Sunday, November 07, 2004

Guns for self defense

There has been much in the British press – and some in the Australian – about the need to let people defend themselves in their own homes. Several articles have been reviewed in TFS Magnum in recent days. Why do we care? As the issue with the Guardian proved, we don’t want Europeans telling us how to run our country, why do we care how they run theirs? If for no other reason, we need to learn from their mistakes. (Well, we can hope the left learns).

It is important for the left to understand that the great gun-free experiment tried in England is not working. Outlawing guns has ensured that only outlaws have guns. Gun crime is on the rise, and the police are relying on firearms of their own more frequently.

Making it illegal to defend oneself in their own home, has emboldened British criminals to the point that most burglaries occur when people are at home – these often turn into assaults, as the householder get beaten up. Be clear on this, it is not just defense with a firearm that is illegal. No weapon – knife, bat, etc. – may be used. Do so, and you will be hauled up on charges, probably convicted, and sued for damages by the person who broke into your home. People are not just afraid to go out, they are afraid to stay home as well. Defense from criminals was supposed to be left to the police, but this could never work. In rural areas it takes too long for the police to arrive. In cities, there is too much for them to do. They cannot be everywhere at once, and the time it takes an attacker to seriously injure someone is vanishingly small.

There is a component to the crime situation in England that is tied to relaxed sentencing of criminals. That also has not worked. The left is always attacking the get-tough-on-crime laws that were passed in the 80’s. But minimum sentencing and “three strikes” laws have been part of what has driven violent crime in America to near 30 year lows. (Note to the left: If you think some of the minimums are wrong, work to change them, but don’t point to one problem and try to tear down the whole system, because the system as a whole works.)

So if the British government recognizes the right of the people to defend themselves, what means will they have available? Knives, bats (cricket, not baseball), other blunt objects can be found in homes. But if the citizens are not given access to legal firearms, while the criminals have access to illegal firearms, well would you want to bring a knife to gunfight?

I believe I have a natural right to defend myself if attacked. I will use whatever is at my disposal to defend myself. Guns, knives, baseball bats, whatever is at hand can form a defense. But I prefer firearms – because they are effective. (Why would I want an ineffective defense?) And specifically they make my defense equal to any attack I am likely to meet. Do they guarantee that no attack on me will ever be successful? Of course they don’t. There are no guarantees in life, but firearms in the hands a trained law-abiding citizen do alter the odds in favor of that citizen.

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