Politics & Policy

My Family Has Been Threatened by Racists. Why Should They Outgun Me?

AR-15 rifles displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pa., in 2017. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
The right to effective self-defense has never been more important.

Few things are more frustrating than watching members of the media, politicians, and activists who often know very little about guns, have the resources to hire security when they face threats, and don’t understand the weapons criminals use telling me what I “need” to protect my family. And what they invariably tell me I “need” is a weapon less powerful than the foreseeable criminal threat.

Or, let me put it another way. My family has been threatened by white nationalists. Why should they outgun me?

Few things concentrate the mind more than the terrifying knowledge that a person might want to harm or kill someone you love. It transforms the way you interact with the world. It makes you aware of your acute vulnerability and the practical limitations of police protection.

If you’re wealthy, you have a quick response: Hire professionals to help. Let them worry about weapons and tactics. If you’re not wealthy, then your mind gets practical, fast. You have to understand what you may well face. And despite the constant refrain that semi-automatic weapons with large-capacity magazines are “weapons of war,” if you know anything about guns you know that what the media calls a large-capacity magazine is really standard-capacity on millions upon millions of handguns sold in the United States.

This means it’s entirely possible that a person coming to shoot you is carrying something like, say, a Glock 19 with a standard 15-round magazine.

So, how do I meet that threat? Unless you’re a highly trained professional who possesses supreme confidence in your self-defense skills, you meet it at the very least with an equivalent weapon, and preferably with superior firepower.

In a nutshell that’s why my first line of defense in my home is an AR-15. One of the most ridiculous lines in yesterday’s New York Post editorial endorsing an assault-weapons ban was the assertion that semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 are “regularly used only in mass shootings.” False, false, false. I use one to protect my family.

Why? The answer is easy. As a veteran, I’ve trained to use a similar weapon. I’m comfortable with it, it’s more powerful and more accurate than the handgun I carry or the handgun an intruder is likely to carry, and, while opinions vary, multiple self-defense experts agree with me that it’s an excellent choice for protecting one’s home.

What’s more, like the vast, vast majority of people who own such a weapon, I use it responsibly and safely. Don’t believe me? It’s the most popular rifle in the United States — one of the most popular weapons of any kind, in fact — and it’s used in fewer murders than blunt objects or hands and feet.

Here is the fundamental, quite real, problem that gun-control advocates face when they try to persuade the gun-owning public to support additional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms: The burden of every single currently popular large-scale gun-control proposal will fall almost exclusively on law-abiding gun owners.

Even in the case of our dreadful epidemic of mass shootings, the available evidence indicates that so-called “common sense” gun-control proposals popular in the Democratic party (and the New York Post) are ineffective at stopping these most committed of killers. As my colleague Robert VerBruggen pointed out yesterday, a large-scale RAND Corporation review “uncovered ‘no qualifying studies showing that any of the 13 policies we investigated decreased mass shootings.’”

It’s one thing to ask millions of Americans to sacrifice their security for the sake of the larger common good. It’s quite another to ask for that same sacrifice in the absence of evidence that the policy will accomplish what it is designed to accomplish.

The criminal who seeks to harm my family has already demonstrated that he has no regard for the law. He doesn’t care about magazine-size restrictions or rhetoric about “weapons of war.” He doesn’t care that he evaded a background check or that he placed his girlfriend in legal jeopardy by using her as a straw purchaser. He doesn’t care if a previous felony conviction renders his gun possession unlawful.

By contrast, I care about the law. I want to remain law-abiding, and I want my family to remain law-abiding. I have immense respect for our nation’s legal system and its political processes. And so, as a person who has that respect and who also feels the keen anxiety of real threats aimed at the people I love the most, I’m making a simple request: Don’t give the white nationalists an advantage. Don’t give violent criminals the edge in any conflict with peaceful citizens.

In your well-meaning ignorance, you seek to provide greater security at the price of liberty. In reality, you would sacrifice both to no good end.

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David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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