This post is an adaptation of an email reply to a friend regarding the Aurora shooting.
The first thing I thought when I heard of the Aurora shooting was, “Why didn’t anyone shoot back?” Really. A single person could have ended the massacre, and two people certainly could have ended it immediately. In fact, that would have been the best possible outcome, considering the guy who started the killing was psychotic. Do we really believe we can protect society from sick people before they do harm? (I don’t.) Will psychotic people—willing to commit murder of innocent people—obey laws of any kind? (No—that’s why we call them psychotic.) If these sick people don’t have access to guns, will they get access to other means of murder? (Of course.) So in my view, it’s not the guns, but the psychos that are the problem—these people are willing to murder innocent people.
Given this, I think we have only two options. 1) Make guns completely inaccessible to everyone, since sick people would eventually be able to access or create a gun for evil purposes. 2) Keep guns accessible to everyone who doesn’t show clear signs of being sick, and encourage these people to be willing and able to use them in any situation where a sick person initiates dangerous force against another.
But the first solution has some problems. The first is that we have places where law forbids gun ownership and tightly controls access to civilian ownership. And yet gun massacres happen in these places. Remember last year in Norway where a man killed many, many people? Norway has strict regulation of ALL firearms, and yet this guy killed 77 people with police arriving on-scene only after 90 minutes. In the recent massacre in Aurora, it was reported that police weren’t called until nine minutes after the attack began! In that instance, police did absolutely nothing to protect people, because the killer had already stopped killing by the time the police arrived (ran out of ammo, gun jammed, etc.). Would you rather rely on police that show up only after the violence, or rely on your own fellow citizens who are armed themselves and able to put an immediate stop to this sort of thing?
Consider, too, Chicago, where only the police and criminals have guns. Chicago has a terrible problem with violent crime, being recently named as the most deadly “global” city. Though the author argues this is because of segregated pockets of poverty (something found in many other large urban environments—without the gun violence problems), I argue that the reason is because the law-abiding citizens aren’t allowed to defend themselves with the same weapons used by the criminals in this article. And again, criminals don’t let the law get in their way because they’re criminals—so they terrorize the people who cannot defend themselves.
What about the second solution (above)? Will an armed population curb violence? On the surface, this seems counter-intuitive, but as Robert Heinlein once said, “An armed society is a polite society”. Think about that. If everyone has the capacity to kill or defend, then nobody will be a very easy victim of crime. And since the law-abiding citizens always far outnumber the criminals, this is more of a deterrent on crime than it is an encouragement of violence. After all, the law-abiding majority of people will not initiate violence against their neighbor.
But that’s not the sort of thing we hear from governments, who always thirst continually for more and more power. Despite the failures of governments to protect people in the Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and now the Aurora theater massacres, the government seems to think it can prevent massacre by disarming the victims. The government seems to think it can instead disarm all the criminals, despite the fact that all the massacres listed above occurred in places that already had no-firearms policies. How, then, does the government really believe they can protect citizens? And supposing they really do eliminate gun access to all criminals (and all law-abiding citizens), won’t we still have a problem with criminals getting things like machetes, baseball bats, swords, or explosives? Will we have to then ban steak knives from kitchen drawers? Regulate baseball? Where would it end? It’s simply not a feasible idea.
To conclude, massacres can occur only in places where the victims are disarmed. Ever. Because if a single victim is armed, he’s got an equal footing with the psycho killer and a 50% chance of ending the conflict instantly. If only two victims are armed, they have an almost certain chance of ending the conflict instantly. So counter to what we’re told by news media and other government outlets, the thinking person can see clearly that armed societies make massacres impossible.
As a case in point, several years ago a shooter went rampaging at a Denver missions group and a large church in Colorado Springs. This shooter was stopped by a fellow citizen who happened to be armed. (The police did not, even 12 hours after the first victim was shot.) And earlier this year there was another would-be massacre in Aurora, also at a church. That shooter was stopped after killing a single person, also by an armed citizen. But we didn’t hear about these events in the news, most likely because the massacre was stopped instead of allowed. And it was stopped by ordinary citizens—not police or other government officials.
While government servants debate restrictions of online ammo purchases (a red herring that had nothing to do with the Aurora shooting), an act that would apply to many more potential victims than criminals, have you considered how such a policy would possibly benefit you? While government servants say we need to “step-up” criminal background checks of those that would purchase firearms, I wonder how that would be done. Should the required background check be done two times? Three? James Holmes had no criminal background, so he was able to obtain guns and ammo legally. Are these servants really acting in your interest, or merely attempting to show that they’re “doing something” about gun violence?
The solution is quite clear. Encourage the law-abiding to carry the same firearms used by criminals. “Level the playing field,” as these servants like to say so frequently. Why encourage criminals to shoot at unarmed victims? After all, it’s much more difficult for crime to thrive when the would-be victims shoot back. All the criminals of Chicago know that.