Minneapolis and other major cities have finally re-opened, at least to looters and arsonists. For three days, police in Minneapolis and St. Paul were ordered to stand down as rioters destroyed their cities. In New York City and Washington, D.C., on Monday night, police stood by as looters destroyed parts of those cities.
The same politicians who ordered police to stand down and released prison inmates are the same people who want to ban guns. These politicians prevent citizens from protecting themselves, at a time when police protection cannot be depended on.
For three days, police in Minneapolis and St. Paul were ordered to stand down as rioters destroyed their cities. Sadly, so many of the victims of this violence have been blacks. Black store owners have lost their businesses. In these heavily black areas, blacks will lose their jobs. Black shoppers worry they “have nowhere to go now.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said it’d be “ridiculous” to break up demonstrators who violate crowd-size rules for the coronavirus. The president of the NAACP is asking police nationwide to stand down to preserve the peace.
In Minnesota, you face a $25,000 fine if you open your business during the current COVID-19 lockdown, but criminals effectively have immunity. The few who were arrested for violent acts in Minneapolis were quickly bailed out of jail with financial help from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign staffers.
As of Sunday morning, more than 255 businesses had been destroyed in the Twin Cities. The looting was extensive. Many large companies have reported that they are “temporarily or indefinitely closed.” Officers even abandoned their own police station, which was then set on fire by protesters.
Across the country, police have had orders to stand down.
“Tonight, I watched Seattle burn. Seattle is dying, by fire, looting, weakness of the political leadership,” wrote Seattle KVI radio talk-show host Kirby Wilbur. “We watched on TV as our law enforcement stood by while vandalism, looting, assaults, pure chaos reigned in the streets of our downtown business district.”
But the violence in Minneapolis would have been much worse if people hadn’t been able to defend themselves and their businesses with guns. As The Wall Street Journal reported, “African-American owners of GM Tobacco told me they were armed and ready to protect their business — and that they stand in solidarity with those who seek justice for [George] Floyd.” Visible from the front of the store was Minneapolis’ Third Police Precinct, which rioters set on fire.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. People may remember the Korean store owners who successfully used semi-automatic rifles to protect their businesses during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
One searches in vain for Democratic politicians who have reprimanded the rioters. On Saturday, after several nights of riots, Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat, egged on demonstrators by calling for a continuation of the “righteous protests” and necessary routing out of the “racism” that she said is endemic in Minnesota.
Twitter didn’t seem to mind incitement to violence by liberals such as Colin Kaepernick. He tweeted that “revolting is the only logical reaction. … We have the right to fight back!” Others on Twitter are calling for “a violent rebellion against an entire system.”
Democrats in Minnesota have been forceful advocates for gun control. Mr. Walz and Mrs. Smith have been strongly endorsed by Michael Bloomberg’s gun-control organization, Moms Demand Action. They have supported banning some semi-automatic guns based solely on superficial appearance. They also support limits on magazine sizes.
Especially in a riot, semi-automatic firearms that reload automatically are much more useful for self-defense than are single-shot weapons. Hopefully, the presence of a gun by itself will deter an attack, but if you have to open fire it will be a big help to not have to constantly manually reload.
My research shows that police are the single most important factor in deterring violent crime. But the riots have shown yet again that politicians frequently won’t let the police do their jobs when they are most needed.
The riots have shown several things that liberal politicians don’t seem to understand. The police themselves know that they normally arrive on the scene after the crime has occurred, and that having a gun is by far the safest course of action when you are confronted by a criminal. It is also the most vulnerable in our society — namely blacks who live in high-crime cities — who benefit the most from having the option to be able to defend themselves.
• John R. Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.