The first step to securing our rights is to truly understand who is at fault when a crime occurs.
October 27, 2015
Several of the current frontrunners for the 2016 Democratic presidential candidacy have emphasized their support for legislation that would allow individuals impacted by a gun crime to seek financial compensation from firearms manufacturers in civil court. In short, in the event of a shooting gun companies could be held liable. Many gun control proponents are, as you might imagine, in favor of this legislation.
Anti-gun legislation is nothing new, but perhaps this particular topic sheds light on a much broader and more dangerous attitude regarding firearms and crime in America—many voters seem to have a great deal of trouble identifying who is really at blame when a gun is mishandled.
Let me provide a simpler example. Several months ago, I was researching the best holsters to wear while exercising and, during the course of that research, I came upon a running forum that addressed the topic. A young woman—new to running but familiar with firearms—asked which holsters were best to wear while exercising. It seemed a logical question to me; runners are frequently the target of assaults, and many holsters simply wouldn’t stand up to the abuse. Instead of addressing the woman’s question, the responders took this as an opportunity to attack her. The first response to her question read, “Maybe if you think you need a gun you should find another place to run.”
There was general agreement with the “find another place to run” response on the forum, but that comment infuriated me. Although it may seem benign, this is the type of attitude that abdicates criminals for their actions and levels a measure of guilt on victims. There are several fundamental problems with the “maybe you should find another place to run” attitude, and here are a few:
- Violence Only Occurs in “Bad” Places: The notion that you know where crime will occur is absurd. Sure, there are statistics that show that certain areas have higher rates of crime than other areas, but that doesn’t mean you are completely safe in your suburban neighborhood where folks are watering their lawn or shooting baskets in the driveway with their kids. Crime is everywhere, in every community, good and bad, poor and rich.
- Avoidance Is An Effective Means Of Crime Prevention: No one in their right mind (save first responders, who risk their lives for others on a daily basis) would seek out violent confrontations. But don’t mistakenly believe that avoiding crime will protect you from crime. One of the most frightening things about violent encounters is that they happen at any time, anywhere—at your kid’s soccer game, while you’re on vacation, when you’re walking from your driveway to your front door. If your sole protection against crime is avoiding crime you will fail.
- Carrying a Gun means You’re Looking for Trouble: I don’t carry a gun looking for a conflict. I carry a gun because I don’t want to be a victim of violence, and if every other option is closed off to me then my last resort will be a firearm. Whether I’m at the store, on the road, or, yes, jogging on a trail through a park, I carry a gun because I may have no other option but to use it.
- The Victim of Violence Shares in the Blame: Let’s be very clear about this one—when a crime occurs it isn’t the fault of the gun company, the community, the current economical condition, or the victim. It is the fault of the criminal alone. The victim of a crime isn’t at fault because she ran in the wrong area, because she got lost in the wrong neighborhood, or because she stopped at a rest area on the highway alone at three in the morning. Instead of warning victims against running where there is a remote chance that a criminal will attack them, let’s issue this warning instead—if you are a criminal and you choose to harm another person be prepared for them to exercise their Second Amendment rights, which may mean that you get shot. Magazine restrictions, civil litigation against firearms companies, and warnings against running in certain areas of town are all methods by which the uninformed point the finger of blame at law-abiding citizens. The battle for gun rights starts with a clear understanding of who is at fault when violence occurs, and that is criminals.