Back in the 1970s I lived in Columbia, SC, and while my house was inside the city limits, I could jump in my car and within 5 minutes get to a nice, sand pit on the edge of town. So what I would do was reload a couple of hundred rounds of 9mm or 45-caliber brass, then take either my Browning Hi-Power or my Colt 1911 out to the sand pit and bang away. I made the bullets by melting down and then casting wheel weights that I could scavenge from any gas station around. At that time a box of factory, 9mm ammo ran about ten bucks, to shoot 50 reloads probably cost me about 60 cents.
This was what handgun shooting was all about in the 1970s – you loaded your own ammo, went out to a pit or the woods and banged away. But that’s all changed now because according to Gun-nut Nation, a handgun is an indispensable ‘tool’ for protecting yourself against violent crime, terrorism, God knows what. Now the fact that all of those folks who stand in line to get concealed-carry permits will almost never be victims of a violent crime is beside the point. After all, we know for a fact that voter fraud will get Hillary elected this year, even if there’s no evidence whatsoever that there’s any voting fraud at all. It’s still a fact!
The same thing holds true when we talk about guns. It’s now more than 20 years since Gun-nut Nation began touting the idea that gun-toting Americans save us from being crime victims at least several million times every year. Now there must be some truth to this argument because handgun sales continue to go up while violent crime rates continue to go down. Of course the possibility that one trend may have absolutely nothing to do with the other is beside the point. As a gun instructor was quoted by Angela Stroud in her brilliant book, without a gun she didn’t have a ‘self-defense plan.’
Now I always thought that the way you defended yourself against a possible crime, and in fact this happens to be the way it is usually done, is to open your mouth and scream. Or maybe dial 911. Or maybe, God forbid, back down. But what Gun-nut Nation wants you to believe is that none of those strategies compares to the protection afforded by pulling out a gun. And in case you need more proof, the Martians have landed at Area 51.
A new study by Andrew Papachristos and colleagues, based on a study of 911 calls in Milwaukee from 2005, found that inner-city residents appear to share Gun-nut Nation’s aversion to viewing police as the primary defenders against violent crime. The decline in 911 calls took place after a biracial Milwuakee resident, Frank Jude, was severely beaten by several white, off-duty police officers which eventually led to the firing of nine cops following protests in the black community when the news of the attack got around. The researchers estimate that more than 20,000 calls were not made because of mistrust of the police following the Jude affair, and when people stop asking the cops to protect them from crime, the crime rates have a funny way of going up.
I’m not saying there aren’t occasions when having access to a gun or some other kind of weapon will make it easier to defend against a crime. What I am saying is that Gun-nut Nation wants you to think that a gun should always be your first line of defense. After all, the average person walking around with a concealed handgun isn’t usually required to demonstrate any competence in using the weapon or, for that matter, even understanding how to determine whether a particular situation might be life-threatening or not. But citizen-protectors don’t need any training because, after all, the 2nd Amendment gives them the ‘right’ to walk around with a gun.