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Criminals and Crime

Criminals and Crime


Clyde H. Spencer

Copyright 2000

There are fundamentally two kinds of people in the world: those who respect the life and property of others and those who do not. Laws to control the behavior of the former are unnecessary. Laws to prohibit the possession of certain items by the latter are futile. It is after all, the characteristic behavior of hard-core criminals that they take by force or deceit, that which they have no right to. They deprive any and all of their property, freedom, and occasionally their life.

Therein lies a kernel of wisdom on how to control crime. There must be a disincentive to engage in illegal activity. That disincentive must include a high-probability that any attempt at crime will either be unsuccessful, or in the situation where it is successful, punishment will be swift and sure and therefore the penalty for the theft will be much greater than the temporary gain by the perpetrator.

Since police can not be everywhere and protect us all the time, there must be a greater level of personal responsibility than is typical today. Restraints on the ability of people to protect themselves must be removed. People should be able to freely carry concealed weapons necessary to protect themselves. Blanket prohibitions on firearms and martial arts weapons become a tool of the criminal in that they are primarily victim disarmament laws observed only by the law-abiding. In turn, weapons used in the commission of crimes should increase the penalty sufficiently that the potential of increased punishment for their use outweighs any advantage provided to be more effective in the criminal act.

The attempts at blanket prohibition of firearms by well-meaning but misguided liberals is not only ineffective, but actually counterproductive. There is plenty of evidence that where crime has stimulated the passage of restrictive firearms laws, the local crime rates have continued to increase unabated and exceeded that of areas where such restrictions have not been imposed. Bogus arguments comparing culturally different countries' firearm crime rates are used as a rationalization for such laws. However, comparisons among U.S. cities and states suggest that firearm restrictions exacerbate the crime rates within our culture. There is even strong evidence that making firearms more readily available to the law-abiding citizen reduces crime.

Yet, with a long history of failed attempts at reducing crime with prohibitions of objects capable of being used in a harmful way, there is a demand among liberals for the federal government to step in and pass blanket prohibitions of questionable constitutionality. The excuse is, that incremental improvements have not been observed because the restrictions were not severe enough to cross a critical threshold at which they would be effective. Not at all unlike, and as irrational, as someone claiming they have a cure for cancer and the reason no one has been cured is because they haven't taken enough of the medicine. It turns out that enough of the medicine would also produce toxic effects that would kill the patient. But not matter, at least the patient wouldn't die of cancer.

In light of the evidence that citizens frequently use firearms to protect themselves and property, and a keystone of democracy is the ability of the citizenry to be able to effectively overthrow any tyranny, it may well be that the cure for crime suggested by some prohibition of firearms would be worse than the disease.

Those promoting firearms prohibitions are all too commonly disingenuous. They cite discredited studies, inflate statistics, and provide examples of tragedies involving firearms while ignoring the tragedies averted by the use of firearms. They appeal to the emotions of voters while ignoring the real facts. I have observed this behavior so frequently that I have begun to characterize liberals as individuals who truly believe that the end justifies the means.

Printer Version

"Secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy ... censorship. When any government, or any church, for that matter, undertakes to say to it's subjects, 'This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,' the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything. You cannot conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him." --Robert A. Heinlein, "Revolt in 2100" (Pg. 68-69, Baen Books paperback edition, 1999 printing)

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