“From any perspective of rationality, the thing to do with a robber is to cooperate politely.” So sayeth Franklin E. Zimring in The New York Times article Robbed at Gunpoint, Some Bronx Victims Resist. “You don’t have much money on you; it’s nuts for the victim to refuse. Here’s the second layer of nuts: You’ve got a rational robber. If the victim refuses, why doesn’t he just find somebody else?” Mr. Zimring is a criminologist at Berkeley Law School. Their motto: “Big Ideas, Bold Action.” And there’s your morning dose of unintentional irony. But wait! There’s more! . . .
While reporter J. David Goodman’s clearly amazed by citizens standing up to violent assault—never once mentioning the advantages of armed deterrence or defense—he dutifully reports that armed robberies are becoming increasingly violent:
With decade-long declines in crime, some scholars have noted a change in the nature of robberies. A 2009 study of national victim surveys taken since 1993 found that not only were robberies becoming less frequent over time, they were also becoming more violent, in part because of what the authors describe as “victim hardening.”
“Softer victims take precautions,” said Rajiv Sethi, a Barnard College economist and one of the study’s authors. In addition, he said, many people who may have become robbers in the past may instead have gotten jobs as urban economies improved, leaving the more-hardened criminals to encounter more-hardened victims on the streets of certain neighborhoods.
“You get more resistance in high-crime areas than low-crime areas,” he said. “People who would not resist have left the areas. Those who stay can’t afford to leave or to give up the little property that they have in their possession.”
Wow. That’s a whole lot of theorizing in a relatively small space, without a link to the study in question. Now how much would you surrender to an armed thug? Don’t answer!
The general perception of bad guys may have changed as well. Decades ago, many harbored an understandable fear that a gun-wielding assailant, fueled by drugs or desperation, would shoot at the smallest provocation. But a spreading sense of safety in many areas of the city, fostered by the falling murder rate, may lead some to doubt that a gunman these days will pull the trigger.
Does that mean victims are more stupider than they were back in the day or . . . no I guess that’s it. Which fits the theme of the article perfectly, right? You’ve got to be nuts to resist a bad guy with a gun. Did I mention that the article starts with three anecdotes of New Yorkers who did that and got shot for having a set?
That’s not to say that there isn’t a single person in the story who sticks up for what those who live in a moral universe call justice. There is. One.
Around the neighborhood, many offered theories for why four of their neighbors, when confronted with a gun, had decided to put up a fight.
“You figure he worked hard for his money and it’s rightfully his,” said Margaret, 60, who declined to give her last name because the site of the first shooting, on Light Street and Harper Avenue, is only steps from her home. “It’s not fair.”
Of course, the Times can’t end it that way. We all know why the Old Grey Lady published this story in the first place: they feel that resistance to an armed robber is meshuga. And that’s because they’re a bunch of unarmed wimps who couldn’t imagine standing up to a violent assault. So here’s the parting shot:
Others expressed shock that anyone would think to tangle with an armed robber in defense of a little bit of pocket lucre.
“You only live once,” said Omar Dailey, 35, while cutting the hair of a local tailor at a Bronxwood Avenue barbershop near the site of one of the shootings. “I’m giving up everything. What you want?”
Don’t get me wrong: armed or unarmed there are times where submission to a violent attacker is the best course of action. But treating people who stand up to an armed robber as “nuts” rather than “heroes” is nuts. And keeping the law-abiding populace disarmed? Well that’s insane.