or: Natural Disasters…The Case Against Gun Control
Crossposted to TheFederalistPapers.org:
“The American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.” So said President Obama in a recent State of the Union Address. But in saying this, did he make the case for a citizenry as well armed as the military?
If the case for gun control is not one of Constitutionality as set forth in the Bill of Rights (the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed–Amendment 2) but a comparison to our Founding Fathers’ time, we should keep in mind that it wasn’t only the militia–the rag-tag American Revolutionary Soldier–that used muskets, the professional, top of the line, British soldier was armed with t
hem as well, making muskets yesteryear’s AR-15’s. The British in the 18th century realized that these arms were dangerous to their Empire because they put the American Revolutionaries at equal footing with the best-equipped military of its time. The “shot heard around the world” (the start of the American Revolution) was heard at the Battles of Lexington and Concord when the British attempted to confiscate said muskets.
President Obama was correct in pointing out that we didn’t defeat fascism with muskets and militia. In this way he is making the case for us to be better prepared than the foes we are facing. We defeated Nazis with carpet bombs and massive ground forces, and the Japanese with superior air and naval forces and two atomic bombs. What was required in our battles was not EQUAL force, but SUPERIOR force.
Some foes we face as everyday Americans are not military in nature at all. Hurricane Katrina was not unexpected. The Governor and Mayor of New Orleans both predicted that the levees would not hold against a full frontal assault from the forces of a hurricane. The Mayor called for a mandatory evacuation of the city. Those who stayed behind were left to themselves, for good or ill, and became wholly dependent on their own ability to survive the forces of Mother Nature and mankind. A state of emergency was declared and the Governor called on the military to help protect the people during and after the hurricane.
“Protect them from what?” should be your question.
Why did the City of New Orleans need men armed with automatic rifles? To protect people from the forces of nature? No.
After Katrina, the looting was so bad that New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, ordered 1500 police officers away from search and rescue so they could return and police the streets to stop looting. Disputes were turning increasingly hostile as looters moved away from downtown, already picked clean, into suburban areas. Hotels and hospitals in outlying areas of New Orleans were looted for goods while patrons and patients were being served and treated.
Having disarmed their citizenry after Katrina hit, the NOPD left most of the shop owners, hotel managers and hospital administration without the tools they needed to protect themselves, patients and patrons. People left in charge of entire high-rise buildings full of expensive and life saving equipment had to manage with little or no security. They could not call on emergency personnel because lines were down, cell phone lines were too busy or unavailable, most of the staff had been evacuated and emergency crews were still on search and rescue.
The looting in New Orleans after Katrina continued to spread days after the hurricane hit unlike in later disasters.
In the before and after of Hurricane Ike, which hit a much larger city (Houston) there was very little looting, even with power completely out for several days. In Houston, the citizenry had not been disarmed. The flooding that hit New Orleans should have been an impediment to looters in New Orleans where the lack of flooding was not in Houston, but as now famous photos from the aftermath of Katrina show, it barely slowed them down.
If the people necessarily need to protect themselves when local, state and federal law enforcement are unavailable to them (through no fault of their own), they should be armed with the same, superior weapons that the Mayor, Governor or President calls upon in such times.
Those times aren’t limited to natural disasters. Man-made disasters make the same case. In Los Angeles, the LAPD would not venture into certain parts of the city after the Rodney King verdict. It was more dangerous for cops to be on the street than civilians. Looters and rioters had free reign of an area the size of a small city for two days. Schools, banks and businesses in the South Central area were closed and bus service to the area was suspended until further notice. Local shop owners sat with rifles on their rooftops to ward off looters because law-abiding citizens were left to defend themselves. It wasn’t until the third day into the riots when National Guard troops were called in to restore the peace.
Security is one of the primary responsibilities of a government, as laid out in the Preamble to the Constitution: provide for the common defence–and, while there are hundreds of cases where they fail in the face of disasters, many times they do come through. The tornadoes in Indiana in 2012, that left entire subdivisions leveled, had the local police shutting down all streets from the outside to prevent looters from driving into the town. The local police swiftly shifted their primary concern from rescue to security. That security provided the necessary stability and security to quickly put things back together and rebuild.
If defeating forces of fascism requires a superiorly armed force–or at the very least, an equally armed force–it stands to reason that a citizenry who may be called to stand against unknown forces should be equally, if not superiorly, armed. If the government sends soldiers armed with automatic and semi-automatic weapons to protect a populace after a hurricane from one another is that not the argument for citizens to also own both kinds of weapons?
When the lines are down, when the power is out, whether due to snow, tornado, hurricane or earthquake, emergency management experts agree that the best way to deal with the situation is to already be prepared for it. If the only argument for owning firearms is for personal protection, the government has already made the case for you to own military grade weapons. After all, if the government prepares for natural and ‘man-made’ disasters by buying better guns and more ammo (Department of Homeland–note that word Homeland and the next word–Security is planning to buy a further 750 million rounds of ammo in addition to the 450 million rounds of hollow-point bullets already purchased early in 2012), why wouldn’t you?