Grassroots Commentary

Safer Streets 2011: What? Guns Needed All of a Sudden, Part II

John Longenecker · Feb. 4, 2011

Where we last left off, the Second Amendment in action is not all of a sudden, but always. The Second Amendment keeps government small, but, in all honesty, only when it is respected. Any departure from that, such as infringements of gun control or “sensible regulation,” then ignores its main function: a working safeguard which cannot be replaced no matter what government promises. That primary safeguard is a conspicuous function showing no need for certain types of costly bureaucratic programs.

The possibility of a Mumbai-style attack is known by our intelligence agencies now and reported by some media. Mumbai, India was the scene of an assault of rampant shootings November 27, 2008, taking the lives of more than 125 persons and injuring hundreds more. The attack was a coordinated assault at ten different locations and hostages were taken.

Where was gun control in this? Gun control has always been a policy which is absentee when it is needed most.

Safety is not going to be a matter of somehow preventing gun and gunman from getting together, but of how they will be stopped when they strike no matter what their weapon of choice. The better preventions for safety are going to be a matter of letting them know well in advance that they will be stopped by the very targets of their violence. Without the awareness of an armed citizenry – ubiquitous armed citizens – terrorists are not discouraged from anything.

Police were not capable of stopping the marauders, and the Indian people cried out for weapons. The best the government could do was a high alert.

Well, now we are on an alert at this hour for a Mumbai-style attack. Now what?

The increase in gun sales up from 80 million by most estimates to closer now to 90 million gun owners since the election of President Obama is not guns needed all of a sudden as it might seem, but merely a realization of some old proven values and safeguards being summoned to duty for their intended purpose.

In this country, the American people are the sovereign, and as such, like any sovereign around the world, we hold the monopoly on all lethal force here. We grant the use of force to executives whom we hire to carry out specific duties, and in that assignment, we never gave up our own authority to bring lethal force to bear if we believe it necessary. [This is why there can be no such thing as so-called sensible gun laws: any gun law at all is a challenge to the lethal force which backs our sovereignty, and as such is a challenge to our sovereignty itself.]

At the core of this are legal provisions that, if a citizen brings lethal force to bear, it has to be just, it has to be righteous. It has to be reasonable, and it has to be demonstrated to be reasonable under the circumstances. But non-gun owners assume in advance that there is no such concept, and that it is best left to the professionals.

You couldn’t be more wrong. From self-defense in criminal and tort law to public policy and public interest to coming to the aid of another to citizen arrest, the citizen is already possessed of sufficient legal authority to stop a crime in progress. A Mumbai-style attack would be a crime in progress.

In 1978, the American Heart Association began a campaign to educate doctors and attorneys to get behind the movement to teach CPR to the layman. The concept was known as Citizen CPR. As a Chief Paramedic, I was asked to join a panel in Santa Monica, California, to furnish the field point of view. Doctors objected to layman learning such procedures, and asked me, “Why not let the professionals such as yourself handle it?

The answer was simple: Unlike the hospital perspective, where staff is used to their crash cart’s being a few paces down the hall, the Paramedics for the field emergency are not so near, and cannot always arrive with a life-saving response time of under four minutes. Citizens trained in CPR would help resolve this problem. From my perch on the panel table, I could see the light bulbs come on.

In a time of violence, police often cannot arrive in time, either. And, often, it is not even a matter of promptness, but of a much more complex path which first responders often helpfully clarify for constituents. For both EMS and Police medical and criminal incidents, one had best think of preparedness in the absence of first responders.

There is an exquisite identity of values in comparing ubiquitous Citizen CPR with the idea of the ubiquitous armed citizen. There are twelve elements to a comparison I formulated over the years I call the CPR Corollary; whether we are talking about a nineteen year old man who has taken an electrical shock from his hobby bench or stopping an active shooter on campus, the public policy and public interest purposes of each are absolutely identical.

Gun control did not stop Jared Loughner, an armed citizen who was armed with lethal force, good judgment and knowledge stopped Loughner. (And with the legal authority every citizen has.) A ban on high capacity magazines will not stop the next Loughner either, nor the next Mumbai shooter. Only someone present, someone already on scene, will stop them.

For the preparedness of the nation when only the nation’s citizens themselves can make the difference, it is time for the repeal of all gun laws.

More to come.

John Longenecker is Publisher of the Safer Streets Newsletter and Commentary. Visit

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