Imagine that you awoke in the middle of the night to the sounds of someone trying to jimmy the lock on your door. The sounds gets louder and louder as the intruder gets frustrated and cares less about being heard than about getting inside your home.
Since grade school we’ve been taught to call for help, to reach for the phone and dial 911. The operators will keep us on the phone and talk us through the situation. But the operator isn’t there. He isn’t the one that the intruder will find when he enters the home uninvited. You are. Your kids are.
How long will it take for help to arrive? Will your door hold fast until the authorities can get there? Or will the police find a brutal and violent crime scene when the reach your home?
That seems to be a question that a lot of people are asking themselves.
Record Guns Sales in 2011
As preppers we like to be prepared for most any situation. We store for food to help with everything from a job loss to a killer storm. We store first aid supplies and learn new skills. And increasingly we are buying weapons.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Americans bought over 10 millions weapons in 2011. That’s up 14% from 2010 and is an increase of over 50% compared to 2001.
Were all of those sales to preppers? Doubtful. But data does suggest that many of those sales were to first-time buyers. Regardless of who is buying the weapons or the reasons for their purchases, more guns were sold last year than ever before.
Is that a problem? Many would think so. But I don’t think that the data would support their notion.
Reduced Crime Rates in 2011
As more guns entered the hands of law abiding citizens, the rate of violent crimes dropped by 4% according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ (FBI) Annual Crime Statistics for 2011. Violent crimes such as forcible rapes, aggravated assaults, and murder were down in all four regions across America.
Property crimes such as burglary and larceny were likewise down, but by a dramatically smaller number, only 0.8%. So, while thefts decreased slightly, crimes against people went down at a rate 5 times that figure.
Of course, we cannot safely assume that there is a causal effect in these two statistics. But it is very interesting to consider that as more Americans armed themselves with newly purchased guns than ever before, crimes against other people went down significantly. At the same time, crimes that didn’t involve a personal confrontation went down only slightly.
Again, interesting, wouldn’t you say?
Don’t Restrictive Gun Laws Help?
Some argue that reducing the number of the guns on the streets would help. Let’s consider Chicago as a case study. The most recent home of U.S. President Barak Obama boasts some of the nation’s most restrictive gun ownership laws.
While much of the rest of the nation saw a marked decrease in violent crimes in 2011, the murder rate in Chicago fell by only 0.7% according to the Chicago Police Department’s analysis. That’s 3 people fewer in 2011 than in 2010. To be fair though, that’s comparable to the NorthEast region of the U.S. which only experienced a 0.8% decrease in violent crimes according the the FBI report.
Unfortunately the downward trend of 2011 in Chicago seems to be an anomaly. In the first 3 months of 2012, Chicago saw 120 murders compared to 75 during the same period in 2010. According to David Knowles of The Daily living in Chicago is more dangerous than living in a war zone (his words, not mine).
The streets of Chicago are officially more dangerous than a war zone: Homicide victims in the Windy City outnumber U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year.
While 144 Americans have died in Afghanistan in 2012, a whopping 228 Chicago residents have been killed, and the murder rate is up a staggering 35 percent from last year. That’s a rash of homicides quadruple the rate of New York City’s, and police and crime experts fear it may only get worse.
Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune acknowledged the inconsistency in restrictive guns laws and violent crimes in an editorial last year, saying
The record of the past two decades demonstrates that you can strengthen the right of law-abiding adults to protect themselves against crime without making the world more dangerous. That knowledge is helpful in Illinois, to those willing to learn from experience.
I once heard the story of a man who disagreed with his neighbor about gun control. One man advocated strictly enforced control laws. He contended that if no one had weapons, no one would be able to commit crimes with them.
His neighbor, a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, was adamant that if owning guns was a crime, then only criminals would have guns. To support his position, the neighbor suggested an experiment: both men would put signs in their yards. One would say “This house is protected by Smith & Wesson”. The other would say “The owner of this house does not support gun ownership and does not have any on premises.”
The first man to get robbed would acknowledge that the other man was right. The gun control advocate declined to participate in the experiment.
The Right to Bear Arms
Maybe our founding fathers had it right. Maybe the right to keep and bare arms is essential for protecting our freedoms from a tyrannical and overzealous government.
There seems to be a secondary benefit as well. It also helps to protect us from those who have no regard for the law and who would do use harm to get our stuff. The police cannot be everywhere so being able to protect yourself is important.
From a purely logical perspective, legally owning fire arms seems to be a good idea. And now the data seems to support it.
Do you disagree?