Part 1 | Part 2
I’ve been having a friendly back-and-forth with a friend of mine over the issue of guns, self-defense, and the Second Amendment for several weeks now. After sending him my latest FFF commentary, he responded that he didn’t hate guns, as I had suggested. “I just want to live in a world where fewer people have them or feel the need to carry them,” he said.
My friend is entitled to his opinion, of course. I’d never try and compel him to own or carry a gun.
Within minutes of reading his response, I got a phone call from another friend, an ex-neighbor with whom I keep in touch. He and three of his friends were recently in the Old Port district of Portland, Maine, having a good time.
At the end of the evening, they were walking back to their hotel — being responsible individuals they didn’t want to drive the 50 miles back home to Portsmouth after drinking — and on their way were jumped by a gang of thugs.
How many were in this gang? They’re not sure. My friend said he just heard footsteps behind him — the next thing he knew, someone hit him, and he was wrestling with the guy on the ground. Another assailant kicked him repeatedly in the head until he was unconscious. When he came to, he saw that everyone else in his group was in similarly bad shape; one of them has a broken ankle.
The police arrived a few minutes later. Apparently all they wanted to know was what my friend had done to start the fight. When he insisted that they go after the gang, the police suggested that they might arrest him instead. As they were leaving, one of the officers told him, “Welcome to the Old Port.”
How’s that for protecting and serving?
No one wants to live in an unsafe world. We all hope that nothing bad will happen to us, and some people move to parts of the country where crime is rare for that very reason. That’s one of the advantages of New England in general and northern New England in particular. But we’re not immune. Even in super-safe Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I live, you have to be on your guard.
If someone said to me, “I just want to live in a world where fewer people are hungry,” I’d feel obliged to point out that scarcity is the given.
Those engaged in the business of producing food are not the source of hunger; they are its antidote.
And so it goes for crime. Bad people are a given. At no time in history, in any society, has there been an absence of criminals. We have to work to discourage them. No doubt there are many things we can do; increased wealth certainly helps, as does education, stability, a solid moral foundation, good role models, and access to alternatives. Human beings certainly react to incentives. Armed citizens likewise contribute to the “social good” of deterring crime.
Those who think the world would be a better place if fewer people owned and carried guns for self-defense are advocating for a perverse set of incentives. They’re telling good people that they are mistaken to want to protect themselves and their families. They’re telling bad people that they should be able to act without fear of adequate self-defense.
Wishing the world were a safer place is perfectly reasonable. Discouraging others from doing what is necessary to reach that goal, while emboldening those with the opposite agenda, is crazy.