In response to my "Anti-Gun Rights to Pro-Gun Rights: My conversion" a man posted the following reply:
Thanks for that most eloquent post. I am strongly anti-gun, helped partly by the fact, I admit, that I live in Rome Italy and not Newark NJ.
I seriously question (often on my blog) whether arming ourselves is the answer. Does it not lead to a never ending escalation of the very violence that you cite?
That certainly seems logical, doesn't it? More guns should equal more violence. I used to think so, too. However obvious that may seem, my experience actually tells exactly the opposite!
I moved to Virginia eight years ago from California. I had lived in California for most of my life, and that's where I developed my anti-gun attitude. When I came to Virginia I found that crime is different here, and it's even different from the crime in Maryland which is only a few miles from where I live. For years it didn't make sense to me.
We have never had our house broken into in Virginia. Not even an attempt. It's a much better house than we had in California, and we have more belongings. As I mentioned in my earlier post, my son bought a rental property. What I didn't mention is that it's in Maryland. The house was broken into within the first week of his ownership. He replaced the windows and door locks, and it was broken into again as soon as he was finished. After that, he did what almost everyone else in the area did. He put bars on the windows. As I drive through Maryland neighborhoods, I see bars on lots of homes. When I drive through Virginia neighborhoods, I rarely see them.
Although we have had no home burglaries, we have had four car breakins. One was when our car was parked in front of a friend's house. "They" stole a bunch of CDs that my son was dumb enough to leave where they could be seen through the car window. The other three times have been in our own driveway! They removed car stereos and a navigation system. I've been baffled. Are these criminals stupid? Why break into the car when we have better stuff in the house? Why not break into the house like they did in Maryland? Home breakins in Maryland and car breakins in Virginia. What's the deal?
Only after a long time did I realize what was going on in the minds of those criminals. People in Maryland don't have better things in their homes than people in Virginia, and Virginians don't have better property in the cars than Marylanders.
The difference is guns.
Maryland has very strict gun control. Law-abiding citizens have to prove that they need a gun to be able to carry one, and it's up to the police to decide whether your reason is "good enough." How about this reason, Maryland: "Because I'm afraid!" Sorry, that's not good enough in Maryland. Consequently, far fewer people in Maryland are armed. In Virginia I don't have to prove any "need" to carry a gun. I can carry it openly or concealed.
Here's the point: In Virginia a criminal can't tell whose armed. There's a fairly good chance that anyone might be. A potential burglar will have to spend some time casing a house to figure out when someone is at home or if the place is occupied by someone who is likely to be unarmed. In Maryland, the burglar can make a pretty good bet that the household is unarmed. In Maryland there's not nearly as much risk in breaking into a house. In Virginia, you can get yourself killed doing that.
Property crimes are much more prevalent in my neighborhood than violent crimes of any kind. It's just too risky to attempt to enter a house. However, a thief can easily tell whether a car is occupied. If he really wants more than a car sterio, he can quickly cross the border into Maryland.
So, to answer the question: "I seriously question (often on my blog) whether arming ourselves is the answer. Does it not lead to a never ending escalation of the very violence that you cite?"
I have to give an emphatic NO. Arming ourselves leads to LESS violence. Nobody in their right mind wants to mess with someone who might be armed.
John Lott understands this. He titled one of this books "More Guns, Less Crime." That was hard to believe, and even counter-intuitive, until I moved and saw what gun control really does. Gun control gives criminals free reign.