A Nation Of Cowards

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

We are told ordinary citizens don’t need guns, we shouldn’t try to defend ourselves, we should leave it to the professionals who have training and experience to do the job safely and correctly.

In other words:  “Trust us, we’re from the government and we’re here to help.”

The School Resource Officer who hid outside the school instead of engaging the shooter inside, resigned in disgrace.  He’s not the only Deputy who hid and waited.  The Coral Springs PD walked past three more cowering deputies to go into the school looking for the shooter.  And that’s after years of warnings were ignored.  No wonder the sheriff wants to blame Trump and the NRA for this disaster. The officer who resigned may be the only honorable person in that whole department.

And I’m not sure he’s being justly blamed.  Think of the TSA screeners at the airport.  All federal law enforcement people, supposedly there to protect the public from terrorists. They put on a big show of confiscating a two-inch pen knife and badgering anybody making jokes about bombs, but imagine the Florida shooter had skipped school to show up at the airport.  Imagine he had started shooting at people standing in the rope line, or taking off their shoes.  How many of those TSA screeners would have charged the gunman?  I suspect the answer is “none,” because they’re not warriors, they’re window dressing, and everybody knows it.

Same as the School Resource Officer.  He might be a sworn peace officer carrying a pistol but God help him if he shot a kid causing trouble , if he pulled a weapon on one, or even spoke sharply to him.  Jesse Jackson would be on the first plane and Gloria Allred would be in the seat right next to him.  The school hired the guy to be Officer Friendly.  They can’t expect him to suddenly turn into Rambo and they would have been horrified if they thought he might.

The deputy who resigned is a trained professional, all right.  But what’s he trained for?  Sensitivity to gender issues?  Minimizing racial arrest disparities?  Reducing truancy?  He was great at those jobs.  Don’t blame him for failing to do a job he wasn’t hired for, wasn’t temperamentally suited for, that nobody wanted him to do.

Joe Doakes

In the seminal essay “A Nation of Cowards” – an essay that may not have created an entire generation of Second Amendment activists, but certainly helped them focus their thinking –  Jeffrey Snyder wrote:

Is your life worth protecting? If so, whose responsibility is it to protect it? If you believe that it is the police’s, not only are you wrong — since the courts universally rule that they have no legal obligation to do so — but you face some difficult moral quandaries. How can you rightfully ask another human being to risk his life to protect yours, when you will assume no responsibility yourself? Because that is his job and we pay him to do it? Because your life is of incalculable value, but his is only worth the $30,000 salary we pay him? [In 1993 – Ed.]  If you believe it reprehensible to possess the means and will to use lethal force to repel a criminal assault, how can you call upon another to do so for you?

Adults who are kibitzing about the cops – but not calling for school sfaffers to assert their moral right, power and obligation to protect the children in their charge and themselves – are hypocrites.

And yes, I said “moral obligation”:

One who values his life and takes seriously his responsibilities to his family and community will possess and cultivate the means of fighting back, and will retaliate when threatened with death or grievous injury to himself or a loved one. He will never be content to rely solely on others for his safety, or to think he has done all that is possible by being aware of his surroundings and taking measures of avoidance. Let’s not mince words: He will be armed, will be trained in the use of his weapon, and will defend himself when faced with lethal violence.

I think this essay needs to circulate again.

14 thoughts on “A Nation Of Cowards

  1. May be true, but it is really appalling if a profession so appealing to those who love action in their daily lives is becoming one that selects men without chests.

  2. Mitch:

    If a person has a “moral obligation” to carry a firearm for defense, then that implies that an unarmed person killed by an assailant in a public place, is, to the extent they failed to properly arm themselves for defense, at fault for their own death.

    Do you disagree?

  3. RickDFL’s question is an example of the motte-and-bailey logical fallacy.

    I have children. Having children imposes a moral commitment on me to do my best to provide for them. If I commit suicide, I leave them without insurance, without earned income, without male role model. Their lives will be immeasurably harder because I have failed my moral commitment to provide for them. Walking unarmed down dark alleys in Frogtown or North Minneapolis holding a wad of cash is committing suicide by proxy. It’s another failure of my moral obligation to provide for my children.

    That doesn’t mean my death was “my fault.” It’s still the “fault” of the killer.

    The logical fallacy lies in failing to distinguish my moral failure from his fault.

  4. Joe:
    I didn’t say ‘entirely at fault’ or ‘more at fault’ than anybody else. I said “to the extent they failed to properly arm themselves for defense, at fault”.

    To that extent, do you agree? If not, in what meaningful sense is there a moral obligation?

  5. “Emery on February 28, 2018 at 10:06 am said:
    If I lived where burglars roamed in groups of 30, I’d move.”
    I think an individual should be given the benefit of a doubt when it comes to magazine capacity and ammo buys. They know what they need more than an anonymous blog commenter or a government official or lawmaker (each of those three has different values and priorities than the person buying the magazine or bulk ammunition).
    Part of the problem with making so-called reasonable accommodations with the gun grabbers is that they will not argue in good faith. Every restrriction is just moves the needle more in the direction of gun confiscation. This is not true on the other side. Mainstream gun owners don’t think that any weapon should be able to be purchased by anyone. The gun grabbers believe that no person should be able to purchase any gun.

  6. Regarding Emery’s comment, it’s worth noting that not only can the drug war bring larger numbers of assailants to your neighborhood, but also there are large areas in our country, inner cities in particular, where people cannot afford to move. Congratulations on your contempt for poor people, Emery! Also, congratulations on not figuring out that one big reason for a 30 round magazine is that not every shot results in a man down. If you’ve got even five assailants–common in gangland and such–are you going to want to take a second or two dropping and replacing the magazine?

    Regarding Rick’s question about whether failure to arm oneself amounts to a moral failure, well, let’s ask it a different way. Does the failure to use a seat belt make a person culpable for his death in a car crash? Does the failure to have a working fire extinguisher in one’s home make a person culpable for injuries and such in a house fire? Does the failure to have sufficient lifeboats on board a ship make the owners culpable for deaths when the ship sinks slowly enough to allow people to get on lifeboats?

    The question isn’t whether or not one is culpable–one certainly is–but rather whether the likelihood of being victimized justifies a certain degree of preparation. Given about 1.3 million violent crimes in 2016, and given the behavior of governments with disarmed subjects in the 20th century, the data suggest that a certain amount of preparation is wise.

  7. RickDFL, you have to explain to me what “fault” means in your question.

    Insurance defense lawyers argue that if your car hadn’t been on the street, the other guy couldn’t have hit it with his car; therefore, just by being there, you’re 10% “at fault” so they only owe you 90% of the money it will take to make you whole.

    Applying that analysis to school shootings, every kid is “at fault” simply for being present in the school where the shooter could kill them. I’m not willing to blame the victims. If that’s where you’re headed, you’re on your own.

  8. Joe:
    I mean ‘fault’ in the ordinary sense of failing to do something you have a moral obligation to do. If you say a person has a moral obligation to do x to prevent y, then if they don’t do x and y happens, you have to say they are, to that extent, at fault for y happening. If not, what does ‘moral obligation’ mean?

    Let’s stick with adults because whether kids would have the same moral obligations as adults would be a separate question.

  9. RickDFL, still having trouble grasping the concept.

    Suppose a college student goes to a frat party where she gets drunk and gang-raped. Couldn’t have happened if she’d stayed home to wash her hair. Are you suggesting the crime was her fault, that she bears moral culpability for it? Why are you trying to blame the victim for the criminal’s actions?

  10. Joe:

    I never asserted that anyone has a moral obligation to refrain from getting drunk to prevent rape. Mitch said people have a moral obligation to carry a firearm to prevent violence. If you disagree, great. If not, the same question still stands.

  11. Mitch said people have a moral obligation to carry a firearm to prevent violence.


    I said people have a moral obligation to prevent harm to children. Under certain circumstances, firearms can be the most reliable and effective way to do that.

    Read more carefully, RDFL.

  12. OK Mitch, fair enough. It does raise three questions.

    Do you not think “people have a moral obligation to carry a firearm to prevent violence”?

    If you think people have a moral obligation in certain circumstances to carry a firearm to protect children, what are those circumstances (e.g. school teachers, day-care providers, anyone with children in public, anyone at home with children, etc.)

    Whatever those circumstances are, if a person is not armed and harm does result to a child, would you say they are, to that extent, at fault for the harm?

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