At 2 a.m. on Sunday, 27-year-old Alan Senitt was murdered. Senitt, an aspiring British politician, Jewish activist and Democratic volunteer, was walking home a female companion in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C., when he was allegedly accosted by Christopher Piper, 25, Jeffrey Rice, 22, and a 15-year-old. Piper, who had a gun, immediately grabbed Senitt’s female companion and pulled her away to rape her. Rice, who had stated earlier in the night that he was desperate to “cut” someone, slit Senitt’s throat. The three thugs then hopped into a getaway car driven by Olivia Miles, 26, and sped off into the night.
Only hours later, the police arrested the four suspects. Apparently, two of the suspects matched the descriptions of perpetrators of two recent robberies, and the police had already obtained an address for those two suspects. So why did Alan Senitt have to die in order for these animals to be arrested? “I can give you my 100 percent word everything was done within the confines of the law,” Lt. Robert Glover of the police department’s violent crimes branch told the Washington Post. “We cannot make an arrest without probable cause.”
Now the police have their probable cause. Rice was found with Senitt’s ID and the woman’s cell phone on his person, and his shirt covered in Senitt’s blood. The suspects are in custody. And Alan Senitt is dead.
Our Constitution mandates that citizens may not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. One of the requirements of due process of law is that arrests not be arbitrary. It is likely true that the D.C. police did everything within the confines of the law to pursue the suspects. What the murder of Alan Senitt demonstrates is that the confines of law cost lives when citizens are unable to protect themselves.
Law enforcement is by its very nature reactive. The police cannot arrest people before they have committed any crimes, a la “Minority Report.” Citizens should not expect that the police will be able to prevent all crime – there must always be an initial crime for police to prevent subsequent crimes. Until Ted Bundy murdered his first victim, the police had nothing for which to arrest him; at the very most, law enforcement could only have saved Bundy’s later victims. Someone always has to suffer before law enforcement can get involved.
Citizens are left with two choices. They can either rely on the kindness of criminals, or they can protect themselves. The choice is obvious. Yet liberal cities continue to rely on the kindness of criminals.
Washington, D.C., is famous for its insanely restrictive anti-gun laws. It has been illegal since 1976 to have an assembled and loaded firearm, even in your home, in D.C. Carrying a handgun for self-protection is against the law. For some reason, Democrats seem to be unable to explain the dramatic 72 percent rise in the D.C. homicide rate between 1976 and 2001, even as the national homicide rate plummeted 36 percent over the same period. Certainly, Christopher Piper had no problem carrying a gun and using it to rape Senitt’s female companion. Criminals, it seems, engage in crime. And law-abiding citizens pay the price.
The basis for every right in our Constitution is the right to self-preservation. John Locke, the founders’ favorite non-biblical philosopher, explained that if a government “endeavour[s] to grasp themselves … an absolute power over the lives, liberties and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty.”
When a government seizes citizens’ ability to protect themselves, that government becomes a usurper. It is for this reason that the Second Amendment guarantees both the individual right to self-defense and the communal right to fight any deprivation of the right to self-defense.
Would Alan Senitt have bought a gun for self-defense? The question is irrelevant in D.C.; Senitt had no choice in the matter. As it stands in D.C., only criminals have the right to choose. And the police can only respond to 911 calls.