American Culture

Confronting our inner vigilante

Is taking justice into your own hands ever justified? (Part 1)

If you’re not from New York, the name Bernard Goetz may not ring a bell. The expression “subway vigilante” might though.

In 1984, four young men surrounded Goetz, a geekish electronics repairman, in a New York subway car. They wielded no weapons, but one of them demanded $5.

Goetz, who had been mugged once before, interpreted the exorbitance of the figure, as well as their threatening posture, as the prelude to another mugging.

He rose, pulled out his .38 special, and without waiting to see if the young men backed off, emptied all five rounds into them, paralyzing one. Convicted of only illegal gun possession, Goetz got off with six months of jail, a fine, and community service. After the verdict was announced, jurors asked for his autograph.

The status of hero accorded him by many New Yorkers was a function of how weary they, as well as urban dwellers nationwide, were of living in the grip of crime. Goetz’s disproportionate use of force not only sent a message, it foreshadowed Rudolph Giuliani’s two mayoral terms, which were characterized by a heavy-handed crackdown on crime.

Some vigilantes seek to head crime off at the pass. Perhaps that describes the thought process of the Seattle woman who recently welcomed a child molester into her neighborhood with a baseball-bat beating. More often, they avenge crimes that they think go unpunished. Like as not, that’s because their victims, as with the Ku Klux Klan, are innocent. Once they take the law into their own hands and deliberate on the fate of others, they’re guilty of conspiracy — if only, in the case of an individual, with one’s inner demons.

Goetz himself, like Clint Eastwood in his “Dirty Harry” movies and Charles Bronson in the “Death Wish” series, may have been looking for trouble, as a subway employee who witnessed the shooting testified. But, if spontaneous and proportional to the crime, the vigilante act, as opposed to the practice, is not a crime. In fact, there’s no shortage of situations which call for taking the law into one’s hands.

Due to budget shortfalls or decisions about the allocation of manpower or, law enforcement is often nowhere to be found where it’s most needed — like in the subway, where citizens are sitting ducks. Besides being devoid of transit police, a train is only staffed by two workers. Meanwhile, at subway stops, station clerks are being phased out in favor of ticket-dispensing machines. The cherry on top of our subway helplessness, though, is that, since it’s underground, it’s a cell phone dead zone.

Like stocks and bonds, there may be an inverse relationship between crime and the ever-increasing price of a subway ride. But there’s still the occasional small-time thief who’s willing to subsidize a ride in hopes of a big pay-off. In fact, if you ride the subways long enough, you’ll either run into or observe trouble.

If confronted by someone who’s armed, most people have the good sense to hand over their money. If, instead, he or she is hassling a woman or trying to pick a fight with a man, both potential victims and onlookers are likely to ignore the situation. Either they’re paralyzed, or they simply seek to avoid stirring up a hornets’ nest.

But a small minority –- there’s one in every crowd (or maybe just every borough) –- for whom the fear of injury is overridden by a fear of how they’ll feel if they don’t stand up to a thug.

They Not Only Take up Lodging in the Doorways, But in Your Mind

About seven years ago a new phenomenon manifested itself in the subway (or, perhaps, I just started noticing it). Passengers boarded, but moved no farther into the train than the doorway, where they stationed themselves. Fine, I thought, they’re getting off at the next stop. In fact, they were situating themselves to hop off at their stop no matter how far down the line it was.

One of the biggest adjustments that one who’s just moved to or begun to commute to the city is to bicycle messengers. When they not only pay no heed to traffic lights but pass within inches of you, you’re at first liable to be enraged. But the realization grows on you that, one, you can’t stop them from cutting it close, and two, thanks to spatial perception honed by experience, they won’t hit you.

Likewise, subway-door hoggers are not about to stop because you find it obnoxious. Also, just as bike messengers won’t collide with you, they usually move aside. Still, while I prefer to direct my anger at the powers that be, I found myself nursing a grudge.

Maybe it’s their smugness: I got my spot; get your own. When they occupy both sides of the door, even though at least one would usually move aside, it’s especially infuriating. I sometimes found it impossible to resist the temptation to brush against them on the way off.

Once, when a train pulled in, I found myself face to face with a guy twenty years my junior blocking his half of the door. I happened to be in a foul mood that day and even though he not only dressed like he did construction work, but was six inches taller than me and rangy, I attempted to push through him. At the height of the ensuing argument, another guy in his twenties, who looked to be of Spanish descent, rose from his seat and stepped toward me.

Taking me by the elbow, he led me away, saving me from myself, as it were. Thus did he also keep his clothes and those of the other passengers from being spattered by blood spurting from my head when it got stomped on. I acknowledged the efforts of this good Samaritan, whose discreet de-escalation of the situation was also a quiet form of vigilantism.

Part 2

25 replies »

  1. This article hits a very good reason why I go back and forth about not allowing conceal & carry in bars. On the one hand, walking alone at night to your car from a bar or club makes a person a prime target, and a perfect time to be carrying. On the other hand, drinking, even in small quantities, heck being the designated surrounded by your increasingly drunk friends, is a good way to get into trouble. The more drunk someone at the table gets, the more likely they will get belligerent over a perceived slight. Better to not have anyone armed with anything stronger then foam bats. (My friend Amy is particularly entertaining, she will want to start fights with girls over “her ass touched me” to “hogging the bartender”. Being with her at a bar consists of mostly distracting her.)

    I’m waiting to take my C&C class. I’ve notice that a chunk of the syllabuses I’ve seen all include a section on when deadly force is appropriate, and when it will land you in jail. Personally I think shooting someone over $5 is “land in jail” territory.

    Lara Amber

  2. Lara: The Goetz case wasn’t really about the $5 so much. I think it was more about the menace – surrounded by five punks, there’s plenty of reason to suspect that you’re in physical danger, regardless of what they ask for.

  3. Amber, Many blues and country songs have been written about the unholy alliance between alcohol and guns. That’s funny about your friend Amy, though she sounds like one of those songs waiting to happen.

    Sam, Re-read your post from last year about the police being unable to help us. Though I don’t own a handgun, neither do I own the words or logic to argue against their possession.

  4. Sam,

    Yes being surrounded by four punks is a reason to believe you’re in physical danger. But shooting them without giving them a chance to back down, especially if they have shown no weapon on their own, is overkill (no pun intended), especially if there are other people around who could be a deterrent/collateral damage.

    Person who demands my wallet, may actually get it, regardless of whether or not I’m carrying. Well, I might ask if I can keep my wallet and just hand over the contents, it’s a Coach wallet after all. The mugger demands my wedding ring on the other hand can kiss his life good-bye.

    Lara Amber

  5. wow, a psychology major’s big experiment available in a town near you.
    So someone took the initiative to step out of the fold to prevent you from getting hurt..I’m sure there was a collective (albeit silent) sigh after that. We’re about to go to Washington DC next week and I ‘was’ looking forward to going with the subway..hmm..I’ll have to see if I can observe the same behavioral characteristics there as in NY underground… can’t wait for part 2 either..
    Ingrid

  6. Ingrid, You’d be surprised how kind New Yorkers can be these days. They seem to have no interest in upholding the reputation of New Yorkers as gruff and surly. Have a great time in Washington. At least, I hear, the Metro is cleaner than the New York subways.

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  8. Ingrid, I heart NY – except for the crazy men who shove past me when I’m hogging the subway door, people there have almost always been helpful and pleasant, at least as much if not more so than the general population here. In fact, I wonder if it isn’t mostly a matter of getting what you give, no matter where you are?

    And Russ, now that I no longer have an immediate need for self-defense, the consensus among my loved ones is that it’s better for everyone if I am not provided with weaponry. Even before the kid came along… and while I resent the implication on principle, they’re probably right. My inner vigilante could easily go postal.

  9. When my ex-brother in law was in Med School, he used to get mugged while riding the El train at night. Since we both went to the same school, Northwestern(I was in the grad school in chemistry at the time) I concocted a super chemical nerve blocker deliverable by a nose spray bottle. This compound was so quick and powerful, that it would render one incapable of movement for a good 20 minutes, shutting down a good portion of the CNS. It was much better than mace or CS, with no lasting effects like curare. One night, he was mugged while riding the El by a guy wielding a knife, demanding his wallet. He sprayed the guy down, then performed a reverse mugging, since the car was empty. He ended up getting everything except the guy’s socks. Poetic justice indeed. That one never made it to the papers.

    Jeff

  10. The wonderful thing is that we don’t need to speculate. The regular people who carry firearms don’t do this sort of stuff. I’m not talking about Chicago, NYC or Washington DC. Nobody there carries legally except a few very rich people who play golf with the Chief of Police.

    In Portland or Provo or Albany or Austin where the laws are more liberal CCW holders commit about as much crime as demographically comparable people who don’t have permits. That is to say the thin end of almost never. It really takes a lot for a sane person who doesn’t habitually do crime to shoot someone. The Army spends a lot of intensive time and effort turning young impressionable recruits into the kind of person who can.

    I’ve always had pocket knives. Here in Oregon a folder with a pocket clip is so common that nobody looks twice, especially cops. But I was completely against guns for a long time (Jewish, urban, upper middle class, liberal, go figure). Then a couple things happened. I was living in a very high crime area and had some problems. And a martial arts teacher of mine had me go armed every single day for a month to see how it affected the way I looked at the world. It didn’t make me more aggressive or likely to kill people. If anything it made me more aware of just how fragile human life is. When deadly force is explicitly a possible outcome of every unfriendly encounter a normal person finds other ways of defusing them. That’s the overwhelming experience of average people who chooses to go armed without criminal intent.

    It did make me start carrying first aid supplies and a small variety of useful tools in my car and pockets. When you look at what can go wrong there’s a tendency to want to be prepared for all of life’s little and big emergencies. But do you know? After the neighborhood changed those emergency supplies almost never included a pistol.

    What I find more disturbing is the idea that people have lost faith in law enforcement. Because that sort of thing is magic. It only works as long as people believe in it. When they stop believing, it stops working. People won’t report crimes. Criminals don’t fear the sharp end of the law. The police lose touch with what they are supposed to do and start treating everything that doesn’t carry tin as the enemy.

    The “lone gunman” isn’t a vigilante. By definition the “vigilance committee” is a group of people who dispense some sort of excuse for justice in the absence of a regular legal system.

  11. Goetz’s assailants had four screwdrivers on them. I guess that does not qualify as a weapon in your mind.

    What Goetz did was heroic. When vermin own a city, the only recourse is overwhelming firepower. These punks were terrorists, and deserved whatever they got plus more. Unless you’ve been robbed by a gang of urban youths, you have no idea as to what you are talking about. It’s just so easy to sit in your safe home at your PC and write about Goetz as evil and his targets as victims.

    The gang put themselves at risk by making free choices to be predators. When there are no downsides to such decisions, they continue to be predatory. When the downsides include seeing your insides splattered on the wall of a subway car, the clear free choice is to stay home.

    “Some people need a deeper level of analysis” – Cornel West

    Signed,
    Farfel
    Progressive libertarian and a gun owner.

  12. The problem here, and I can’t speak for anywhere else, has very little to do with people who actually go through the classes to obtain a CHL (although there’s no data comparing accidental shootings among this group to any other, it seems to me that the more educated an owner is, the lower the chances of mishap); it’s the ready availability of firearms to almost anyone with no wait period, registration or licensing – and at gun shows, criminal background checks are a running gag. If we can regulate who owns and operates a vehicle, surely it’s not unreasonable to want to keep a closer eye on who owns a gun.

  13. Brian, it’s interesting how Scalia veers from his general know-it-all textualist approach all the way over into uber-omniscient constructionism when it suits him. An honest asshole is one thing, but a pompous hypocrite really gets me.

    Of course, I think strict constructionism is humanly impossible… you know, all that semiotics stuff.

  14. >The problem here, and I can’t speak for anywhere else, has very little to do
    >with people who actually go through the classes to obtain a CHL (although
    >there’s no data comparing accidental shootings among this group to any other,
    >it seems to me that the more educated an owner is, the lower the chances
    >of mishap);

    The rate of accidental shootings is quite low. According to NIH the number let alone rate of deaths from accidental shootings is extremely low and has been declining just about monotonically since we started keeping records in, what was it, 1903. Any accidental death is a bad thing. But swimming pools, cars and butane lighters are much more of a risk. The skills necessary to operate a firearm safely are infinitely simpler than the ones required to drive a car. Follow any one of the four rules of firearm safety and you won’t shoot anyone accidentally. The US Marine Corps can train a person with an IQ of 75 to safely operate a rifle.

    Then too, there’s the compassionate lie in the accidental death statistic. It’s hard to quantify but well known in insurance and law enforcement circles that deaths from “cleaning gun and it went off” and similar are often a medical examiner turning a suicide into a gentler accident.

    >it’s the ready availability of firearms to almost anyone with no wait period,
    >registration or licensing – and at gun shows, criminal background checks
    >are a running gag.

    Let’s take a look at facts instead of the usual shibboleths:

    – Waiting periods serve no purpose at all. They were supposedly there to make sure that people didn’t get mad, buy a gun and kill someone. There is no evidence whatsoever that they prevented or delayed a single crime. They were always there on the anti-gun table simply as another way of making it expensive and difficult.

    There’s something which bears repeating. I believe I brought it up in respose to your little bundle of slander the other day. Murder in this country is generally committed by two sorts of people. One is people habitually involved in crime killing other people habitually involved in crime. The other is cases of domestic violence where the police have been involved more than once in the preceeding year. Both classes of people are already prohibited from owning firearms. Neither is likely to rush out and buy a gun suddenly. If “a right delayed is a right denied” for voting, a trial or freedom of the press the same principle applies for this right.

    -Registration. Even the most understanding gun owners are rightly suspicious of registration. In New York, Colorado, Chicago and California it was sold as a common sense safety precaution. Somehow a registered gun was less likely to be used in a crime. Once again, there was never any evidence of this or any explanation as to why it might be so. There were safeguards in place to make sure it wouldn’t be misused. And only paranoid dupes of the NRA would think that it was a prelude to confiscation.
    Well, in every one of those cases that’s precisely what happened. The records were transferred to regular law enforcement and later used to collect and confiscate. Since firearms ownership is a right I wonder if you’d submit to registering your printers and typewriters and require that your church attendance records be kept by the government “just in case”. Someone who is willing to commit murder will be just as likely to do it with a gun that has papers. In similar demographic groups states which require firearms registration do not have lower rates of homicide than states which have no such requirement.

    – See above for licensing. A lot of gun owners were willing to go along with licensing several decades ago. But again, in NYC, Chicago, DC, parts of California and so on it was never an issue of safety. Instead, the FOID or its equivalent became more expensive, harder to get, more restrictive, completely up to the discretion of law enforcement and so on. It became a means of prohibition.

    -The background checks are hardly a joke. NICS has worked very well. It is fast, inexpensive and accurate. In fact, they give more false positives than false negatives.. When a NICS check comes back “not permitted” the local police are notified before the gun store owner. Security clearance style background checks cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you want to dump that on the prospective gun owner we are effectively back to prohibition except for the very rich.

    >If we can regulate who owns and operates a vehicle,
    >surely it’s not unreasonable to want to keep a closer eye on who owns a gun.

    You don’t want to pull out that old piece of horseshit. Honest you don’t. Because you will not like the results.

  15. A Nuran said:

    If “a right delayed is a right denied” for voting, a trial or freedom of the press the same principle applies for this right.

    Which is why we need a second Constitutional Convention to define what that right really means – personal vs. militia use, what kinds of weapons are permitted (some 2nd Amendment activists claim unrestricted access to high explosives and military hardware as their “God-given” right, for example), and what legislative limitations are OK or not.

    Of course, if it were up to me, the 2nd Amendment likely wouldn’t exist at all, or would look a hell of a lot different than it does right now.

    I really, really wish the 2nd Amendment had been written clearer, with fewer commas that let anyone interpret it anyway they want.

    You don’t want to pull out that old piece of horseshit. Honest you don’t. Because you will not like the results.

    E may not, but I sure as hell do. After all, the only defense you and all your pro-gun friends have got against it boils down to “It’s my Constitutional right nyah nyah nyah.” Big deal. No right is unlimited, neither is firearm ownership. And if you want to say it is, if you really want to say that unlimited ownership of M-80 grenade launchers, miniguns with armor-piercing ammo, RDX explosive, or anti-personnel mines is guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment, man, I’m going to have as much fun with you as you think are about to with me.

  16. First, A. Nuran, your stats from NIH are completely wrong. Did you go to the source or are you just repeating something you read on a list somewhere? Here’s a link to one of the more recent studies:

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1447364
    At the end of the article are multiple links to other studies, if you decide to be interested.

    If that’s too much for you to read, here’s a quote:

    The current study adds to previous work by using recent data, looking across both regions and all 50 states, disaggregating victims by age, and adjusting for several potential confounders not previously accounted for in nationally representative studies.. We found that across US regions and states, and for virtually every age group, higher rates of household firearm ownership were associated with higher rates of homicide. Our findings held regardless of the following: whether firearm ownership rates were survey-based or derived from a validated proxy, whether states most extreme in ownership rates were excluded from analyses, whether the most and the least populous states were excluded, and whether regressions controlled for rates of poverty, urbanization, unemployment, alcohol consumption, and violent crimes other than homicide. In areas with more firearms, people of all ages were more likely to be murdered, especially with handguns.

    And all serious violent crime has decreased since 1993… but serious firearm-related crime is now on the rise again. Hmm. Guess you missed that part. Oh, and you know one of the two groups most at risk from dying in a home where a gun is owned? Women partners… those same people whom you presume are already protected by the pathetically weak and unenforced restrictions on gun ownership by perpetrators of domestic violence. And of course, a few hundred children a year who get access to unsecured weapons… well, we’d hate to give up unrestricted ownership or require safety classes just to save some dumb kids. No locks required down here; no gun safes mandatory, just limited liability (misdemeanor) after the kid blows himself or a friend away.

    Tell you what. You come down here and go to a gun show with me. We’ll see what we can buy with no criminal background check… it’s not that NCIS doesn’t work, bright boy, it’s that dealers, shockingly, are not universally honest, upright citizens. Most of them follow the rules; some of them don’t. I know (and by know I mean know the names of and have been in the homes of) people who are residents of this state who own machine guns, weapons with silencers, even anti-aircraft weapons… all of which are absolutely banned here, all of which were purchased at various gun shows or under the counter right here in Texas. In fact, I grew up in a household with quite a few illegal weapons.

    The tradition of passing down the ins and outs of gun safety is, in fact, one of the standard defenses used by non-regulation advocates to support their idea that individual responsibility can effectively take the place of mandatory education. (Education, by the way, was a vital component left out of those ineffective licensing attempts you mentioned – read an actual study or two and find out the facts). I find this amusing and horrifying at the same time; the majority of the American population is incapable of reading directions on a prescription bottle or filing an accurate tax return, and yet I’m supposed to trust them to independently imbibe the principles of gun safety and practice them religiously? You yourself won’t even bother to do basic research on actual gun death statistics (see my links for your kind on my previous post), but you’re to be trusted with a weapon among the general population? Or in your home around your children (I pray not)? Let me guess – you talk on a cell phone while you drive, too.

    And as for “that old horseshit,” here’s an idea. You go read a book about, or maybe Google, the history of Constitutional law. All of your arguments, as Brian so ably pointed out, are based on the completely false idea that Constitutional rights are immutable and absolute. Wrong. Investigate the history of freedom of speech. Take a gander at the freedom to assemble. Notice that the right to vote has changed significantly since its inception? Or if that’s too much work, which seems to be the general feeling among those who have already made up their minds based on their gut rather than their reason, just look up the word “amendment.” If the Constitution were perfect as it stood, we wouldn’t have had to change it, would we now? Oh wait – the right to bear arms IS an amendment, written to respond to an unforeseen or unconsidered situation. Imagine that.

    Finally, and I do mean finally, because until you can demonstrate a more accurate knowledge of the issues you raise you are simply not worth more of my time, who gets their weapons confiscated once they’re registered? Responsible, well-adjusted owners of legal firearms who don’t have criminal backgrounds and have complied with the laws surrounding their use? Doubtful. I don’t mind registering my car, I don’t mind registering my guns, I don’t mind being fingerprinted because I work around children, because I think it’s reasonable, and because I don’t plan on committing a crime. You may have reason to feel differently.

  17. OK then. Let’s consider what would happen if we treated guns “like cars”.

    A two year old could own a rocket launcher or machine gun as long as she could toddle up to the desk and pay for it.

    Anyone could own and fire any sort of weapon as long as it was on private property.

    Every school would have gun safety classes.

    Carry permits in one state would be automatically honored in every state and city

    The firearms industry would enjoy massive taxpayer support

    Cities would be redesigned, laws changed and entire counties redesigned to make shooting easier. The gun companies would buy up the knife, pepper spray and Taser companies and get rid of them so that everyone would be forced to rely on guns and guns only for self defense

    Thirteen year olds could carry with parents present. Sixteen year olds would have unrestricted carry

    You could buy ammunition everywhere. The nation would be willing to go to war over lead, copper and zinc to ensure the supply of ammunition

    Likewise, there would be gunshops and gunsmiths at dozens of locations in every city.

    Special financing would be available so that people could buy new guns every few years

    Accidentally killing someone with a firearm would almost never result in a homicide charge.

    Shooting sports would be widely publicized and get lots of TV airtime

    There would be a simple objective standard for carry permits. It would be so simple that almost anyone could pass. No class would be necessary.The test would not be designed to keep people from driving.

    Hoplophobes – those who fear weapons and refuse to be around them – would be considered neurotic if not outright insane.

    I could go on.

    Look, I understand people like you and E who fear and hate guns and gun owners. I used to be like that myself. You’ve been fed unremitting propaganda the same way that a Focus on the Family listener gets force fed lies about gays. The two sets of fear mongers are pretty much identical in their tactics and respect for the truth.

    The only cure for ignorance is knowledge. Have a gun owning friend take you to the range. Learn what these inanimate objects and the people who own them are really like, not the hateful stereotypes.

    Take a short firearms safety class. The NRA, an organization which I strongly dislike by the way, does an excellent one you can finish in a few hours. They will not attempt to convince you to join or to buy a gun.

    Hang out with one of the most radical groups of all, the Pink Pistols. LGBT and armed! One of the local organizers says “My wrist isn’t too limp to hang onto a .45”

    Read some of the real literature by people like ACLU-joining self-described liberal Democrat Gary Kleck or “More Guns, Less Crime”.

    Figure out and articulate why the Pinkertons, Wackenhut and other corporate goons should have enough firepower to outfit a small country’s Army but a poor Black woman is forbidden on pain of years in prison. Look up the Chehalis and Centralia Massacres and what Blackwater did to New Orleans residents after Katrina (hint: they stole their firearms and tossed them out of their houses to make New Orleans “safer”. The property has not been returned). I couldn’t which was one of the things that got me to change my mind on the subject.

    If you want to really change your perspective go armed in a legal fashion every day for a month. See how it changes your perspective on things. Count the number of times you go crazy and start killing random people. You probably won’t end up in the same place I did. But you will be able to argue from knowledge and reason instead of ignorance and fear. And you will not be exactly the same person you were before the experiment.

  18. Dan, you’re such a one-noter. Can you read at all? Have you followed anything here? Wait, the answer is obvious. Let me just say this in very short words: I grew up around guns. I have owned and carried a gun. I had a CHL. I have taken safety classes. I have been to a range more than once. I am not afraid at all of guns. I am afraid of hysterical, irrational people like you who would rather screech about their rights, do no independent research and spout unsupported claims in order to hang onto their toys than think rationally about how we can make gun ownership safer for everyone.

    It is apparently beyond your limited comprehension that anyone who disagrees with you at all may have a point. You are a black-and-white, with us or against us, good guys/bad guys thinker – and ignorance is the most dangerous weapon of all. In an ideal world, you, my friend, would NOT own a gun… or drive a car, or be around children, or possibly be allowed metal cutlery.

    Guns don’t kill people, Dan – people like you do.

  19. Dan said:

    OK then. Let’s consider what would happen if we treated guns “like cars”.

    Oh goody! Yes, lets! I’m looking forward to this….

    A two year old could own a rocket launcher or machine gun as long as she could toddle up to the desk and pay for it.

    And a local or federal law could change that without being tied up in millions of dollars and years of litigation, including Supreme Court decisions.

    Anyone could own and fire any sort of weapon as long as it was on private property.

    And a local or federal law could change that without being tied up in millions of dollars and years of litigation, including Supreme Court decisions.

    Every school would have gun safety classes.

    This is regional – when I went through junior high in Colorado, every school did have gun safety classes, and I took it. Aced it, too.

    Carry permits in one state would be automatically honored in every state and city.

    And a local or federal law could change that without being tied up in millions of dollars and years of litigation, including Supreme Court decisions.

    The firearms industry would enjoy massive taxpayer support.

    It does. What else do you think the federal gun manufacturer shield laws are?

    Cities would be redesigned, laws changed and entire counties redesigned to make shooting easier. The gun companies would buy up the knife, pepper spray and Taser companies and get rid of them so that everyone would be forced to rely on guns and guns only for self defense.

    And yet I can walk, take a bus, ride my bicycle, roller blade, drive a motorcycle, ride a scooter, etc. to get to work. So how is your analogy not bogus again?

    Thirteen year olds could carry with parents present. Sixteen year olds would have unrestricted carry.

    And a local or federal law could change that without being tied up in millions of dollars and years of litigation, including Supreme Court decisions.

    You could buy ammunition everywhere. The nation would be willing to go to war over lead, copper and zinc to ensure the supply of ammunition.

    Nations have always gone to war over access to raw materials. Zinc, lead, and especially copper are no different, whether they’re used for ammo or not. Try again, but with a valid analogy this time.

    Likewise, there would be gunshops and gunsmiths at dozens of locations in every city.

    See, BS like this is where bad analogies really show how bad they are. I know for a fact that there are places in Colorado where the demand for firearms is sufficiently hight that there are similar numbers of gun shops as there are gas stations.

    Special financing would be available so that people could buy new guns every few years.

    And a local or federal law could change that without being tied up in millions of dollars and years of litigation, including Supreme Court decisions.

    Accidentally killing someone with a firearm would almost never result in a homicide charge.

    This one you may actually have a point on. I don’t know the data well enough to say. However, even if the data supports you, there is still a vital difference between accidental death caused by a product designed specifically to transport people from one place to another with an accidental death caused by a product designed to kill things, up to and including people. That’s a difference that you’ve conveniently ignored throughout this entire analogy, BTW….

    Shooting sports would be widely publicized and get lots of TV airtime.

    Shooting sports get about as much coverage as fishing sports do. Supply and demand again.

    There would be a simple objective standard for carry permits. It would be so simple that almost anyone could pass. No class would be necessary. The test would not be designed to keep people from driving.

    And a local or federal law could change that without being tied up in millions of dollars and years of litigation, including Supreme Court decisions.

    Hoplophobes – those who fear weapons and refuse to be around them – would be considered neurotic if not outright insane.

    Again, let’s not confuse irrational fears with rational ones. I’m not saying that all fear of guns is rational, but I can’t help but come back to the fact that guns are designed to kill things. Period, end of story. Yes, I know all about target shooting and all that, but those are the rare exceptions that prove the rule, just like armored-up bulldozers designed specifically to destroy towns are the exception to the “automobiles aren’t designed to kill people” rule.

    Don’t confuse my hatred of handguns with a hatred of all guns, or a fear of them either.

    I agree that people should be afraid of corporations who have their own private armies. The fact that Blackwater was allowed to disarm gun owners in New Orleans is something that should be prosecuted and mercenary units like Blackwater should be shut down post-haste. But none of that changes the fact that gun regulations are a good idea.

    Really, though, the only analogy between regulation of automobiles and proposed regulation of firearms that really holds water is this one:

    “If guns were treated like automobiles, they’d be regulated.”

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