Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Effectiveness of gun ownership and the "castle doctrine"

Just found this little ditty from the Oklahoma State Senate:
'The purpose of the law is to protect the victim of crime who defends his home and his family against unlawful intrusion from any criminal prosecution or civil action,' Sen Ford said last week.

'We considered it outrageous that someone who protects his home and family should suffer. Our law says you can use any force, including deadly force, to defend your home.'

It has been an unqualified success. Since the Make My Day Law came into force, burglary has declined by almost half in Oklahoma. In 1987, there were 58,333 cases; in 2000, just 31,661.

While crime rates throughout America fell in the 1990s, Make My Day supporters point to a second statistic in Oklahoma they say proves the impact of the new law: while burglary rates plunged, other forms of theft stayed constant. In 1988, there were 96,418 cases, in 2000, 96,111.

Similar anti-burglar laws have now been adopted in Colorado and Arizona.
Prior to the Make My Day legislation, the law, as it remains in most American states, sanctioned force in self-defence and the defence of property, but only on the basis of "reasonable" response to the violence offered by the criminal. This allows a baseball bat against a baseball bat, a knife against a knife, and a gun against a gun - although in theory the householder should allow the burglar to shoot first.
I'm glad some states have recognized the way most current laws hold law-abiding homeowners at a disadvantage in force escalation during a confrontation in their own homes and have rectified that shortcoming by giving homeowners the opportunity, being on the right side of the law, to escalate the level of force used to defend their families against criminals engaged in a crime in the home. The operative statistic above is the 26,000+ reduction in burglaries in OK between 1987 and 2000. What is unfortunately missed by advocates of stricter gun control is that in a society that recognizes the benefits of gun ownership and the ability to defend one's home and family, those benefits extend even to those who don't choose to arm themselves.

It's folly to think that every one of the 26,000+ homes that weren't robbed in 2000 belonged to a gun owner and that the criminals who would haved burglarized those homes knew that and stayed away because of that knowledge. We can only conclude that some of those 26,000+ homes were not defended by an armed citizen, but that the criminals stayed away simply for the reason that they might have a gun owner in them and they just didn't know for sure. God bless Freedom, an abler defender of life and safety than the state will ever be.


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