In a heartening display of American values, West Hollywood has been plastered with stickers showing the rainbow flag, a coiled rattlesnake, and the hashtag, #shootback, following the attack on the Orlando nightclub that killed forty-nine and the arrest of a man intending to attack the gay pride parade in the southern California city.
Naturally, politicians in the area are wringing their hands over the idea of citizens defending themselves. The mayor of West Hollywood, Lauren Meister, said, “We don’t believe in an eye for an eye, and we advocate against gun violence.” This is a good example of completely missing the point—unless it’s a deliberate attack on the concept of self-defense. “Shoot back” implies that someone else has started the fight. Perhaps I’m reading the hashtag the wrong way, but I don’t see, “hunt down the person who wronged you and kill the bastard” contained therein.
The statement about gun violence also displays wrong-headedness on the subject. The law regarding self-defense is clear. We’re allowed to use sufficient, but only proportional force to stop an attack. When it comes to violent acts, gun control advocates wish to muddle up the distinction between defense and offense, but Jeff Cooper’s line on the subject acts as a good corrective:
One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that “violence begets violence.” I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure—and in some cases I have—that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.
Opposing gun violence without being clear about which specific types one opposes ends up shaming good people who defend their lives and promotes making other good people more vulnerable to attackers who aren’t concerned with moral niceties.
The mayor of West Hollywood isn’t alone in objecting to the idea of citizens stopping a violent attack. Captain Holly Perez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department called the hashtag a bad message, saying, “I hope it’s just people venting that they could do this, and I’m hoping their calmness will take over. It’s our job to keep you safe.” It may be that Perez hasn’t heard of the Supreme Court’s ruling that law enforcement isn’t duty-bound to protect us, but the assertion that she and her officers are employed to do that leaves out the reality that in the United States, the total number of law enforcement personnel runs around 400,000 in a country of more than 320,000,000 Readers are invited to calculate the percentage as homework, and even taking into account the uneven distribution of those officers, we have to recognize that the cops won’t always be around, and protecting us by investigating who the killer was isn’t quite what many of us would find to be enough.
As is so often the case, we see here that to some people, the idea of good people defending themselves is more distressing to contemplate than is the thought of those same people lying dead after a criminal attack. It’s our job to remind America that, by contrast, there are many of us who do not want to disarm our fellow citizens.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.