An Ounce of Protection

by J.D. Tuccille
August 13, 1996

It’s one thing to know that something is morally correct and that it makes logical sense — to adhere to a position as right and sensible. It’s quite another to see your position supported in a scientific study. And that’s why it’s so satisfying to see a new study demonstrate so convincingly that being able to fight-off bad guys is safer than not being able to fight-off bad guys.

Now, some things really shouldn’t require University-funded research projects. When you don’t want to take delivery on a squalling li’l package of joy, do you really need proof that birth control is the way to go? Or when you go mountain climbing: safety harness or no? So it is with tucking a lightweight pistol into your pocket or purse — is it a better idea to have it just in case? Or to surrender that hunk of metal to the cops on the off chance that your neural synapses might start taking their marching orders from Mars and send you on a hunting expedition through the shopping center?

This latest exercise in academically rigorous common sense was performed by John R. Lott, Jr. and David B. Mustard of the University of Chicago and sponsored by the Cato Institute, which has been the hottest think tank in Washington D.C. for a couple of years now. Cato has made its name with well-documented research and related policy proposals, and I’m looking forward to the Institute’s recommendation for gun law reform once this study is published in January.

The Lott-Mustard study isn’t shy about it’s findings. The abstract states:

If those states which did not have right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately 1,570 murders; 4,177 rapes; and over 60,000 aggravate assaults would have been avoided yearly. On the other hand, consistent with the notion of criminals responding to incentives, we find criminals substituting into property crimes involving stealth and where the probabilities of contact between the criminal and the victim are minimal.

Put bluntly, allowing people to carry guns saves lives and drives criminals to commit less serious crimes. I can live with that. Hell, I can live with that for longer than I can without it. And so can my sister, mother, and any number of friends and acquaintances who are in no position to even pretend to offer resistance to a larger, meaner thug without benefit of what has properly been referred to as an “equalizer.”

Thugs, of course, don’t wait for the passage of Concealed Carry laws. Those human wolves who make their living by preying on others are touched by laws permitting concealed carry only when the sheep grow fangs. Creating an environment where people can legally tuck a gun into a pocket or a handbag protects not only those who take advantage of the opportunity, but everybody, since criminals can’t tell who is carrying and who is not. Ironically, people who live in restrictive jurisdictions and defy laws against carrying a weapon may be more likely to be placed in a situation where they need to use the gun, since criminals have less reason to fear potential victims.

Did I say “restrictive jurisdictions?” Hmmm. I must have been referring to such garden spots as New York and Washington D.C. — both of which have effectively outlawed self-defense with limits on the when, where, and what of doing unto others before they do unto you. I might also be referring to Canada, where you’re well-advised to request permission before leaving your home in the morning, the United Kingdom, which is contemplating a total ban on handguns (Answer the following question: I predict the violent crime rate will ...), or Australia, where the government seems dead-set on villifying anybody who owns a device more potent than a power drill and on backing gun owners into a corner.

If, as I expect, the Lott-Mustard study proves rigorous in its methods and its conclusions, these “restrictive jurisdictions” will have a lot to answer for. Tight regulations put law-abiding citizens on a collision course with the actuarial tables — a situation that some folks may grow to resent in time.

As for myself ... well ... I’m moving to New York City in a few weeks. I’ll be working the night shift in a part of Manhattan that looks like a scene from The Last Man on Earth after sundown. Draw your own conclusions.

From the Notebook

Have you been watching the Republican convention on TV? You have? Whassamatta? Don’t you have cable?

Well, anyway ... It should come as no surprise that the Grand Old Party is backing away from the more ... ummm ... iron-fisted elements in the party platform in favor of tax reduction, small government, personal freedom, and optimism. Now, if we could only get the bastards to stick with that platform after the election.

Oh, and who put the valium in Pat “Fritz” Buchanan’s Wheaties?

Ah well, and so much for the power of argument. So back you go to Full Automatic or to my home page.

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Copyright (c) 1996 Jerome D. (Il Tooch) Tuccille. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Il Tooch is prohibited. Mess with me and I’ll use your polished skull as a beer mug.