There should be some limits to the kinds of weapons we can own but the gun people don’t think so. “I need an automatic weapon to defend myself.” Really? You can’t defend yourself with a pistol? You have a constant onslaught of enemies rushing onto your lawn so you need 100 rounds a minute to mow them down? If you’re that much of an ass you shouldn’t have a butter knife.
~Comedian Costaki Economopolous on the 2nd Amendment
In my “Imagination and Entrepreneurship” class at Miami University, I would start any discussion about the importance of observation with the following mental “warm-up” exercise.
Which way is this bus moving?
The solution is simple once you recognize this side of the bus is all windows. Can you imagine what the other side of the bus looks like? There would be doors as well as windows. Where would the front door be? Opposite the window on the left, i.e. where the driver sits (unless you live in Great Britain or other countries where the driver sits on the right side of the vehicle). Therefore, the bus must be moving to the left. Consider this as the visual equivalent of reading between the lines of a manuscript to fully understand the author’s meaning.
Sadly, I was reminded of this exercise over the weekend while watching a video clip of a 21-year-old assailant with an assault rifle entering a Dollar General store in Jacksonville. Why? Because there are two perspectives from which we can examine this event. How many times have we been exposed to “this side of the bus” since the national assault weapons ban expired in September, 2004? A well-armed loner, on the offense, staking out a location where he is sure to find his intended targets.
Now imagine the other side. Instead of a front page headline or breaking news on CNN about a gunman (and they are almost exclusively male) leaving his residence with an AR-47 to “hunt” his prey, how many times is the story about a property owner holding off a horde of invaders with his assault weapon? I found just two instances via a Google search. These are the rare exception. In every other case, a shot gun or handgun was sufficient deterrence.
I also Googled the question, “Why do you need an assault weapon for protection?” Among the numerous hits was a March 2021 interview by then Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace with (drum roll) South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham. Graham explained:
I own an AR-15. If there’s a natural disaster in South Carolina where the cops can’t protect my neighborhood, my house will be the last one that the gang will come to because I can defend myself.
To be clear, Graham claims it is the intersection of these four factors that justify his packing an assault weapon.
- He lives in an otherwise unprotected house.
- Gangs are a present danger in his neighborhood.
- South Carolina law enforcement is inadequate to handle an emergency.
- A natural disaster creates the environment for violent crimes.
Graham resides in a 10,000 square foot McMansion in Clemson, South Carolina estimated to be worth $18 million. Although I could not confirm whether the house is in a gated community, it is surrounded by equally impressive residences. Most such communities have private security to guard the entrance and patrol the neighborhood. Additionally, I am sure Graham’s home has its own electronic security system.
How about those ever present gangs (a dog whistle if I ever heard one.) The crime rate in Clemson is less than half of that for the state of South Carolina.
Even if there is no private security, Clemson, like many college towns, has more police and emergency personnel than the average city. Law enforcement in Graham’s jurisdiction is provided by the municipal police department and Clemson University’s security force.
All of the above would be irrelevant if there were no natural disasters to trigger Graham’s anticipated crime wave. But this is the one thing he got right. Since 2000, South Carolina has had more than its share of hurricanes, tornadoes and coastal flooding, many of which resulted in FEMA emergency declarations. Hurricane Kyle (2002). Hurricane Gaston (2004). Hurricane Hanna (2008). Hurricane Dorian (2019) Hurricane Earl (2010). Hurricane Zeta (2020). Hurricane Ian (2022). A series of tornadoes in April 2020.
And yet neither the Senator or any other South Carolina resident is reported to have needed an assault weapon to deter those pesky “gangs” during any of these disasters. Considering its projected path, Hurricane Idalia will again test Graham’s hypothesis sometime around noon on Thursday. However, based on his behavior since January 6, 2021, we are more likely to find the Senator hunkered down at Mar-a-Lago than playing Rambo at his Clemson residence.
For what it’s worth.