Getting rid of the snipers

By Harry Browne

As the Washington-area sniper (or snipers) continues to have fun at the expense of innocent victims and their families, why isn’t anyone questioning the crime-control system that allows such things to happen?

If you’re under 60 years old, it may be hard to realize there was a time in America when crime was much less a problem than it is today.

What was the difference between the relatively peaceful society before the 1960s and what we face today?

The difference is that 50 years ago American citizens weren’t disarmed by law. Criminals had to fear instant retaliation – not by the police, but by potential victims.

  • A burglar wouldn’t enter a home that might be occupied, for fear that the resident could have a gun and shoot him.

  • Even a maniac wouldn’t walk into a school, restaurant or office and start shooting indiscriminately, because someone there might be armed and kill him on the spot.

  • Serial killers were much rarer, because their potential victims (often women, children or the elderly) sometimes carried guns and could defend themselves – perhaps even killing the serial killer.

Fighting back

Fortunately, 33 states now have laws permitting citizens to carry concealed weapons. The crime rates in those states are much lower than in the 17 states without such laws.

And there have been no bad side effects in the 33 states permitting concealed weapons. No shootings because of traffic accidents or other arguments. In fact, I’m not aware of a single person having his permit revoked for misusing a gun.

Unfortunately, there still are thousands of federal and state laws that make it harder for people to own and use guns. I can’t imagine a single one of those laws that isn’t a hindrance to self-defense and a boon to criminals (who don’t obey the gun laws).

When the sniper shot a woman this past Monday, several witnesses apparently saw the getaway car. Wouldn’t it have been nice if just one of those witnesses had been carrying a gun? Perhaps the sniper’s Reign of Terror would have ended right then and there.

Fortunately for the sniper, he’s operating in an area where the gun laws are about as bad as they get in America. So he isn’t likely to run into anyone who can stop him from killing.

Futility of gun laws

Gun laws come in all varieties – registration requirements, waiting periods, background checks, gun locks, restrictions on the types of guns that can be owned, and on and on and on.

Not one of these laws deters crime in any way. No criminal is going to buy his weapon in a way that involves a background check, waiting period, a gun lock, or any other restriction. He’ll buy his gun in the underworld, or simply steal it.

So what do the gun laws do?

They prevent a woman being stalked from getting the immediate protection she needs. They cause an innocent victim to be unable to unlock his gun fast enough to ward off an attacker. They cause people caught in riots to be unable to defend their property from gangs.


Do guns cause accidents?

Of course they do. Almost anything can cause an accident.

But there usually are less than a thousand deaths from gun accidents a year – less than one-fourth the number of deaths from drowning accidents, less than one-fortieth the number of car deaths, less than the number of deaths from falling, poisoning, suffocation or fires.

At the same time, a U.S. government study estimated that guns in the hands of private citizens interrupt or avert over a million crimes each year. In many cases, the potential victim stops a crime simply by showing his gun to the predator or firing a warning shot.

The perfect law?

You may be able to imagine the perfect gun law – one that won’t interfere with the needs of innocent people, while snaring the truly guilty.

But realize that this is just your imagination. No such law will ever be passed. And no such law should be.

People should never be prosecuted for what they own – or for for what they think or believe, or what they smoke or drink, or what else they put in their bodies. They should be prosecuted only for the physical harm they do to others.

And they should be prosecuted when they harm others ? whether or not they use a gun, whether or not they have hate in their hearts or liquor on their breath.

Guns of all kinds – in the hands of innocent citizens – deter crime. But gun laws make the world safer for criminals, and less safe for you.

The answer isn’t, as some people suggest, that current gun laws should be better enforced.

The answer is simple: Repeal every gun law on the books.

Let’s save some lives in the Washington, D.C., area and elsewhere – save lives from snipers, mass shooters, stalkers, rapists and other violent people.

Let’s make America a peaceful society again.