According to Emily Riley, writing boldly under the title “TCR Staff” over at The Crime Report, those of us who defend gun rights have a great deal in common with the crowd that wants to defund the police. Okay, so the original quotes come from a George Mason University assistant professor. Or do they? The Crime Report’s headline and intro to their post is a bit misleading.
Protestors calling for stricter measures against police violence should be on the same side of the barricades as Second Amendment opponents of stricter gun control, argues a Virginia law professor.
Since both fear the government’s ”monopoly of force” and are skeptical of authorities’ ability to protect citizens during times of unrest, they have an equal interest in Constitutional guarantees of the right to bear arms and protect themselves, Robert Leider writes in a forthcoming article in the Northwestern University Law Review.
“Decentralizing force allows private citizens to defend their interests and to protect the public when the government under-enforces the law,” wrote Leider, an assistant professor at George Mason University.
So if I’m reading this correctly, it would seem Leider believes the defund the police crowd has an interest in the right to bear arms? As in, they agree with and support the Second Amendment? Hmmm.
Then there’s this statement from the Crime Report post that’s hard to argue with:
“The government is under no obligation to furnish any individual citizen with police protection or law enforcement,” said Leider.
A slightly deeper dive – downloading the abstract and research paper for myself – showed Crime Report’s brief take on Leider’s work might not be entirely accurate (shock!). Directly from Leider’s work (access the abstract and download his work here):
How does all this relate back to the Second Amendment? The right to bear arms plays a critical role in diffusing executive authority. Just as “[t]he war power of the national government is the power to wage war successfully,”33 the right of self-defense and the power to enforce the law must include some power to exercise these functions successfully. The possession of weapons plays a crucial role in this by allowing those of unequal strength, power, and numbers to overcome their adversaries. When those adversaries are individuals acting illegitimately against the public peace, the private right to bear arms serves both private and public ends. And that right may be especially important when government agents are unable or unwilling to supply the necessary police protection. In these cases, individuals may need appropriate weapons for self-defense and to keep the public peace. Relatedly, the types of arms that they may need are those that are appropriate to these tasks. Extensive restrictions, for example, on the civilian possession of less-than-lethal weapons (e.g., tear gas) may counterproductively increase the amount of lethal force individuals may have to employ in emergencies. And prohibitions on the civilian possession of heavier weapons (e.g., rifles with high-capacity ammunition magazines) may make it impossible for grossly outnumbered individuals to protect themselves against lawless mass violence and for communities to restore order when their governments are unable or unwilling to do so.
The Crime Report’s interpretation — or at least the impression they first give you — doesn’t quite line up with Leider’s actual work. It might be worth your time to read through his report. His piece is an interesting perspective on the under-enforcement problems with law enforcement rather than harping on the current idea that over-policing is the problem.
Check it out and discuss. Is the issue with law enforcement really about under-enforcement?