Armed Citizens are Responsible Citizens
It is easy to understand why Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ) made a speech in support of gun control. She remembers that a deranged individual used a firearm to cripple her for life, but she also needs to remember that there were two gun-wielding individuals involved in the incident. The second gunman, Joseph Zamudio, wrote Giffords and Jared Lee Loughner's other victims a blank check on the spot for any amount up to and including his life. Even though Zamudio had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, he had no legal obligation whatsoever to walk into a situation that involved an active shooter.
Consider also Nick Meli, a concealed-carry permit holder who drew his weapon on Clackamas mall shooter Jacob Tyler Roberts. Meli was not a police officer whose duty required him to stand his ground against a deranged gunman. It is also noteworthy that Meli, like Zamudio, made the correct decision to not shoot: Meli because innocent bystanders were in his line of fire, and Zamudio because he was not sure of the identity of the assailant.
Then we have Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, who used a .45 Automatic to stop Luke Woodham's school shooting at two fatalities instead of Adam Lanza's twenty-six. Nothing but a personal sense of duty to others prevented Myrick from simply getting into his truck, driving away, and hoping the shooter wouldn't kill too many people before the police arrived. These are but three examples of the fact that armed citizens are responsible citizens.
Weapons Equal Responsibility
Free people own weapons, while slaves are issued weapons. Ownership of weapons has gone squarely hand in hand with responsible citizenship since the time of ancient Greece, where landowners who could afford costly bronze armor banded together to defend their communities. Mercenaries might run away, but the landowners had to stand and fight to keep their principal source of wealth. The Second Amendment camp's "Molon labe!" comes directly from Greeks who took personal responsibility for the defense of their community.
The connection between weapon ownership and responsibility is quite clear today. The kind of people who drive pickup trucks while they "cling to guns and religion" (per the Glorious Leader) are most likely to help other people during time of need. We can and should compare this acceptance of responsibility to the behavior of the enemies of the Second Amendment.
The Culture of Dependency versus Responsibility
Attacks on the Second Amendment originate from a clearly identifiable demographic source: large cities whose residents generally lack the culture of self-reliance and mutual reliance that prevails in rural and semi-rural areas. It is useful to look at the 2012 election results not by state, but by county. The deepest blue regions have, as their centers, cities like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. These are exactly the same places that have their hands out for Federal and state taxpayer money because they do not produce enough wealth to maintain themselves. These are also the first places that revert to the law of the jungle during natural disasters, as shown most recently by looting in Brooklyn during Hurricane Sandy.
We must now use a word that people dared not use 150 years ago, at least not in reference to any gentleman worthy of the name. Cowardice refers to avoidance of a duty because one fears the consequences of its performance. Somebody who avoids a danger that he has a legal or social obligation to confront is a physical coward, but there is also such a thing as moral cowardice. Both go hand in hand with the culture of dependency that pervades large cities.
Rosie O'Donnell, the celebrity who said "You are not allowed to own a gun," is probably a physical coward as shown by her employment of an armed security guard to protect her adopted children. Niccolò Machiavelli warned long ago that you cannot pay somebody enough to die for you, and a rent-a-cop can resign on the spot the instant matters get really dangerous. A mother who accepted her responsibility to defend her children, though, recently did so successfully instead of delegating the responsibility to somebody else. FrontSight reports how homeowner Billy Jackson defended himself and his wife from two home invaders who would probably have killed both of them had he not accepted this responsibility. He had to use 11 rounds, which is one more than Dianne Feinstein and four more than Andrew Cuomo say he needed, to do it.
It is also possible, however, to commit a despicable act of moral cowardice without running away from physical danger. Dozens of New Yorkers, the same people who elect enemies of the Second Amendment like Mario and Andrew Cuomo, Jerrold Nadler, and Charles Schumer, would not even pick up a telephone to call police when Kitty Genovese was being knifed to death. New Yorkers also left a homeless man to bleed to death after he saved a woman from a knife-wielding attacker. These are but two of many examples of the collective moral cowardice that pervades large urban areas.
Sheep Don't Tell Sheep Dogs What to Do
This is not to say that all people in big cities are cowards. Dozens of New York's emergency responders died on 9/11 when they tried to rescue people from the Twin Towers. These were, however, what Lt. Colonel David Grossman calls society's sheep dogs: men and women who join the Armed Forces, or become police officers, paramedics, or firefighters. They perform relatively low-paying jobs that involve the protection of their societies.
There are far more "sheep dogs at need" than professional sheep dogs. A sheep dog at need is somebody who is not a soldier, sailor, or emergency responder, but who will take responsibility for himself, herself, and possibly others during an emergency. This can range from returning lost property, calling the police, stopping to assist an accident victim, or even using deadly force as shown in the examples. Some people in the Twin Towers did try to help others escape.
The sheep are those who lack the will to take responsibility for themselves or anybody else. When a wolf attacks a flock of sheep, it's every sheep for himself. The way to survive is to not be the slowest or lamest sheep in the flock, and no sheep stops to help the elderly or the infirm. This is exactly what hundreds of New Yorkers did when Eleanor Bradley broke her leg on Fifth Avenue; they walked past her without any effort to call emergency responders.
The bandit chief in The Magnificent Seven, played by Eli Wallach, said of some villagers, "If God did not want them sheared, He would not have made them sheep." God did not, however, make them sheep; they chose to be sheep until they decided to become sheep dogs at the end of the story. It is quite reasonable for those of us who are sheep dogs, or sheep dogs at need, to ask the sheep politely but firmly to refrain from demanding that we become like them. If the sheep want to become like us, places like FrontSight and Gunsite can help instill the kind of confidence that comes from competence with a weapon.
William A. Levinson, P.E. is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.