- - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Americans in growing numbers are unhappy about depending on government for survival — life-and-death survival, not just dependence on government for food stamps, health care, housing or even cash.

Even in liberal enclaves such as Chicago and Detroit, awareness is spreading that regulation of everyday firearms is not merely a fight about the Second Amendment. It’s about being able to respond instantly to would-be attackers, home invaders, rapists and robbers without being dependent on government.

As the saying goes, “When seconds count, the police are still minutes away.”

Only the ability to defend yourself, your family and your home can protect you in a sudden crisis.

Chicago is the latest proof that expanding self-defense improves public safety in ways that gun control promises but fails to deliver.

As noted in a recent Washington Times investigation, after courts this year forced Illinois to start granting concealed carry permits, Chicago’s homicide rate improved to a 56-year low, arrests for robbery have fallen 20 percent and burglary by 20 percent. It’s not a change in police tactics or other law. By end of July, 68,549 Illinois concealed carry licenses were issued (almost 29,000 in Chicago’s Cook County) and there is a backlog for the training being sought by thousands more applicants.

Illinois was the last state to start granting these licenses, while the desire for them has outpaced the sporadic adoption of gun control laws in places like Maryland (pending court challenges). Seven years ago 4.5 million Americans were licensed to pack heat; now it’s 11.1 million, reports the Crime Prevention Research Center. This has coincided with a 22 percent national drop in homicide and other violent crime rates.

The periodic horrors such as Sandy Hook Elementary and Aurora, Colorado, get played up by the media, but as concealed carry permits have increased, gun crimes have fallen. It’s the phenomenon detailed in John R. Lott’s book, “More Guns, Less Crime.” The worst mass murders have been in so-called “gun-free zones” where crazed killers find their targets have the poorest protection.

To the regulators’ dismay, even inner-city Detroit has become an example of how self-defense beats unilateral disarmament of law-abiding citizens. Detroit Police Chief James Craig repeatedly declares that armed citizens deter crime. “Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” says Chief Craig. The fact that he is black is especially galling to the gun control crowd, which expects minorities to be automatic supporters of liberal agendas.

Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who is also black, beat back a furious effort by gun control advocates to defeat his re-election effort. As he told voters in this radio ad:

“I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal: Your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport — I need you in the game. But are you ready? With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed — or you can fight back. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling of firearms, so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?”

Gun control is not usually included among examples of government overregulation nor labeled as an issue that shows the benefits of sensible deregulation. But the gun issue should be part of those discussions. This is not to promote ending all restrictions. No responsible person, for example, seriously urges that machine guns should be readily available, even though leftists commonly try to equate semi-automatic weapons with fully-automatic machine guns. And the notion of limiting ammunition capacity for honest citizens reflects a curious theory that law-abiding people are crack shots who shouldn’t need more than one bullet.

The gun control agenda is often misunderstood as an irrational hatred of the Second Amendment. But its origin is actually the statist belief in big government. Too many activists and politicians crave the power by controlling people’s lives to the nth degree. They find fulfillment in believing that they are improving society by making better decisions than ordinary people would make.

It’s the ultimate loss of freedom when your personal safety — and your family’s — must be entrusted totally to government. Millions of Americans are saying they don’t trust government to protect them. That is why they insist upon their right of self-defense, free of government threats to restrict or remove it.

Ernest Istook is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma. Listen online to his daily talk-radio show at KZLSam.com, noon to 3 p.m. ET. Get his free email newsletter by signing up at eepurl.com/JPojD.

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