By TTAG reader ST

I grew up in the northeastern corner of Illinois, a place generally known as Chicagoland. In Chicagoland, home invasions and violent crime are a common staple of the evening news and guns are responsibly “regulated and controlled.” I left for the military, and after being posted in South Dakota for years, I came to wonder just how the heck I had dealt with living in a crime ridden, unarmed, overtaxed state like Illinois for all those years. I discovered the answer during Christmas leave two years back . . .

Bags packed and guns responsibly unloaded and locked in their case, I hit the highway for home with a fresh perspective on the Constitution and civil rights. Twelve hours later I made it to the old family home, safe and sound. The next morning I fired up the TV, only to be greeted with this: “We have a harrowing tape of a 13 year old on the phone to 911 during a home invasion.”

Disturbed by this, I asked my mother just what the heck had been going on since I left? Her response: “Welcome home. Its always been that way around here, its a big city.”

Its always been that way.

That’s when the light bulb went off. Gun laws are a reflection of a population’s desires; if a the citizens in a city or state have grown up around crime, home invasions and anti-gun dogma for most of their lives then they’ll believe that’s just the way things are, and the way things must be.

The idea of civil rights and taking responsibility for your own defense is as foreign a concept to a Chicagoland resident as it is to a British subject. Even my Illinois friends who own guns are examples of this effect: they own pistols and have jumped through the necessary FOID card hoops to buy them, but concealed carry and the RKBA are unknown quantities to them.

How can they appreciate their rights if they’ve lived their whole lives never having experienced them? During my week long leave in Illinois, my hypothesis was reinforced everywhere I looked — people cannot fight for rights they don’t know they have.

Thus, the same anti-gun politicians keep getting re-elected, more bad gun laws are enacted and the cycle of crime and violence escalates because the voting citizenry can’t conceive of anything other than what they know. And what they know are FOID cards, no CCW option and continual attempts to pass more rights-infringing legislation.

I offer this letter to TTAG because I don’t have the resources or time to research this hypothesis to its logical conclusion. I hope the Armed Intelligentsia can find time and the research space to run this idea to ground. This way, people who’ve grown up with their dad’s 1911 on the wall can gain an understanding of why places like Illinois and New Jersey keep sinking further down the slippery slope.

34 Responses to Knowing You Have Rights is the First Step

  1. This is one of the good aspects of the Information Age. Knowledge is far more available to everyone today. As information spreads through the whole of the society, more and more will come to value the right to choose.

    Keep preaching the word, ST and everyone else here.

  2. Well written. True and accurate. I grew up in the Chicago burbs of Morton Grove and Skokie. The only acceptable guns were those located on a joy stick at a video arcade. Skokie politicians were so honest and upfront about what government is all about that they merged the Skokie Democrat and Skokie Republican Parties into the Skokie Caucus Party. One party. One rule. No hope. In the late ’70s those two suburbs were the first places in America to outlaw handguns. Since the early ’80s those two burbs have become more rundown and crime has increased. Go figure.

  3. All things are interconnected. They elect left wing politicians for a host of reasons, and gun control is part of the package. I’m quite certain most Chicago voters are more concerned about affinity than they are about gun control, but it’s a package deal.

    • Chicago is inundated with stories about young girls in crime-ridden areas being killed by stray bullets, and their emotional parents calling for more gun control (as if stricter gun control would do anything to either bring their child back or stop criminals from using guns). In essence, they are bombarded with reports of violence, and the only proposed actions they hear come from grieving families and the politicians that appeal to their sympathies. Emotion runs Chicagoland; not logic. There isn’t anyone breaking down cause and effect on the Chicago airwaves. And whenever there is, they are quickly ostracized for thinking with their brains rather than their hearts. (Apparently, one can have a heart or a brain; but not both …)

  4. Judging by the way media coverage and national politics have developed since Obama took office, and my prior knowledge of the Daleys et al, Chicagoland’s problems have a lot to do with information being kept from the populace; specifically, the information that an ordinary citizen can learn to safely keep and bear arms, that DGUs are real and even common in places where the Second Amendment is respected, and that criminals really do think twice when any passer-by might be armed.

    The author had to live away for years to see that there could be another way. What about all the rest who’ve never left?

  5. Had essentially the same experience as the writer. Embarrassing as it is to me now, I was active duty military for ten years before it dawned on me that my need for small arms didn’t end when I left work because there wasn’t anyone “on watch” off base and it was up to my wife and I to protect ourselves. Professional law enforcement doesn’t stand guard; they respond to reports of crime after the fact.

    • This is one the arguments that I have often posed to liberals: if I can safely carry a gun on duty, why can’t I carry one of duty? Why would I want to wait for an on duty police officer to respond, who may or may not arrive in time to protect me, when I can protect myself?

      • Now flip it. Ask them why they don’t trust their friends and family to protect themselves, and why they should have to wait for that officer who may or may not arrive in time?

  6. Given a choice between peace and freedom, most people will choose the former over the latter and receive neither. Illinois bought into the concept of peace over freedom a long time ago, and deserves neither.

  7. Living in the police state of New Jersey, I found this editorial to be completely true.

    I’ve found one of the issues with New Jersey is the working middle class was run out of the state with the collapse of manufacturing in New Jersey.

    The people who remain in New Jersey, like New York City business men, soccer moms, Asian and Latin American immigrants, and the chronic poor have no history of responsible gun ownership or hunting. As a whole, they have little knowledge or interest in their Second Amendment rights.

    • Why? Federalism (i.e. having two levels of government) allows us to have different approaches to government in different states and then see what works better. With federalism you can easily counter arguments like “with concealed carry the streets will run red with blood” by simply looking at all of the states that have concealed carry and low crime. In fact, I am looking out of my FL office window right now, and there is no blood in sight.

  8. I can echo ST’s observations. I’ve been fortunate to spend most of my life in comparatively enlightened states-Wyoming, Colorado, and Virginia, among a few others. I had the misfortune of being stuck in Chicago for a couple of years. I was consistently amazed at the attitude of the general populace toward guns.

    This point was brought home to me not long ago when I was out with a couple of friends who CCW, as do I. A friend from Chicago was with us, and as we were having a general conversation on shooting and competition, she was silent. When prompted, she said “I live in Chicago. Guns have a completely different image to us.” This is the end product of the process.

    • YYYYUP.

      That was my wife. She is from the Chicago are and was appalled at my interest and hobby involving firearms. She was taught that they were bad and only bad guys had guns. (She was half right, as only bad guys have guns in Chicago.) She accepted that I was in the military. Once we separated from the military, we settled in my home The Republic of Texas where I exposed her to what firearms and gun ownership is all about. Now she likeds to shoot and throws less of a fit when I come back home with a new pistol or a new toy for my AR.

  9. I think the author is definitely on the right track. Heck even I look back at my life before I had a concealed carry license and wonder why it never dawned on me as something important back then. And now I know the answer, as stupid as it may sound: it never dawned on me because, of course, it never dawned on me!

    Now that I have incorporated concealed carry into my life, I see things much differently. Knowing what I know now, I believe many, many more people will want to carry if the idea ever truly dawns on them. That is the challenge.

    I believe we have two major efforts ahead of us as the Armed Intelligencia. First, we have to somehow reach the masses so they stop equating armed citizens with criminals. Second, we have to appeal to the masses emotionally. We already have logic and facts on our side. But we do not yet have emotion.

  10. I have said this about Oakland, CA for a long time. The law-abiding residents here have simply grown accustomed to a high level of crime, in the same way that people accept ~30,000+ deaths in automobiles each year. It just gets to be a way of life. No one really expects it to change, so they just adapt to it. All those people die in car accidents every year and it doesn’t make the news, but if one person gets shot, all hell breaks loose.

  11. Speaking as an Englishman living in NW Indiana (also part of Chicagoland) I can agree that the concept of self-defence WAS once alien to me. But in the last 13 years that I have been resident here my attitude to gun ownership has completely changed. Literally 180 degrees. The eureka moment for me was realising that the criminals do not care in the slightest for gun control laws, so why should we be left defenceless? That realisation was the beginning of my re-education.

  12. This reminds me of Ayn Rand’s books, particularly Anthem. It is a wonderful thing when people realize the rights they have, and start to enjoy them. You aren’t a slave, and you do have a choice, so go enjoy it!

  13. This is a discussion well worth having. It’s just that I don’t know if the comments section is the best place to have it.
    To give you some background, I’ve lived for almost 60 years in and around Chicago. For the last 34 years my home has been in the north side suburb where my wife grew up. I have worked most of my life in the Loop. I have 6 children, 4 sons and 2 daughters. The oldest five are grown and on their own.
    I have 5 handguns, 2 shotguns and 3 rifles. My wife is nervous but accepting of this. My sons think it’s fine (in fact, my oldest son and his wife have said that their plans for the apocalypse involve heading straight to my house.) My oldest daughter, with her liberal education, thinks this is scandalous.
    And that, it seems to me, is the source of the problem. In the big cities and suburbs our children are indoctrinated from early childhood by well meaning teachers, all of whom are the products of liberal universities. So, along with their three R’s, they’re being exposed to all of the liberal group think every school day. Over eight to twelve years of this has an effect.
    I believe that the modern American liberal mindset will have a devastating effect on our country if left unchecked.
    At this point, unfortunately, I don’t know what the solution is.

    • My oldest (daughter) with a very liberal college education and matching political views was thrilled to receive (unbeknownst to her anti-gun mother) a new 9mm from Dad as a college graduation gift. Now if she could only find the time to get her CCW, Dad would be very happy.

      The solution to antigun views is to take your kids out and teach them how to shoot. Start with a .22 and work up. Make it fun. If your kids like to compete, they will like to shoot.

      • You are right of course- regarding shooting specifically. I think the issue goes far deeper- ie how to ‘think’. Even if a few selected liberals embrace guns, is that going to over-ride their other foolish inclinations when it comes time to vote? Not likely. Liberalism ultimately is about controlling other people through govt action/force and is incompatible with Liberty.

        ‘We’ have been sowing the seeds of our own destruction for the last few generations with the loss of the Academie to un-American philosophy.

  14. I disagree with the premise that people in Chicagoland are just inured to crime. I was born in the city, and liverd there for 12 years before moving to the northern burbs. My experience was not that the educators poopooed guns–I played cops and robbers when I was a kid, and built plently of tinkertoy guns. Instead, guns were just not an issue–I remember only one friend whose dad had a .22 rifle for their summers in Colorado, but no one else had guns, no one else hunted. Kind of typical for Chicago urbanites. Not being brought up around guns, the thought of owning one or learning to shoot never occurred to any of us. My mother was probably anti, and my sister was a young radical democrat, antiwar type, while my brother joined the military and made a career of it. This lack of exposure I think develops a sense that guns are different, that only BGs have guns. I live in California now, and the Bay Area is rabidly antigun, notwithstanding the fact that you don’t have to go far before you find lots of people who shoot and hunt–it is a political belief system, not an inurement to crime.

  15. When you understand that you have Rights, I think there is a tendency to believe everyone else “gets it” as you do. They don’t. A lot do (as we all seem to think along the same lines here), but in places like Chicago, New York, San Francisco Bay Area and so on they don’t “get it”.

    Often those of us who do approach those who don’t from a “Here, let me tell you why you are so mistaken…” tack. Telling someone how wrong or mistaken they are just causes them to put up their defenses and stop listening.

    I think you have to get these folks to think about gun ownership in a way that relates to them as a person and their concept of themself, what rights they have innately and legally, whether it is acceptable to just be a victim, or to be able to even attempt to defend their family and themself from aggression…and so forth.

    I think all of us who “get it” have had a fundamental realization, namely, that we have innate worthiness as a Human Being, otherwise known as Equality. Apparently, that understanding gets lost or blurred and needs to be re-awakened for those who don’t “get it”.

  16. Glad South Dakota woke you up. I was shocked when I moved out of here for a few years, having been born and raised in the gun loving state of South Dakota. I quickly left that new state (hint – two letters, starts with an MD) and came running back to SD and started our forums…

    I even wrote my representatives and told them why I left MD. Been nearly car-jacked, robbed, and assaulted, luckily our street smarts helped with those situations. Been back here in SD now for 4 years and haven’t had a single crime committed against us.

  17. Let me give you the flip-side.

    I grew up in Brooklyn NY and knew about the Sullivan Law from an early age. I was fascinated by guns and wanted one. Only the fear of going to jail kept me from getting one but I was always on the lookout.

    After marrying, we moved out of ‘the city’ to more rural places, eventually Texas and Florida. In Texas c.1983 I was offered a full-auto Uzi for $1200 (incl ATF fees) and turned it down (dammit!) because money was scarce.

    Now in Florida, I have ‘an arsenal’ including several thousand rounds, but expect never to have to use them on criminals… go figure.

    It’s not true that (all) people in places like NYC and Chicago are unaware of their rights. It’s true that the effort to exercise those rights AND stay out of jail is often a bridge too far.

  18. Another factor in the Chicago/SF/NYC/etc. apathy towards self-defense is the fact that people who discover that their lives and their human dignity are worth protecting (from criminals and politicians) tend to leave anti-gun cities and move to areas that embrace the Second Amendment. This kind of self-selection eventually results in cities full of victims and criminals/politicians.

    Darwinian selection in progress.

  19. True thing is that the only who could make the home and personal defence ageinst the bad person who even could kill you and you relatives and family is yourself. In our country it isnt possible legally bacause they put you to the jail and dont care it at all. Before that they even humilated you by false info and it they way to go because the EU orders are simple. All guns out even many unlegally ways bacause the they have told if you do some legally abaut that they could revense that many ways. That is the today policy here. You dont bolieve untill it happens to you. Then it is too late. Thanks EU anti gun policy with some so called paranoid suffer persons. They have their guns and they just dont care the rest ones. Sorry my poor english but I think you know what I write. Best recards and dont give up. Paul

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