The first line of defense
The shooting in Alexandria that wounded several individuals, including Rep. Steve Scalise, has put gun rights back in the spotlight. In this this Wall Street Journal op-ed, author Daniel Lee makes the case for more individuals being armed to help prevent, or to more quickly respond to, attacks. But for members of Congress, who spend a great deal of time in and around the anti-gun District of Columbia, and for residents of DC, such self defense measures are not allowed by law. And that could lead to even worse problems in the future:
In largely rural states like Indiana, where I live, response times can be 30 minutes or more. Maybe that’s why nearly a million Hoosiers hold active gun permits, as per state records, out of an adult population of 4.5 million.
I’ve been one of them for decades. I’ve gone Christmas shopping armed, carried at family outings, sporting events and movie theaters. I was fired from a job with the gun tucked in an ankle holster. Aside from the indignity of being fired, the only person in danger was me, when I broke the news to my wife.
Indiana assumes—in the absence of evidence to the contrary—that people will protect themselves without reflexive, wanton violence. It works. A gun-use Venn diagram would show a mere sliver of overlap between those who lawfully carry weapons and those who use guns in the commission of crimes. You don’t find National Rifle Association stickers on getaway cars.
The inconvenient fact that laws aimed at restraining criminals are only obeyed by non-criminals was vividly demonstrated in this case. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R., Ga.) reported that his aide “back in Georgia, carries a 9mm (pistol) in his car. . . . He had a clear shot at him, but here we’re not allowed to carry any weapons.”
Bad news for New York Republican Chris Collins, who said, “I can assure you from this day forth—I have a carry permit—I will be carrying when out and about.” Well, when he’s out and about on Capitol Hill he won’t be allowed to carry. He might be permitted to have a gun in his desk—unloaded. It will make a fine paperweight.
The anti-Second Amendment crowd would have the nation and its lawmakers believe that properly trained individuals are incapable of safely carrying firearms. The Alexandria attack could have been a bloodbath, save for the presence of armed Capitol Hill police, who were on site and able to respond immediately only because they were part of Scalise's security detail. Otherwise, the members would have been defenseless until Alexandria police arrived.
A trained and armed body of lawful citizens stands as a check against violence. It does not mean such violence will end -- the determined and the evil always find ways to inflict harm. But as this incident showed, an armed presence on site helped an attack from becoming a massacre. It can make the difference elsewhere if the first line of defense -- citizens -- are allowed to exercize their Second Amendment rights.