|Second Amendment: Detroit Chaos Proves Once Again It’s No Anachronism|
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, February 16 2012
Second Amendment antagonists claim that the individual right to keep and bear arms is some sort of anachronism, no longer important since the days of the Redcoat.
Decades of sociological research refute that allegation, of course, demonstrating to the contrary that greater firearm possession by law-abiding citizens correlates with lower crime. Moreover, armed Korean shopowners successfully defended their lives and livelihoods from their rooftops during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, providing vivid contemporary illustration of that reality.
And now, Detroit provides just the latest evidence of the Second Amendment’s continuing relevance.
Ironically, Detroit should by every measure provide a utopian liberal model. As the Mackinac Center’s Jarrett Skorup points out, it is “a city where all the major economic planks of the statist or ‘progressive’ platform have been enacted.” Detroit enforces a so-called “living wage” law much higher than the nationwide minimum wage for public employees and contractors. Its public school spending per pupil far exceeds the national average. Its public and private unions are exceedingly powerful presences. More broadly, its left-wing policies have earned it the nickname “the most liberal city in America,” Mr. Skorup notes.
Instead of creating a utopia, however, those policies have led to disaster. Detroit was the wealthiest city in the United States per capita just 60 years ago, but now is the second-poorest.
It is also now the second-most dangerous. Such are the real-world consequences of decades of “progressive” governance.
In 2011 alone, homicides rose 10% to 344, even though the city’s dramatic overall de-population continued. Unfortunately, the number of city police available to deter and respond also continues to fall. Just ten short years ago, Detroit claimed 5,000 police. Today there are fewer than 3,000.
Unsurprisingly, that decline in personnel has led to a dangerous increase in police response time. According to recent data, response time to priority calls averages 24 minutes, versus the nationwide average of under 10 minutes.
Unable to rely on a police force spread too thin, desperate Detroit citizens have therefore responded in the only way they can – by relying upon themselves. In a recent article entitled, “911 is a Joke,” The Daily reported in harrowing detail how people have taken to self-defense:
“Residents, unable to rely on a dwindling police force to keep them safe, are fighting back against the criminal scourge on their own. And they’re offering no apologies. ‘We got to have a little Old West up here in Detroit. That’s what it’s gonna take,’ Detroit resident Julia Brown told The Daily. The last time Brown, 73, called the Detroit police, they didn’t show up until the next day. So she applied for a permit to carry a handgun and says she’s prepared to use it against the young thugs who have taken over her neighborhood, burglarizing entire blocks, opening fire at will and terrorizing the elderly with impunity. ‘I don’t intend to be one of their victims,’ said Brown, who has lived in Detroit since the late 1950s. ‘I’m planning on taking one out.’”
Reflecting that awakening, the number of justifiable self-defense homicides in Detroit increased 79% last year. To place that in broader perspective, Detroit’s rate of self-defense killings now exceeds the national average by 2,200%. “We don’t hardly see police anymore,” Detroit resident James Jackson said.
Meanwhile, violent crime rates continue to decline across the U.S. in jurisdictions that have relaxed firearm restrictions. That includes the cities of Chicago and Washington, D.C., whose draconian prohibitions were overturned in recent United States Supreme Court decisions. Like clockwork, anti-gun activists and liberal politicians predicted swift increases in crime. Instead, both cities saw declines.
We cannot know whether Detroit will merely constitute the latest illustration of the Second Amendment’s continuing importance, or signal a future trend. As other cities, states and even the federal government confront budget crises similar to Detroit’s, basic collective responsibilities like maintenance of civic order could conceivably be sacrificed in favor of growing entitlement constituencies.
We hope that will not occur. But if it does, the individual right to keep and bear arms remains our bulwark against the ever-present possibility of breakdown in civic order.
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