Monday, April 28, 2008


BBC North America editor Justin Webb, broadcasting from Missouri on April 19th:
Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life. . .

To many foreigners - and to some Americans - the tolerance of guns in everyday American life is simply inexplicable. . .

Why is it then that so many Americans - and foreigners who come here - feel that the place is so, well, safe?

A British man I met in Colorado recently told me he used to live in Kent but he moved to the American state of New Jersey and will not go home because it is, as he put it, "a gentler environment for bringing the kids up."

This is New Jersey. Home of the Sopranos.

Brits arriving in New York, hoping to avoid being slaughtered on day one of their shopping mission to Manhattan are, by day two, beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. By day three they have had had the scales lifted from their eyes.

I have met incredulous British tourists who have been shocked to the core by the peacefulness of the place, the lack of the violent undercurrent so ubiquitous in British cities, even British market towns.

"It seems so nice here," they quaver.

Well, it is!
(via Instapundit, who quotes Robert Heinlein's "An armed society is a polite society," from Beyond This Horizon (1942))


OBloodyHell said...

It's not just RAH's comment about an armed society -- he was actually referring more to one in which average people actually went around armed -- it's a matter of enforced victimhood.

There's a story (I forget) from the 90s about a guy who, after having his house burglarized for the umpteenth time decided to take his shotgun to the thugs who were doing it. He wound up spending more time in jail than the thugs did.

When Britain, as well as Australia, defacto outlawed guns in the 80s and 90s, several things happened:
1) Home Invasion robberies went up. Thugs no longer had any need to worry about getting their heads shot off -- they KNEW they were safe. Typically, thugs in the UK robbed at night, when the owners were home, because then they could strongarm them into giving up the valuables. Contrast with the USA, when most robberies occur when the owner is AWAY, because there's far less risk for the criminal then. I believe the figures were 20% and 20% (20% of UK robberies when owner wasn't home, 20% of USA robberies when they were home). I don't know about you, but as traumatic as being robbed might be, I suspect it's got to be a lot worse to be there in person and utterly helpless.
2) In Australia, crimes against women and the elderly went through the roof, because, let's face it, there's a reason Mr. Colt's weapon became known as "The Great Equalizer" -- old people and women are far less able to resist a strong-arm thug without a gun to resort to. And the disappearance of it as a threat marks women and seniors as easier marks than men. So crimes against them go up substantially.

I don't believe it's ever been studied, but when the State of Florida had a sequence of high-profile carjackings and robberies of tourists at highway stops, one of the things which was done was to relax the concealed carry rules. Suddenly, combined with both more security and, also, the alteration of existing patterns which clearly marked tourists from locals (i.e., rental cars no longer had completely distinctive plates), the incidence of tourist carjackings and muggings disappeared. The fact that thugs could no longer be sure that people in cars did not have guns almost certainly contributed to this change in M.O.

Guns save people not so much by being used, but by the possibility of being used. It makes those who rob and steal come from a more desperate straight than they would, otherwise. The amount of money to be made these days from robbery just isn't worth risking your life for, and they know it. The ones who don't are either dead or in jail.

Carl said...


Agreed, 100%.

OBloodyHell said...

Oh, and another thing -- While the stats have been manipulated to show all sorts of negative affects from having a gun around, they tend to do this by ignoring several factors --

a) Inherently violent class of owners. If an owner is in a class known to be more likely to commit violence (i.e., typically poor "trash"), it is absurd to lump the probabilities of violence involving the weapon in with a WASP owner making 75k a year. They just aren't comparable. It's like figuring the income of an area with a hundred people making 15k a year that includes one person making 900k a year by using an "average" income. It's "lying with the truth".

b) Inclusion of suicides. It's absolutely absurd to include gun suicides as though they would not happen if the gun were not present. If someone wants to commit suicide, they will. Esp. if they used a gun -- you have to be pretty determined to end it all if you're going to splatter your brains all over the wall.

c) Inclusion of irrelevant or highly disparate groupings. This especially applies when they cite stats on "children and guns" - they include gang members along with, once more, those kids of that WASP making 75k a year. There's a blatantly major difference in the likelihood of the WASP kid, whose parent happens to have a gun in the house getting shot and killed and that of a gang member doing so. Another example of this sort of manipulation of stats ties to including eighteen and nineteen year olds as "kids". Sorry, If you're a legal driver, you're mature enough to be allowed to be around a gun (cars are MUCH deadlier weapons), and not be included with "kids". Yes, someone 16-19 dying from gun violence is sad, but it's not the same level of ignorance, naivete, and innocence one has at younger ages. By including just 18 and 19yos -- legal adults for the most part -- these stats usually jump by a factor of two, though, so that gives them plenty of room for making it appear far worse than it is... again, "lying with the truth": When someone hears the statement "10 children died today with guns in their hands", no one pictures a 19yo thug with a rap sheet as long as your arm. They picture kind little Johnny next door, who helps his grandmother mow the lawn.