Americans have always viewed the right to self-defense as fundamental. Our Founding Fathers enshrined it in the Second Amendment. Yet, now, not only is the government failing to protect us, but it seems increasingly determined to disarm law-abiding Americans, thereby preventing them from exercising this fundamental right. Not only is the right of private citizens to keep and bear arms protected by the Constitution, it reduces crime and victimization.
Research by Peter Hart Associates in 1980 found that 4% of American households reported defensive use of a handgun within the previous five years. More recently, Gary Kleck of Florida State University estimated that defensive handgun use at between 850,000 and 2.5 million incidents per year. Every year an estimated 2,000-3,000 criminals are killed by armed citizens acting in self-defense.
The importance of firearms in preventing crime can be clearly seen in the aftermath of Florida's 1987 decision to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. Since the law's passage, over 175,000 people have received concealed carry permits. FBI statistics show that the murder rate in Florida has declined 21% in the five years since, while the national murder rate increased 12%.
While opponents of the right to keep and bear arms frequently cite studies showing that individuals are more likely to kill an innocent person than protect a potential victim, those studies are seriously flawed. In reality, as many as 75 lives are protected by a gun for every life lost to a gun. Moreover defense with guns is one of the safest responses to violent crime. Defense with a gun results in fewer injuries to the defender (defender injured 17.4% of the time) than resisting with less powerful weapons (knives, 40.3%; other weapons, 22%; hands, 50.8%, and evasion, 34.9%). In fact, defense with a gun is safer than not resisting at all (24.7%). This is particularly important to women, the elderly, the handicapped, the weak and infirm, those most vulnerable to an attacker.
Existing "gun control" laws, which might be more accurately called "victim disarmament" laws, should be repealed, and the bureaucracies which exist to enforce them abolished. Restrictions such as waiting periods, bans on carrying concealed weapons, and requirements for registration or permits should be eliminated. There should be no prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense.
The right to self-defense also means the right of a community to organize private security for its protection. Numerous private residential subdivisions, neighborhood associations, mobile home and resort communities, hotel and apartment complexes, have already established private security forces. Existing legal barriers to community self-defense and private security arrangements should be repealed.