February 10th, 2011
Inspired by In DC, wealthy take up arms (Washington Post 2/08/11) and House GOP points budget knife at EPA, top Obama priorities (Washington Post 2/10/11).
“House Republicans sketched their vision for a smaller federal government Wednesday, proposing sharp spending cuts that would wipe out family-planning programs, take 4,500 police officers off the street [emphasis added], and slice 10 percent from a food program that aids pregnant women and their babies.”– Washington Post 2/10/11
“U.S. police departments are streamlining patrols, reducing training and cutting back on some preventative programs as their budgets fall victim to the struggling economy. Many police chiefs are warning deeper cuts may be coming.” – CNN 10/23/2008
“When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” – One of gun owners’ favorite quotes
“Over the counter with a shotgun
Pretty soon, everybody’s got one.” – U2
Like many GOP policies, it defies common sense
To take cops off the street, then say people need guns for self defense.
A gun in your home, as all gun owners should remember,
Is much more likely to be used against you or a family member.
One also has much less chance to be harmed
When being burgled by someone who’s not lethally armed.
Like all arms races, there are no real winners,
Especially when more and more firearms are owned by beginners.
It’s best to leave public safety in the hands of the pros,
And further police budget cuts resolutely oppose.
Otherwise, the combination of fewer cops and more guns will guarantee
A self-fulfilling self-“defense” prophesy.
And to you the wealthy
Who think this trend is healthy:
You’ve bought your Glock, security system, and panic room,
And still have lots of tax cut money left over, I assume.
But in the long run, if the rest of the country goes downhill,
You too eventually will.
You can’t maintain your island of peace
Without a healthy society,
and some police
Note to gun owners: No, I’m not against self-defense (even armed self-defense) and I’m not trying to take your guns away. I just don’t think everybody should be able to have any gun, anywhere, or any time. Yes, there are some cases in which armed victims fight off their attackers, which I support their right to do. But there are also lots of cases in which the opposite occurs, and gun owners’ own family members are the ones killed or hurt. That is a nitty-gritty policy issue which ultimately gets down to statistics and details, which is how the problem should be address. For that reason, I applaud books like John Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime (Lott is kind of the anti-Kellerman), which attempts to quantify the effect of concealed liberal carry laws on crime rates and concludes that it reduces them. But there are a lot of books and studies (here’s a particularly good one) that dispute Lott’s analysis, including Freakonomics, the authors of which Lott has sued for defamation for questioning his methods (Lott has also come out with his own anti-Freakonomics book, Freedomonics).
While those are more difficult questions (ones you actually have to analyze actual facts to answer), but here are some easy ones: (1) Think hard before buying a gun, and if you do, make sure you’re well trained in its use and store it safely; (2) It doesn’t help the violent crime situation to cut police forces and let our economy and inner-city neighborhoods deteriorate; (3) increased crime due to public safety cuts shouldn’t be used as an argument for weaker gun safety laws; and (4) The self-defense justification for gun ownership does not require extended magazines or unrestricted open or concealed carry (e.g., guns in Congress or statehouses), and it does not apply to a citizen’s “right” to “defend” himself from government policies he doesn’t like or intimidate those he disagrees with.