Burglars Downstairs, Where Is My Gun?


In light of the double murder in a prominent California city where two 16-year-old thugs with baseball bat and knife bludgeoned an elderly couple to death after first robbing them in the hopes of acquiring more money for their frequent marijuana habits, I wonder if this tragedy may have been avoided had the victims used a gun to protect themselves. Many crime victims are also victims to our society’s undying trust that if we are law-abiding others around us will be also, and those who are not will be dealt with swiftly by law enforcement. Such is nave, impossible, and a great American myth.

The above is played out frequently in every major city in America. Those who have and use a gun on an intruder survive and are, in fact, praised by law enforcement. Bad guys perish, leave with a wound, are frightened away and rarely return, or are held until police finally arrive. Last year a ninety-seven-year-old potential victim held her intruder at bay for several minutes until police could arrive.

Even with faith in the police it remains impossible for them to be on a crime scene until notified of one and even then it will take several minutes for them to actually arrive. In the meantime you are dead. This is why most crazy gunman in shopping centers or McDonald are initially taken out by off-duty police officers or concealed weapons permit holders instead of on-duty police officers. Schools are different. No one has a gun so the killing continues until law enforcement arrives.

This is why you must preserve your right of self-defense and why the recent Supreme Court decision, McDonald v. City of Chicago, is so important to you. Some cities like New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago are more nave than others and have actually prohibited their residents from having handguns in their homes for self-defense, thus making their citizens hostage to the thugs and murders around them. That ended June 28, 2010 when the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that “the Right to keep and Bear Arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment, extends to every city and state in America (“Victory in Chicago,” America’s 1st Freedom, Sept. 2010, pp. 32–36).”

Several philosophical assumptions prevailed in this decision. Self-defense has always been seen as a basic human right of preservation – more especially in England and America – “long before our country existed.” Due Process, which emanated from the 14th Amendment, gives preference to that which is fundamental and deeply rooted in history and tradition which self-defense clearly is. Moreover, the “right to keep and bear arms was also clearly recognized when the 14th Amendment was adopted” and one of the purposes of adoption was to “protect the freedmen after the Civil War. Descendents of ex-slaves should be overwhelmingly in support of their right to defend themselves. Finally, the 14th Amendment made the Bill of Rights applicable in all the states whereas before it was a prohibition of the Federal Government denying such basic rights, now it was a prohibition to the states from doing so as well.

Dissenting Justices were Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, and Sonia Sotomayor, recently appointed to the Court, arguing that The Second Amendment was not a fundamental right. Some justices unconstitutionally attempted to bring to bear international law in their deliberation to which Justice Scalia brilliantly answered, “I care not a whit what passes as ‘civilized’ in England or New Zealand; let their citizens seek their own path toward freedom. In America, we have the Constitution.” I agree.

Perhaps dissenting justices would be more sympathetic to the right of self-defense if they had a burglar downstairs in their homes.

Reprinted with permission from Liberty Under Fire.

September 24, 2010

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College.