The essay is entitled "Guns, burglary, and self-defense" and was written by one Lindsay Beyerstein, who describes herself as a 28-year-old writer & photographer born under the Sign of Cancer, and who is proud of the fact that she turned down John Edwards's offer to be one of his official bloggers.
She seems like a sincere and well-intentioned person. The purpose of my comments here is not to make fun of her, but to illustrate some of the serious deficiencies in the Leftists' habitual way of looking at things.
After noting that her lefty blogging buddy Matthew Yglesias recently wrote that he wants to have a gun to defend himself against burglars, Lindsay Beyerstein begins her comments with this pithy paragraph:
I’ve never understood why anyone would keep a gun in their home to protect themselves from burglars. If you had a violent stalker ex, or someone who was was bent on invading your home in order to hurt you, I could see the rationale for being armed. But buying a gun to protect against burglars is no protection at all. It’s not like you’re going to stand guard every night to deter them.In this first paragraph, Lindsay is already making several serious hermeneutical mistakes. She recognizes that having a gun makes sense if you want to protect yourself against someone who is trying to hurt you, but she doesn't think it makes sense to be armed against burglars.
Well, the first mistake is to assume that you know that burglars won't hurt you. Someone who is willing to break into your house to steal your property may very well be willing to harm you or kill you when they are discovered. And the fact that you and your neighbors are armed may well deter prospective burglars when you are not home to confront them.
Let's look at her next paragraphs:
Turning on the lights to find the gun is enough scare off the average burglar. I know at least a half-dozen people who have scared off burglars (deliberately or involuntarily) just by alerting the would-be thief to their presence. The burglar isn’t there to fight you hand-to-hand for your iPod. Confrontations with the homeowner go against the whole burglary business model.
Interrupting a burglary with a gun probably unnecessary and likely counterproductive because you have no idea how the burglar’s going to react. Desperate criminals are human, too. I’m not pointing this out as a plea for compassion. I’m just noting that strung-out junkies at gunpoint are at least as likely to do something stupid as your average person. Maybe they’re armed, too. Maybe they’ll panic and try to get the gun away from you. Maybe they’ll succeed. Or, maybe you’ll panic and shoot them.
It might make sense be armed if you were someone who couldn’t call the cops (e.g., a drug dealer), or if you kept your entire lifesavings in uninsured jewels in a candy dish on the kitchen table. But does anyone really want to risk physical violence to protect their consumer electronics? That’s what insurance is for.
The reason that is the case, however, is the rather high probability of a burglar confronting an armed homeowner in the United States. A burglary when the homeowners are actually home is called a "hot burglary." Hot burglaries are rare in the United States, but rather more common in Great Britain. Mark Steyn pointed out in a column a few years ago that the average "hot burglar" in New Hampshire has a 50% chance of being convicted and going to jail . . . and a 50% chance of being shot and killed right then and there. In England, on the other hand, where the police will prosecute a homeowner for defending his own life and property, hot burglaries are common.
Basically, the fact that burglars run away when discovered is a tribute to the "herd immunity" conferred upon the unarmed homeowner by the many, many homeowners who have in the past defended themselves and their property appropriately.
Secondly, the idea that Lindsay's proverbial "strung-out junkie" is more likely to attack a homeowner armed with a .357 Magnum revolver than a homeowner armed only with a light switch is naive, wishful thinking.
And by her own admission, if she thinks that the revolver makes sense when contemplating self defense against a stalker or a would-be murderer, it makes no sense to think it would not be effective against a mere . . . burglar.
And you never know the intentions of your attacker. Is he a burglar . . . or is he a rapist . . . a murderer . . . a serial killer? He has already shown you that he is willing to relegate you and your life to the status of his prey . . . how can you be sure that he won't escalate? Particularly when he persists in criminal activity even after he knows you are home.
Anyone who breaks into your home when you are present should be assumed to bear you evil intent.
Thirdly, Lindsay thinks it is pointless to defend your property from criminals who are willing to subordinate your life to theirs, "because that's what insurance is for." I don't think so. Insurance is for unforeseen problems that you are powerless to prevent or ameliorate, not for predictable situations that you can manage yourself.
And as far as calling the police is concerned-- but wait-- she has more:
Keeping a gun at home to protect against robbers seems like an especially silly idea in a big city where the police can arrive at the scene in less time than it takes to open your gun safe, load your gun, and confront the burglar.There are some serious misconceptions here. First of all, the idea that the police can appear at your home in the twinkling of an eye is plainly and simply not true. It has been held in numerous court cases that the police do not have any responsibility to protect any specific individual in any specific situation. They are there to guarantee the public safety, and to investigate crimes and apprehend the criminals -- after those crimes have been committed.
Moreover, the idea that you would have to open your safe and load your gun before confronting a burglar is just silly. If you are serious about defending yourself, your gun should be sitting on your night table, loaded and ready to be used. (Some people like to keep it on a dresser, so they will have to stand up and take a step or two to get to it, i.e. wake up fully. That's a matter of judgment, and of the circumstances in which you find yourself.)
If you’re already getting burglarized, do you really want to add to your problems by confronting a desperate criminal with your own loaded weapon? That’s as dumb as trying to fight a mugger for your wallet.First of all, I'm not going to be adding to my problems, but to the burglar's.
More importantly, what she is advocating here is a lifestyle of cowardice and submission to evil. Anybody who wants to take anything you have, let them. Make a habit of it. Let them walk right in and take anything they want. Never fight someone who wants to deprive you of your property. After all, your property is just . . . your life. Lindsay wants us to work hard all of our lives, and then surrender everything we have to any thug who wants it.
That is cowardice. That is submission to any thug or bully who happens to challenge you. That is a despicable way to live.
Of course, that's the same thing that the Leftists advocate for the United States. Don't defend yourself. When fanatical jihadists murder 3,000 of your innocent fellow citizens, don't strike back -- try to understand them. Fighting back will only make them mad, you see. Just give them what they want . . .
Well, Lindsay Beyerstein, if you want to live the rest of your life on your knees, begging criminals to allow you the air you have to breathe, go ahead.
But that's not the way that Americans want to live. That's not the way that Americans have lived. As Robert Goodloe Harper put it in 1798, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."
The fundamental laws of the United States recognize that self-defense is a God-given right of free individual human beings which the government must respect. But it is more than that. Self-defense is a fundamental biological imperative. No organism that refuses to defend itself is capable of survival. No organism that refuses to defend itself is worthy of survival.
Credit Lindsay Beyerstein with a Gramscian attack on the values that our civilization must preserve in order to survive. But let us defend our consciousness against that subversion.