For years I have been saying, "... some people just don't want to be
confused with facts which contradict their preconceived opinions."
Whenever I use that line in an interview, as I did recently with Ann
invariably the response is epiphany-like. "Oh, yeah!" " Absolutely!" "
Nowhere is the above observation more on point than with the national
debate over gun control. Notwithstanding the fact that we defenders of
the Bill of Rights have a huge arsenal of facts on our side, we
fail to win the hearts and minds of the American people. The facts are
abundant. Reportedly up to 500,000 Americans use a firearm to defend
themselves from acts of violence every year. However, no one knows how
often guns are used to thwart crime for a variety of reasons. "Almost
crimes" don't have a block on the FBI's annual statistical analysis.
People who prevent a crime by merely brandishing a gun (a crime in many
states) don't tell. Dr. John Lott in his book "More Guns, Less Crime"
documents the exhaustive statistical
analysis that proves the axiom of his book's title. Not surprisingly,
the opposite is also true, "Fewer guns, more crime" is equally true.
Consider those cities with the most draconian anti-gun laws: Washington,
D.C. and New York City have harsh penalties for those who would presume
to think the Second Amendment really means "shall not be infringed."
However, despite virtual prohibition of gun ownership, crime seems to be
booming. To personify my opening bromide look to D.C. Mayor Marion Barry
who observed "... except for
the murders, D.C. is one of the safest ... " Duh!
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Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad
judgment. Australia banned guns and armed crime skyrocketed (see
http://www.geoffmetcalf.com/aus.html). Vermont eschews legislation
restricting guns, and crime remains low. Some will argue, "sure, Vermont
... you can't compare maple syrup poachers to crack dealers." OK, look
at Richmond, Virginia. Elaine Shannon writes in today's Time magazine
(not exactly a bastion of right-wing radical propaganda) that a couple
of years back, Richmond had the second highest homicide rate in the
country. Until U.S. Attorney Helen Fahey, teamed up with Richmond's
Police Chief Jerry Oliver, and did something so simple, and so
effective, that reportedly the
anti-constitutional would-be controllers have their collective panties
in a bunch. Operation Exile has significantly reduced armed crime by
(get this) enforcing laws already on the books, and by using
enhancements to target the criminals, not the tools. "Murders dropped
sharply, from 140 in 1997 to 94 in 1998 and 32 for the first six months
of 1999. Armed robberies showed a similar decline. As of June 18, the
Exile task force had won long prison sentences for 279 gun-carrying
criminals" Shannon writes.
How did project Exile do that? Vigorous and consistent enforcement of
already existing laws. When Richmond cops
find a gun on a drug dealer, user, convicted felon or suspect in a
violent crime. ChaChing! ... a mandatory sentence of at least five years
without parole -- longer for repeated or aggravated offenses. Guess
what? Criminals got the message. This isn't brain surgery. "Doctor, it
hurts when I go like that," the patient said. "Don't go like that," the
I occasionally get mail from a guy on death row in San Quentin. He
recently suggested he was starting a new organization "Criminals for Gun
Control". What he wrote was obvious, (and documented by Dr. Lott, Kleck
and others). Bad guys don't like victims who 'might' be armed. Bad guys
want easy targets. They want low risk, high return. Bad guys don't want
to become a paragraph in the NRA's "Armed Citizen" monthly feature.
Ann Coulter is that very attractive long haired blonde you often see
defending the conservative view on assorted talking head TV programs.
She might weigh 95 pounds with wet hair and lots of makeup. She had one
line in her recent George magazine column that crystallized reality when
she noted that without a gun, there is a name for people like her ...
"prey." Coulter noted that in the District of Criminals it is a felony
to carry a firearm without a permit. Therefore, law-abiding folks don't
carry guns. Lawbreakers DO. In fact, armed muggings can and do take
place in broad daylight. Contrast that to Florida or Oregon where many
law-abiding citizens DO lawfully carry guns.
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A few years ago a lawyer friend was going through an especially
acrimonious business breakup. His former partner was angry, unstable and
threatening. After a 3 a.m. knock at the door and abusive shouting
match, my friend confided his very real fears. "I don't want to get shot
in my underwear in my own home." He said. In a strange role reversal, I
advised him who to notify, how to bridle his former colleague, and I
loaned him a shotgun. It was an 870 Remington Wingmaster. That is a pump
action shotgun. I told him if his taunter
made a return early morning visit to 1) call 911 2) don't answer the
door, and 3) work the action of the shotgun. "Don't put a shell in it
... just stand away from the door and jack the pump." He never had to do
that because the problem went away.
However, several months later he moved. He and his new wife heard
sounds of someone trying to break into his garage. He retrieved my
shotgun from his closet and told his wife to "Call 911." He then went to
the window and opened it slightly as the would-be burglar pounded away
at a lock. He then turned the shotgun receiver toward the open window
and pumped it once. The bad guy reportedly froze for a brief beat,
before a hasty retreat that supposedly resembled a cartoon character.
When the police arrived and heard the story, they laughed ... hard. The
point is, criminals don't like, and avoid armed citizens.
This whole gun control debate that rages is more a function of form
than substance. Those who refuse to be influenced by facts that
contradict their preconceived opinions lose any debate on facts. Oh,
sometimes they make up false facts, but those are easily debunked. The
facts cannot be denied. However, the facts can, and ARE ignored. We lose
to anti-constitutional/anti-common sense dilettantes like Chuck Schumer,
Dianne Feinstein, and their legion of liars for two reasons. First, we
allow them to frame the debate and seize
any and all tragedy, as empirical proof guns are bad. Cars kill a lot
more than guns, but no sane politician (perhaps an oxymoron) would
frontally attack Detroit. I could kill someone in about four seconds
with a number 2 pencil, but students are required to have a number 2
pencil (despite the gross discrimination against number 1 and number 4
pencils). Most significant, however, is the role media plays in
reporting. All the studies indicate school violence continues to go
down. Statistics of kids taking guns to school is down. All statistical
data (those damn annoying facts again) proves gun violence has been, and
continues to decline. Yet the media coverage of aberrational, atypical
acts of violence has increased 700 percent.
The Cowboy Guide to Life notes "There are three kinds of men. Those
that learn by reading. Those that learn by observation. And the rest of
them who have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.