by J.D. Tuccille
March 2, 1997

Victims By Law

As the unfortunate tourists at the Empire State Building came under fire from Ali Abu Kamal during the man’s murderous rampage, how many of them do you think said to themselves, “Oooh, I’m so happy that I’m not carrying a gun.”

Precious few, I would think. The human race has enjoyed a long and rigorous stretch of evolutionary selection, and people who would entertain such thoughts today exist only as fossilized sabertooth tiger shit. The survival instinct runs deep and strong even among the ranks of today’s professional control-freak gunbanners — columnist Carl Rowan made headlines when he blazed away at trespassers in his backyard, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein apparently saw no irony in acquiring a permit to carry a pistol while working to disarm mere mortal Americans.

But our personal preference for survival doesn’t always extend to our neighbors. In the wake of the shooting, much has been made of the ease with which a foreign transient purchased a pistol in Florida — he established his residence at a motel, applied, was screened for any criminal background, and walked away with his pistol. “An outrage,” says New York City Mayor Giuliani, a man whose law-and-order credentials have apparently passed through the clean-up-the-city phase and are acquiring a touch of the high leather boot.

But what of the other foreigners? The French couple from Verdun, the Swiss economist, the Argentine computer consultant, and the Danish musician? Along with two native-born Americans, they were victims of Mr. Kamal, as he vented his rage against the United States by channeling Ted Bundy at one of the few locales in the country where Americans themselves are in a minority. Why shouldn’t they have had the option of purchasing a pistol as soon as they stepped off the airplane? Chris Burmeister, who came to New York to play the downtown rock clubs, might still be alive if he’d been packing his own weapon. Mr. Kamal might’ve ended as a footnote and a greasy stain on the Empire State building’s observation deck.

But the likes of Mayor Guiliani and Representatives Carolyn McCarthy and Charles Schumer would honestly rather shed tears over the perforated forms of you, me, and every retiree on a package tour as we’re carried off on gurneys with matching toe tags than see us expend so much as a single unauthorized bullet in self defense. Had one of the European visitors at the Empire State building pulled a pistol of his own and sent Mr. Kamal to a toasty afterlife at the beginning of the rampage, New York’s finest would’ve happily cuffed and booked him for the transgression. Rather than permit people the small liberty of defending their own lives, the politicians would rather escalate the endless search for the maniacs among us with metal detectors, pat-down searches, and more intrusive laws.

“But we can’t let everybody carry guns,” I hear some wail. “Imagine what the world would be like if everybody was armed!”

Well, as a matter of fact, I don’t have to imagine. Prof. John Lott and David Mustard of the University of Chicago performed their own study on the results of loosened controls on the carry of concealed handguns. As a matter of fact, in that sinful land of easy gun purchases known as Florida, “221,443 licenses were issued between October 1, 1987 and April 30, 1994, but only 18 crimes involving firearms were committed by those with licenses.” On average, in the United States, “[w]hen state concealed handgun laws went into effect in a county, murders fell by 8.5 percent, and rapes and aggravated assaults fell by 5 and 7 percent.”

Hmmm. Sounds like a case of more bang for your buck.

Add to the numbers a wise policy against forbidding people to engage in activities that don’t actually infringe on anybodys rights, and I think that there’s a pretty strong case for scrapping the new metal detectors at the Empire State building, along with a few of New York’s sillier laws.

Of course, in the land of the once-free and the home of the formerly brave, that’s not likely to happen soon. The next-best option is to pack your personal protection anyway, and keep one eye out for the Ali Abu Kamals of the world, and the other for the misguided arm of the law.

Don’t go cross-eyed. And keep your powder dry.

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) 1997 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.