Am I Safer If My Neighbor Has A Gun?

with 6 Comments

Minute Man

Currently homicides are largely committed by minority men age 18 to 39 with criminal records in urban areas killing others in the same demographic. Disputes related to drug trafficking cannot be settled in a court of law. Neither is gang competition as easy to regulate as interstate commerce.

An estimated 50% of murders are drug related, with people often high on drugs when they are arrested. About 80% of these murders are gang related. Surveys find that perpetrators committed their crimes to support their drug habit or to defend their drug-dealing business.

Changing the situation is extremely difficult. Families in this subculture often lack fathers. And the absence of a father or an intact marriage is a prime indicator for drug use and trouble with the law. Some argue that legalizing drugs would reduce the economic incentives related to violence. Perhaps, but efforts to encourage stable marriages in poor inner-city neighborhoods might contribute even more to lowering drug violence.

Washington, D.C., has become much less violent over the past decade, accomplished largely by changing who lives there. The district tore down public housing units and replaced them with expensive upscale apartments. It offered generous tax breaks to businesses. The rise of federal employment and the associated lobbying drove rents up and poor residents out.

In other words, Washington, D.C., changed the composition of the residents, and the resulting gentrification changed crime statistics for the better. Moving the problem isn’t really a solution, however.

Economic troubles invite trouble. The most dangerous city in America today is Detroit. Prosperity would certainly help. A thriving economy may be one of the best ways to reduce crime.

Some suggest that gun accidents in a home are four times as common as intruders being thwarted by a gun owner. A 2001 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated there were about 18,500 gun-related deaths or emergency room visits that year.

According to an earlier survey by the CDC, guns are used to frighten away intruders who are breaking into homes about a half million times a year. The total number of defensive uses of guns might occur about 2.5 million times a year.

In the past four months, three break-ins have occurred in our neighborhood. Another house we own was also broken into. We slept the soundest when our next-door neighbor was a state police officer and parked his patrol car out front. The idea that one honest citizen in 125 might actually be using guns to thwart criminals every year is hardly a stretch of the imagination. Limit their ability and you risk the safety of all of us.

Game theory suggests that home occupancy and gun ownership discourage home invasions. Any added risk due to having a gun in the house is balanced by this deterrent. Perhaps the optimum situation is to be the only household without a gun in a neighborhood where most homeowners are suspected to have one. Or maybe it is just wise to understand gun safety and be prepared to use one.

Gun safety for self-defense is considered an unalienable right according to the Second Amendment. Precedent can be found in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. It was passed in response to James II’s attempt to disarm many Protestants and maintain a standing army.

In 2008 the Supreme Court used this to interpret the Second Amendment as supporting an individual’s right not to be disarmed by the state. The Court also determined that self-defense included “resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad).”

Private lawlessness has been discussed. But that the Second Amendment includes protection from the government is a situation most Americans shrug off as unthinkable. Government pronouncements are not absolute, however. And if they are not, a theoretical situation exists where resistance is the right course of action.

Much of the history of gun control is rooted in fear, racism and keeping down an oppressed minority. In the United States, advocates of gun control wanted to keep weapons out of the hands of blacks before and after the Civil War. In Germany, the Nazis used gun registration to keep arms out of the hands of Jews. These laws made tyrannical control easier.

The idea of armed resistance in the United States may seem highly unlikely today, but any student of history must admit the possibility. Second Amendment protections may help keep the need for it unlikely. Ignoring the possibility is a mistake free people get to make only once.

History teaches us that tyranny, military coups and genocide are made easier by first limiting weapons in the general populace. We do not face the threat of a tyrannical government today that justifies its overthrow, but the Founding Fathers left the possibility that a future tyrant would require an armed insurrection. After all, they had just experienced one of their own.

In any event, gun control issues are not as easy as simply adding more laws. Violent people will find the means to execute their violence. Perhaps arming good people to defend our schools isn’t such a bad idea after all.

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David John Marotta is the Founder and President of Marotta Wealth Management. He played for the State Department chess team at age 11, graduated from Stanford, taught Computer and Information Science, and still loves math and strategy games. In addition to his financial writing, David is a co-author of The Haunting of Bob Cratchit.

6 Responses

  1. Greg Vermeychuk

    Thank you sir, for speaking out on this issue. In the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy, the Democratic party and the news media have ramped up their rants for more gun control. I read that as more control, less liberty. The Founders knew that power can seduce the unwary, let alone the corrupt or narcissistic. An armed citizenry is the ultimate “check and balance” in our political system. Make no mistake, if the people are disarmed, tyrrany and genocide will follow. As they say in Virginia, “Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis.”

  2. Thank you for speaking the truth! Why can’t this be articulated by some of our politicians. While self protection of our lives and property from individuals is important, the MOST important reason for the 2nd amendment is a check on big government. This is why we can’t give up any rights to ammunition or guns!

  3. David John Marotta

    Here’s the type of story that usually doesn’t make the news. These type of stories about quick confident prepared thinking were much more popular in our parent’s and grandparent’s generation:

    12 Year Old Girl Shoots Intruder During Home Burglary
    Kendra St. Clair, 12, was at home alone in Oklahoma, when loud banging began on the door to her family’s home. Soon, the glass shattered and an intruder had entered.

  4. David John Marotta

    Edward J Erler has a nice article at Imprimis entitled, “The Second Amendment as an Expression of First Principles.” The article is well-reasoned and especially important as Erler concludes:

    For the moment, Second Amendment rights seem safe, but in the long term a political defense will be a more effective strategy. As Abraham Lincoln once remarked, “Whoever moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.” Shaping and informing public sentiments—public opinion—is political work, and thus it is to politics that we must ultimately resort.

  5. David John Marotta

    Here is a nice speech from Dan Bongino, former US Secret Service Agent and former US Senate Candidate speaks at the Annapolis, MD Guns Across America Rally. Jan 19th, 2013.

    “There is no such thing as Gun Conrol, there is only People Control.”

    [1:03] “I never in 15 plus years of doing this have ever arrested or investigated someone on a gun crime who had that gun legally.”

  6. David John Marotta

    Here is a great article about a new poll from Pew Research. The article is entitled “Americans Have No Idea What They’re Talking About When It Comes To Gun Crime” and simply puts the Rate of Firearm Homicide Deaths per 100,000 people from 1981-2010 where it declined from 6.6 to 3.6 against the Pew Research Poll Question:

    Compared with 20 years ago, has the number of gun crimes in America gone up, gone down or stayed the same?

      56% Gone up
      26% Stayed the same
      12% Gone down

    Showing that, as the title of the article suggests, Americans have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to gun crime.