Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Symptom of Failure

(Cross posted at Advancing Liberty).
 I would like to present a case study on the “success of gun control”. The legal climate of New York City is strongly prejudiced against possession of firearms. While the “Big Apple” may do a lot of things poorly, the Sullivan Act of 1911 and its continuations are enforced with vigor. The city is often cited as the showcase of success for advocates of fire arm control, as the crime rate is low for such a large city.  On the morning of August 24,2012, the only armed individuals in the vicinity of the Empire State Building were Jeffery Johnson and a multitude of the legally armed NYPD.  That Friday morning, Jeffery Johnson walked into his former office, destroyed the life of Steven Ercolino, and walked back out.

Johnson makes a quiet getaway, foiled only by a lone construction worker with the wits to follow and alert police. As he ambles through the concrete jungle, he is confronted from behind and engulfed in a barrage of gunfire from officers of the NYPD. Within seconds, nine bystanders are injured in the flurry of hot lead, with Johnson ultimately downed as well.  This lone gunman was confronted by neither an armed vigilante nor hostile mob, but by trained, experienced and professional police officers. The result is nine injured bystanders and a dead suspect. 

 Consider, for a moment, a thought experiment:  What if Johnson was also without a gun, utilizing a different instrument to commit his crime? A knife, a rope, a candlestick, it does not matter so long as it would be legally possessed within city limits. How many men would have been directly targeted and killed by the murderer? All things being equal, there would be only the murder of Steven Ercolino. 

 The Johnson shooting and subsequent collateral damage teach a valuable object lesson. Observe a situation where gun control is near universally effective, the best resources of the city on hand to handle the criminal, and no vigilantes interfered. The failure was neither the implementation nor enforcement of gun control, but in the disarmed citizenry and counterproductive police response. 

 This is a symptom of failure intrinsic to the very concept of gun control. There exists an inherent fragility in the doctrine, as the illusion of safety can be maintained only as long as no criminal acts are committed. Johnson committed his crime, and the illusion was shattered by both the murder and the response. It is difficult to envision a scenario in which an armed private citizen would cause more collateral damage than did the NYPD in this incident. To remove weapons from the hands of citizens does nothing to enhance the safety of citizens and may increase the danger from both criminal and state actors.

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