade a friend to my position - to the point that he came with me to the range and I joined him in a handgun safety class. Allow me to share some of these personal experiences:
- Sometime around 1994 or 1995, my neighbor directly across the street arrived home with her kids. As they were walking from the car to the house, a gun-wielding assailant drove up and demanded they head inside together. There is no knowing his intentions. Because she was unarmed, there was no way she could stop him. At this moment, her husband arrived from work, interrupting the assailant. He jumped out of his car to protect his family. As they argued, the aggressor shot my neighbor and drove off. The bullet hit one shoulder, travelled through his chest, and became lodged in his other arm. He survived, somehow, though the bullet had to remain in his arm. They were lucky, all things considered, since it could have turned out much worse. As far as I know, the assailant was never caught.
- Around 1996 or 1997, I was playing basketball with some friends in a neighbor’s driveway. A couple of guys rolled up and pointed guns at us, demanding everything we had. We complied as best we could. Still, they began to toy with us, relishing the power they held over us. We, naturally, feared for our lives. My neighbor’s older brother saw this from inside the house and, after not getting anyone on 9-1-1 right away, started screaming from inside the house that he was coming out with a gun. This was enough to scare the muggers back into their car and speed away. My neighbor’s brother was bluffing: in reality, he ran out with only a large kitchen knife. Obviously, we were simply lucky that day. They could have easily mowed us down well before any authorities would have arrived. Indeed, the cops didn’t show up until well over an hour later. Even then, they were less interested in the mugging and more interested in whether any of us had drugs.
- In 2001, I arrived home late from deejaying on South Beach. At that time, I was living with my grandparents whose house was in a poorer neighborhood but closer to campus. Also living there was my grandmother’s disabled brother, who used a tracheostomy machine for breathing. It was around 3am, and as I approached the house I noticed a brown pick-up truck idling in front my driveway. The guys inside the truck were seemingly scoping out the house. I drove past, just in case these guys were up to no good. I swung around a back street, flipped off my lights, and came around the other side to get a better look without being seen. After a minute, they drove off. I stuck around for another few minutes to make sure they were gone and then drove home. As I was changing, I heard the metal latch to the fence disengage. I flipped off the lights inside the house and ran to the window to get a look. Sure enough, the guys were back: two of them, each holding a gun, were now on the property. One was trying the door to my car, which wasn’t there before, while the other one swung around the side of the house and headed toward the main entrance where my grandparents and grand-uncle were sleeping. I immediately dialed 9-1-1 and turned on all the outside lights. This caught their attention, but they weren’t very deterred. As I explained the situation to the 9-1-1 operator, they slowly returned to their truck and leisurely drove away. I gave a full description of the guys and the pickup truck and the 9-1-1 operator informed me that an officer would be by in a few minutes. 15-20 minutes had gone by without a response, so I simply assumed that they were apprehended nearby or something. With my adrenaline pumping, I couldn’t sleep so I stayed up a bit longer. About ten minutes later - over 30 minutes after calling 9-1-1 - I heard the truck idling again just outside. I quickly jumped up and peered through the blinds - sure enough, the guys were back. I turned on my bedroom light and called 9-1-1 again and explained they had returned and were right outside. During this time, I swung open the blinds to confirm that the guys were still there - but I had forgotten to turn off the lights in my room. They could now see me. In what was one of the longest seconds of my life, the driver pulled his gun up from his lap, pointed it right at me… and fired. I don’t remember their faces, but to this day I still remember the flash of the muzzle. Miraculously, the bullet missed. I think it hit off a roof tile. And yet, despite being on the phone with me while I was getting shot at, the police never arrived that night.
About a month later I had plans to be in New York for, among other things, a college music festival. I was staying at the Marriott World Trade Canter. For some reason, I had decided to delay my arrival until September 12. The Marriott World Trade Center was destroyed the day before, on September 11th. Serendipity had saved me again. Obviously, in this instance, a defensive firearm would have been useless to prevent the tragedy (at least on the ground against hijacked airplanes - on the planes themselves, it would have made all the difference in the world) - but this experience having so soon followed being shot at left me shaken. My vulnerability was exposed like a raw nerve. A week or two later, I purchased my first firearm and with it a tiny morsel of peace of mind.
- In 2004, my cousin drove his Hummer to the bank to withdraw some money from an ATM. A trio of bandits who were staking out the bank figured he must have been wealthy and followed him home. In broad daylight, my cousin was rushed while in his garage by the three masked men with guns. They pistol-whipped him across his head, and yelled at him to get inside. My cousin’s wife and his cleaning lady were inside. His sons were at school, but of course would be back eventually. He knew he had to do something. As he was walking into the house from the garage, he slammed the door against the arm of the man whose gun was against his back. My cousin picked up the dropped gun and shot at the men - hitting two of them - while he himself was shot in the chest and arm. He, too, was lucky: he survived and two of the men were apprehended and convicted.
- In 2005, there were a string of shootings on Los Angeles freeways. One night, in the midst of this spree, I was driving eastbound on the 101 from the 405. My mother-in-law was in the passenger seat and my wife (girlfriend at the time) was asleep in the backseat. I was in the left-most lane when some clown sped up behind me, flashing his high beams. Annoyed, I changed lanes and let him pass. After he passed, I returned to the faster-moving left lane. The crazy guy slammed on his brakes in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes hard. After cursing him under my breath, I let him gain some distance again before continuing. Then, he slammed on his brakes again. I swerved to the empty lane on my right to try to bypass the crazy guy and he also swung right to cut me off. I didn’t want any part of this so I just slowed down a bit, hoping he’d get over his little episode. Instead, he swerved back to the left lane and slowed to stay even with me. I turned to look at him, and he pulled up a gun and pointed it at me. I slammed my foot down hard on the brake and turned my steering wheel hard right. I then gunned it onto the right lane to try to make my escape. He was quickly on my tail. I did my best to emulate Jack Bauer and keep some distance between us, even keeping cars between us when I could. With my mother-in-law in a panic and my wife, now awake, screaming - I called 9-1-1 on my cell phone. First, I was put on hold, and then hung up on. I called back and was put on hold again. With the phone to my ear, I kept up the high-speed evasive driving. I knew that exiting the highway would only make the situation more dangerous, with lights and traffic that could make us sitting ducks. Instead, I made use of every bit of horsepower available to me and sped down the highway. The 101 eventually led me to the 134, and I kept going. The guy was still on me, and I was still on hold. After 14 miles on the 134, it became the 210 - and I kept going. Still on hold, I knew I had to make a move - traffic was starting to thin and at any point this guy could start firing even without a clear shot. So I lurched my car over two lanes and onto the shoulder. I sped along the shoulder, darting past cars on my left. He pushed his way onto the shoulder behind me. The approaching exit was my opportunity to basically try something out of an action movie - which was pretty much all the training I’d had in evasive driving maneuvers. I slowed down again just enough for him to be right behind me and then at the last possible moment I jumped in front of the car to my left, across the exit lane, and back onto the highway, just barely squeezing by the exit’s fitch barrels - a move he was unable to emulate which left him speeding onto the exit. I kept driving for miles, making sure I had lost him. Eventually, I got off the freeway and then right back on in the other direction, since I had travelled well past where I lived. When I got off my exit, I circled the neighborhood for a while before going home - keeping an eye out for the crazy guy the whole time. After finally making it home, I plopped down on the sofa drained and exhausted. I still had the phone to my ear, still on hold twenty to thirty minutes past when the “adventure” began. Disgusted, I hung up and I was eventually able to file a report the next day. We were, once again, lucky that nothing worse happened.
- On two separate occasions in 2012, there were attempted burglaries of my house while my family and I were home. In both instances I was able to scare them away by simply making my presence known. Due to how recent these events were, and since one of them led to filing a police report, I’d rather not get into further specifics. Needless to say, we feared for our lives and I was thankful I was armed and able to protect my wife and children.
This is not an exhaustive list of when I have felt unsafe, by any stretch. I’ve been in too many fights (in all of them, I was defending myself) - including being jumped by five gang members. I’ve been threatened with knives twice. I’ve had a house and two cars burglarized while no one was present. I’ve had many, many other interactions with police, every single one of them involving them abusing their power or being incompetent (or both). What I’ve tried to share were incidents in which either I feared for my life, or people close to me feared for their lives. Only by sheer luck or providence were worse outcomes avoided. And it is foolish to simply rely on further luck or providence during such encounters in the future.
And my encounters are positively mild. How many thousands of people are assaulted, mugged, raped, or murdered every day? What of the horrific stories that are simply part of daily life in the inner city, where the prohibition of drugs empowers violent criminals and police are just as likely to not show up as they are to find a reason to harass the victims?
But there is one common theme I wish to note: the cops are not fast enough. Everyone has heard the adage: when seconds count, police are minutes away. Well, it’s true: it is simply unfeasible to expect cops to be anywhere in less than a few minutes - and yet a few seconds is all it takes for a crazed madman to commit evil acts.
Indeed, let’s take the recent shooting in Newtown. Did you know that it took the police twenty minutes to respond to the initial 9-1-1 call? Twenty. Minutes. Due to political motivations and outright bias, it’s not something that is commonly reported. After all, to call into question the ability of government officials to protect innocent victims from horrific crime would alter the narrative that more government and less liberty is the ultimate solution. But, indeed, it’s true:
According to the CNN timeline for the Sandy Hook tragedy, “Police and other first responders arrived on scene about 20 minutes after the first calls.” Twenty minutes. Five minutes is forever when violence is underway, but 20 minutes — a third of an hour — means that the “first responders” aren’t likely to do much more than clean up the mess.
So many gun control advocates simply lack this knowledge, this perspective, of the reality that many people face. They lack the understanding of how unhelpful, at best, police are in stopping a crime in progress. They don’t understand that to many, it seems outrageous to seek help from the same people who regularly harass you because of where you are or how you look. Many are unaware of “stop and frisk” policies and profiling. Many are far removed from the war on drug’s battlefield. They are blissfully privileged to be sheltered from the reality that bad people exist, and that state protection cannot be trusted.
This isn’t to say that people who have faced criminals and do live in fearful neighborhoods automatically denounce gun control. Gun control advocates can come from the very same pool of victims that would be made safer by more guns in the hands of good people. But their problem is less of ignorance (though, as two examples, they tend to be unaware of the racist roots of gun control and how every 20th century genocide was against legally disarmed citizens) and more of naïveté. Theirs is primarily a misapplication of logic. These are the people who see first hand how the prohibition of drugs empowers criminals. They see first hand how it is easier for a child to buy a joint than a beer. They see first hand that outlawing substances does nothing to affect their availability, it only makes society more dangerous. And yet either they fail to make the proper connections or they cannot apply the same understanding to guns. Outlawing guns or certain guns or certain capacity magazines will not make them go away - it will just put them further in the hands of criminals.
This truth is evident in “gun-free zones.” History has shown that these areas simply create easy targets: Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, Newtown - all “gun-free zones.” And what is a gun-free zone but merely a pledge of false hope? As Glenn Reynolds noted recently: “Policies making areas “gun free” provide a sense of safety to those who engage in magical thinking, but in practice, of course, killers aren’t stopped by gun-free zones. As always, it’s the honest people — the very ones you want to be armed — who tend to obey the law. … Gun-free zones are premised on a lie: that murderers will follow rules, and that [honest people who carry concealed weapons] are a greater danger to those around them than crazed killers.”
Gun-free zones are solutions offered by those who cannot be bothered by deep thought. It is naïve to believe that outlawing guns would make them disappear, or even harder for criminals to acquire. Moreover, making greater penalties for simply possessing an illegal firearm only provides incentive to commit heinous acts - if they are facing serious penalties anyway, there is little keeping them from escalating their behavior. And, further, it is foolish to solely entrust your safety to police, whose ultimate priority is their own safety over anyone else’s and who are inherently unable to be timely in responding.
As I’ve noted before, there are three facts that most gun control advocates are too ignorant or naïve to acknowledge:
Fact: Bad people exist.
Fact: Outlawing guns won’t make them disappear any more than outlawing marijuana or prostitution has made those disappear. Making such laws only ensures that those aforementioned “bad people” are *more* likely to be armed than the non-bad.
Fact: A gun does more to empower the weak than it does to strengthen the strong. In other words: if guns magically disappeared, it would be more harmful to the physically weaker and smaller among us - generally: women, the elderly, etc. - than it would to those who are already big and strong. Bad people will remain, only they will have less resistance.
Guns are equalizers. No longer can someone be attacked simply because he or she is smaller or weaker. A small elderly woman with a gun can take down an assailant of any size. And if the assailant has a gun, no rape whistle or pepper spray or even knife could equal the playing field like a firearm.
Prohibition has never succeeded in eradicating that which was prohibited. The more difficult it is for peaceful, law-abiding individuals to acquire a good, the more the supply of that good falls into the hands of criminals. And someone who is willing to murder is not afraid of committing the much less grievous crime of acquiring an illegal firearm.
The way to mitigate senseless violence like that of Newtown is not to tip the scales in favor of criminals by disarming their victims.
I’d consider giving up the firearms that would protect me, my wife, and my daughters as soon as someone figures out a way to eradicate the earth of rapists, muggers, murderers, and tyrants.
When statist impulses are used to disarm the sane and peaceful, only the insane and violent will be armed - and fewer will be safe.