An Utterly Expected Response


I knew it would come; I just didn’t know it would come so quickly. When I first heard about yesterday’s armed standoff, my first thought was of the NH representative who had described just such a situation; I thought he’d likely regret his choice of words.

Perhaps not. A different man, one who did not win his senatorial race in NH, comments on the Union Leader story (after the jump):

If you’re robbing an armored car, or busting a drug dealer, you deserve to get shot. People have an inherent natural right to defend themselves and to protect the property they are in the business of delivering to their customers.It’s not as if there was ever any question whether the government had a right to impose drug laws. The government never had any such right, and that’s all there is, was, or ever will be to it. If you’re a cop, get a job.

And

Following my defeat in the 2006 Republican primary for state senator, The Telegraph ran my response: “Most Republicans voted for a candidate who supports the War on Drugs, and they will whine like crybabies every time a poor, defenseless cop chooses to get himself killed in action,” he wrote.”There are those of us who attempted to defend liberty with ballots. Don’t come whining to us when other people defend liberty with bullets.” (13 Sept. 2006, page 1.)

The thing is, second amendment issues elicit a sort of tribal response; in this case, it’s a libertarian abhorrence of government intrusion in the form of drug laws (the drugs this time appear to have been steroids), but in Ohio, when a man apparently shot his wife and daughter at a restaurant, among the first comments are those chastising the victims for not carrying handguns themselves. Three dead, and apparently the real crime was not carrying a gun.

Comments

  1. says

    Guns are outlawed in Britain (even for most police officers) — and this means only outlaws have guns. Well, actually, only a minority of outlaws have guns. And in a democracy, outlaws are already a minority by definition. It’s entirely possible to be born, live to a ripe old age and die in Britain without ever, at any moment of your life, being within firing range of a real, live gun.

    You see, we have this quaint little idea over here that human life is always, unconditionally worth more than property, no exceptions whatsoever, at all. The lowliest human life is still infinitely more valuable than the most expensive piece of property. And yes, that means that your property is worth less than the life of an intruder trying to steal it. But if the alternative would be for there potentially to be a piece of property somewhere that is worth more than my life, I’m cool with it.

    There are a lot of things wrong with this country, but I’ll take the right not to get shot over the right to carry weapons anyday.

  2. had3 says

    Becoming Julie: Does that include your land? If so, it seems you should be speaking German now. My point is, there is something, some property (real, personal, intellectual) that is worth more than your life; the discussion is where to set that line. Different societies pick different lines. Be careful of using all-encompassing statements.

  3. says

    @had3: You appear to have difficulty understanding one or more of the following concepts: “unconditionally”, “no exceptions whatever” or “at all”.

    The correct place to draw the line is somewhere between the most expensive piece of property and the lowliest human life. And it’s a very, very wide line.

  4. says

    One of the dead in that shooting in Ohio is a 10 year old child (her sister was also wounded). Since when are children to be expected to defend themselves from deadly violence, especially when it’s coming from someone they should trust, their own father. Was her mother supposed to be armed and ready to shoot her husband at any moment? Because he was the one who murdered her and her child. What the hell is wrong with people?

  5. had3 says

    Becoming Julie: How much of your property (again, real, personal, or intellectual)are you willing to surrender and for how long? More importantly, how much of your neighbor and friends are you willing to stand by and allowed to be taken? I understand the words you use, i’m merely pointing out that I would hope there’s some line you draw. Would you allow a government to steal your right to vote? To religion (or atheism, to speech, etc…? These are things I believe are worth dying (and, conversely killing) for. It doesn’t mean I want to do those things, it’s just that they are worth it. There are others who believe it extends beyond these items to more tangible things. Your statement either means never or it doesn’t. If you don’t really mean never, then it is you who doesn’t understand the words you use.

  6. had3 says

    Sorry, clarification: how much of your neighbors’ and friends’ property would you be willing to allow to be taken before acting in a deadly manner?

  7. says

    @had3: All of it! Property can be replaced; human beings can’t.

    If you think there is an article of property somewhere which is worth more than your life, then according to the standards by which I live, you are less than human. But if you find that insulting, there may be hope for you.

  8. says

    had3, in a civilized, functioning democratic society, we have laws to protect such things, and an elected government that is responsible for enacting and enforcing those laws. Such a government, with good participation by its citizens and good transparency and accountability on the part of its officials, obviates the need for everyone to carry weapons to defend their lives and rights.

    What matters is that, by and large, in civilized democracies, citizens can and should have the freedom to go about their lives secure in the knowledge that their lives and rights, including property rights, will be protected by the lawful authorities. In such a society, the carrying of weapons is usually unnecessary, except for the lawfully designated authorities. The freedom people enjoy in such a society is actually greater; they are more free from fear, more free from the need to consider their own defense as individuals, instead being able to trust in the collective defense that they have all agreed to as citizens of that society.

    It’s not perfect, of course, but nothing in life is. Perfection is not required for a system to be better than the alternative. Especially since, in the society I describe, there’s a recognition that property, and the right to same, is not the same as life, and the right to same.

  9. says

    Julie,

    Just out of curiosity, where are you going to live, when those who don’t believe as you take all your property?

    How are you going to express yourself when those who don’t believe as you use force to prevent you from expressing yourself?

    How are you going to live, when those who don’t believe as you decide that you shouldn’t live?

    The issue isn’t guns. The issue is human nature. Anti-violence is fine. Anti-gun is fine. I hope, that at no point in your life, you ever have to decide whether you will die or kill.

  10. Cuttlefish says

    Ogremk5, I guess it comes down to whether I am more afraid of hypothetical baddies or guns. I was brought up with rifles; my parents were NRA certified instructors who taught us gun safety at a very early age. I still, as a kid, did stupid things with and around rifles. My best friend (way, way, way back when), a farming boy, also raised with guns, accidentally shot and killed himself at age 14. I lost an acquaintance much later in a similar fashion. Had the opportunity to inherit the family rifles, and decided I was much more worried about real guns than about hypothetical bad guys.

    I am not afraid of guns. I am afraid of the combination of curious children and guns. I am afraid of the combination of big egos and guns. I am afraid of the combination of frightened or paranoid people, stand your ground laws, and guns. And I am afraid of the industry of paranoia that cannot conceive of the least bit of regulation as acceptable, that paints any attempt at promoting responsibility as government jackbooted thuggery. Remember, my hobby is reading the comments around the internet. I could try to out-do them with hyperbole, but I’d lose.

    If the issue is human nature, there is a remarkable thing that happens to genes when they join the melting pot of America.

  11. had3 says

    Becoming Julie: Because I believe there are things which are worth more than human life, I am less than human seems to be a bit of a non-sequitur. I’m not insulted; to be insulted, one must be willing to be & in this matter, I am not. I am curious though, as I am now less than human to you, does that justify killing me if I were to attempt to deprive you of some property (as discussed above)? ‘Cuz now we’re just talking definitions if that’s the case.

    Flewellyn: We agree; in a functioning democracy etc…. My comment to Becoming Julie wasn’t restricted to functioning democracies (nor was his/her statement restricted to such). Nor was my comment restricted to personal property (as opposed to real or intellectual – and I should’ve clarified intellectual to include ideas regarding such things as democracy, which I hoped were inferred by the context). My point was that saying human life is the most valuable thing under every circumstance and for every condition is probably overvaluing a given human’s life. I may be mistaken, but for me, there are those things which are worth more than a human’s life (e.g., democracy, speech, maybe my home, etc…), and if it is sought to be taken from me, I am willing to kill to prevent that.

    Ogremk5: Perhaps you’ve done a better job to clarify what I was trying to say.

  12. says

    My point was that saying human life is the most valuable thing under every circumstance and for every condition is probably overvaluing a given human’s life. I may be mistaken, but for me, there are those things which are worth more than a human’s life (e.g., democracy, speech, maybe my home, etc…), and if it is sought to be taken from me, I am willing to kill to prevent that.

    And, that’s pretty abhorrent. We have a government with a system of laws and a police force for a reason. Now, I recognize that they can’t always protect you, and that in extremis, self defense (or defense of another) is a necessity. This is why we recognize “justifiable homicide” as a legal concept.

    But don’t be eager to proclaim your willingness to kill, even in defense of self or others. It’s something that is sometimes required, but it is a solemn and bitter duty, not a thing to crow about doing, or being ready to do. In particular, it’s not a thing to seek opportunities to do, such as by carrying a weapon in public when you have no reason to believe you are in imminent danger.

    And I wouldn’t worry about your government oppressing you. By your posting, I assume you live in the United States, and certain contextual clues have led me to conclude that you are likely a white male like me. If this is true, you have nothing to worry about: the government oppression in our country is aimed at women and non-whites.

  13. otrame says

    But don’t be eager to proclaim your willingness to kill, even in defense of self or others. It’s something that is sometimes required, but it is a solemn and bitter duty, not a thing to crow about doing, or being ready to do.In particular, it’s not a thing to seek opportunities to do, such as by carrying a weapon in public when you have no reason to believe you are in imminent danger.

    Exactly. Remember it was this willingness and the carrying of a gun that got Mr. Zimmerman into trouble. And rightly so. I do not know what happened when Martin died. But even if we assume for the sake of argument that Zimmerman did no more than follow Martin, was attacked, and fired to protect himself, it was his willingness that led to the situation. Had he been a little less willing, he would have backed off as ordered, the cops would have come, they would have asked Martin a few questions and one young man would still be alive and another’s life would not be destroyed (because, innocent of murder or not, Zimmerman’s life as he knew it is definitely over), and the lives of probably dozens of other people who knew them both would not have been negatively impacted.

    I agree with Cuttlefish. I, too, was raised with guns. I enjoy target shooting and am not particularly opposed to hunting, as long as you eat what you kill. The issue is not guns. The issue is that willingness to kill. If you are so willing to kill, how are you so much better than someone willing to steal?

  14. sminhinnick says

    @ogremk5 and had3

    I live in New Zealand. We also have reasonably strong gun laws, similar to the U.K. – but not quite as strong because we have a lot of farmers and hunters who use rifles.

    One point has not been made clearly. When gun laws are strong, and the public and police are not generally armed, the bad guys are not normally armed either! Yes, sometimes they are. They do the armed robbery and typically get caught a day or two later.

    Look at the firearm-related deaths by country here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

    Note that the U.S. has 10.27 deaths per 100K population per year. Most of them are homicides and suicides. NZ and Australia are similar at 2.66 and 2.94 respectively, but that is nearly all due to suicides.

    And the U.K (England/Wales)? Less than 0.5 per 100K per year! And I think the U.K defends its property pretty well without all those firearms and needless deaths.

    The discussion is not about the military, but about arming the general population. From the outside, the U.S. looks completely looney in its weapons fetish.

  15. Sophia Dodds says

    Seconding sminhinnick’s comment here.

    I’m Australian and the only people I’ve seen with a gun are a small minority of police officers and farmers with gun licences for shooting roos and rabbits.

    The majority of armed robberies over here are committed using a knife or other hand weapon rather than guns. Considering criminals are a small minority, armed robberies are less common than unarmed ones and the percentage of gun use in armed robberies is so low, combined with the low percentage of gun deaths, we reasonably conclude that stricter gun control correlates strongly with low access to guns even among criminal elements and low incidences of gun-related death.

    We also tend to forget that guns aren’t close to being the only effective weapons. My husband and I are medieval re-enactors. I’ve got a good arsenal of medieval weaponry including bows and arrows, halberds, swords, maces and other sundry killing tools. My kitchen features a wide range of deadly knives that my chef training obliges me to keep near razor-sharp. If I did need to defend my property using deadly force (in whatever bizarre scenario I could dream up where that would be my only option… zombies maybe? The weird christian brotherhood in my neighbourhood turning militant?) I’d be more than supplied with the tools for doing so, perfectly legally.

    Look at the statistics, that’s all I can say.

  16. says

    @ogremk5, last I checked there were still police around. Who, over here remember, don’t have guns themselves — thus automatically discouraging Bad People from taking their own guns, since any court (again, presuming such are still around) would take a very dim view of an armed person attacking an unarmed person.

    If it comes down to being subjected to actual physical force, then it’s acceptable to return as much force as is necessary, but no more. Otherwise you just make yourself part of an upward spiral of violence.

    Really, most people are not out to cause harm to others. The simple truth is, no matter how special you may think you are, you just aren’t that interesting.

  17. had3 says

    My original point was that there are things worth killing for. That’s it. It’s not that I take pride in that fact, or believe that it’s likely to happen or necessary in the vast majority of cases. Those who live in a democracy with a competent judiciary and police force are even less likely to need it. However, I disagree with the blanket statement “under no condition.” It was a nit, I picked.

  18. says

    I also grew up in a household with guns, own several, and have a permit to carry in Florida… I’m not entirely sure where the line ought to be drawn on carry. I know myself to be a responsible person, but it’s clear that others out there simply aren’t. At this point, my views on the subject are constantly evolving.

    I would like to see the effects of stricter training requirements before anything else. Rather than a single session on a single day, a more thorough assessment of mechanical proficiency and much more comprehensive lessons regarding how to legally and responsibly carry a weapon. As with anything else in life, knowledge is a powerful prophylactic, and where regulation of ownership (in the US) has failed to produce results, a training requirement might be a far better step to take.

    Frankly, the training requirement for a Florida permit is little more than a rubber stamp affair- any twit who knows which end goes boom can pass a basic proficiency course of the sort required. I had the benefit of a lifetime of experience with guns to inform my ability, and I spent a great deal of time researching the laws pertaining to concealed carry and the use of deadly force… but compared to the standards I hold myself to, the required course is the completion of kindergarten compared to a high school diploma. The people that run the courses are anything but objective (point in fact, when I took mine in October 2008 I was not-so-subtly encouraged to vote Republican), so even what little material there is is geared towards processing students fast and issuing approvals rather than attempting to assess each student’s actual proficiency.

    Here’s the bit I’m going to catch the most flak for: I’d like to see basic gun safety courses be taught in public schools. I wouldn’t propose handing schoolkids guns to go practice with… there are dummy guns (in bright colors that can’t be mistaken for the real thing) available which could serve for instructive purposes. Rather than teaching mechanical proficiency (marksmanship, assembly/disassembly, etc), the courses would focus on what not to do with guns. Simple things like “if your friend starts playing with their parents’ guns, leave right away and tell your parents what happened” and “never point a gun at a person.” I’d regard such lessons the same way as proper sex ed- here’s the information, here’s how to be responsible and not put yourself or others in danger, but we’re not going to demonstrate technique or encourage you to go out and buy a dozen guns to play with. Right now what we have is the functional equivalent of abstinence culture- even though the knowledge of how to be safe is out there, presenting it is taboo subject.

    Again, broader dissemination of knowledge is a good first step. Increased awareness can only improve our culture, whereas prohibition from a position of relative public ignorance could easily stumble off in the wrong direction. Education must always come first if regulation is to be applied fairly and successfully- we have a massive array of different laws (both restrictive and in opposition to restriction) that all seem to have the same lack of effect on violent crime; we are suffering from the lack of a proper diagnosis of where the root of the problem lies.

    The question of disarmament is also much more complicated here in the States as opposed to elsewhere… we’ve long since lost the ‘friendly local cop’ image that other civilized nations seem to have hung onto; even if the citizenry were disarmed we’d still be left with a country full of militarized police forces (up to and including armored vehicles and tactical assault teams from the federal level down through even many of our smaller towns) which criminals would still arm themselves to compete with. The War on Drugs ensures that law enforcement would not be subjected to cutbacks in arms and armor, and the criminal gangs that commit the lion’s share of violent crime in this country would shrug their shoulders and start importing guns right along with their shipments of drugs. That’s not a recipe for peaceful streets any more than handing out free guns to anyone who doesn’t have felony priors.

  19. says

    The proper place to draw the line on carrying weapons is “at all”. And the best form of gun safety is to be able to be born, live your life and die without ever once being within range of a gun.

    People like had3 clearly devote an unhealthy amount of time to thinking about killing vs. being killed. Survival should be the default in a civilised society — we pay taxes for the government to protect us.

  20. had3 says

    Actually, I devote a lot of time to people who use phrases and language incorrectly, and when called on it double down. I’d go so far as to guess Becoming Julie values some property more than some human life to the extent he/she maintains some ownership interest in property that is above that required to live instead of selling it and using the proceeds to feed those who are starving. It’s a difference between omission as compared to commission, but it’s still valuing property above human life. (I can’t remember which philosopher I’m paraphrasing, I’m sorry). I may be incorrect, but contextually he/she hints at owning more than necessary to live.

  21. Tony says

    BecomingJulie:

    The correct place to draw the line is somewhere between the most expensive piece of property and the lowliest human life. And it’s a very, very wide line.

    -I agree completely.
    I think some people think “no guns=not defending property”. You can defend your property without killing someone. I’m not a violent person and I don’t own a gun, but if someone came onto my property I have no problem grabbing a baseball bat.
    ____________________________________________________


    had3:

    My original point was that there are things worth killing for. That’s it.

    -That’s where you’re getting disagreement from. I place human life above property. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to defend my life, my family or my property, but I don’t need a *gun* to do that.
    I wouldn’t say concepts like freedom and democracy are worth killing for. They’re worthwhile concepts to defend or fight for. I can see how they would be concepts worth *dying* for, but not worth *killing* for.
    The things you say are worth killing for, I can’t agree with. When it comes to killing another human, I don’t feel it’s ever *right*. It can be *justified*, but not right.

  22. Tony says


    danielmchugh

    Here’s the bit I’m going to catch the most flak for: I’d like to see basic gun safety courses be taught in public schools. I wouldn’t propose handing schoolkids guns to go practice with… there are dummy guns (in bright colors that can’t be mistaken for the real thing) available which could serve for instructive purposes. Rather than teaching mechanical proficiency (marksmanship, assembly/disassembly, etc), the courses would focus on what not to do with guns.

    -No flak here. I’ve never thought about it before, but given the very lack of knowledge you mentioned in the training courses for gun ownership in this wonderful state we both live in, teaching kids about guns (until our country has statistics like the UK or Australia, this is an important topic) is a good thing. I didn’t know about dummy guns, but so much the better.
    That said, I wouldn’t do a separate course on guns. I think there are a lot of day to day activities that children could stand to be taught. A revamped home economics course for instance–I would rename it thougt–to teach children useful skills (typing, balancing a checkbook-though this may not be terribly relevant in the not to distant future-basic cooking knowledge, washing & drying clothes, how to change a flat tire, stuff like that; as the kids get older, the classes could advance and include gun safety; having worked in restaurants for all my life, I think everyone needs to learn basics like how to tip; a course of this nature could also help teach critical thinking skills to children, so that perhaps they won’t fall for snakeoil salesmen)

    ________________________________________________________


    had3:

    Becoming Julie values some property more than some human life to the extent he/she maintains some ownership interest in property that is above that required to live instead of selling it and using the proceeds to feed those who are starving.

    -When did feeding the homeless become relevant to the discussion? I thought the discussion (that you initiated) involved defending ones property (and being willing to kill for said property) using a gun. Nowhere did feeding the homeless factor in. If you want to make a separate argument about giving up ones possessions to help assist the poor, then great. I’m sure people have something to say about that. However, it’s not relevant at present.
    I can’t fathom why you keep trying to push and push to find some area where becomingjulie would place property above human life. Heck, I don’t understand how anyone could claim that property (which can be replaced) can be more valuable than human life (which can NOT be replaced)

  23. had3 says

    Not feeding the homeless, feeding the starving; as in those who starve to death. We keep our property instead of using it to keep others from dying; we value it (the property) more. It was meant as an illustration that although one says one values human life more than property; I’m guessing most commentators who state they always value human life more, mean so long as they don’t actively take it. However, they passively value their property more as they do not shed all they own to help prevent those who starve. That is valuing property more than human life. But it is a digression. My apologies.

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