When Jared Loughner opened fire in Tucson on January 8, six people were killed and fourteen injured. No matter where you were sitting, as the 24-hour news carried the details of the story, the world seemed almost to stop spinning. The raw evil of what Loughner had done was simply too great for decent, law abiding citizens to comprehend.
Sadly, it didn’t take long for various talking heads on the left to see the shooting as just another crisis that could be used to further their agenda: tightening gun control, besmearing the Tea Party, and destroying Sarah Palin. For instance, within 48 hours of the shooting, Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) promised to introduce stricter gun control legislation as soon as her staff could draw it up, the Washington Post’s Courtland Milloy affixed blame to the Tea Party, and uber-leftist Paul Krugman disgraced himself as one of the shrillest voices placing the blame on Palin.
Lost in these attempts to gain political points by placing blame on someone other than the shooter is the clearest lesson of the Tucson shooting: that we must take responsibility for our own lives — and be prepared to defend those lives with weapons we carry for protection.
Far from serving as fodder for the anti-gunners (save as they pervert the story to make it fit their template), the shooting in Tucson reminds us that when the criminal mind acts on its inclinations, its would-be victims must be prepared to take the necessary steps to stop the perpetrator in his tracks. Clearly, this is best achieved by lawfully carrying a handgun on our persons: a handgun with which we are familiar, and which we are willing to use to defend our own lives and the lives of other innocents.
If anyone thinks I go too far in positing a handgun as the best means of self-defense, consider Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s explanation for why that court famously overturned handgun bans in Washington, D.C., and Chicago: “We held that individual self defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment right [to keep and bear arms]. …[And] we found that this right applies to handguns because they are ‘the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family.’”
Alito’s words rang in my head as I was eating lunch in a restaurant with my family on the afternoon of January 8, watching the television on the wall as news of the shooting poured in. My youngest daughter, who knows I legally carry a concealed pistol everyday, looked at me and asked: “Dad, would you have stopped him?” I explained to her that while I couldn’t say for sure I would have stopped him, I certainly would have been prepared to stop him and would have had absolutely no qualms about shooting a criminal who threatened the lives of my family and/or myself.
Such is life. As long as we are on this earth, criminals will be seeking the opportunity to carry out their evil schemes. And if we respond to their schemes as Representative McCarthy wants to, by passing more and more gun control laws, we’ll inevitably be disappointed to find that criminals will ignore the new laws just as easily as they ignored the old ones. In the end, such an approach will only hamper the ability of law abiding citizens to get their hands on the weapons “most preferred” for self defense, effectively transforming more and more innocents into sitting ducks for the next Loughner whenever and wherever he decides to kill in cold blood.
Our lives are our own responsibilities. We cannot entrust their protection to agents of the state, whether those agents are legislators, police officers, or federal agents.
If we want to be safe, we need to arm ourselves as a means of making preparation for safety. Perhaps this is the most valuable lesson the Tucson shooting can teach us.
AWR Hawkins is a conservative writer who holds a Ph.D. in military history from Texas Tech University.