Monday, July 26, 2010

The Daily Star gets self-defense wrong

From the Daily Star's editorial lamenting the legalization of CCW without a permit:
Some supporters even argue that the more people who carry firearms, the safer we will all be from robberies, assaults and lunatic shooting sprees.

We think not. We suspect a bunch of armed citizens trying to intervene in such incidents will be more likely to endanger innocent, unarmed citizens than to prevail over the bad guys.

From a certain perspective--that of someone who understands this argument in favor of liberalized carry--the Star just characterized my defense of myself as an "intervention" that will endanger third parties.

Of course, the Star isn't writing from that perspective. Perhaps nobody made it clear to the editors that the reason safety is expected to increase is that that rapist, muggers, and the like will feel more at risk of being shot by their prospective victims, with little open indication of who the "safe" targets are. Perhaps it would take the Ludovico treatment to really get this across. Whether or not concealed carry does make third parties significantly safer is still an open question, but we know at least that it does not make people less safe.

This isn't to say that more people coming to the aid of others is a bad thing. The Star seems to think so, and to think it is dangerous. Reality has never been a strong influence on people with beliefs like that: we are over 20 years into America's successful experiment with CCW, and evidence that aiding others is a dangerous activity has not emerged.

Speaking of reality not being a deterrent, why is the Star still calling the borderline non-entity known as the Brady Campaign?

On the topic of concealed carry: The one concern I've had about this measure is that it takes away the "carrot" that induced a significant minority of Arizona firearms owners to undergo some sort of formal training. I do not doubt that most can shoot adequately at a reasonable distance and that even more can safely "handle" firearms. I would like to think that they familiarize themselves with the law, as well, but (although it has not manifested itself as a major problem) my "anecdotal" experience says that isn't the case. I get worried even more because libertarians and right-wingers are probably more likely to carry than moderates or lefties, and the capacity a certain large "paleo" subculture of both libertarians and right-wingers has for simply Making Things Up and assuming that they are the law is on par with lefties' capacity for pretending their class-warfare prejudices are "economics". Every so often some idiot makes up, that one can legally shoot trespassers (more accurately: "I Have A Right to shoot trespassers"). Usually this ends in simple assault. Sometimes people get hurt.

For a more concrete example (not related to trespass) of what can go wrong, read up on the murder of Grant Kuenzli by Harold Fish. Harold Fish, apparently afraid of dogs, escalated a tense situation by firing a "warning shot." There is not (and there ought not be) any such thing as a "warning shot" in this state, nor anyplace else in the U.S., to the best of my knowledge. Perhaps influenced by silly TV shows, Fish applied made-up use-of-force law to his situation.

I also want readers of this 'blog to stay out of trouble. Heed Charles Heller's advice (as communicated by the Daily Star) and learn the use-of-force law. It's short and given in plain language in Chapter 4 of ARS Title 13.

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