Guns make people bad. And Chinese restaurants cause crime.

While I cannot follow the logic (often the case with arguments based on emotion), it seems that when white rich kids manage to get shot, it's seen as more of an argument for gun control than when the same thing happens with poor black kids.

That last link is the Inquirer's report of a shooting incident in a rich neighborhood. Apparently some 17 year old kids had spent the evening getting drunk, and one of them kept messing around with his father's gun, eventually killing his friend. The DelcoTimes has more:

Authorities said the shooting came at the end of an underage drinking party, which O’Neill was hosting Thursday night into Friday morning while his parents were at Sea Isle City, N.J., and his older sister was at work. Many individuals attended the party but as time wore on, the majority of partygoers departed, according to the document.

One of those in attendance told investigators the gun, which was stored between the mattress and box spring in O’Neill’s parents’ bedroom, was being "handled unsafely," so he left the party, according to the affidavit. He also said that at one point, O’Neill had pointed the gun at him.

Authorities were told O’Neill pulled the weapon out more than once during the party, including during a beer run O’Neill and others made to a Middletown Township barh. While in the car, O’Neill gave the gun to another person who then "shot the unoccupied vehicle of someone with whom the rest of the boys had a problem," the affidavit states.

By the end of the night, O’Neill, Sheridan and two others were alone when O’Neill got the gun and turned on the laser designator. O’Neill put the laser light on the three friends, who proceeded to duck behind a car. O’Neill dropped the gun to his side and the friends came out from behind the car. It was then that O’Neill raised the gun and pointed it at Sheridan and Sheridan knocked it away. The weapon went off and Sheridan collapsed in the driveway.

O’Neill was charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, purchase of liquor and weapons offenses, and remanded to Chester County prison.

If the facts are as alleged, a young rich kid did the same things that urban poor kids are so often alleged to do. I think it means that bad kids come in all colors, and from all economic backgrounds. How does this mean that law abiding people should have their guns taken away?

I mean that as a rhetorical question, but unfortunately, it seems to be behind the reasoning of local Democrats.

Accompanying the hard-copy version of the Inquirer report on the shooting is a lead-in to a legislative gun grab story:

At the Montco courthouse, state legislators call for new gun laws. B3.

And here's what happened at the Montgomery County courthouse:

A group of Democratic state legislators, led by State Rep. Dwight Evans of Philadelphia, went to the heart of Republican Montgomery County yesterday to announce a new legislative initiative aimed at reducing gun violence.

The legislators, a mix of state office holders from the suburbs and the city, were at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown to announce plans to submit a package of bills during a day-long special session of the House on crime scheduled for Sept. 26.

Pointing to recent poll data that indicates suburban residents are concerned about gun violence, Evans said that legislators should move beyond boundary lines and party labels to take action on gun control.

"It wasn't an accident that we were at the Norristown courthouse," Evans said. "We wanted people to know that this is an issue that transcends political jurisdiction."

Not an accident, huh? Well, it must not be, especially because the Inquirer prominently links the two stories.

Will someone tell me why a dead white kid is more of an argument for gun control than hundreds of dead black kids?

Am I alone in blaming the shooters? It's not as if bad kids are a brand new phenomenon. When I was in high school, a boy I knew got hold of his father's gun and drove around shooting into people's houses at random. (That's called crime.) He was expelled from school, and there were legal charges, although I don't know what happened to him. No one would have thought this was an argument for gun control or for massive attempts at social engineering. Better individual parental control, perhaps, but in those days you didn't go after person B because of the conduct of person A. As I've said more times than I can count, that makes about as much sense as taking Coco away from me because bad people own the same breed of dog.

But it must make sense to Democratic legislators, or they wouldn't be holding a press conference on the courthouse steps. Perhaps they think parents who fail to supervise their kids will get behind the idea of the government doing it for them. Or perhaps the push is aimed at the "we" people -- the ones who think "we" all somehow share parental responsibility for bad kids.

I mean, after all, didn't I share the blame for killing all the kids at Columbine? I'm even a member of the same organization as Charlton Heston -- the man said to be responsible.

Much as I try to be logical, there's just no bridging the gap between logic and insanity. Words can't do it. These things are not logical. There's a certain emotional undercurrent which causes some people to read these stories and read into them their own shortcomings, and such people (so it seems) end up being manipulated by the news. People like me who refuse to go along with it used to yell at their newspapers and televisions, and now they blog. But there's no stopping the power of the irrational. And irrational power is more influential than rational power. Don't ask me why; if I knew why I might be able to do something about it. (I suspect that the human mind retains a dark, superstitious mindset which demands easy answers and wants to belong to a herd, but it's too awful for libertarians and non-collectivists to contemplate.)

But the emotional push is part and parcel of the relentless push for gun control. I see it in editorial after editorial, and in story after story that wants to be an editorial. It's almost tired, and I'm more than tired of it.

I would have left this alone, but what especially irritated me this morning was to see a front page account about murdered Chinese restaurant owners being blamed for their plight. While advocacy of disarming the law-abiding is bad enough, to see them blamed for crimes specifically directed against them is just too much. I know it sounds crazy, but in Philadelphia the victims are "a total nuisance":

The elder Wang came to the United States in 1993 seeking the promise of a better life for himself and his family. As with many Chinese immigrants in Philadelphia, he wound up selling take-out food in a crime-ridden section of the city.

It's a dangerous business the Chinese learn not to enjoy. But often with little grasp of English and no other marketable skills, they see no other way to make money and save for that better life.

Wang, 44, who lived with his family in Feltonville, died Aug. 25 at Temple University Hospital, 14 days after he was shot during a late-afternoon robbery behind his China Taste takeout at Fifth and Lehigh in North Philadelphia.

He had been robbed before, and he explained to his sons, Zhong Hui and Zhong Jie Wang, 16, how they should respond. " 'If people rob you, give them the money. Nothing will happen to you,' he always tell me," Zhong Hui recalled. "This time, after the robbery, they shot him." Police reported no arrest in the case.

Some residents and police have criticized Chinese takeouts and other stores that stay open late in rough neighborhoods for being magnets for drug activity and other crimes.

Police Officer Jeff Smith, who conducts tactical patrols in North Philadelphia, called them a "total nuisance. They give the drug dealers a reason to hang on the corner."

But owners say that if their takeouts weren't open, drug dealing and other crimes would still afflict these neighborhoods. Also, the owners say they are threatened by drug dealers and have trouble getting police help. (Emphasis added.)

If you ask me, unsupervised teens who drive around shooting are the total nuisance. I don't care whether they're in the inner cities or the best white nighborhoods; but I don't blame restaurants, stores, Charlton Heston, or guns.

I blame them.

Bad people are why good people need to be armed. It's bad enough that police can't protect the law abiding, but when they blame law-abiding businesses when their owners are being murdered, is it any wonder that the business owners see no choice but to defend themselves?

Ten owners of Chinese takeouts have been murdered in Philadelphia in the last five years, said Yingzhang Lin, vice president of the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association.

In recent months, "several owners come to me, they want to buy guns," Lin said.

Lin was not sure that was wise. But after Wang's slaying, Lin said, "I change my mind."

Imagine that! Small business owners defending themselves against criminals!

Don't they realize the problem is not the criminals, but the guns?

No wonder the police consider them a nuisance.

Back to wealthy Montgomery County's courthouse steps:

[Montgomery County State Rep. Michael F.] Gerber said he has met with police chiefs in his Montgomery County district. The chiefs supported "almost all" of the legislative proposals.

[Montgomery County State Sen Connie] Williams said voters in her Philadelphia state Senate district want sensible gun control. It is voters in rural Pennsylvania who need convincing, she said.

"How do we get people to understand that we're not taking away anybody's right to hunt," Williams said. "We're really trying to slow down the explosion of gun violence."

The right to hunt?

I'm sure the Chinese business owners will be very comforted to know that even though they're regarded as a total nuisance, at least their state government isn't planning to take away their right to hunt.

Will someone please explain what hunting has to do with any of this?

With all respect to Senator Williams (who is my state senator), I don't think the issue is the right to hunt, but the right to self defense. I think the problem is that it has become impossible to acknowledge that some people are bad, and that it isn't the fault of the people who are good. Because it isn't easy or politically correct to acknowledge that good people must sometimes defend themselves against bad people, the right to self defense (which is the very basis of the right to keep and bear arms) is disregarded, with a peripheral issue -- hunting -- substituted in its place.


Might talk of the "right to hunt" be what Arnold Kling would call a "trust cue"?

As usual, I'm clueless, and I'm about as interested in hunting as your average Chinese restaurant owner.

UPDATE (09/08/06): Glenn Reynolds links to some words of wisdom from a site advocating self defense notwithstanding the arguments of the "pro-crime lobby":

Shooting in self-defense is not "murder."


But for some reason, the idea that Americans should be "allowed" to defend themselves against would-be rapists and other dangerous assailants -- a right enshrined in the Second and 14th amendments, though by no means originating there -- allows these people no rest.

They make no bones about it: Rather than see us take responsibility for the defense of our own homes and families, they would prefer that we all (to borrow the title of the excellent book) "Dial 911 and Die."

What troubles me the most is an utter inability to see bad people as bad. Getting the facts of a story is like pulling teeth.

posted by Eric on 09.06.06 at 09:25 AM


I'm no expert on Drug Dealer Behavior, but I am pretty sure that drug dealers are on the corner because that is where they deal drugs, not because they enjoy delicious chinese food. Granted, I've never conducted a tactical patrol in North Philidelphia(whatever that is -- I know that in the Army, it means going out and finding people to kill) but I'm pretty sure that you would never hear this:

T-Bone: Come, G-Money, let us go slang some rocks.
G-Money: Oh no! We can not go slang rocks today, for we have no skrimp fried rice. Woe is us!
T-Bone: Truly! If only a Chinese immigrant would immigrate to America an open a Chinese restruant on this corner, we would be off the chain!

Phelps   ·  September 6, 2006 3:11 PM

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