Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fundamental Principle of Self Defense

Selwyn Duke is a thoughtful writer of commentary, so I eagerly dove into his article today entitled What Everyone Forgets when Debating Gun Control at the American Thinker. I was hoping to find some great principles, and a relief from the utilitarian arguments that generally pass for gun control debates. While he doesn't bring up general moral principles, he does bring up good points, and it is a worthwhile read. For example:
The apocryphal saying, "God made some men big and others small, but Samuel Colt made them equal," gets at the point here. Whether it's a smaller person or a smaller group, firearms tend to even the odds. They help create parity, and that's not what criminals want -- they want easy prey. Thus, like a predator in the wilds that generally won't attack a creature more than half its size, even if a criminal is armed himself, he'll be reluctant to tackle a target that can target him back.

Even more significantly, as Prohibition, prostitution, and drugs have proven, illegal isn't synonymous with unavailable. So, again, let's assume that a gun criminalization that left firearms in the hands of a few criminals did save lives overall. What should we conclude if those armed miscreants could nonetheless ply their dark trade with little resistance? What should we feel if good people were declawed and rendered powerless to thwart their evil?
The principle raised here is that guns make possible a civilized society, as we have come to understand it. Otherwise, the old, the infirm, or the weak are ruled by the young, the powerful, and the strong. Women, how would you like to live in such a world?

The other day, I read a news story about an 89 year old widower who fended off two burly men breaking into her house. She merely pointed her .38 revolver at them, and they immediately fled. It is a typical Defensive Gun Use (DGU). I, myself had a DGU in which I didn't even have to draw my weapon, let alone point it, or fire a shot. Both incidents could well have ended in tragedy had not a gun been available. Both ended with all parties walking away. Estimates of the number of such DGUs is all over the place. Gary Kleck, who at the time was firmly in the gun control camp, estimated some 2,500,000 times a year that someone in America uses a gun for self defense. Most never report these uses, because there is nothing to report. No blood in the street, no shots fired, and often just having a gun is enough; no need to draw it or make scene. Kleck's numbers, of course, have been criticized, but even the DOJ admits to between 80,000-100,000 DGUs per year, which is double to triple the number of gun deaths.  My point is that the story above is not an isolated incident, but most such uses never see ink on a page.

A more fundamental principle is that God gave you life, and only God has the right to take it away. (This, by the way, is the reason why suicide is considered homicide, and the Catholic Church will not bury you in consecrated ground if you are a suicide.) You have a moral duty to defend your life, and the lives of your loved ones. Your wife, likewise, has a moral duty to self defense, and defense of her children. The most effective way to do that is to carry a gun, and learn to use it. Now, some would argue that the assailant also has a right to life, and that only God can take that life, and I would agree. But the assailant takes a risk that he is not forced to take. As such, it is a voluntary risk that he could be killed as a result of assaulting you.  In other words, it is he who is spitting on God's great gift both to you and to him, and not you.  This is why the pacifist argument can not be sustained.  While not taking up arms against another who has done you no harm is moral and admirable, none the less even pacifists must defend themselves when assaulted.

Seen in this light, the utilitarian arguments become moot.  It does not matter whether one person, or 30,000 are killed with a gun, because you have the absolute duty to defend yourself.  You may not shirk that duty, and the most effective way to ensure success in that duty is to carry a loaded gun with you everywhere you go. 

As for Duke's arguments that dangerous activities that are take up voluntarily should be similarly banned if we propose to ban guns, the Left would say that those risks are purely voluntary, whereas being shot is not.  I have had this debate on environmental regulations, where I point out that incredibly small risks are seen as important to regulate, while relatively large risks are seen as unimportant.  To me, as to Mr. Duke apparently, dead is dead.  But the Left makes a distinction, without a difference in my opinion.  I suspect that it is simply a way to limit debate, and keep us focused on utilitarian arguments and on their turf.      

1 comment:

  1. Your conclusion is correct: if your argument is stuck in defensive mode, you're losing ground.