In my personal life I have a lot of Top Five lists. This includes Top Five Movies I Wish I’d Directed (not to be confused with my Top Five Favorite Movies), Top Five Novels I Wish I’d Authored, and so on. As of a few days ago, I may have to start keeping a professional list, starting with the Top Five Policy Papers I Wish I’d Written. The first entry would be Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens, a new paper by Clayton Cramer and David Burnett for the Cato Institute.
Although the recent Supreme Court decisions in Heller and McDonald have affirmed that the right to bear arms is an individual right, many so-called “reformers” are still waiting in the background, calmly shaking a bottle of white-out to take care of that pesky right. They’ve lost the initial Constitutional arguments, but they’ll still fight to see just how far they can regulate firearms without crossing the constitutional line.
As every gun owner and gun rights advocate knows, statistics are no friend of the Second Amendment. During policy debates, we’re often bombarded with lists of homicides and other gun crimes, along with accidental shooting deaths. But the benefits of private gun ownership—most importantly, self-defense—are impossible to quantify. Often, crimes prevented with a firearm go unreported because, well, there was no crime. Here in Wyoming, where most residents may not only carry firearms openly but also concealed (either without a permit), we maintain a low crime rate compared to the rest of the country. How much of a deterrent is put upon would-be criminals just by awareness of an armed populace can be guessed at, but that’s far from scientific.
Cramer and Burnett’s focus, then, is on examining an authoritative (and exhaustive) set of news reports of self-defense and comparing the situations and results against claims made by gun-control advocates. Ultimately, and not surprisingly, the circumstances usually illustrate the benefits of private gun ownership. Some of the most appalling parts of the paper are when gun rights are stacked up against the progressive alternatives:
Shockingly, when it comes to resisting sexual assault, resources are few and effective armed resistance is not considered an option by certain law enforcement agencies. Instead, the Illinois State Police advise victims to claim they have AIDS, forcibly inducing vomiting, or fighting back with nail files or keys. The city of Davis, California, suggests mace or whistles, but also recommends urinating or defecating.
The first half of the paper is analysis, but the second half is just a straight compilation of self-defense stories. All the anecdotes in the world won’t sway statistics-waving gun-haters, but Tough Targets is a go-to paper for anyone engaging in the gun debate, which appears ready to rear its ugly head again all too soon.