Why should law-abiding Americans be allowed to own handguns?

A message from Females with Firearms
A message from Females with Firearms

Here’s a news story from the Washington Free Beacon that shows what happens when law-abiding Americans are allowed to own handguns.


A Florida police officer is alive and the suspect who was beating him is dead thanks to the intervention of an armed citizen on Monday.

The incident began when Deputy First Class Dean Bardes, a 12-year-veteran of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, attempted to pull over a car. When the driver refused to stop, a high-speed chase ensued. When the suspect did finally stop, witnesses say he attacked Bardes.

“There was a lot of other lives that he was putting at risk, including mine and my daughter’s,” one witness, Nicole Ambrosini, told ABC affiliate WZVN. “I saw a car approaching me from behind at a very fast rate.”

“I saw the deputy and the suspect out of their cars with the doors both wide open and they were some type of altercation,” she continued.

The suspect appeared to gain the upper hand during the altercation.

“He just kept beating him and beating him,” a second witness, Shanta Holditch, told the news station. She said the suspect was “throwing him to the ground and punching him in all different directions.”

That is when witnesses say an armed man got out of his car and yelled at the suspect to stop hitting the officer. Holditch said the suspect “refused to get off the officer and the officer kept yelling, ‘shoot him, shoot him, shoot him.’”

Then witnesses heard three shots and saw the suspect collapse on top of the officer.

“I heard like three shots,” another witness, identified as Mr. Smith, told WZVN. “He fell down on top of the police officer. After a moment, the police officer rolled him back over, got on his mic, then rolled over back on the ground besides the guy.”

WINK News reports that the suspect may have been armed, but it is unclear if he or Bardes fired any shots during the altercation. He died after being shot by the citizen who intervened to help Bardes. That citizen holds a Concealed Weapons License, according to WINK.

Bardes was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment and has since been released.

According to this web site, Florida has some of the best gun laws for self-defense of any of the 50 states. If a policeman was attacked in a state like Illinois or New York or New Jersey, that policeman would be dead.

What would the secular leftists who oppose gun ownership say to the police officer in this situation? “Too bad” or maybe “have a nice death”. What about all the left-wing lawyers and progressive judges who have mistrust and contempt for law-abiding citizens? They’d say “let the policeman die” or “the criminal is the real victim”. It’s very fashionable in progressive circles to favor criminals over police officers. And they have no respect for a man’s traditional role to be a protector of his family and others in the community. Progressives don’t think about the real consequences of taking guns away from law abiding people. They want to feel good, and preen for others, but they don’t really aim to DO good.

Let’s go beyond feelings, though, and look at the peer-reviewed literature, so that we can have accurate beliefs about reality.

The peer-reviewed research

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.


Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[…]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people. The book by economist John Lott, linked above,compares the crime rates of all U.S. states that have enacted concealed carry laws, and concludes that violent crime rates dropped after law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry legally-owned firearms. That’s the mirror image of Dr. Malcolm’s Harvard study, but both studies affirm the same conclusion – more legal firearm ownership means less crime.

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