When it comes to guns, we need to follow the Left’s example: personalize, personalize, personalize

Defending your home against a break-in is about as personal as it gets.  The following email is a good example of taking that personal principle, then expanding to a narrative about a single third party, and finally discussing the broader policy implications that affect all citiziens (h/t Earl):

A LESSON FROM HISTORY:

You’re sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers. At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way.

With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it…

In the darkness, you make out two shadows. One holds something that looks like a crowbar. When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire.

The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside.

As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you’re in trouble. In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few that are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless. Yours was never registered.

Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a Firearm.

When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter.

“What kind of sentence will I get?” you ask.

“Only ten-to-twelve years,” he replies, as if that’s nothing. “Behave yourself, and you’ll be out in seven.”

The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper. Somehow, you’re portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men you shot are represented as choirboys. Their friends and relatives can’t find an unkind word to say about them. Buried deep down in the article, authorities acknowledge that both “victims” have been arrested numerous times.

But the next day’s headline says it all: “Lovable Rogue Son Didn’t Deserve to Die.” The thieves have been transformed from career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters.

As the days wear on, the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero. Your attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he’ll probably win.

The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several times in the past and that you’ve been critical of local police for their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait for the burglars.

A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven’t been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently predicted.

When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you. Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn’t take long for the jury to convict you of all charges. The judge sentences you to life in prison.

This case really happened.

On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk, England, killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life term. [See link below, explaining that he only served three years, but has had to go into hiding.]

How did it become a crime to defend one’s own life in the once great British Empire? It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a license.

The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only handguns but all firearms except shotguns. Later laws passed in 1953 and 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and mandated the registration of all shotguns.

Momentum for total handgun confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987. Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed man with a Kalashnikov rifle, walked down the street shooting everyone he saw. When the smoke cleared, 17 people were dead. The British public, already de-sensitized by eighty years of “gun control”, demanded even tougher restrictions. (The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even though Ryan used a rifle.)

Nine years later, at Dunblane, Scotland, Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a teacher at a public school. For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as mentally unstable, or worse, criminals. Now the press had a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners. Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane Inquiry, a few months later, sealed the fate of the few sidearm’s still owned by private citizens.

During the years in which the British government incrementally took away most gun rights, the notion that a citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a reason to own a gun. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists were charged while the real criminals were released. Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as saying, “We cannot have people take the law into their own hands.”

All of Tony Martin’s neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had no fear of the consequences.
Martin himself, a collector of antiques, had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars.

When the Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn’t were visited by police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn’t comply. Police later bragged that they’d taken nearly 200,000 handguns from private citizens.

How did the authorities know who had handguns? The guns had been registered and licensed. Kind of like cars. Sound familiar?

WAKE UP AMERICA; THIS IS WHY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS PUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT IN OUR CONSTITUTION.

“…It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” –Samuel Adams

If you’re curious, here’s more information about Martin. Please note that the challenges against him came about because the state hadn’t given him permission to defend himself.

Gun control supporters count those who have died; Second Amendment supporters count those who will live

View of Marin from San Francisco

Because this is Marin and I am not a hermit, I frequently find myself in conversation with Democrats.  It was to be expected, therefore, that conversation over the Christmas holiday would end up revolving around gun control.  These conversations were disheartening on all sides.  My friends concluded that I support wild-eyed mass murderers, since I believe in the Second Amendment, and I concluded that their devotion to feelings over facts will result in many unnecessary deaths over the years.

As I explain at some length below, the only fact that matters to them is that guns do indeed kill people.  Any other data is irrelevant.  Indeed, the conversations were practically textbook illustrations of the giant chasm that separates the two world views.

My friends began by attacking the NRA and Wayne LaPierre as evil and fanatic. Only a deranged person could come up with the lunatic idea of placing armed guards in schools. They batted aside the fact that Clinton had proposed and put into place the same plan LaPierre now suggested — armed guards in schools — and that Obama had de-funded that initiative.  LaPierre is evil because he wants people to have semi-automatic weapons with unlimited magazines.

I explained that semi-automatic still means you have to pull the trigger.  I also explained that large magazines are a small convenience, but they don’t change the dynamics of shooting, because a practiced person can change clips in seconds (see the video above).  I got shouted down before I could even point out that the Dunblane killer, who didn’t have large magazines, simply went into a gun-free zone with more weapons and ammunition.  I also got shouted down when I said that the magazine size is pretty irrelevant if you’re in a gun-free zone.  The counter to this was that the only reason to have a large magazine is to have a people killing gun.

Reginald Denny

Well, yes, I said.  Imagine you’re in a riot, such as the 1992 Los Angeles Riots or the completely lawless situation after Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy.  In those circumstances, you want to be over-armed, not under-armed.  “Ha!  So you admit it.  You just want guns to kill people.”  “No, they’re also fun for sport shooting.  But the fact remains that, when you’re isolated and the mobs are coming, a gun with a good capacity is your only protection.”  “Yeah, you want to kill people.”  I realized at this point that I wouldn’t get any mileage out of saying that some people deserve killing — meaning that, if they’re coming to kill or rape me or mine, I don’t think I’d have second thoughts about valuing their lives at zero.

Shifting arguments, my friends bemoaned the fact that the NRA is so rich and powerful.  If only there was an anti-gun lobby.  They were taken aback when I out that the Brady Center is precisely that anti-gun organization.  In other words, the NRA has not driven all other money or approaches out of the marketplace of ideas.  Americans, though, have voted with their feet by voluntarily supporting the NRA rather than the Brady Center.

George Zimmerman broken nose

Someone shouted out George Zimmerman — and was then shocked when I said that (a) Trayvon Martin wasn’t a sweet 12-year-old but was, instead, a hulking gang banger; (b) that Martin had smeared Zimmerman’s nose all over his face and was busy smashing his head into the pavement; and (c) that Zimmerman had black family members, was part Hispanic, and had a reputation for helping black youths at risk.  Zimmerman instantly vanished as a gun control topic.

The next argument to emerge was that the only thing the Second Amendment allows is muskets.  I countered that the Founders were good with words.  If they’d wanted to limit the Amendment to muskets, they would have.

Second Amendment

Well, you need a “militia” then, they asserted.  No, I explained.  We are all the militia.  The Founders had just emerged from a lengthy battle against a tyrannical government with a standing army.  They were able to engage this army only because, living as they did on a frontier far away from the motherland, ordinary citizens were generally armed and could therefore come together to stand against the government.  The Founders wanted to protect against any future tyranny by ensuring that the nation’s own government was never able to turn against the people.

Rounding Up Jews

I also pointed out that the first thing the Nazis did was confiscate guns.,  The response was predictable, and can be distilled to “that can’t happen here.” I’m sure that’s what my dad’s family thought, probably right up until they entered the gas chambers.

Since my friends think the Second Amendment is a pointless relic, I suggested that they get rid of it through the amendment process.  We should, they agreed — only the Red States would never allow it to happen.  Neither would the Blue States, I muttered.

London OWS riots

Where things really got frustrating, as far as I was concerned, and what I alluded to in my post caption, was my friends’ total disregard for the hard data we’ve received from existing gun control experiments.  In both Chicago and Washington, D.C., strict gun control played out exactly as the NRA said it would:  When guns were outlawed, only outlaws had guns.  When guns were reinstated in Washington, D.C., violent crime dropped.  In England, outlawing guns resulted in a huge uptick in violent crime, including gun crime.  Gun homicides in Britain have leveled out somewhat but, aside from the fact that the gun ban never effectively lowered gun crimes, the sad truth is that Britain is no longer a civil society:  instead, it is one of the most violent societies in the Western world.

The response I got to that indubitable fact is that Britain has a much lower murder rate than America.  This is true, but that’s an apples to oranges argument.  Britain has always had a lower murder rate than America.  When we at the effects of gun control on gun and other violence, we can’t reasonably compare Britain to America.  Instead, we have to compare pre-gun control Britain to post-gun control Britain — and that comparison shows that gun control coincided perfectly with a vastly increased crime rate.

Armed civilians save lives

My interlocutors were also unimpressed by the fact that, if someone opens fire in a public place (meaning he’s planning a mass slaughter), the best lifesaver is a civilian with a concealed carry weapon.  After all, the average police response time is measured in minutes.  Even if the shooter doesn’t have a big magazine, when he’s the only one there who’s armed, nothing stops him until the police get there.  If there is an armed civilian at the site of the shooting, however, and that civilian is neither crazed nor criminal, you usually end up with an intended mass shooting that becomes nothing but a small headline as the tragedy is limited to one or two, not scores.  I understand that correlation is not causation, but I suspect that there’s a connection in America between the increase in concealed carry over the last 20 years and a corresponding decrease in gun crimes.

When I threw out data about police response times, the difference in numbers of dead when someone with a concealed carry weapon is present, and the decrease in gun crimes over the last two decades, the gun-control people scoffed at the data.  “That can’t be true.”  “Guns kill people.”  “That doesn’t make sense.”  “If we got rid of guns, fewer people would die.”

It was at this moment that I realized that there truly was a giant intellectual chasm between me and them.  They can see only the people who died in the past, while I can count the ones who will live on into the future.  To them, the body count is the only data that counts.  To me, the statistical difference between those who die under a “gun control” regime and those who don’t die in a concealed carry environment, was the single most compelling piece of data out there.

Unlike my fellow Marinites, I realize that people are going to die under any circumstances.  Even the gun-control people concede that gun control will not actually do away with guns.  They’re just pretty sure it will decrease the number of guns overall — and to hell with the fact that this will be a lopsided decrease with law-abiding people ending up disarmed and lawless and crazy people ending up holding all the remaining arms.  It’s the gun equivalent of the old saying that, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of the disarmed citizen, the armed, crazed criminal rules.

My goal is to create the circumstances in which the largest possible number of people live.  My friends, however, believe that there is a Utopian future in which no people die.  To the extent that they understand that guns kill people, and they have the body count to prove it, they want to outlaw guns.  That data shows that outlawing guns results in more deaths is irrelevant to them.  The one fact they know and accept with comfortable certainty is that those who have already died because of guns might still be alive today if those particular guns hadn’t been available on that day, in that time, at that place.  Because this is the only fact that they can recognize, they focus obsessively on past deaths that could have been avoided with a few less guns, rather than projecting to future lives that, statistically, could certainly be saved with many more legal guns.

And as I said, I have absolutely no idea how to (a) get them to acknowledge that people will always die and (b) get them to understand that the best way to prevent future deaths isn’t to rehash old crimes but, rather, is to take the steps that are most likely to prevent future crimes.