Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Compounding tragedy

Slain NYPD officer Dillon Stewart was laid to rest on Tuesday. I heard an estimate on the radio that up to 20 thousand police officers from all over the U.S. attended.

The New York Post had the initial story here. The next day, the Post used this for its front page story: a heartstring-tugging, emotional, and completely irrational editorial in which the mother of a slain boy recounted many tender memories of her son. However, they are completely irrelevant to the issue. She said her son "died a senseless death because there are too many guns in New York." Too many guns? I lived in Utah for 14 years. There are many guns there, and more easily obtainable ones at that. I would think that Utah has more firearms per capita than New York, yet Utah has nowhere near the level of "gun violence" that New York does. New York's problem is that there are too many criminals, especially those who are shown an effective revolving door in jail.

Our new friend Karol at Alarming News pointed out the blame being thrown around, and that the idiot award goes to the Post for its editorial blaming everyone but the criminal for Officer Stewart's shooting. "Whose fault was the shooting? Basically, 50 Cent made him do it."

Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg wrote an editorial for the Post declaring that, after taking care of Stewart's wife and two daughters, "The second thing we owe Officer Stewart is to continue making every effort to take illegal guns off our streets." While that sounds like a nice thought, true to his liberalism, Bloomberg doesn't know to focus on the actual crime. If someone commits armed robbery, kidnapping or murder, why should we expend energies on extending the punishment merely because of the weapon used? If the criminal is so dangerous, why don't we mandate a long sentence that will be served in full? Now that is something for which I am willing to pay good tax money.

Bloomberg stated, "In Brooklyn, for instance, the median jail sentence for felony gun possession was only 90 days, and many defendants received straight probation without serving a single day in jail." But what were the offenses? Are those not what makes someone a criminal? I do not fear someone just because he has a gun. I fear someone who intends to harm me and has the means. See above: punish the crimes, not the mere fact of the implements used.

In describing how guns in New York sometimes originate from Pennsylvania and Virginia, Bloomberg asks (and he probably thought rhetorically), "Does anyone actually believe this is what the Second Amendment was designed to protect?" Actually, I don't believe that. The Second Amendment's primary purpose, as many Founding Fathers and others stated without equivocation, is so the people have "teeth" where votes fail, to discourage a government from degenerating into tyranny, and to defend themselves from a government that has.

I would like one of my friends to come to the Foundation for Economic Education this Saturday night. He can take the Metro-North Railroad coming from the city, and I would insist on driving him back. If if he took the train back to the city, he'd have to take the subway from Grand Central Terminal to Chelsea, and in the wee hours of the morning. I could never knowingly permit a friend to take that kind of a risk -- that is, an unarmed friend. And that's all the difference in the world: while my friend remains unarmed because of bad laws, any criminals wishing to rob or injure him would have no compunction in arming themselves with weapons of their own choosing and ability to acquire. Odds are that any particular subway passenger will be very law-abiding and not carry weapons of any kind -- in other words, easy prey.

Isn't it obvious, after decades of "gun control" legislation, that criminals will never obey "gun control" laws? Such laws serve no purpose but to deprive innocent people of their means of self-defense. If they ever do have an effect on firearms' prices, criminals will always find cost-effective alternatives. Here we have another demonstration of market mechanisms. First, the laws will have created a scarcity of these weapons (a black market), which means higher prices, and those will encourage more suppliers to enter and seek a piece of the action. If a criminal feels a gun is too expensive, he'll shop around different competitors, making a choice based on his personal preference between the value of his time (search costs) and the value he places on a gun (as an "investment" in increasing his illegitimate wealth). If a gun is too expensive for he thinks it will yield, he can turn to a blade or stun gun.

The state, claiming benevolence in its efforts to "protect" us from "gun violence," is no better than a teacher turning his or her back after telling the schoolyard bully to play nice. I wrote back in October on New York's State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, pressuring eBay into stopping sales of stun guns to New York residents. For obvious reasons, his efforts will never stop criminals from acquiring the stun guns they want. But it did make it harder for innocent people to defend themselves.

Ayn Rand said, "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." One of the most unfortunate ways this is fulfilled is when government attempts to regulate weapons ownership, claiming it is for our own good: the law is perverted into an instrument of evil, declaring peaceful people are made into criminals, all for the mere fact that they possess tools to defend themselves -- defend themselves from true criminals who already are criminals without "gun control" or "illegal weapons possession" statutes.

What happened to Officer Stewart is a tragedy; may God watch over his wife and daughters. But let us heed reason and historical experience, instead of falling for the emotional claptrap that we can somehow hinder or prevent criminals in their use of firearms.


Anonymous Buddy said...

In Nashville, carry permits are the rule not the exception. Guns are common and are usually carried. Our "gun crimes"/murders are usually (>90%) drug related, not from normally law-abiding citizens. The State of Tennessee built a shooting range so there would opprotunities for practice. New York should try it, might like it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 11:28:00 PM  

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