The Outstater

June 1, 2022

More Gun-Control Sanctimony

“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.” — Thomas Sowell

THERE IS a rationale for gun control that says private ownership of firearms is unnecessary because the police will be there to protect you. That sounds good but some of us have lived long enough to offer sad testimony to the contrary.

As a police reporter, I covered dozens of murders in both small towns and big cities. The police never got there in time. It wasn’t their fault, they just couldn’t as a matter of routine.

A friend, my photographer on many breaking news assignments, was shot through the head driving his car. He was responding to a report on his police scanner of a sniper on a downtown hotel rooftop. A real first-responder, he beat the cops to a scene one last time.

Other friends have been murdered in their homes by intruders. In one case it was a father, mother and son, and in another it was a single mother. They were bludgeoned and strangled by strangers. Calling 911 would not have saved them. Outlawing guns would not have saved them. One of those 9mm handguns so maligned by Joe Biden would have saved them. 

Finally, my neighborhood was strafed with full automatic fire early one morning. In several homes, shots hit only feet above the beds of sleeping children. Those without weapons took cover, laying prone on the floor in the dark in fear that they might hear the shooter at the front door. A single sheriff’s deputy arrived 20 minutes after the 911 call. He would not get out of his car. It was a “live-fire incident,” he told us. A public relations officer came around a week later to discourage those who wanted to organize an armed neighborhood watch, a militia if you will.

We were never told who was responsible. Rather, we learned that it is not the job of the police to protect us unless we are in their custody. “The Constitution does not impose a general duty upon police officers or other governmental officials to protect individual persons from harm — even when they know the harm will occur,” says Darren Hutchinson, associate dean at the University of Florida School of Law. “Police can watch someone attack you, refuse to intervene and not violate the Constitution.”

So much for that. What about the argument that the Constitution is obscure on gun ownership?

The Second Amendment is pretty straightforward: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” But as with all words those can get twisted and confused with the passage of time. Nonetheless, we choose to read them as a noble attempt to absolutely prohibit future governments from meddling in the right to defend ourselves, our property and our country.

And know that registration and restriction historically have preceded confiscation. Nor can the means of self-protection be meted out or retracted whenever events seem to dictate, as Congress is now contemplating. 

This we know for certain: However much it may be wished otherwise, government cannot be trusted with a monopoly on power. Your eyes will fail long before you finish reading the continuous accounts, ancient and modern, of regimes abusing a disarmed or underarmed citizenry. And every mass killing, extermination, starvation, expulsion or enslavement was ordered by a warranted authority under force of arms, be it a warlord, a king, a parliament or a legislature.

So it was with only measured gratitude that we congratulated our Indiana legislators and governor for allowing non-felonious Hoosiers to carry a concealed handgun without their expressed permission.

Those who have studied the matter will tell you that this practice is the single best protection against the mass killings the nation is now experiencing. Few crazies, and we include terrorists in that category, have the courage to execute their evil when they cannot tell who is armed and who is not. They prefer gun-free zones at weddings, airplanes, birthday parties, shopping centers, churches, marathons, Christmas parades and, yes, elementary schools.

By the way, does the FBI keep records of attempts to rob gun stores? That would be interesting.

Whatever, you can bet that human beings, being what they are, will continue to try to rob, rape and kill wherever and whenever. The maddest of them will try to massacre random innocents. But that understood, a well-armed citizenry is a mitigation and not a perfect solution.

That concession touches on the true motivation of the gun-control movement, a sanctimonious effort having little to do with saving lives and only incidentally to do with the inanimate objects we call guns (as opposed to knives, tire irons, baseball bats, SUVs and the like). Its adherents, some of them living in gated communities protected by private security, see themselves as preserving the fantasy that human beings are perfectible — here and now or at least just around the corner.

In their view, gun ownership and related liberties compete with that vision of the perfect man and the perfect society. Self-reliance is somehow seen as an impediment to the human progress they claim to be engineering.

Well, we see no such progress or any prospect of such progress. Indeed, a mature reading of human nature and the daily news is quite the opposite. The wise are arming themselves accordingly. — tcl


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