Our Right to Self-Defense
Each of us is naturally responsible for assessing the risks we face in our daily lives, and taking whatever steps are appropriate to deal with those risks. We do this when we choose whether to wear a seat-belt, whether to buy life insurance, and whether to install a home security system.
And we do it when we decide whether or not to carry a weapon.
The question of what role government should play in this area can be answered with a single word: none.
It is not the responsibility of government to protect you. It is your responsibility. The Denver police department averages 9.5 minutes response time for top priority calls. In that time (assuming you have the opportunity to call them in the first place) you can be robbed, raped, beaten, killed. The courts have held that the police are under no obligation to serve as the bodyguards of any particular citizen. At best, they promise only to attempt to find and punish whoever has attacked you.
There is no evidence that so-called gun-control laws have any effect on the rate of violent crime. This is because only the law-abiding would respect such laws. (For this reason, gun-control is known in Libertarian circles as "victim disarmament.") There is also no evidence that access to guns by ordinary citizens contributes to crime. Indeed, the latest results of a study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (January, 1996) by Florida State University professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz revealed that:
- Americans use guns approximately 2.5 million times per year in self-defense.
- In 76% of such uses the firearm was never discharged.
- The number of defensive uses of firearms is four times greater than the number of criminal uses.
- "Gun-owning citizens deter many crimes."
Noted criminologist Kleck, who described himself as a "liberal college professor stereotype" was surprised and somewhat chagrined at these findings.
He shouldn't have been. Anti-gun dogma isn't based on evidence, but on one of the great unproven hypotheses of our age: that widespread ownership of the means of destruction is somehow inherently incompatible with being a civilized society. This, be it noted, is an aesthetic principle.
Now everyone has a right to their own aesthetic judgements, in music, in food, in entertainment, in clothes, and in friends. But any society that would use such a judgement to deny any of its citizens access to whatever tools may be necessary to exercise their first and most basic human right, the right to protect their own life, is not civilized -- but guilty of the most egregious barbarism.
This judgement applies with particular force in the case of women. Some 80% of violent crimes are committed by males under 25. When women are the victims of these crimes, they are often at a physical disadvantage with respect to their attacker. While other equalizers exist, nothing beats a handgun. Supporting a woman's right to equal pay for equal work or any other form of legal equality, while simultaneously denying her an equal right to defend her own life, is the most unctuous hypocrisy.
And so if given the opportunity I will introduce a bill in the 1997 legislative session to repeal all laws at the state level establishing a penalty for carrying a weapon of any type, openly or concealed. I will vote against any form of gun control that comes before the Colorado House -- including any type of state-level concealed carry permit system.
The only effect of victim disarmament laws is to give violent criminals exclusive license to own and use guns at the expense of the innocent. This is worse than nonsense; it is a campaign of terror unleashed against the law-abiding. Government doesn't work. Freedom does.
"An armed society is a polite society."
Robert A. Heinlein