The video recording of a Sunday afternoon anniversary celebration being interrupted by a gang of adrenaline-fueled bikers was disturbing. What made it so terrifying is that we could all imagine it happening to us. If a family driving in in broad daylight in a major city can be attacked without a police response, what are the chances of a timely response by law enforcement on an isolated side street or country road at night?
Our country has a problem with gun violence. And gun violence is what our gun-control laws should target. Instead, our laws target lawful self-defense. Gun violence is not a uniform plague. According to the CDC, gun violence occurs most frequently in poorer areas where drugs are far too common and upward mobility and hope are desperately lacking. The problem is that our federal laws focus on the broad issue, when the problem is narrow. Sweeping, one-size-fits-all federal laws prohibit law-abiding citizens like Alexian Lien from defending themselves, instead of addressing the reality that gun violence is narrowly concentrated.
Once Alexian Lien stopped his car, he was surrounded and his tires slashed, while his wife frantically called the police pleading for help. Had this been a city with concealed carry laws, perhaps the bikers would have had second thoughts about cornering a frightened family. However, with Manhattan’s gun-control laws among the strictest in the country, New York City eliminated the deterrent effects such laws have on assailants, emboldening a biker gang to terrorize a family with impunity.
Taking the life of another is a burden that no one wants to have to live with, however, it is undoubtedly preferable to placing your life at the mercy of your attacker. Guns can be and are misused. So are cars and motorcycles. However, historically, guns have been an equalizer for the weak. Dr. Gary Kleck’s study found that guns are used 800,000 to 2.5 million times in self-defense each year. A Wright-Rossi survey of incarcerated felons indicated that 57 percent were more concerned with encountering an armed victim than a law enforcement officer and 34 percent said they had been “scared off” by a victim with a firearm.
While I support each person’s right to self-defense, I also believe in selective gun-control. The mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, the Aurora movie theater, the Newtown Connecticut school and at Virginia Tech were all perpetrated by those who were disturbed but not “mentally ill” enough to restrict them from buying a gun. Since 1991, 100 percent of the non-terrorist, mass shooting involving more than 10 fatalities involved individuals with mental illness issues. Removing guns from the mentally unstable should be a priority.