Yesterday I wrote a column about the Supreme Court’s decision to rule on whether New York’s Sullivan Law did or did not abridge Constitutional protections covering the civilian ownership of guns. In particular, the Sullivan Law vests very wide discretionary authority with the police to determine whether a law-abiding citizen can walk around with a concealed gun. And such arbitrary decision-making authority could deprive someone of their Constitutional
I received a number of comments from readers who felt that I was showing a lack of concern for the degree to which concealed-carry (CCW) is a factor in the high rate of gun violence from which this country, and this country alone, suffers year after year. So, the purpose of today’s rant is to explain where I stand on the issue of armed, self-defense.
First and most important, the term ‘self-defense’ is about as meaningless as any type of behavior that could ever be put into words. If nothing else, it presumes that the individual who committed an act of self-defense was really defending himself against someone else.
But to one person, an act of self-defense could be an act of self-offense to someone else, and who’s to say which is which? We do know, thanks to the research of Marvin Wolfgang and others going back more than fifty years, that in at least half of all homicides, it was behavior precipitated by the victim which led to the fatal event. Which makes it rather difficult to create a neat division of behavior between the individual who attacked someone else rather than the individual who reacted to an attack or the threat of an attack.
In the ‘olden’ days, before the gun industry started promoting armed, self-defense as a type of behavior that was both legally and socially as virtuous as being next to God, it was usually assumed that someone walking around with a gun was up to no good. Guns weren’t considered to be things that law-abiding people needed to use or own unless they happened to live somewhere out on the frontier. But since, according to the Census, the frontier disappeared in 1890, the appearance and use of guns for anything other than hunting was simply not what self-defense and protection from the ‘bad guys’ was all about.
Then along came Clint Eastwood who released a movie — Dirty Harry — in 1971, which took the whole gunslinging genre from the Wild West and re-set it as a social and cultural theme in city streets. And what Eastwood created was the idea that if you really want to be a ‘good guy,’ you have to walk around with a gun. And you have to use that gun against the bad guys as often as you can.
We are the only country in the entire world which not only allows its residents to own guns whose design, function and sole purpose is to end human life, but we make a positive cultural motif out of the idea that a so-called ‘legal’ gun owner should first and foremost always use his gun to set things right?
Why do we even bother doing research on the reasons for more than 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries every year when gun companies from all over the world being their products to sell in this country because these same products can’t be old in the places where they are made? We introduce several million man (and woman)-killing products into this country ever year and then you’re surprised when people get shot?
And by the way, don’t give m any of that nonsense about how all we have to do is make sure that criminals and people who don’t obey the law can’t get their hands on guns. You think the guy coming towards you waving a Glock as you pull some cash out of the money machine won’t tell the cops that he was acting in self-defense? Of course, he will, and maybe he’ll even get off. We have the lawyers defending Kyle Rittenhouse for that one, to be sure.
Next year, the Supreme Court will hand down a decision on whether we can exercise armed self-defense outside if our homes. If the Court says ‘yes,’ the gun industry will deliver some new, self-defense gun models which I’m sure are already being designed. If the Court says ‘no,’ we’ll see some more public health research on laws that could be enacted to bring gun-violence rates down.
Do I sound just a little tired of listening to the same old, same old for the last thirty years?