Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 414, April 22, 2007

That Stupid Git


What An Individual Chooses To Do, They Are Responsible For
by Curt Howland

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

I doubt I'll have the "last word" on this topic,

. . .but I did get to put it right at the end. I'll quote it here because, well, it's damned good. I'll leave it up to the reader as to whether it was worth getting up at 3am to write:


Thank you, I appreciate your consideration in keeping this a real discussion, rather than a shouting match.

I would like to state a logical axiom right up front, to be kept in mind throughout the entirety of my statement here: What an individual chooses to do, they are responsible for.

While I disagree with many of your points, I would never try to force you to own a firearm, nor would I ever force anyone to do so. My consideration is always coercion first. Coercion is wrong. Those who coerce others, such as murderers, rapists and tax collectors (but I repeat myself), deserve whatever self defense the individual chooses to wield.

My support of personal firearms is based first upon human nature. We are tool using creatures, whose only reason for survival in this world is our effective use of tools.

A firearm, handgun in particular, is the most effective tool of self defense ever created. That is why police carry them. That is why they are called "defensive side-arms" in the military. Against a stronger attacker, or more than one attacker, an individual's chances of successful self defense are negligible unless the defender is armed. It is the reason that the Colt revolver was named "The Equalizer" not by the manufacturer, but by the people who realized that, for the first time in history, a woman alone was no longer defenseless.

What an individual chooses to do, they are responsible for.

If I deny someone their choice in how to defend themselves, if I use coercion (laws) against that choice, I will thereby be condemning some of them to death just like the unarmed students and teachers at Virginia Tech. I am thereby, through my actions, guilty of murder no less than if I deliberately took away someone's life preserver on a sinking ship.

Given that, can you understand why I object to denying people the means to defend their own lives and the lives of those innocents around them?

There will always be madmen, evil people who choose to deny others their rights as human beings. Your concerns that these bad people will get weapons and hurt others is perfectly valid. It does happen, it has always happened. Prior to 2001, the largest mass murder in American history was committed with gasoline.

Bad people can even kill some 3000 others in one action using only little knives and airplanes. And like the students and teachers at Virginia Tech, the passengers and crew on those airplanes were helpless in the face of a few little knives, because they were disarmed.

You and I differ, and I don't believe that difference has anything to do with malice. Just a very basic difference of opinion.

I do, however, ask you to reconsider one specific point of your argument. To wit:

"Yet, it is becoming increasingly common, that disaffected individuals, or those with a mental imbalance go over the edge and seek to 'make a mark' as it were. The easy availability of guns makes it an ideal outlet for their rage. What did it take to get those handguns in Virginia? How long? 30 minutes? and wasn't the .22 purchased from a pawn shop?!"

Is it? Is it really becoming increasingly common? Does it really have anything to do with "easy availability of guns"?

I ask you to reconsider this point because whether or not your position is correct on this is not a matter of opinion. It is demonstrable historical fact whether (or not) such crimes are increasing; whether (or not) such crimes relate to "easy availability of guns".

If I may suggest a couple of sources to begin your reconsideration? John R. Lott has published two books which statistically track crime rates at as minute a scale as is available in the US, over the course of decades. His second book also specifically addresses the media response to crimes in how they are reported, where, when, etc.

The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies by David B. Kopel Gary Kleck source material, statistical and scholarly studies concerning defensive firearms uses. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. While their discussions are of a more broad nature than just "criminal" actions, they do have many source materials listed.

I agree with you that even one such event is tragic, and consideration must be made how to prevent such things from repeating, or occurring in the first place.


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