Continuously opining, intermittently publishing.

Archive for April, 2009

The title of this New York Daily News article is poignantly revealing:

No way police could have saved Jiverly Wong’s 13 Binghamton victims, officials say

Most readers or watchers of the news in this country will know of the tragedy which befell the immigrants taking a citizenship test at a testing center in Binghamton, NY on Friday, April 4, 2009. A man identified as Jiverly Wong entered the building and opened fire with his rifle on complete strangers.

Wong killed himself in the attack, leaving surviving victims of the attack, reporters and others to speculate as to his reasons for committing the murders, but the reasons are largely irrelevant. They probably will not help the victims find healing anyway. May יהוה (Yah) bless them in this senselessness.

Clearly but for Wong’s rage and probable insanity, the deceased would still be alive. There was, however, also another substantial factor in the causation of their deaths. New York prevents the purchase of handguns without a license, which can, presuming there are no restrictions placed on an individual license, serve as a concealed permit. Given that most (all?) of the victims of the shootings were immigrants, they were also unlikely to be able to legally own guns in the United States. This means that they were unable to carry a device that, with some training, equalizes the differences between the weak and the strong, the lucid and the crazy, and the good and the evil.

What a tragedy and exposition of the killer’s cowardice. As has already been stated: he did not enter a police station and start firing, because he would have been put down shortly. Instead, he decided to spread his own torment to others who were left defenseless by laws that are supposedly meant to “protect” the citizens of New York.

What restrictionary laws like the ones in New York do is a) not only set a higher bar to ownership, thereby reducing the incentive for people to become familiar with tools they can use to protect themselves, but b) also give rise to a dangerous cultural shift over time. Regular people begin to believe the lie that firearms, because of their inherent unforgiving nature, are something of which to be afraid. Sadly, no one in the building had a firearm on his person that he could have used to kill Wong sooner. Possessing a device with which one can efficiently fire three rounds into the cardiac triangle of an assailant seeking to kill or do grave bodily harm is highly underrated.

Instead, Wong, because it is clear that his chances of obtaining a handgun permit in short order were dubious, purchased a rifle on March 17. Then he waited for the right time to perpetrate the evil and to commit suicide by inner demon.

Opponents of the natural right guaranteed by the Second Amendment might suggest that waiting periods or restrictions be placed on purchasing long guns in addition to handguns. Fortunately, upstate New York has a long history of hunting and culture more disposed to rifle ownership, so this should be politically poisonous. But such restrictions would be a mistake anyway, because people who are willing to do evil will not be bound by law in the first place. The criminal law, at least for laws that are justifiable because they prohibit true wrongs (mala in se, e.g., murder, rape, theft, and so forth), tends to keep good people obedient while acting as a cost-benefit deterrence to only some criminals. Those with the “guilty mind” who see a greater benefit than cost will violate laws anyway for their own nefarious ends. Further, those who are totally depraved — those who internalize no cost to their own hatred — will do evil without reason.

Even if one could eliminate all guns in New York State, it would create greater risk to the citizens of the state, because all of a sudden, the stronger, more evil and bolder criminal-opportunists would have the advantage. Instead of your 55-year-old aunt being able to defend herself with a firearm at ten yards, she would have to face a melee against a criminal with a knife, pipe, chain or his hands, hope that the rape would not be too devastating and hope further that she could live. At least with firearms, the good have a chance.

Not all people are created equally. We do not all have the same opportunity at life, in the face of nature, the government, the market or the evildoer. With at least two of those, the Second Amendment continues to provide the backdrop for our safety and liberty, but we must exercise it.

Neither are all states created equally. I daresay that such a tragedy could not happen in Wyoming. I have joked that I could probably enter nearly any house in San Jose, California (where I used to live), commit some crime (if I were inclined, which I am not!) and probably, at minimum, escape with my life. In Wyoming, the criminal is almost guaranteed to be taking his life into his own hands by trespassing into a man’s home. It is a near given that the criminal will die or be severely injured, most likely by a gun. The same is true out in public. Were a crazed killer to start firing on people in any town in Wyoming, someone will always be nearby with the ability and tool to abort the threat. People here are not afraid of guns, because they recognize that they are tools to be used for a specific purpose; most have a healthy respect for them, and because of that respect and lack of fear, more of us are more likely to carry, increasing our own safety and the safety of our fellow man.

The reason evil men are able to perpetrate and cause harm and get away with at least some of their plans is because they exploit the trust, innocence and goodness that makes societal relationships worthwhile. This harm can always be mitigated by vigilance and tools that equalize the abilities of people who are made physically different. Certainly Wong’s rifle would have been more powerful than a concealed handgun, but at least a handgun would have given many of the thirteen a chance to live.

That police could not have saved the thirteen victims is almost tautological. Unless we were to live in a police state (though we are already tending in that direction), the police are, by definition, reactionary. Anonymous has said, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. They also do not have the same incentives that an individual has to protect himself, no matter how good the policemen are. Others cannot watch and protect everything remotely at all times for all people. Certainly one should not blame the police for not being able to respond in perfect time. They are neither omnipotent, nor should they be.

Furthermore, the implicit trust that many people have in the government to be able to protect them is madness. These many hapless souls demonstrate the same folly anytime they hope that someone else will ensure their well-being financially, morally or otherwise. No! You are responsible for yourself, and you are also responsible for your own safety. Naturally, it is not your fault if someone harms you, but the only person who really has the incentive and the greatest capability to protect you is you. The police are not omnipotent, but you are potent in your own sphere.

To the extent that government prevents you from protecting yourself against the taking of your life, liberty, property or pursuit of happiness, it is also doing a great evil.

May the Binghamton victims who were trying to make a better way by leaving their native countries, but whose dreams were ended by an earthly nightmare, rest in eternal peace.