Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Get Thugs Off the Streets

The story starts out almost like a joke: Four men walk into a bar .... except this story isn't funny. According to news reports, two of the four men stood by the door while the other two produced weapons and ordered everyone to lie down on the floor. It was early morning and the bar was closing so there weren't many patrons in the establishment. The four men thought it'd be an easy heist - clean out the cash register and do heaven only knows what to the barkeeper and waitress who were closing up.

What the four men didn't realize, however, was that one of the few remaining patrons sitting at the bar was carrying a weapon of his own. He drew it and began firing. The would-be thieves got off three shots. I don't know how many shots the patron fired, but when the smoke cleared two of the thieves were dead and the other two had skeedaddled. No one else was hurt.

I suppose there are some lessons in this incident and numerous incidents like it that occur all across the country.
  1. It's a dangerous world out there with lots of bad people in it.
  2. Bad guys have guns and are perfectly willing to use them for nefarious purposes.
  3. Keeping guns out of the hands of good guys is a bad idea.
  4. When citizens are armed it gets much more dangerous for the thugs, fewer of them are successful, and fewer of them, like the two mentioned above, will have the opportunity to repeat their crimes.
Some readers will object, though, that if guns proliferate more people, especially children, will be injured or killed in accidental shootings. That may be true, but it reflects a misplaced concern. Here's why: In their very popular book Freakonomics Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner point out that children under ten drown at a higher rate in backyard pools than are killed in accidental shootings. The rate is one child drowning for every 11,000 pools (about 550 children per year overall), and one child accidentally killed for every million guns (about 175 children in total per year). In other words, a child is far more likely to die in a swimming accident in a residential pool than as a result of an accidental discharge of a gun.

If gun ownership and right to carry laws should be restricted because of the chance of accidents then, to be consistent, we should also restrict who can have a pool in their backyard, but, though a child's death is tragic no matter how it occurs, no one is campaigning for the restriction of swimming pools.