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With Hard Times Coming, Should You Be Armed?

When St. Louis Alderman Charles Troupe went to the local police and asked what they could do about the rising crime rate which was threatening his constituents' property and safety, a police commander explained that "there was nothing he could do to protect us and the community … that he didn't have the manpower." It was a warning which is being echoed across the country, where law enforcement officials are admitting more and more frequently that their abilities are limited to responding to crimes and investigating and apprehending the criminals after the fact. Cold comfort for citizens who want to protect their property and preserve their lives.

The advice which honest lawmen, like those represented by the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, are giving to citizens is to arm themselves and be prepared to defend their homes and families. As the economy worsens and crime rates rise, more and more responsibility will fall to individual citizens to provide for their own safety. Troupe has seen this need in St. Louis and in a recent statement he called for citizens to arm themselves and prepare for a more dangerous future, acknowledging that "the community has to be ready to defend itself, because it's clear the economy is going to get worse, and criminals are getting more bold." He is urging citizens in his district to purchase firearms and learn how to use them.

Around the nation there has been a dramatic rise in the sales of firearms and in citizens signing up for firearms instruction and training pursuant to obtaining a concealed carry license. This trend seems to be based on an expectation of a rise in the crime rate and a reduction in police services, despite the fact that in many parts of the country the crime rate is actually declining. Yet when it comes to personal safety, fear of uncertain times may play a bigger role than any real threat. As one elderly new gun owner in North Carolina put it, "I'm sick of looking at old people like myself getting knocked down for no reason. I want something to protect myself.” Experts suggest that uncertainty about the future, fear of government interference in gun rights and worries over crime and the economy all contribute to increased concern about crime and increased interest in guns for self-defense. One Virginia gun buyer summed up the common concerns: "It's insurance. With the stock market crash and people out of work, and the illegal aliens in this area, the probability of civil disorder is very high."

All forms of crime have been on a steady decline since the early 1990s, but concern over the threat of crime is higher than it has been in decades. Every year polls show a strong conviction among the public that crime is worse than it was the year before, especially in the nation as a whole, if not in the respondent's local area. In fact, the belief that crime is increasing has risen close to the levels of the 1980s, when crime actually was increasing. This suggests that factors other than a rise in actual crime play a large role in causing people to anticipate the widespread outbreak of crime in the near future. Troubles in the economy may be the largest factor, as increases in concern over crime seem to coincide with periods of economic decline.

Although this anticipatory paranoia has gone unfulfilled in recent years, it is true that during previous periods of economic troubles the crime rate did increase, though not dramatically. There were small upward turns in the overall downward trend in crime during the recessions of the late 1970s and mid-1980s. Yet despite this, all crime remains dramatically down and property crime is down almost 70% in the last 35 years.

Of course, it can be argued that no matter how few crimes there are, if you happen to be one of the targets, that will more than justify whatever precautions you take. A homeowner killed in a break-in gets zero consolation from the fact that he was one of a smaller pool of victims than he would have been part of 20 years ago. It's also little help that the national crime rate is down if you live in Chicago or Detroit or one of the other areas where crime is atypically on the rise. This is why arming for self-defense will always be a matter of individual choice.

About Dave Nalle

  • fsilber

    So what if the crime rate is much lower than in the early 1990s? The standard is the crime rate of the 1950s, and today’s crime rate is still way higher.

    There is no reason any American should tolerate being mugged, carjacked, raped or having a burglar in the house. We have a _right_ not to tolerate it, and we have no need to tolerate us. If our ancestors with Bowie knives and flintlocks could deal with wolves, grizzly bears and wild Injuns, there’s no reason we should be unable to dispatch soft-skinned burglars, rapists, muggers and carjackers.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The fact is, guns create peace, restraint and good manners wherever they are found.

    Quite.

    I wasn’t there, but I’m certain that the soldiers at My Lai went around saying, “Excuse me, good sir, madam, may I just say what a lovely village you have here! I know it’s a terrible imposition, but would you mind awfully if we brutally massacred you all? It won’t take long and is quite painless after the initial shock…”

    Good fucking grief.

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    But Dr. D., you’ve got to admit that after all the pesky villagers were dead, My Lai was awfully peaceful.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Sure. And the corpses were very restrained. Not one of them complained.

  • bliffle

    The good thing about arming yourself against marauders is that if things get bad enough in your own economics you are ready-armed to go out and do some marauding yourself!

    Since the economy is bound to get worse before it gets better (apparently the Obama team is signing up for the big Tax Cuts strategy that got us into this mess in the first place, so we can expect things to get worse) more and more of us will be out there marauding, ambushing, waylaying, etc., the few unarmed citizens left.

    So, finally, we shall have a society based purely upon Power! Immediate armed power! Feudalism at last! The dream of the neo-republicans.

  • bliffle

    So, I’m auditioning appropriate weapons for my personal ‘protection’. I rather like this little dandy:

    mini machine gun

    Should be pretty good, even for a frail old doddering idiot like me. Just hope that Alzheimers or some kind of dementia doesn’t hit me while operating this thing: the damage to innocent bystanders could be rather notable. On the other hand, what would I care?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Bliffle,

    How about a nice big dog, very friendly to friends but equipped with a really loud, deep bark. They are great company and full of love, but can scare the bad guys. Might not work so well in an urban environment, but out here in the country I can’t think of a better companion/protector.

    We have a pack of five. I don’t really know how effective they would be in the event of an actual problem, because thus far no problem has arisen. Our worker has passed the word that they are out at night (untrue — they sleep in our bedroom) and are vicious (far from the truth as well).

    Dan(Miller)

  • bliffle

    Too bad Dan(Miller), my Mini Machine Gun would make quick work of those pesky dogs. And a bunch of other people in the immediate area.

    When I was younger, about a hundred years ago, I would have grabbed one of these:

    Big Gun!

    “Yer money or yer life (and the lives of a hundred people behind you!)”.

  • bliffle

    Now ya see this guy is obviously poorly matched to his weapon. Too heavy. I would use this to propel my high-speed escape via my walker!

    big bang

  • http://www.fontcraft.com/rod/ Dave Nalle

    Bliff, your first gun looks like a modified Mac10 with a vented barrel. The second is a T-Rex .577 or something similar. The last is this custom modified .700 Nitro Express.

    The second one is a good example of an idiot who has no idea what he’s doing shooting a gun which he shouldn’t be shooting. I’m just wondering what you would shoot with the third gun if you could shoot it – which anyone with a proper stance (unlike those idiots) ought to be able to do. Are they planning to go dinosaur hunting? Maybe shooting out the engines of cars?

    If you want to see a truly scary gun, take a look at the GAU-8. Note how after only a few seconds of firing outside of a water cooling system the barrels become white-hot.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Scary? I think it’s sexy! All this gun talk is making me hot. My face is flushed, and…what’s this that I haven’t felt in a while…?

  • Biff Baxter

    Democratic Republics becoming popular worldwide at the exact same time as mass manufacture of handguns was not a coincidence.

    From freedom back into bondage. Spengler was right.

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/39420/joanne_huspek.html Joanne Huspek

    The downturn in the economy was the excuse my husband gave for taking the gun safety class and getting a concealed weapons permit. I’m not sure I’m buying it, but if anything, we can now shoot our own dinner.