Craig Drayton
Craig Drayton

Fire Extinguishers, And The Psychos Who Use Them

From the 30th of June 2002 to the 30th of June 2003, 57 people were murdered in New Zealand. 12.3% of these murders were unsolved. This means that last year alone, the killers of seven people were uncaught and unpunished. In this same period there were 3,312 sexual offenses reported to police. That is an average of nine every single day of the year.

On top of this, 37,736 homes were broken into. That's a huge 104 homes each day. The worst thing about these burglaries is that only 17.2% were resolved. Over thirty thousand people from last year alone will never see their property again. Plus—45,980 instances of reported violence, 42,057 instances of property damage, 21,706 instances of property abuse. All these murders, thefts, rapes and assaults come to a grand total of 150,848 cases of crimes against people's lives and property.1

In countries around the world and throughout history, people have been defending themselves from these attacks. Recently, however, there has been a coordinated attack on the right to self-defence, and in particular, the defence of one's life and property with firearms. The image of firearms has changed dramatically, from a simple tool into an object of inherent evil. However, what you don't hear in conversation and from the media is that guns are used to defend people every day, in countries where that is allowed. An estimated 2.5 million crimes are prevented every year in the USA with the use of firearms, 92% of which are simply a brandishing of the weapon or a warning shot, where even the criminal remains unharmed.2 This means a firearm is used 60 times more often to defend a life than to take one.3

Another view that has become popular recently is that guns are not an effective means to defend yourself. It is said that guns will "be taken and used against the owner" and that the best way to defend yourself is to comply completely with the attackers' demands and actions. The British Home Office released statistics showing that non-violent defence resulted in a 45% injury rate for the victim, compared to 6% who resisted with a firearm. The US Department of Justice shows similar trends, where 32% of rape attacks on unarmed women are completed, compared to just 3% of attacks on women armed with a gun or a knife.4 Obviously armed resistance is effective and does save lives.

The defining characteristic of criminals is that they do not obey laws. It then logically follows that passing a law to prevent private ownership of firearms is simply another law that criminals will ignore, giving them the power to initiate force against citizens who are guaranteed to have no form of defence. Unfortunately, logic does not always prevail. People who support the right to defend themselves against attackers are labeled "gun nuts" and are said to be "paranoid" and "psycho." It is interesting that this mentality is not consistent. For example, the idea of having a gun nearby to protect yourself from the possibility of an attacker falls under the category of "paranoid" and "psycho," but having a fire extinguisher nearby to protect yourself from the possibility of a fire does not. This is certainly revealing when you consider that from June 2000 to June 2001 there were only 3,570 house fires.5 That is approximately the same number of times a person is sexually assaulted, and 12 times smaller than the number of reported instances of violence. Surely if a person is "paranoid" when taking precautions against attack, he must be extremely paranoid when taking precautions against fire? Yet precautions against fire, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, are not considered signs of a paranoid house owner. Why then are precautions against assault or rape considered the domain of psychos?

The current situation in New Zealand is appalling. Not only is self-defence not a legitimate use of firearms, but there is also a ban on Tazers and Pepper Spray, two non-lethal devices designed for self-defence. If you do have to defend yourself from an attack, expect to have your life destroyed as you are called upon to prove that you did not use "unreasonable force" to stop this person attacking you. A good example of this is the Constable Abbott murder trial. After the shooting, Abbott not only had to deal with the stress and the psychological effect of the shooting, he also had to stand and give evidence to prevent him being sent to jail and ruining his life further. Steven Wallace was enraged, intoxicated, had repeatedly threatened to kill Abbott … and had the means to do so. If a police officer is put through this after defending himself against an attacker, what chance does a citizen have?

Nobody wants to take a human life. Advocates of self-defence are not wanting a licence to kill, hoping to hunt down trouble. An attack is traumatic, regardless of the outcome. Those who advocate self-defence simply realize that they would rather an attacker be lying dead on the floor than themselves or their family. Having a weapon for self-defence is like any other precaution. You don't get a fire extinguisher and then hope that your house burns down. You don't get insurance and then try to get into accidents. There is no justification for branding a firearm owner as a "nut" or a "psycho" and especially not as "paranoid." Remember, there were 3,570 house fires. The instances of murder, rape, theft, assault, burglary and violence totaled 150,848. The chance of being attacked or burgled is more than 40 times greater than the chance of your house burning down. 41 people died in a fire in the year ending June 2001. In the same period 53 people were murdered. If you are taking precautions against fire, maybe you need to think about taking precautions against attack.

Support the right to self defence.

1. Office of the Police Commissioner, August 2003, New Zealand Crime Statistics 2002/2003.

2. Targeting Guns, Dr. Gary Kleck, Criminologist, Florida State University, 1997.

3. Fall 1995, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (In 15.6% of these defensive uses of firearms, the victim has said that the gun "almost certainly" saved their life.)

4. U.S. Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Rape Victimization in 26 American Cities, 1979.

5. New Zealand Fire Service Website, Facts and Statistics.

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