Vulnerability of a Disarmed Citizenry


The following is a letter I posted on another cop bulletin board in reply to a posting from a New Zealand cop

Dear Lindsay:

I enjoyed reading your post. You made some good points that we should never forget, such as the time it took for us to correct legislated discrimination. It was unfortunate that it took so long, but perhaps it was inevitable that we went through that period. Sort of like going through your teen years. I think America turned out pretty well, though.

As you may have surmised, I'm not concerned so much about crime as I am about the vulnerability of a disarmed citizenry from tyranny by their own government. You may think that is a reckless statement about crime, but it isn't. I base it on evidence which indicates to me that crime is not our greatest danger. In my humble opinion, crime is manageable through law enforcement.

You say that the pro-gun counter-argument claims that the U.S. has a murder rate 5 times higher than the "unfree" countries (which do not allow handgun ownership.) This is untrue. Perhaps you were referring to the total number of murders. The "total" may be higher than in some of those "unfree" countries, but so is the population. There are many "unfree" countries with much higher rates than the U.S.; Russia and South Africa come to mind, for instance. And the rate isn't higher just in those miserable places.

But old impressions die hard: Americans still think of Britain as a low-crime country. Conversely, the British still think of America as a high-crime country. Neither impression is true. For instance, in America about 12% of all burglaries are "Hot" (while the owners are present,) while in Britain it is over half. Americans would be outraged if such statistics existed in the U.S. And while the odds are higher that you can be shot to death here in America, in Briton you are more likely to be strangled to death there.

Take your pick.

As for mis-perceptions about guns, one may ask why people believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens is so dangerous? It is because they are inundated by a liberal media with stories of children being killed by guns. The media have a saying here: "If it bleeds, it leads" (meaning it becomes the lead story.)

Even our disgraceful president, an ardent advocate of gun control, loves to say that 12 "kids" die each day from gun violence. What he doesn't mention is that 80% of those "kids" are between the ages of 15 and 19, nearly all of whom are involved in gangs, convenience-store hold-ups, and drug deals, etc. When confronted with that statistic, the socialists immediately leap to the argument that so many young children die from guns found in the home that errant fathers leave lying around. So lets look at that: Taking a typical year, say 1996, there were a total of 1,134 accidental firearm deaths in the entire U.S. Of that number, 42 were under the age of ten. That's less than one per state. In comparison, during the same period the same age group suffered 2,404 motor-vehicle deaths, 805 lost their lives drowning, and 738 were killed by fire and burns. (Source: National Center for Injury Prevention, Injury Mortality Statistics, (Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control, 1999)).

Almost twice as many children drown in their own bathtubs each year than die from ALL types of firearm accidents. Should we license, register, and confiscate bathtubs? In fact, a lot more infants die from drowning in 5-gallon buckets. Lets ban buckets! Since we are getting silly here, lets look at the other side of cause-and-effect... If we banned bathtubs, a lot more kids (possibly thousands) would die from diseases because of uncleanliness. Cleanliness has been the #1 contributor to longer life-expectancy rates in the last century.

Or how about the study which found that child-resistant bottle caps have resulted in 3,500 additional poisonings annually of children under the age of 5 from aspirin-related drugs because people have been lulled into a less-safety-conscious mode of behavior by the existence of safety caps. (Source: W. Kip Viscusi, "The Lulling Effect: The Impact of Child-Resistant Packaging on Aspirin and Analgesic Ingestion," American Economic Review (May, 1984): 324-27.) What does that say for the hue-and-cry for safety locks on guns? Not that I'm personally opposed to them in households with kids, I'm just asking. The point is, 42 kids are accidentally killed with guns, which is terrible, but a hundred times that number are accidentally killed by vehicles, drowning and fire, and an additional 3,500 are poisoned by just one common legal product... and what gets on the news?

Yup... Guns!

If one is so fervent about the dangers of guns, they should be positively astonished at learning how few people, out of nearly 300-million in the United states, actually die by guns each year. Mathematically, the number looks something like this: 0.00012

So the real question should be: are more lives lost or saved by law-abiding citizens having guns? The answer is unequivocal: More guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens results in less crime. The largest study ever conducted on this question found overwhelming and conclusive evidence that more guns = less crime. (Source: Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws" University of Chicago Press, 1997, 1st ed.; ditto: 2000, 2nd ed. (Dr. Lott is a senior research scholar in the School of Law at Yale University; hardly a bastion of Conservatism.))

As I said in the beginning, my primary concern is not with crime, it is with tyranny in government. When I look at recent history, I see tens-of-millions murdered by their own governments, and in each case, the government first disarmed them, thereby taking away their ability to resist. When I weigh that against the few who die each year by guns (unfortunate as that is,) I immediately conclude that it is much safer for law-abiding society to be armed. And that doesn't even place on the scales the benefit of less crime perpetrated upon an armed society. You say that there are places in the world where there is stability despite a shortage of guns. You also say that you see U.S. foreign policy as patchy, though well-intentioned. I don't know if the two are related, but I'd question how stable anywhere in the world would be if Americans hadn't defended freedom around the globe (with the notable exception of the lunatic foreign policy of the present U.S. Administration, which blithely "Wags The Dog" every time a new revelation is about to surface about how our disgraced president may have raped another woman.)

I, too, have traveled in many countries throughout Europe, North America and the Far East (including the People's Republic of China,) and I think I have a fair impression of various societies. I would say that as long as America remains a strong and free nation, the rest of the industrialized world, on the whole, can safely practice internal gun-control without consequence to their sovereignty. But God have mercy on them if America should ever fall, because there'll be no one to come to their aid. Some say that China will be the premiere world power within this century. How does the prospect of China defending your liberty strike you? And people shouldn't lull themselves into thinking that it couldn't happen to America. All nations eventually decay and disintegrate. That's History 101. The unknown is: When?

The one thing that will most surely hasten it in America is gun control, and most heavy-duty thinkers on the subject are of the opinion that the liberal socialist gun-abolishionists, with the help of a sympathetic liberal press, are winning the PR game. You said that Constitutions are not immutable. That is correct; we changed ours about 70 years ago abolishing booze, then changed it back again. It is entirely possible that the socialists will win, and get our Second Amendment repealed. I don't think it will happen, but it is possible. All I can say is: God help us (and you) if they do. I don't think that if they are successful we will be able to reverse it before it is too late.

The bottom line is, whether we are talking about crime or about liberty, forbidding law-abiding people to have guns is absolute folly. Thanks for your kind words recognizing our most important holiday. (July 4.)

Alan Asker
San Diego PD (Ret.)

Alan Asker
San Diego PD (Ret.)

Disclaimer: All comments are the personal opinion of the writer and not intended to represent any government agency, whatsoever.