The recent manhunt for the armed-and-dangerous Boston Marathon bombers hopefully taught us, or re-emphasized, many important lessons. One is that the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, as enshrined in our Second Amendment, is an essential right that must be vigorously protected.
As the massive house-to-house search was being conducted in Boston and its suburbs, residents were told to remain in their homes, lock their doors, and open them for no one but law enforcement officials. If they spotted the suspect, they were not to approach or attempt to apprehend him under any circumstances, but to call the police.
Suppose you were cowering in your home in fear of a deranged murderer. Would you feel safer if you had a weapon with which to protect yourself and your family?
If you’re like the overwhelming majority of Americans, you certainly would have. In a Fox News survey, respondents were asked: “If you were… locked in your home while a manhunt for a murderer was being conducted nearby, would you rather have a gun in your house, or not?” Sixty-nine percent responded “yes.” This opinion was shared by a majority of every conceivable demographic surveyed: Democrat, Republican, male, female, young, old, member of a gun-owning household, and member of a non-gun-owning household.
Being able to protect oneself and one’s family is a basic human right; no one should be denied this right and forced to merely wait for a police officer to arrive. We don’t relinquish any of our other fundamental rights to others: We don’t leave it to government officials or police officers to speak on our behalf, practice religion on our behalf, or vote for political candidates on our behalf. Nor should we be forced to leave the defense of our persons to them.
In any case, time and again, gun control has been proven to be ineffective. Anyone who is determined to obtain a weapon can do so with relative ease. No gun control law prevented the Tsarnaev brothers from making weapons that killed and maimed. And acquiring a gun legally is the last thing a mass murderer would be concerned about.
Gun-control laws only serve to keep guns out of the hands of decent, law-abiding citizens, and ensure that guns remain only in the hands of the criminals. Gun control gives armed criminals the confidence to act fearlessly. Simply put, gun control is the best thing to happen to violent criminals.
And gun-control laws have never succeeded in reducing rates of crime and murder. There is a simple reason for this: Guns don’t kill; people kill.
There are many tools that can be very dangerous in the hands of the wrong people, or when used improperly. A vehicle can be a deadly weapon in the hands of an intoxicated driver; a swimming pool can be a death trap to an unsupervised child. Yet a free society does not ban everything that can be misused in a dangerous manner.
And guns are no different.
Guns provide individuals with the means to protect themselves should the need arise. And even when a gun is not fired, its mere possession instills confidence in would-be victims that they will be able to protect themselves and not need to quake in helpless fear. The right of citizens to possess guns also deters would-be criminals. If you were a burglar, would you not be much more hesitant to break into a home if you knew that there was a significant likelihood that the homeowner had a gun? In European countries, where gun control is generally far stricter than in America, the rates of “hot” burglaries — a burglary that occurs when an owner or other occupant is in the home — are far higher than in the United States.
Of course, law enforcement officials are vital players in our self-defense, but they are not infallible, and cannot be in all places at once. Even with massive police forces mobilized on highest alert, it took until Friday evening to find a single 19-year-old whose face was plastered across America.
Once someone does call 911, there is always a time lag — even if it is as short as three minutes or so — before the police arrive. Three minutes can make all the difference between life and death. And in some cases, one can’t even reach a phone while one faces a threat to one’s life.
Furthermore, courts have consistently ruled that police have no legal duty to protect someone; as a general rule, citizens cannot sue their police force for failure to provide adequate protection. Does it then make sense that an individual must defer his protection to an entity that is not even required to defend him?
Sadly, the Marathon bombings and subsequent attacks were just the latest in a long line of senseless acts by violent criminals. These events must further our resolve in ensuring that every law-abiding citizen has the tools to defend himself from those evildoers who seek him harm.