Three Questions for Those Against Guns

After wanting one for years, I bought my first rifle — an AR-15 — a few weeks ago. I decided to assemble the weapon myself, so over the next two weeks it arrived in bits and pieces: first the charging handle, then the bolt carrier group, the upper, and the lower last. By the end of an unplanned trip to a nearby gun show I had one hundred rounds, two magazines, and a sling for my rifle; one monster of an Amazon order later I had two scopes as well. Within a few days of Christmas, I had an entire weapons system.

Over the next few days, between gift exchanges and Christmas dinners, my family surprised me with their enthusiasm for guns. Where I had expected resistance from my more docile relatives, I found understanding; where I had expected jokes, jabs, and scorn from the more left-leaning ones, I found acceptance. No one, it seemed, had a problem with my newfound hobby.

As all things must, though, this — too — came to and end when in no uncertain terms, a friend’s mother reaffirmed her disdain for guns and gun owners. Despite her station as a staunch Republican, she channels her inner far-left liberal whenever the topic comes up, refusing to even entertain the possibility that anyone’s opinion but her own could have any merit whatsoever. The mere idea that someone would defend themselves from an aggressor rather than call on a higher power — the police, God, whatever — for protection is stupid, and in her mind these tools have no other purpose. By extension, then, gun owners — seeking to fill the role of law enforcement officers, God, or whatever, for they could have no other intent in owning a gun — are stupid as well, and a danger to society as a result. Military personnel, with their high level of training and expertise, are the one group deserving of an exception to this rule; everyone else does not deserve the right to bear arms, and legislation should make sure of that.

The sheer number of viable refutations to this line of reasoning boggles my mind. Every time I broach the subject, though, her inner liberal starts the head-shaking, “no-no-no” routine that has served the political left so well in recent years. Prevent the debate from happening and you have no chance of losing, says the politically correct crowd she so loves to hate. The irony of her employing a tactic she lambastes others for using to further ends she does not agree with while exploiting the same means in service of her personal agenda is not lost on me.

In part out of frustration for this ridiculous line of reasoning, her obvious hypocrisy, and the constant appeals from authority, and in part out of frustration for some of her more recent antics this holiday season, I decided to write a short, three-question refutation of her irrational fear of firearms and — by extension — that of statist gun grabbers in general as well. In no way do these cover the incredible range of motives one could find for owning a firearm, but they will open the door to those arguments once you stump your anti-second amendment audience. Next time you have the opportunity to prove a statist wrong, then, lure them in with the promise of three quick questions and then see how they respond to these.

1. What is the average response time for local law enforcement in your area?

2. What is the average interaction time between a criminal and a victim?

3. How will you account for that delta?

1. What is the average response time for local law enforcement in your area?

According to The Wall Street Journal — which, in the interest of fairness, I should point out is a left-leaning news institution — it takes an average of eleven minutes for police to arrive on-scene after a 911 report of a violent crime. Other organizations, such as A Secure Life and the Women’s Self Defense Institute, put that number at seven and four, respectively. Assuming the victim manages to call 911, then, at best he or she can expect the police to arrive in just under five minutes; at worst, it could take over an hour.

That lower bound may seem commendable, but the Bureau of Criminal Justice found that police met that mark when responding to violent crimes in less than one out of three cases in 2008. The actual figure: 28.3%. Police arrived between six and ten minutes after the 911 call 30.3% of the time, and somewhere between eleven minutes and an hour after the fact in 33.5% of violent crimes.

This distribution puts the likelihood of a police officer arriving six minutes or more after a violent crime occurs twice as high as the officer getting there within five minutes of that event. This puts the average right around the nine minute mark, which lines up with most real-world data. Expect this figure to change based on your location, so you will need to find your own metrics for your local police department, but I will use this one from here on out.

2. What is the average interaction time between a criminal and a victim?

Various government agencies track police response times. This makes the process of finding reliable statistics to answer the first question easy. Answering the question of average interaction time, on the other hand, poses a much greater challenge. For a planned burglary in an empty house and without an alarm system, the going rate seems to come in at around eight minutes from start to finish, three of which go toward casing the house and getting inside. Anecdotal evidence from jailed burglars suggests that it would take much less time than that, but even with this conservative estimate, most police would arrive too late to apprehend the thief. When it comes to the “crimes of violence” referenced in that Bureau of Criminal Justice report, though, that becomes even less likely. I found just one figure dealing with the interaction between a criminal and his or her victim during a violent crime: ninety seconds.

Consider this scenario. An unsuspecting homeowner happens to notice a criminal entering his property, and so he calls 911. The operator sends the nearest cruiser to his address. T-9 minutes until the officer arrives. If the criminal takes the same amount of time to case the joint and then break in as he would during the course of a typical burglary, by T-6 minutes until the cruiser shows up, he has entered the victim’s home. Given his intent to commit a violent crime rather than get away with a burglary, though, if he uses a more direct method such as smashing a window or breaking down a door, that initial step could take mere seconds. Let’s stick with the best-case scenario, though, and assume the former.

At T-6 minutes until the police arrive, the criminal has entered the home intending to commit a crime of violence. Ninety seconds later, at T-4.5 minutes, he steps back through his point of entry and makes his getaway. Even at a mild walking pace, he would put over a quarter of a mile between himself and his victims by T-0, when the police arrive. If he took the more direct route of smashing a window, he could halve the time spent committing his crime, or spend twice as much quality time with the homeowner and his family; either way, he would make his escape with plenty of room to spare.

Again, these figures will change based on your locale, so perhaps you can get a more relevant number from your police department when you go to ask about their response times. As I did earlier, I will continue to use the more conservative estimate from here on out.

3. How will you account for that delta?

With a conservative estimate pegging the average crime of violence clocking in at four and a half minutes, and the response time for these types of events averaging around nine nationwide, one question still needs answered: how will you account for the delta between T-6 minutes until the police arrive, when the criminal gains access to your home, and T-0 when they do? With the lives of your loved ones on the line, you must account for every single millisecond from T-6 to T-0. What will you do? Will you babble to the 911 operator until your phone gets ripped out of your hands, just to cower in the corner while your assailant steals your belongings, murders your sons, and rapes your daughters? I have decided to spend that time one of two ways: either bleeding out for having done my utmost to defend those I owe my protection, or standing over the dead body of the one who tried to steal my family’s lives. In this harsh world, those are your two choices.

You do not have to come to the same answer I did, nor does the person you pose these questions to either. Next time someone expresses their disdain for gun owners and their tools of choice, though, ask them these questions. Wind up with, “What is the average response time for local law enforcement in your area?" Swing with, “What is the average interaction time between a criminal and a victim?" And hit home with, “How will you account for that delta?" They do not have to arrive at the same verdict I did, but they do have to come up with an answer. The lives of those they hold most dear may one day depend on it.