Underlying many gun control arguments is the suggestion that government can and will protect everyone.
“Government” in this context is your local law enforcement agency, whether municipal police, county sheriff’s department, or perhaps even state highway patrol. That suggestion, at best, is evidence of shocking ignorance. At worst, it’s a blatant and deadly lie.
Here’s an example of that lie brought to life from NBCnews.com:
“Chain-reaction brawls involving up to 2,000 people erupted in one of Kentucky’s largest malls Saturday night, forcing the entire mall and businesses in the surrounding area to shut down, police said.
The hours-long chaos at Mall St. Matthews began about 7 p.m. ET when the six St. Matthews police officers assigned to the mall for the holiday season began responding to ‘disturbances,’ said Officer Dennis McDonald, a police spokesman.
‘As they were responding to those disturbances, others were breaking out. … Disturbances started to feed on themselves.’ McDonald said. ‘They were just overwhelmed with a number of calls for service and reports of disorder.’
The officers on duty at the mall called for backup, and 50 officers from five different agencies responded, according to police.”
Notice that six local officers were already present at the Mall, and under normal circumstances, that would have been sufficient. The call for backup brought an additional 50 officers from five agencies within reasonable driving distance. That may sound like a great many officers, but once the “disturbances” began and began to feed off each other, it wasn’t nearly enough. Many times that number would probably have been inadequate.
“It was a series of brawls’ involving 1,000 to 2,000 people ages 13 to their early 20s, McDonald said, adding that ‘the entire mall’ was affected.
About 8 p.m., authorities started to advise stores in the mall to close their doors, but those involved in the brawls were refusing to leave.”
Of course they were. They sensed their advantage, and the madness and anonymity of the mob took over.
“Businesses were in the process of closing their doors, steel grates, and you had juveniles that were not allowing businesses to close up — [they were] climbing on the grates,” McDonald said.
‘This was a riot,’ McDonald added. ‘It was crazy.’
‘It took about an hour and a half, close to two hours, before things were calm,’ McDonald said. Officers ‘maintained a presence’ until 1 a.m., McDonald said, adding: ‘We’re all tired.”
What happened? How many of the criminals were arrested?
“But no one was arrested, and only minor injuries were reported, McDonald said. No officers were injured.
‘Our officers, they showed great restraint,’ McDonald said. ‘Officers were focused on dispersing crowds and keeping them moving.”
The police do not think the riot was planned, which may be nothing more than avoiding the obvious: a flash mob.
“St. Matthews, a suburb of about 18,000 people outside of Louisville, is a normally quiet city that sees no more than two murders a year, McDonald said. ‘I’ve been a police officer 33 years, and I haven’t ever seen anything like this before,’ he said. ‘We always plan for worst-case scenario, but this exceeded that.”
Translation: A flash mob showed up and became bigger and bigger and bigger. As the mob quickly recognized there weren’t nearly enough police to actually control or arrest them, they called even more flash mobbers. Eventually, all the police could do was run from fight to fight, struggling to get through the crowds of honest people and delighted thugs, taking as many officers with them as they could, and as soon as they arrived, the fighting thugs would melt into the crowd and another disturbance would break out somewhere else. There was surely rampant shoplifting and other theft going on, but the police aren’t reporting that–probably at the request of Mall management–for fear of encouraging another attack on the Mall.
But why didn’t the police arrest anyone? Why did they just let the little thugs get away with all manner of illegal acts right under their noses?
Reality is very different than television. There are no scripts, just animal instinct and reaction. Every officer there that night realized, some for perhaps the first time, how very thin their blue line between civilization and anarchy is. They realized that most people willingly obey most laws, particularly the serious ones, most of the time, and if they didn’t, the police wouldn’t last an hour. So the police at that Mall in suburban Louisville, Kentucky, all 56 of them, “showed great restraint.” They had no choice.
Every officer there, no matter how much they wanted to jump in and arrest the “youth” that were surely taunting them and breaking the law right in front of them, understood that if they did, those “youth” would surely violently resist, all of which would be caught on surveillance cameras, and the other youth would attack the arresting officers, and there were so many of them, the officers would have only two choices: cut and run, leaving the honest, decent people in that Mall on their own, of they would be forced to use violent, brutal force, and most likely, would have to shoot to save their lives. They’d have to shoot a lot, all of it caught, complete with wild screaming and panic, on video.
The most experienced and tactically adept officers knew that if they started shooting, and if they didn’t lose their handguns, after they shot enough, the rest would either run, or the crowd of thugs, provoked to blood rage, would rush them en masse, and there wouldn’t be enough bullets in the world to stop them. They knew some of the thugs must be armed. They knew many innocents would be seriously injured or killed, and so would they.
Every officer also knew that the second they really started using force, there would be no going back. Everything would escalate, probably out of control, and when they did what they had to do to save their lives…well. Visions of Ferguson and Baltimore flashed through their minds. Every one of them could see themselves on trial for murder and other politically dramatic felonies, their careers over, their families in hiding, ducking death threats. They could see whatever future they planned for themselves going up in smoke.
What NBC did not mention is the racial makeup of the thugs. Considering the location, it takes no imagination to realize a significant portion of them were black. It also takes no imagination to understand that no police officer wants to be involved in an altercation with any politically favored minority. That’s a fight they can’t win, and the chances are at least 50/50 that being in the right and scrupulously following the letter of the law wouldn’t be a defense.
Were some of them white? Surely, but that doesn’t matter. People will do things in mobs that they would never do individually. They draw energy–and not positive energy–from the worst intentions and excesses of those surrounding them, and they know that in the crowd, they’ll likely be anonymous.
And so the officers were reduced to running here and there, using their mere presence in a desperate attempt to keep some kind of order. If the crowd wanted to rape, could they easily have drug women into bathrooms, dark hallways and other convenient, out of the way places without the police having the slightest idea what was happening? Of course. Murder would have been as easily accomplished. It’s amazing none of these crimes occurred, or perhaps we just don’t know about them yet.
Keep in mind too that those 50 cops from five different agencies were almost certainly virtually every officer on duty at the time the backup call went out. Most people would be stunned to discover how few police officers are actually on duty at any time of the day or night.
“So what?” Some will say. “Having a gun wouldn’t have been any good in that kind of mob.” Not so. Things are different for the police and citizens.
Obviously in that situation, the only smart thing to do would be to leave, as quickly and quietly–and as early–as possible. That’s not something the police can do. Criminals fear armed citizens far more than they fear the police. They know the police; they know the rules, written and unspoken. They know what they can get away with. But some panicky citizen, pushed too far, just might kill them and get a medal for it. That’s why burglars take great pains to avoid homes where someone might be present. That’s why violent crimes decline in right to carry states.
A tactically smart person, even if a group is after them, can use terrain, cover, obstacles and evident aggression and willingness to use whatever force is necessary to deter, rout, or if necessary, stop an attack. Being armed, in that situation or any other, is far better than submitting to the tender mercies of “youth,” unless one thinks it better to rely on the kindness of violent young barbarians for their safety and the very lives of those they love.
Because of the Ferguson Effect, more and more police officers are flying under the radar. They’re not being proactive. They’re doing the minimum. They’re not stopping people they know are up to no good, particularly if they’re members of politically protected groups. So even if officers can arrive in time when a criminal attack is imminent–and that’s virtually never possible–they can no longer be depended upon. In many places, the crime rate, unsurprisingly, is skyrocketing, and the media is doing its best to avoid admitting what is so obviously happening.
The hell of it is, we can’t blame really the police. The politicians we elect create precisely the police forces we deserve and determine the rules under which they have to operate. Anyone doubting that need only envision themselves in that Mall in Kentucky, surrounded by all that “youth.”
The police can’t protect us. They have no legal duty to do it. We’re on our own. We always have been.