Tim has a new post up, dedicated to proving me wrong after that long exchange. Too bad we seem to be arguing different topics, but… My response is (typically for me) really long, and the preview function in his comment section seems to have puked, so I’m responding here. Please go read Tim’s opening salvo first so you understand what I’m responding to.
Glad you responded, Tim. I thought for a second you’d abandoned the field!
Point 1: I stated, quite plainly:
Where have I said a gun is the ONLY way?
Please, point it out.
I’ve said that, for those so willing it’s the BEST TOOL FOR THE JOB. But as Mr. Lindsay demonstrates, it’s hardly the “only way.”
Now you’ve changed the assertion to that I state a WEAPON is the “only way” to defend yourself, even though I gave a hypothetical example of unarmed self-defense in that same thread:
Example: Someone confronts me and demands my wallet (with an implied threat of physical injury if I do not comply.) Instead of yielding up my wallet, I punch him in the mouth and knock him out. Doing so, I break my hand. I am injured, but I have not lost my wallet. I have successfully defended myself, even though I did not avoid injury. I have done something else – I have prevented a crime of violence (robbery edited from the original) through the legitimate use of force. My punching him in the mouth is not assault, it’s self-defense. If I am able to call the police and the mugger is apprehended, (hopefully before he recovers consciousness) I have aided in removing a violent criminal from the street (until they put him out on bail ten minutes after arraignment.) If I then testify against him and put him in jail, I’ve done a bit more effective job (unless he gets a sentence of probation.) Regardless, I’ve not only defended myself, I’ve defended society by resisting violent crime and attempting to remove a violent criminal from the general population.
Now, repeat the exercise above with the assailant holding an (illegal) knife, and me with only my hands and feet with which to defend myself.
Then add my wife and my two grandchildren to the equation.
I note you didn’t comment on that example.
Point 2: “If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed.” Nice of you to admit that last point. Big “if” there at the start, though. Because what you are saying here by implication is “Honest citizens should never use a weapon in self defense, and the government is honestly doing everything it can to disarm everybody so that you can successfully defend yourself in your unarmed state.” Well! That’s comforting. Good to know the government is looking out for its citizens. But it’s obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that the law doesn’t disarm attackers. They choose to carry a weapon or not regardless of the law.
You’re damned right I focus on cases where the only way to defend yourself is with a weapon, because the UK government has seen fit to disarm the law-abiding. As the link you provided in the original thread stated,
One of the most important limitations on the use of weapons is of course that they cannot be carried or used to injure other people. (Emphasis added)
Apparently any other people, including someone who assaults you.
I did indeed assert that the laws against weapons have essentially no effect on the access to weapons by criminals. I didn’t provide evidence because I thought anyone reading would acknowledge that the English experience pretty much illustrated that, but no, you’ve whipped out some pretty charts to ostensibly prove otherwise. Well, I’m game.
Your first chart indicating violent crime rates shows a climb from about 2.2 million incidents in 1981 to about 4.2 million in 1995, then a reduction to about 2.5 million in 2000. According to this Home Office page in 2002/03 it’s back up to not quite 2.8 million. You’re certainly right about crime going up and down, but you’re looking at the short trend, not the long one, and you neglect to note that violent crime here in the States – where we don’t “enjoy” the kind of weapon control laws the UK does, also began trending down at the same time. One problem – the rates in England & Wales now exceed ours, and have for a while. Hell, they exceed most everybody’s.
The second graphic shows armed robberies involving firearms and you use it to state “Robberies with firearms are less frequent now than they were at the start of the 90s.” They are? The way I read that chart, they climbed dramatically from 1990 to ’95, dipped pretty significantly after 1995 (prior to Dunblane) and they minimized in 1998, but they’re right back up to where they were in 1990. I thought the handgun ban was supposed to make everyone safer? This Home Office report indicates that from 1991 through 1995 violent crime committed with firearms in England and Wales stayed fairly stable at about 13,000 per year. Then there was the ’96 handgun ban and things started to fluctuate, but the trend is still UP rather than DOWN. UP, in fact to a level of over 22,000 for 2002.
Aside from that, British weapon control laws started long before 1981. They actually started about 1920 (Bolshevism and all that) with The Firearms Act, 1920 that required registration of rifles and handguns and introduced the “good reason” restriction. “Self defense” at that time was an accepted “good reason.” It really got going in the middle of the century with the Prevention of Crime Act, 1953 which made it illegal to carry an “offensive weapon” without demonstrating a “need.” “Offensive weapons” included knives, pointed objects, and tear gas along with firearms. This is, apparently, where the government decided that “the most important limitations on the the use of weapons is of course that they cannot be carried or used to injure other people.”
Here’s a challenge, Tim. You work at a university and have access to stuff that’s not on-line. Go dig up the violent crime rate statistics for England & Wales from 1900 through 2000. Long ago I found statistics that showed the rate was low and stable up until shortly after passage of the Prevention of Crime Act, 1953. In 1958 the rate was a tiny 69/100,000, but it climbed strongly and steadily from there until by 1997 it was up to 647/100,000 – a more than 900% increase. According to this report the rate for 2002/03 was 1900/100,000. Now, I’m certain that changes in the way crimes are recorded has had an effect on those numbers, and while Gary Mauser’s graph shows an apparent step-change in those rates right about 1997, they just kept going up.
Perhaps you’re right, perhaps the fact that the government implemented a philosophy of
All weapons are offensive and weapons cause violent crime, therefore we must do everything in our power to disarm our populace in order to prevent violent crime!
isn’t responsible for the increase, but I’ve not seen any other explanation for it. But you know us “gullible gunners!” So simplisme.
What I have seen is that implementation of that policy has not made England and Wales safer. That polity has moved up rapidly to achieve the rank of #1 in violent crime in the developed world. Regardless of whether the laws passed as a result of that philosophy are responsible for the increase, both have proven useless in actually reducing violent crime. The philosophy has failed, yet it has been repeatedly tried, each time with more vigor, in a textbook example of cognitive dissonance.
I’ll repeat myself, since it seems necessary: This isn’t about guns. It isn’t about weapons. It’s about a philosophy that denies the absolute right to defend yourself, your family, and your property while giving that right lip-service. If you can defend as valid a system that tells people they have a right to self-defense but denies to them the means to exercise that right then we can’t have a productive discussion. We won’t be talking to each other. But I hope sincerely that you’ll continue this exchange, because other people need to see it. They need to see how you can answer the question,
And how is a woman to exercise her presumed inherent right to lethal force against a rapist if she’s denied any means with which to do so? What weapon is she left with? Foul language? Mean thoughts? Rapier wit?”
Restrictions on weapons might make self defence more difficult in some cases, but they can also make it easier in others.
Abstractions are always so much easier to deal with than hard realities.
I’ve got lots of questions to ask you Tim, and I’m really interested in your responses. Here’s an invitation: I have another blog that I started just for discussions like this, because comment sections are just too damned limited. Want to join me there? Would you rather just trade posts? Or would you rather stop now before I make your brain hurt in your defense of the indefensible? As I said, I’m game.
UPDATE, 4/5/04 10:30 AM MST: Tim has a new post up, but has yet to respond to this post in either my comments, his comments, or the body of his blog. It’s only been two days, though. I’ll give him a couple more…
UPDATE 5:00PM: You’ve GOT to read this! Aaaaaahhhggghh! And I can’t post on it yet! THAT gets archived!
UPDATE 4/6 11:00AM: Tim has responded in the comments of his post. I think he’s going to find that forum restrictive if this exchange goes on very long, but his choice. I’ll reply in a couple of days, probably after I have something to say about my question above.