Strakon Lights Up, No. 29

Truly civil disarmament

The latest NYPD killing of an unarmed citizen encourages me to unveil a proposal I've been mulling over. It's the sort of modest, cautious, gradualist, incremental, and, above all, responsible reform proposal that I'm known for.

Government agencies sometimes pioneer certain policies to set a good example for other employers and society in general. I'm referring to "smoke-free environments," minority set-asides, sensitivity training, nattering about "wellness" — that sort of thing. As the epidemic of shootings continues (despite the regime's famous and historic Victory over Crime), I think the time is ripe for local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies to set a good example for the rest of us and disarm.

Now wait, hold on, give me a minute here. I insist that this proposal is practical as well as idealistic. Look, cops usually don't show up at the scene of real crimes until long after the criminal has fled. No need for guns there. And disarmed highway patrolmen could still help firemen pull victims out of automobile wrecks. Cops seem to need guns most often when they're out looking to cause unnecessary trouble — that is, trying to foil fake crimes and enforce fake laws. In New York's latest police-shooting controversy, the cops involved were roaming around, under cover, trying to enforce drug "laws."

So let's have DEA and the other drug police wage the Drug War without guns. Let's encourage the IRS to enforce the tax code without an ultimate resort to guns. Let's send the Marshal Service out to execute a host of unjust, tyrannical court orders without guns. Let's tell Janet Reno to try and kidnap Elian Gonzalez without guns or the threat of guns. And let's urge the ATF to enforce gun laws without guns.


OK, with that last suggestion the cat claws its way out of the bag. Certainly I'd like to see the cops and the rest of the state apparatchiki trade their 9 mms for water pistols and their truncheons for fly-swatters — but not as a way to encourage us real people to disarm. I am, to put it mildly, not interested in seeing good, normal, private-enterprise Americans disarm.

At the same time, it's true that the cops do set a bad example for armed civilians. I'm thinking of those sensational statistics showing that, in combat with criminals, armed civilians are better gunfighters than the police. For example, gun-policy analysts Clayton E. Cramer and David B. Kopel cite a study that "examined newspaper reports of gun incidents in Missouri, involving police or civilians. In this study, civilians were successful in wounding, driving off, [or] capturing criminals 83 percent of the time, compared with a 68 percent success rate for the police. Civilians intervening in crime were slightly less likely to be wounded than were police. Only 2 percent of shootings by civilians, but 11 percent of shootings by police, involved an innocent person mistakenly thought to be a criminal." ("'Shall Issue': The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws," 1994)

The authors try to take some of the sting out of that by noting that cops don't have as much choice about whether to intervene in ambiguous situations as private defenders have. On the other hand, there's a helluva lot of sting left, since the authors cite another study, by Gary Kleck, showing that "the odds of a defensive gun user accidentally killing an innocent person are less than 1 in 26,000." (emphasis added)

Cramer and Kopel also write that "one study of 1,500 incidents involving police use of deadly force concluded that deadly force was not justified in 40 percent of the incidents, and was questionable in another 20 percent."

Those figures support my earlier, exceedingly modest proposal that the cops should be the first to test those new gun locks and "smart" guns that are on the way. Their accident statistics suggest that they need to earn the right to run around armed. Coping with balky, tricky new technology would be good discipline. In the meantime, with the cops' guns being so difficult to use, we ordinary folks would be safer, overall, since the official criminality of the state is far more dangerous and rapacious than unofficial criminality.


Isn't it interesting that we almost never hear leftists demand that the police disarm? I mean, they loathe the police. Sometimes I get the impression that they loathe the police even more than they loathe the general run of ordinary Americans, if that's possible. But even with all their touchy-feely talk about compassion and nonviolence and sensitivity and root causes, and the outrage they vent when the cops gun down a nonwhite, they still don't agitate for harmless, British-style Bobbies on bicycles.

That's because the 1960s are long over, and the Red Guards, as I call them, know that they're not likely to be the victims of the next police riot, a la Chicago 1968, or police murder conspiracy, a la Mississippi 1964. (The leftists I'm talking about weren't on the streets during the WTO protests in Seattle; they were inside participating in the meeting.) They understand that it wasn't a left-wing commune that was slaughtered at Mt. Carmel but a reactionary church group instead.

Our modern Red Guards aren't attacking the citadels of power these days; they're occupying those citadels along with their employers, the corporate fascists I like to call Dark Suits. They need the police — and they need them armed to the teeth — to defend those citadels.

We'll know it's really all over when the Red Guards and their senior partners, the Suits, decide that armed police are no longer necessary to serve and protect the socialist/fascist leviathan. That will mean that the disarming of the American people has achieved its final goal. Taking our guns, after all, is only an intermediate goal; their final goal is taking our minds.

March 28, 2000

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