Saturday, March 17, 2007


Post excerpted from Astute Bloggers

Although I am thankfully unaware of most of what is posted on Leftist websites, the indomitable Australian commentator, Tim Blair, posted a link today to an extremely illuminating example of Leftist thinking. It is illuminating about what Leftists believe, and shows how far from reality those beliefs really are.

The essay is entitled "Guns, burglary, and self-defense" and was written by one Lindsay Beyerstein, who describes herself as a 28-year-old writer & photographer born under the Sign of Cancer, and who is proud of the fact that she turned down John Edwards's offer to be one of his official bloggers.

She seems like a sincere and well-intentioned person. The purpose of my comments here is not to make fun of her, but to illustrate some of the serious deficiencies in the Leftists' habitual way of looking at things.

After noting that her lefty blogging buddy Matthew Yglesias recently wrote that he wants to have a gun to defend himself against burglars, Lindsay Beyerstein begins her comments with this pithy paragraph:

I've never understood why anyone would keep a gun in their home to protect themselves from burglars. If you had a violent stalker ex, or someone who was was bent on invading your home in order to hurt you, I could see the rationale for being armed. But buying a gun to protect against burglars is no protection at all. It's not like you're going to stand guard every night to deter them.

In this first paragraph, Lindsay is already making several serious hermeneutical mistakes. She recognizes that having a gun makes sense if you want to protect yourself against someone who is trying to hurt you, but she doesn't think it makes sense to be armed against burglars.

Well, the first mistake is to assume that you know that burglars won't hurt you. Someone who is willing to break into your house to steal your property may very well be willing to harm you or kill you when they are discovered. And the fact that you and your neighbors are armed may well deter prospective burglars when you are not home to confront them.

Let's look at her next paragraphs:

Turning on the lights to find the gun is enough scare off the average burglar. I know at least a half-dozen people who have scared off burglars (deliberately or involuntarily) just by alerting the would-be thief to their presence. The burglar isn't there to fight you hand-to-hand for your iPod. Confrontations with the homeowner go against the whole burglary business model.

Interrupting a burglary with a gun probably unnecessary and likely counterproductive because you have no idea how the burglar's going to react. Desperate criminals are human, too. I'm not pointing this out as a plea for compassion. I'm just noting that strung-out junkies at gunpoint are at least as likely to do something stupid as your average person. Maybe they're armed, too. Maybe they'll panic and try to get the gun away from you. Maybe they'll succeed. Or, maybe you'll panic and shoot them.

It might make sense be armed if you were someone who couldn't call the cops (e.g., a drug dealer), or if you kept your entire lifesavings in uninsured jewels in a candy dish on the kitchen table. But does anyone really want to risk physical violence to protect their consumer electronics? That's what insurance is for.

In these three paragraphs, Lindsay illustrates some further misconceptions and mistaken ideas. First of all, she is confident that turning on the lights will scare most burglars away. In the United States, that is probably true. Most burglars, particularly career burglars, are not in fact robbers; that is, they do not want to confront the homeowner or apartment renter. They want to slip in and out undetected.

The reason that is the case, however, is the rather high probability of a burglar confronting an armed homeowner in the United States. A burglary when the homeowners are actually home is called a "hot burglary." Hot burglaries are rare in the United States, but rather more common in Great Britain. Mark Steyn pointed out in a column a few years ago that the average "hot burglar" in New Hampshire has a 50% chance of being convicted and going to jail . . . and a 50% chance of being shot and killed right then and there. In England, on the other hand, where the police will prosecute a homeowner for defending his own life and property, hot burglaries are common.

Basically, the fact that burglars run away when discovered is a tribute to the "herd immunity" conferred upon the unarmed homeowner by the many, many homeowners who have in the past defended themselves and their property appropriately.

Read the rest here

Utah: U drops victim disarmament suit

Concealed weapons permit owners allowed to carry on campus

The legal battle over the U's campus gun policy came to an end Monday after the university agreed to drop its federal lawsuit against the state. Students and staff members are now guaranteed the right to carry concealed firearms on campus with a permit -- the U's long-held former policy banned them from bringing guns on campus. State law still prohibits non-permit holders from bringing guns onto a college campus.

The decision came two weeks after the Utah Legislature passed a law that would allow students living in the Residence Halls to decide if they will room with a permit holder. The U had agreed to end the federal case while negotiating the law with legislators.

Administrators said that while the law was not the compromise they had hoped for, it is in the school's best interest to drop the suit. "It is absolutely clear that had we chosen to pursue this case, it would have detoriated our relationship with the Legislature," said Dave Pershing, senior vice president for academic affairs. Pershing said that keeping the gun debate alive would have likely hurt the U's ability to lobby the Legislature for funding. The Board of Trustees passed a resolution Monday supporting the decision to drop the case.

Kim Wirthlin, associate vice president for government relations, said the issue had "become more of a power struggle between the U and the (state) than about guns" to many lawmakers. There was also doubt that the U could win the federal case. John Morris, general counsel for the U, said several recent court decisions have weakened the argument that the First Amendment gives universities the right to govern academic affairs in a way that promotes free discussion and debate -- an argument that the U had relied on before. "Clearly that didn't make our argument any stronger," Morris said. "The status of that right is not clear."


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