Rodney King and the RKBA

Government doesn't trust citizens.

RKBA is gun-speak for "The Right To Keep And Bear Arms."  Often you hear the acronym when a believer says it.

As far as I know, the American RKBA is the only such right written into a Constitution.  Sweden, Switzerland, and Israel require young men to serve in the army where they learn to use guns; they keep guns when they get out.  There's very little violent crime in those countries because burglars know better than to mess with armed homeowners.

The benefits of having armed citizens are so obvious that they're taken for granted.  Those countries don't need a constitution to protect the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, but judging by the number of people who want to take our guns away or keep us from using the guns we have, our founders knew what they were doing when they wrote RKBA into our constitution.

Cops Can't Prevent Crime

Years ago, I visited a Burger King in Royal Oak, MI, just outside Detroit. As I left, there were odd noises from the kitchen and there were two cop cars and an officer in the parking lot. I asked the cop what was going on.

He told me one of the kitchen help was a little crazy. Every month or so, she'd start throwing things, and the cops had to deal with her. They couldn't fire her because she had an "emotional disability." It looked like the officer's face hurt as he explained that the "reasonable accommodations" they'd worked out with her court-appointed lawyer was that the restaurant called the police and the police would calm her down.

Why two cop cars?  Unguarded cop cars get stolen in Detroit, and one man isn't enough to deal with her.  Two cars come, they draw straws to see who gets to watch the cars, and the other three go in.

"We gotta handle crazy black people real nice," he told me.

I knew just what he meant. Rodney King made news all over the country when the networks distributed a video showing him being beaten by 3 police officers. The networks didn't show the first part of the video where Mr. King got off the ground and threw police officers around like ninepins when they tried to arrest him after a high-speed car chase; they thought he was high on PCP or Speed. The jury acquitted the officers, 52 people were killed in protest rioting in LA, and the feds brought charges for violating Mr. King's civil rights. One of the officers went to jail in spite of having been acquitted by a jury.

"After Rodney King, you gotta be careful how you arrest blacks." I said.

"Yeah, not much we can do about crime.  Citizens are out of luck."

"Everybody should get a gun, then."

"If people shoot it out with criminals, they're going to get killed."

"Suppose one bad guy dies for each citizen." I said.  "I think citizens would do better than that, but suppose it's one for one.  Wouldn't we run out of bad guys pretty quick?  How many bad guys are there in Royal Oak anyway?  Regular customers you see over and over in your desk blotter, if you don't see a name for a while, you know he's dead or in jail.  You know, those guys.  How many in Royal Oak?  100?  200?"

His eyes went blank as he counted on his fingers.  "You're right," he said, "it's not many.  We've exactly 52 bad guys, and we know who they are!"

If armed citizens shot back, bad guys would die, leave town, or be good.  Either way, crime would go down.  There might be a few casualties, but fewer than when criminals murder again because they aren't stopped the first time.

Fighting Crime in the Inner City

On the plane back home, I talked with a long-term Detroit resident about how the city had become ungovernable.  There were housing projects, he told me, where cops didn't go with fewer than 4, and even then, only in daytime.

"Do you really want to stop crime in Detroit?" I asked him.  "There's a simple way."

"Tell me."

He'd shown me he was a political liberal, and I knew he wouldn't like the answer, but I told him anyway.

"It's like this," I told him, "Most Detroit crime victims are black women in housing projects, right?  There's posters all over Detroit, 'March against violence against women.'"  He agreed that women were the major victim group.

"Here's what you do," I said.  "Invite the NRA into the projects.  Find women with clean records who're bright enough to understand self-defense law.  The NRA teaches 'em when to shoot, how to shoot, and when they can't shoot.  When they're ready, each woman gets a .22.  We tell her we have a bullet sample; If we find her slugs in someone, she'll have some explaining to do.  If that's OK with her, she can have the gun.  She carries it in her purse with her hand on it.  Someone tries to rob her, she puts a slug in him."

The guy was incredulous.  "You're nuts!  There'd be slaughter!"

"That's why .22s.  A .22's feeble; a .22 short won't go through walls and kill people.  It's hard to kill someone with a .22.  But it's a greasy, dirty bullet.  You put a .22 slug in someone's leg or arm, if he doesn't go to the doctor and have it taken out, he'll die from infection or gangrene.  It may take a week or a month to die, but he will die."

"Think about it.  Some guys challenge her; she puts a slug in one.  Are they going to mess with her, or are they going to go away? Suppose they keep coming, she puts slugs in 1 or 2 more, only this time she goes for the intestines or the head, and they beat her to death. Then what? They have her bullets in them, they either get treated or they die, they're marked for murder one. A bunch of guys come at a woman, she starts throwing slugs, they go away."

"How would you get a program going?  How'd you pay for it?"

"Wouldn't cost a dime.  The mayor of Detroit calls up the National Rifle Association and says, 'You guys tell me armed citizens cut crime. Come to Detroit and arm my weakest citizens.  We'll see if you cut crime!'  Wouldn't the NRA go for that?  A real instructor won't graduate anyone out of gun class unless the instructor's willing to hang around that student while the student has a gun, they train 'em pretty well. Give the NRA an opportunity, they'd provide instructors and the guns."

As luck would have it, the guy behind us was a gun dealer.  "A .22's no good," he told us, "no stopping power.  A woman needs at least a Glock to stop a man harming her."

"The point isn't to stop him, it's to discourage him." I said. "A Glock can go through walls, and automobile gas tanks, and do all kinds of damage. A Glock would be worth stealing. Better to stick with a .22".

If a few women in a housing project were armed, how long would it take for word to get out, "Don't go there!"  A gun is called "the old equalizer" for a reason. What better way to empower women than to teach them to shoot back?  Rape was essentially nonexistent in the Wild West, nobody messes with armed women.

Anti-Gun Lies

People who want to take away our RKBA keep whining about the high levels of violence in America compared to, say, England.  England is a favorite of the anti-gun crowd because for a time, English policemen didn't carry guns.  These people forget two inconvenient facts: a) America also has higher rate of violence with fists, knives, clubs, and other implements and b) as the ethnic mix in England has become more volatile, police officers are finding themselves outgunned and are starting to demand the Right to Keep and Bear Arms while on duty.

RKBA is not just for Criminals

I read of a Jewish woman who survived WW II by hiding in friends' apartments in Paris.  She and her husband knew what happened to Jews whom the Nazis picked up.  One night there was a knock on the door.  "Hide in the closet," her husband told her, "I'll see who it is."

It was the SS.  They were disappointed when her husband told them she was visiting a friend.  "Get your ID and come," he was told.

He opened the closet door slightly and his wife put his ID in his hand.  She never saw her husband again.

What if she'd handed him a Colt .45?  What if every SS officer knew that there was a decent chance of catching a bullet when he knocked on a door?

The SS had no such worries; one of the first things Hitler did after taking power was abolish private gun ownership and require that citizens give them up.  Politicians, like all criminals, prefer unarmed victims.

Taking guns away from Jews was a smart move.  Near the end of the war, the Jews in Warsaw got their hands on a few weapons and held off the armed might of the Wehrmacht from April 19 until May 16. Is it any surprise that Israelis keep weapons in their homes?  We should, too.

What's ironic is that even as we speak, the European Union is considering tougher gun regulation.  The article says:

Against the backdrop of deadly school shootings in Finland and Germany, European Union legislators Thursday overwhelmingly backed tough new gun control rules they said they hoped would prevent Europe from becoming a gun-friendly culture like the United States.

The United States is gun-friendly only in the sense that there's a huge number of guns out there so that criminals have no trouble getting them.  In places where most Americans live, however, law-abiding citizens are forbidden from owning or carrying guns.  The article goes on:

European legislators of all political stripes said the new rules were essential to prevent Europe from embracing the gun culture of the United States, where the right to bear arms is written in the Constitution.

"We in Europe have a different culture than in the United States and we do not consider the freedom to buy weapons a human right," said Gisela Kallenbach, a German member of the European Parliament from the Green group, who helped draft the proposed law. "All European cows are registered Europe-wide, so why not guns, if it can save lives? Civil liberties can be sacrificed if we can prevent people from being killed." [emphasis added]

Benjamin Franklin said that people who give up liberty in pursuit of safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.  Restricting guns sounds good, but it just makes things easier for terrorists. French terrorists have begun shooting at cops, but at least cops can shoot back.  What will happen when the terrorists start shooting civilians?  At least one official gets it:

Manuel Esparrago, ... stressed that gun control laws did little to prevent criminality, since criminals typically acquired guns by illegal means.

Mr. Esparrago understands that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns.  Haven't the Europeans had enough experience with what happens to unarmed citizens when government goes sour?  This article, in presenting a table showing how many citizens have been killed by their own governments, says:

But what connects them all is this.  As a government's power is more unrestrained, as its power reaches into all the corners of culture and society, and as it is less democratic, then the more likely it is to kill its own citizens.  There is more than a correlation here.  As totalitarian power increases, democide multiplies until it curves sharply upward when totalitarianism is near absolute.  As a governing elite has the power to do whatever it wants, whether to satisfy its most personal desires, to pursue what it believes is right and true, it may do so whatever the cost in lives.  In this case power is the necessary condition for mass murder.  Once an elite have [sic] it, other causes and conditions can operated to bring about the immediate genocide, terrorism, massacres, or whatever killing an elite feels is warranted.

As Alexander Solzenhitzen put it, "In order to do great evil, men must be first convinced that they are doing good."  Armed citizens make it a bit harder to do evil.  Do you trust our government not to do evil?

Our founding fathers were no fools. They knew that only government was big enough to control government, so they set up a system of checks and balances.  Congress is supposed to keep an eye on the executive branch and vice versa, but they've decided to let each other rip us off.  The executive doesn't say anything about outrageous earmarks, and Congress ignores reconstruction money wasted in Iraq, for example.

Our founding fathers were wise men indeed.  They correctly foresaw that checks and balances would break down when Congress and the executive conspired together against us.  When that happened, citizens would have to protect themselves from government.  Hence the RKBA.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
Wow! Right on the money. The key is to train people to use firearms safely and effectively. I am going to pass this article around.
September 17, 2009 11:48 AM
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