The Good Samaritans
With so many violent acts in America, what is under-reported is how intervention could have prevented the completion of those violent acts. This would be in spirit, in personal force, and involvement. These elements are missing from violence prevention programs as if they were useless. In truth, there are critical to the millions of reports annually from police around the country where citizens stop violence on their own.
Though the lone wolf may act on his own or even have the backing of others behind him, he is still one person at one location. The Norwegian massacre the week of July 22nd struck a bombing and a shooting where the targets were known to be defenseless. Can an armed Good Samaritan stop a bombing? Can a citizen stop a terrorist act?
They certainly have the right and the authority to do that in this country. How would the outcome be different if violence prevention mentioned that a student has the authority to act as much as the right to self-defense?
A Mumbai-style terrorist act from what we know about them can also be stopped by alert citizens. The key is to rouse them, encourage them, and arm them, of course; not punish them with ludicrous gun laws or refusing to teach them the whole story of self-defense.
The scene of the crime is where crime is fought best, not with gun laws. You do not fight crime by chasing it, you fight crime by facing it. After all, you do not find violence, it finds you.
How would the beating of Paramedic Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium have turned out if Good Samaritans as witnesses intervened on their own sovereign authority and held them for police as so many others do around the country?
Intervention by defensive weapons use in The Good Samaritan is the opposite of the lonely wolf bad actor. I could say that it is an untapped resource, but for the fact that it is tapped. Let me say that it is under-utilized. The fact is that the Good Sam is a counter-force to the lonely wolf whether it is a terrorist act or a robbery, a rape or another abduction of a child. Or, a beating in the middle of a crowd.
The police reports of Good Samaritan civilians who have taken down lone wolf actors at the earliest opportunity have earned praise from law enforcement. These Good Sams do so in the absence of police and at personal risk. They are thanked as heroes, but they are the first to deny it. To them, it’s a matter of personal values and a matter of decency for other human beings. Police know that the Good Sam had operated within the law.
This is only one corner of how the second amendment is a mainstream value: decency.
Gun control undermines this community safeguard and value. The Good Sams are another layer of protection which gun control and violence prevention remove as part of a larger formula of cultivating dependency on the State.
Good Sams do not take the law into their own hands, they act well within the law. They do not interfere with police, they operate within the intent of the law. Any person can use reasonable force to stop a crime in progress. Even a criminal can stop a crime in progress within the law.
When I talk about the ubiquitous armed citizen, I am talking about someone who acts in self-defense or who perhaps comes to the aid of another, and this happens a great deal more often than the media report. I like to use the practice of Citizen First-aid and CPR as my favorite.
In the absence of Paramedics and EMT’s, it is often up to a Good Samaritan to act in the interests of that choking victim, or the near drowning victim, or the electrical shock victim…. the list goes on. Any case a person chokes on food, or otherwise cannot breathe or their heart stops, immediate action is life-saving.
You do this without asking permission, you do this without any sort of license, and you do this for a stranger and for community. These are done in the public interest and as a matter of public policy. [Make no mistake: I urge CPR Training and its certificate, but even a retired physician may not have a current certificate. Get the idea?]
Average response times of first responders (whether EMS or police) range from moments to several minutes of up to twenty minutes to nearly an hour depending on the location and nature of the emergency as much as availability of assets. Meanwhile, the emergency cannot wait; it evolves or deteriorates and, without emergency action, the patient may suffer lasting injury or even die.
This is identical for victims of violent crime.
The Good Samaritan, however, is rather ubiquitous because citizens are ubiquitous. They are everywhere. No need to sell the country on them, they’re already embraced; my only purpose is in calling attention to the fact that they are already a part of our culture, and not to be discouraged. The Good Samaritan is part of our total values system.
Congressman Ron Paul has introduced The Citizens Protection Act of 2011, H.R. 2613. It repeals the gun law against carrying a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. [Internet search term H.R. 2613] The purpose of gun laws is to disarm honest citizens and not criminals. This has earned schools the name ‘Victim Disarmament Zones’ instead of gun free zones. The thugs do not get the memo. Cho at Virginia Tech knew that students could not defend themselves and Whatsisname in Norway knew his targets could not, either. All thugs know that schools are unarmed.
Good Samaritans who come to the aid of a stranger have been around a lot longer than concealed carry permits and silly gun laws, and the worth of the idea is long established and welcomed. Think Paramedic Bryan Stow. Think Norway. Think college campuses.
America prefers to have Good Samaritan Americans nearby over an absentee gun control that cannot even come close to saving as many lives.
How many lives do armed citizens save every year? John Longenecker is author of Even Safer Streets 2011 — The Second Amendment as a Mainstream Value now available in paperback.