That’s the thesis of a new paper by George Mason University professor David Bernstein entitled “The Right to Armed Self Defense in the Light of Law Enforcement Abdication”, which argues that, as cities burn and many rioters and looters escape prosecutions and even arrests for their criminal actions, more Americans are embracing their own right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, and their homes and businesses.
At USA Today law professor and blogfather Glenn Harlan Reynolds of Instapundit takes a closer look at Bernstein’s new academic paper and notes the many cases where law enforcement have failed to keep the peace in recent months, starting with Seattle, where Mayor Jenny Durkan sat on her hands and gave people space to riot and even form their own “autonomous zone,” which resulted in a huge spike in “person-related crime” across the city.
Likewise, in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and prosecutor Kim Foxx established an early policy of tolerating and even implicitly encouraging street violence through their lackadaisical response. Bernstein notes, “Even other Chicago officials who generally support criminal justice reform have criticized Foxx’s reluctance to pursue felony charges against those arrested for rioting or looting.”
Meanwhile, “On a particularly violent weekend in early June, Lightfoot refused to deploy the National Guard beyond Chicago’s central business district, drawing condemnations from officials representing districts on the south and west side of the city, which were left unprotected during Chicago’s deadliest weekend in sixty years. Over that weekend, twenty-four people were killed and at least sixty-one injured by gun violence, and the city’s 911 dispatchers received 65,000 calls in a single day — 50,000 more than normal. As chaos unfolded, one Democratic city councilwoman told the mayor on the phone, ‘My ward is a shit show …. [Rioters] are shooting at the police. I have never seen the likes of this. I’m scared.’”
As we all know, the sh*t show hasn’t been relegated to a single ward in Chicago. From large cities like Seattle and Chicago to smaller towns like Kenosha, Wisconsin and Rochester, New York, the riots and the understated response from local officials and law enforcement is having a national impact.
Even in normal times, gun owners joke that“when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” But, sometimes, they’re not coming at all. Sometimes they’re not even allowed to show up. (And, historically, political leaders have sometimes used the denial of police protection to opponents as a means of opening those opponents up to violent attacks.)
Bernstein notes that this is something that courts should take into account when Second Amendment cases are argued. But it’s also something that the rest of us should keep in mind. In 2020, “the police will protect you” seems particularly hollow.
Now this is likely completely unsurprising to gun owners, but keep in mind that Bernstein is writing for an academic audience, and one that isn’t comprised of a lot of Second Amendment supporters. While many in the academy may view these riots and violent protests as a positive development that can lead to police reform or abolition, the fact of the matter is that for most of us, the scenes of destruction don’t give us warm fuzzy feelings.
Instead, most of us greet news of another riot with a sinking feeling and an understanding that the tumult and turmoil could take place in our neighborhoods, and millions of Americans have responded to the increased unrest by exercising their Second Amendment rights for the very first time.