After reading a reader comment posted at Lawrence Auster’s blog, I think I need to endorse the whiny liberal point of view on this.
Statistically, incidents of guns being used successfully in self-defense are extremely rare. The following events are a lot more likely:
• Criminal gets hold of your gun and uses it against you.
• The gun gives you a psychological feeling of self-confidence that will cause you to get into bad situations you otherwise would have avoided if you did not have the gun.
• Use of a gun in an ambiguous situation will get you in prison for murder, which is worse than getting beaten up.
• Being prosecuted for murder will ruin your life even if the jury finds you not guilty.
The Zimmerman incident is a good example of the truth of the above. The video showed that Zimmerman wasn’t beaten up that bad. Without the gun, Travyon probably would have run away after giving him a good but not life-threatening beating. And according to Zimmerman’s father, Trayvon saw the gun, which caused an escalation in the altercation.
Yes, Travyon deserved being shot for beating up an innocent man, but the problem with giving people the just deserts of their crimes is that the system then comes down hard on you for being a “vigilante” and ruins your life.
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Even cops get in trouble for shooting suspects, but cops have many advantages over you, such as:
• The system gives them a lot more deference because they are law enforcement officers and not vigilantes. This deference is especially true for other cops who hate vigilantes and always stick up for fellow cops, but it also applies to prosecutors and judges. • Cops usually work in teams, so that there is seldom just one cop against one violent criminal. • Thugs usually avoid attacking cops in the first place. Do you think Trayvon would have been so stupid as to attack a cop for looking at him the wrong way? I don’t think so. • They have more training and experience in taking down criminals.
This is why only 56 cops were killed in the line of duty in 2010 which was an especially unlucky year for cops. Being a cop actually isn’t as dangerous a job as I thought. There are 700,000 cops in the country, which means the death rates for cops was only 8 per hundred thousand. In contrast, the murder rate in Washington DC was 24 per hundred thousand in 2009. So just living in Washington DC is three times more dangerous than being a cop.