Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Monday, November 21, 2005

Reprinted with Permission of the Author

Dr. Peter Friedman is a professor of mechanical engineering at UMass Dartmouth who lives in South Dartmouth. He wrote an op-ed that was published online at the web site and on Page A16 of The Standard-Times on November 17, 2005. I wrote and asked him for his permission to reprint the piece in its entirety, and got his approval. (Hat tip, Jeff at Alphecca)
Gun control is not the answer to crime

The headline on his Web site reads, "Kennedy urges House to not weaken D.C. gun safety law."

In the statement that follows, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy asserts, "The House amendment would repeal the D.C. government's long-standing ban on firearms and would be a disastrous blow to gun safety in the district. For almost three decades, D.C.'s ban on handguns and assault weapons has helped reduce the risk of deadly handgun violence."

Could Sen. Kennedy actually believe that Washington's ban on firearms has been effective? Perhaps he could prove his sincerity by giving his bodyguards and servants the night off and taking a stroll alone around a few of Washington's low-income neighborhoods one night.

Sen. Kennedy's headline avoids the real purpose of the current law. It is not "gun safety"; it is to completely disarm the public. In fact, the D.C. law makes it almost impossible for anyone to legally obtain a firearm, and makes it illegal to use a gun for self-defense by mandating that all guns be kept in inoperable condition.

The result of the D.C. gun ban is a different reality than Sen. Kennedy's world. According to FBI crime statistics, before the ban in 1976, Washington's murder rate was declining. In the 15 years that followed the ban, Washington's murder rate climbed 200 percent, while the national rate climbed only 12 percent.

Washington, D.C., is now consistently one of the most dangerous cities in the country. In 2002, it overtook Detroit and claimed the title as the murder capital of the United States. During that year, it defied national trends of decreasing murder rates to post a 13 percent increase.
What Sen. Kennedy either fails to understand or intentionally ignores is that criminals will not stop carrying guns just because it is illegal. What the gun ban would do is make the law- abiding easy targets by preventing them from having the means to defend themselves.

For most gun owners, possessing a gun is like owning an insurance policy. You hope that you never need it, but if you do, it is a nice thing to have.

But gun ownership has another and more important impact: Statistical studies have shown that increasing citizens' rights to use firearms for self-defense reduces crime because criminals fear armed victims.

Because criminals do not know who is armed, non-gun owners also benefit. It is precisely for this reason that home invasions are rare in the United States; on the other hand, they have become common in Great Britain since that country passed its near-total gun ban.
In Washington, D.C., because residents are denied their right to self-defense, the criminals know that they have the streets to themselves.

If you are in favor of the D.C. gun ban, perhaps it is because you believe that the citizens can rely on their overworked Police Department to protect them. A series of court rulings, however, held that the police have no obligation to provide protection. In Warren v. District of Columbia, three women who were held captive for 14 hours and repeatedly beaten, raped and sodomized, sued the city after it failed to respond to their emergency calls.

D.C. Superior Court ruled, "A government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen."
The net result is that the law-abiding residents of Washington are not allowed to defend themselves, and cannot rely on the police to protect, defend or rescue them, either. They are left at the mercy of Washington's rampant criminal element. Instead of being a national showplace, Washington is a national disgrace!

The total gun ban that remains in D.C. also is in stark contrast to the right to carry laws that have swept across the nation. While gun control advocates predicted that increasing the self-defense rights of gun owners would turn the United States into the OK Corral, the opposite is true.

Solid and comprehensive statistical evidence from examination of crime trends in every county in the country has proven that states that have liberalized the right to self-defense have had a reduction in crime when compared to states that have not.

Because an entourage of bodyguards and police constantly surrounds him, Sen. Kennedy might not care that ordinary citizens of Washington would like to be safe in their homes.

I disagree with the senator, and feel that everybody -- not just the rich and powerful --has the right to protection from crime. It is time to restore the right to self-defense to the oppressed people of Washington, D.C. Perhaps then they will see their worst-in-the-nation murder rate turn around.
EXCELLENT piece, Dr. Friedman.

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