Today I was reading the latest news in the DC vs. Heller case, which promises to be one of the more eagerly anticipated and discussed Supreme Court opinions of the decade. DC vs Heller is a suit brought by a group of District of Columbia residents in an effort to overturn a set of laws that outright bans the ownership or possession of all handguns,and very severely limits the ability to own and use long guns as well. In one of the news articles linked from Wikipedia, I read the following quote:
â€œIf the Supreme Court lifts the gun ban, you are going to have a serious war,â€ [Smith] says. â€œEverybody will think they can defend themselves. There will be more shootings, more killings.â€
Oh, my. Now, here I am, forty-something years old, and all this time I have labored under the misconception that an individual has the right to defend himself (or herself), and that said right predated the US Constitution by, well, as long as there have been living creatures on the Earth. Apparently, though, plenty of people feel that you and I — meaning normal, law-abiding citizens attempting to live our lives in peace — have no right to defend ourselves, our families or our property, even though all will readily admit that there is no shortage of armed criminals intent on robbery, rape, murder and various other forms of mayhem.
Some people just plain befuddle me. It seems that many of those most in favor of gun bans and confiscation are those who would most immediately and directly benefit from an increase in the number of armed, law abiding citizens in close proximity. I’ll be the first to say that the chances of my house getting robbed, or of me getting mugged, are far lower than those of someone living in a rough part of town. It’s not directly related to the fact that I am able to defend myself and my home; it’s more because we’re simply out of harm’s way for the most part. It takes effort to come out to this end of town to rob and kill, and criminals are inherently lazy to begin with. But there’s also the fact that out here, people will watch out for their neighbors; they will get involved; they will get descriptions of cars and people; they will talk to and cooperate with police. That fact that they may also shoot back is secondary.
Imagine the impact on the crime rate in some of the rough neighborhoods of (for example) the District of Columbia if the criminals knew there was a good chance their next intended victim might well be armed and ready to (gasp) defend themselves. It doesn’t take a lot of deep thinking to figure it out. Ms. Smith might possibly be right about one thing; there might be a very short-term increase in the number of shootings, but the majority of those shot would be the ones who, as they say, need shootin’.