DIY security

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All the hand-wringing over the helplessness of victims at the Aurora shootings provides an opportunity to reconsider how our culture deals with the need for protection against criminal violence. The received view that we should rely on police to protect us is especially puzzling now that, once again, that approach has proved to be absolutely unworkable. Are we nuts?

I won’t go into the standard arguments for gun rights here. My purpose is to offer what is probably a counter-intuitive idea: Police should have no greater obligation to protect others in an emergency than you or I do. Their special protective role should be in situations where they can establish a presence and intervene as needed. We pay them to take the risks when others aren’t needed for immediate help in an emergency.

The most effective approach to public safety is for everyone to be prepared to protect themselves and others when faced with criminal violence.

After all, when violence strikes there is always a person there to help: the would-be victim herself. Seems a good idea to be prepared for self-defense, because only in the rarest of cases are police available at the critical moment. They do reliably arrive in time to draw chalk lines around the bodies.

But one is very often in the midst of others who, properly prepared, would be able to render assistance. Under those circumstances one is very safe indeed.

Of course, there’s the typical concern that we can’t trust ordinary people to handle guns safely, or to be trained well enough to be effective in an emergency. Do folks trust police to be safe and efficient protectors because they have super-human powers?  According to a number of online sources, the average IQ for police officers is 104 (they don’t specify which IQ test applies).

Don’t assume that your typical officer is a firearms expert, either. There’s a running joke at indoor pistol ranges that the lanes have walls so that police can qualify.

By the same token, ordinary citizens are perfectly capable of learning firearms safety and developing proficiency. I’ve had concealed carry training, and I can tell you it isn’t rocket science. Oversimplified a bit, competence for concealed carry is mostly a matter of being habitually aware of one’s surroundings and of habitually following a few very simple safety rules that must be considered mandatory.

There’s an additional benefit to having near-universal firearms proficiency: the strong sense of responsibility that comes with developing that proficiency with proven methods carries over to other aspects of life. Our culture would experience a welcome general increase in responsibility among us that could go a long way toward solving other cultural problems we face.

I think it’s past time we replaced our unworkable approach to public safety with one that could hardly be improved upon.

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~ by supplementally on July 24, 2012.

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