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Guns Save Lives
Why the right to keep and bear arms is essential in a free society
John Stossel | June 24, 2010
You know what the mainstream media think about guns and our freedom to carry them.
Pierre Thomas of ABC: “When someone gets angry or when they snap, they are going to be able to have access to weapons.”
Chris Matthews of MSNBC: “I wonder if in a free society violence is always going to be a part of it if guns are available.”
Keith Olbermann, who usually can’t be topped for absurdity: “Organizations like the NRA … are trying to increase deaths by gun in this country.”
“Trying to?” Well, I admit that I bought that nonsense for years. Living in Manhattan, working at ABC, everyone agreed that guns are evil. And that the NRA is evil. (Now that the NRA has agreed to a sleazy deal with congressional Democrats on political speech censorship, maybe some of its leaders are evil, but that’s for another column.)
Now I know that I was totally wrong about guns. Now I know that more guns means—hold onto your seat—less crime.
How can that be, when guns kill almost 30,000 Americans a year? Because while we hear about the murders and accidents, we don’t often hear about the crimes stopped because would-be victims showed a gun and scared criminals away. Those thwarted crimes and lives saved usually aren’t reported to police (sometimes for fear the gun will be confiscated), and when they are reported, the media tend to ignore them. No bang, no news.
This state of affairs produces a distorted public impression of guns. If you only hear about the crimes and accidents, and never about lives saved, you might think gun ownership is folly.
But, hey, if guns save lives, it logically follows that gun laws cost lives.
Suzanna Hupp and her parents were having lunch at Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, when a man began shooting diners with his handgun, even stopping to reload. Suzanna’s parents were two of the 23 people killed. (Twenty more were wounded.)
Suzanna owned a handgun, but because Texas law at the time did not permit her to carry it with her, she left it in her car. She’s confident that she could have stopped the shooting spree if she had her gun. (Texas has since changed its law.)
Today, 40 states issue permits to competent, law-abiding adults to carry concealed handguns (Vermont and Alaska have the most libertarian approach: no permit needed. Arizona is about to join that exclusive club.) Every time a carry law was debated, anti-gun activists predicted outbreaks of gun violence after fender-benders, card games, and domestic quarrels.
John Lott, in More Guns, Less Crime, explains that crime fell by 10 percent in the year after the laws were passed. A reason for the drop in crime may have been that criminals suddenly worried that their next victim might be armed. Indeed, criminals in states with high civilian gun ownership were the most worried about encountering armed victims.
In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun-control laws, almost half of all burglaries occur when residents are home. But in the United States, where many households contain guns, only 13 percent of burglaries happen when someone is at home.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in the Heller case that Washington, D.C.’s ban on handgun ownership was unconstitutional. District politicians then loosened the law but still have so many restrictions that there are no gun shops in the city and just 800 people have received permits. Nevertheless, contrary to the mayor’s prediction, robbery and other violent crime are down.
Because Heller applied only to Washington, that case was not the big one. McDonald v. Chicago is the big one, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule on that next week. Otis McDonald is a 76-year-old man who lives in a dangerous neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. He wants to buy a handgun, but Chicago forbids it.
If the Supremes say McDonald has that right, then restrictive gun laws will fall throughout America.
Despite my earlier bias, I now understand that striking down those laws will probably save lives.
John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He’s the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.
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Bonus Reason.tv video: Lead attorney Alan Gura discusses the high stakes of the D.C. gun ban case:
Mr. Ostrowski makes some great points to which I would add Lysander Spooner’s No Treason VI: The Constitution of No Authority to further understand how the Constitution is illegitimate.
The Myth of Political Consent
by James Ostrowski
This is an excerpt from Direct Citizen Action: How We Can Win the Second American Revolution Without Firing a Shot.
Permit me to digress into a discussion of the meaning of political consent and its withdrawal. I am not saying that the American people ever explicitly consented to be ruled by the regime on the Potomac, or that they are parties to some mysterious Social Contract that implies their consent. That is all utter nonsense and propaganda. I know I never consented to be ruled by a regime that I have strongly opposed since my teenage years. Nor have I ever signed a Social Contract allowing them to rule over me. I’d be a jackass if I had.
To the best of my knowledge, no living American ever signed a contract to be ruled by the creepy politicians in DC. There are people long dead who signed a proposed Constitution and there are 11791 people long dead who voted at state conventions to ratify the Constitution. However, no living American ever agreed to be bound by the consent to be governed apparently given by people long dead that they did not know.
Libertarian legal scholar Randy Barnett has brilliantly refuted all possible theories of how citizens can be found to have implicitly consented to be ruled when it is perfectly obvious that they have not explicitly consented. See, Restoring the Lost Constitution (2004), pp. 11 et seq.
Voting does not imply consent as we never get to vote on the legitimacy of the regime itself. And what if you vote against the regime as I have done in every election since I was allowed to vote? How in the world can that be construed as consent? Well, I played the game. Okay, so if I stop voting, I have withdrawn my consent? That’s a bargain! I will stop voting, withdraw my consent and the tax bills will cease. Hurray! Yeah, but you could have played the game, they will say. Barnett replies: “It is a queer kind of ‘consent’ where there is no way to refuse one’s consent.” (p. 16). Barnett goes on to demolish all the familiar rationalizations for why average citizens have “consented” to be governed by political thugs in DC:
1. Residency – this argument “presupposes that those who demand that you leave already have authority over you.” (p. 18) It’s a circular argument.
2. Acquiescence to the laws. “Does one really manifest a consent to obey the commands of someone much more powerful simply because one does not physically resist the threat of violence for noncompliance?” (p. 21)
3. Acceptance of the regime. This proves too much, according to Barnett. Even oppressive regimes have the passive acceptance of their people in the sense they do not actively revolt.
Acceptance of benefits. This is the most common argument made by liberals these days. With respect to the alleged benefits of the state’s legal system, Barnett simply notes that there can be no consent since there is no way to opt out. The argument from receipt of tangible “benefits” also fails. These are paid for by compulsory taxes you never consented to. Only if such things as roads, schools, and fire protection were funded voluntarily, could you be said to have consented to the regime by using them. That never happened of course. Also, again, to consent, there must be a reasonable way not to consent. If I refuse to use the streets, I die of starvation. It’s a distorted view of consent that leads to the “argument”: join us or die!
Thus, we the living never consented to the current regime in the first place in any meaningful way. Thus, what I am proposing is this: we need to make explicit what is already implicit. We need to announce that we do not accept the legitimacy of the regime. This regime is blatantly, openly and proudly violating our natural rights. It is not legitimate within the clear understanding of our founding document, the Declaration of Independence. Thus, you have no moral obligation to support it. Withdrawing moral support for the regime is critical since public support is the very basis of the regime’s power. That is why government schools are so critical to the maintenance of the regime’s power. And that is why even totalitarian regimes have elaborate propaganda operations.
I emphasize again that I do not advocate civil disobedience. Why engage in risky and costly law-breaking when we can take America back through lawful and peaceful means?
If the regime begins to unambiguously violate its own constitution, then it becomes the practitioner of civil disobedience and the people will have a moral and legal right to resist as I explain further in Chapter 20.
1. In 14 states including Vermont.
June 24, 2010
James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids: What You Need to Know and Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including “What’s Wrong With Buffalo.” His latest book is Direct Citizen Action: How We Can Win the Second American Revolution Without Firing a Shot. See his website.
Copyright © 2010 James Ostrowski