Abolish police, and the Second Amendment becomes a first resort
[WASHINGTONEXAMINER] With the defund movement, the state’s ability to protect people is being demonized and exposed as ineffectual. It illustrates a fundamental truth that, fortunately, most people don’t have to think about, at least if they live in safe, affluent neighborhoods: At any given moment, your safety really is in your own hands. Usually, no one else can protect you if someone wants to do you harm.

Even in good times, the police are usually minutes away when seconds count. If everyone chooses to disrespect and disobey the law, there is no police force large enough to restore order. And as the experience in Portland is showing, a simple lack of political will on the part of politicians can be enough to let lawlessness reign over a major city’s downtown area.

Naturally, the Second Amendment takes on an added importance in such a context. Self-defense from crime has never been its primary purpose, but it is a happy secondary effect. Citizens have agency in protecting their own lives and property. And they use it nearly every day — usually without a shot being fired, although there are also dramatic cases of heroic bystanders firing weapons in order to pin down or neutralize a shooter or other criminal.

Many people might believe that the state has a legal "public duty" to protect their lives and persons. This theory is dubious, and in fact, it has failed in court when put to the test. In the 1981 case Warren v. District of Columbia, the Washington government successfully argued that it had no such obligation to three women who were held hostage and repeatedly raped and beaten over a 14-hour period on Sunday. Although two of the women had repeatedly called 911 just when the incident began, an incompetent police response failed to find them, resulting in the plaintiffs’ prolonged, horrific ordeal. Based on the same logic, a separate plaintiff, in that case, lost his case after a Washington, D.C., police officer let the men go who had been beating him and bashing in his car without identifying them so that he could seek restitution.

On the other end of the country, the Seattle Police recently made the same stipulation, albeit more reluctantly. Police Chief Carmen Best had to warn business owners downtown that, thanks to a new ordinance forbidding nonlethal crowd control tools such as pepper spray, the police would be unable to protect their establishments from harm. The legislation, she wrote, "gives officers NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent mostly peaceful crowd."

The lesson here is clear. Even in a world with fully-funded police, citizens require the means to protect themselves. But in a world where police become less effective or less competent (or possibly even more brutal), or vanish because of a misguided effort to defund them, there is no substitute for the right to keep and bear arms. People who are fearful of crime will be more likely to exercise that right, and it may not always be a good thing.
Posted by: Fred 2020-08-03