"It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." ~ Frederic Bastiat
Hope from the Gun Control Zone
I owe the gun control crowd a measure of thanks, for without their astoundingly illogical positions, I might still be a semi-comatose statist instead of a much more alert lover of human liberty. But I accepted the challenge of a pro gun rights radio talk show host and picked up John Lott's book More Guns, Less Crime. Staring sociological facts in the face shook the calcified cobwebs from my brain. Now I carried around in my head statistical data that effectively shot down most of the arguments of the victim disarmament crowd. But what was more disturbing to me is that I wasn't able to arrive at such a rational conclusion on my own. I shouldn't have needed the book. I needed to only think about my own experiences!
Since my teens, I've spent most of my years in Prince George 's County, MD, a suburb of Washington , D.C. Maryland is a very restrictive state for carrying guns, though that doesn't deter criminals from getting and using them (as the high profile DC sniper shooting in our county is but one example). I vividly recall one incident from seven years ago. I was using a self serve pump at an area gas station at 10:00 a.m. when an argument over a music CD purchase at the next island was settled when the buyer pulled out a revolver and stuck it into the chest of the vendor. Obviously, the buyer hadn't paid any attention to the Maryland statutes restricting the carrying of handguns. The four or five other law-abiding witnesses and I were equally helpless to intervene or even to save ourselves if the need arose. I just stood there wondering if all of the movies I had seen of bullets exploding cars were scientifically accurate since I had conveniently filled with gas the closest readily available shield. Fortunately, the vendor quickly agreed he'd shorted his customer. He refunded his money, let him keep the CD, and the transaction ended peacefully.
Later that year, I was making a midnight run to the video store to save $4.20 in late fees. I also happened to be giving a security guard friend a ride home that evening. I tried pulling up in a space by the video store to make a quick drop off, but mistook a young man standing in the space to be passing through it when, in actuality, he was making a territorial claim. I waited a moment, believing he was going to walk to his car or the video store. Instead he and a companion still seated in their car began to glare at me. I then realized I had unwittingly stepped into a confrontation - the kind that fills the crime blotter of the local newspaper. There were several tense seconds of the staring contest when my friend got out of the car. He opened his jacket and let them follow his eyes to the revolver he was packing. That resolved the issue. The young man got into the car and the two drove off. I was able to return my videos without incident. We can only speculate what would have happened if I'd chosen to get out of the car under any other circumstances.
Of course, running is excellent self defense too. I could have slammed the car into reverse and fled the parking lot when I realized the other men were hostile. My self-image may have eventually recovered. But running is not always an option. About 15 years earlier, when I was a teenage carrier for the pro gun control Washington Post, five hoodlums recognized me as such as I was trying to walk to a friend's apartment on the other side of the complex where I lived. Thinking I had money, one ran up and punched me in the face, his four companions close behind. Only an adrenaline spurt and teenage legs let me outrun that crew. But if I were accosted today, I wouldn't be able to outrun teenage hoodlums. But a concealed handgun on my person might save me from a mugging or even keep me breathing.
My point is it is common sense that an armed, moral person makes himself and his neighbors safer. However, guns were not part of an upbringing in my family. My mother frowned even at toy guns. And I spent a lifetime absorbing from the news media how terrible guns were. So like a deer tick, a reflexive anti-gun mindset dug into my thinking because I wasn't paying attention. However, it proved to be the Achilles' heel of all of my statist thinking. Once I began to pay attention to this first argument for human freedom, the other arguments on the merits of slavery began to fall apart for me as well.
In conclusion, there are openings to win new friends to liberty. It's easier when you are speaking to someone who likes to follow rational arguments and has a natural antagonism towards being ordered around. But disarming victims is so ridiculous, it's an easy opening to spread our message. Even Senator Barbara Boxer was able to recognize that it is better to have an armed pilot than to shoot down a passenger liner with an F-16. And so let's thank the gun control crowd for lobbing us this softball..