The latest Iowa poll

Maybe I'm nuts, but I seem to see the world in a very different way than Barack Obama. (Link via Glenn Reynolds.)

Either that or Obama doesn't really mean what he says. I guess it's possible that he's pandering to rural Iowans, but his view of what constitutes "common sense" is just about the opposite of mine. Apparently, he thinks that you're more likely to need a gun in rural Iowa, than, say, around the major urban area where I live:

"We should be able to combine respect for those traditions with our concern for kids who are being shot down. This is a classic example of us just applying some common sense, just being reasonable, right? And reasonable would say that lawful gun owners - I respect the Second Amendment. I think lawful gun owners should be able to hunt, be sportsmen, protect their families.

"And by the way, Michelle, my wife, she was traveling up, I think, in eastern Iowa, she was driving through this nice, beautiful area, going through all this farmland and hills and rivers and she said 'Boy, it's really pretty up here,' but she said, 'But you know, I can see why if I was living out here, I'd want a gun. Because, you know, 911 is going to take some time before somebody responds. You know what I mean? You know, it's like five miles between every house.'

"So the point is, though, we should be able to do that, and we should be able to enforce laws that keep guns off the streets in inner cities because some unscrupulous gun dealer is, you know, letting somebody load up a van with a bunch of cheap handguns or sawed-off shotguns and dumping them and selling them for a profit in the streets."

I've spent a lot of time in Iowa. And in Philadelphia.


There's no question that Iowa -- especially rural Iowa -- is nice and beautiful, and it's as close as you can get to being that apocryphal kind of place where you really can in many places leave the front door unlocked without having to worry about burglars or thieves. True, it might take the local sheriff a long time to arrive if you did have to call 911. But most of the 911 calls you'd make would involve injuries, accidents, or sudden illnesses like strokes or heart attacks. Except for the occasional attack by a wild animal (predatory animals that might attack humans are rare in Iowa), these are hardly the sort of emergencies for which you'd need a gun.

On the other hand, I'd be legitimately very afraid for my life and property to be forced to live in Philadelphia without a gun. Philadelphia is one of the most violent places in the country, and violent places are the places where you most need a gun. There are areas in Philadelphia where the police don't come even if you call them.

This is not to say that I'd want to live in Iowa (or anywhere else) without a gun. But given the choice of having to live with no gun in rural Iowa versus no gun in urban Philadelphia, Iowa would win any time. It's such a no-brainer as to be almost beyond common sense.

Barack Obama is obviously not the only person who thinks the country is more dangerous than the city, though, as I've heard this argument before from urban sophisticates who tolerantly allow that "the country people" should be allowed to have guns, because "they need them" but that "city people don't."

Maybe I'm crazy, but if protecting yourself from violence and defending yourself against people who want to kill you is a human need, I think it's the urban folk who need guns -- and a lot more than the rural folk.

Again, this is my view of common sense.

But am I wrong? Is Barack Obama right? I thought I should ask the readers. (After all the Second Amendment is an election issue, even if the candidates are ducking it.)

So you decide.

Where would you be more likely to need a gun?

Where would you be more likely to need a gun?
Iowa farm country
the city of Philadelphia free polls

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and I appreciate the votes, and the input.

(So far, only eight people think you're more likely to need a gun in Iowa than in Philadelphia. Maybe Obama will take this into account...)

posted by Eric on 11.26.07 at 02:36 PM


Well, we back country boys oughta cut the city slicker Obama family a little slack. They obviously know jack s*** about living out side of Chicago.

David Starr   ·  November 26, 2007 4:24 PM

What scares me is that Obama might actually believe what he's saying, which is possible, because I've met more than a few people with those exact same beliefs. It seems like a very strong, internalized rationalization to me. The real reasons gun control advocates don't mind if the country folk have guns are (a) they know that the gun is much less likely to be fired either in offense or defense, both of which they consider unforgivable, and (b) they are generally city-oriented to begin with, and frankly, don't care too much what happens out in cow country. Of course, they may not be willing to admit this, even to themselves.

P. Aeneas   ·  November 26, 2007 6:59 PM

City or country, if somebody enters your house with the intention of robbing you at gunpoint or worse, all the police will be able to do is collect evidence on the crime that was committed. I got that from a long-time law enforcement officer and fellow Sig-Sauer owner.

Dr. T   ·  November 26, 2007 7:08 PM

So I gather from Mr. Obama's comments that if you live rural communities then its ok to own a gun. I think this means a large number of whites get that privilege. If one lives in the inner cities, then one doesn't. I think that means larger numbers of blacks and browns don't get covered by the 2ed amendment. Sounds racist to me.

whocares   ·  November 26, 2007 7:14 PM

"Obama--beyond common sense!"

Hmmm, Eric, I don't think you're going to get a big retainer from the O! compaign as a marketing consultant, you know. :-)

Kirk Parker   ·  November 26, 2007 7:18 PM

I don't think Obama is right, for all the reasons you do, and I don't think he believes what he says, unless he's more of an idiot than I thought. I think this is straight-up pandering. He's giving Iowans one more reason to like him in his support of their gun ownership, even if they're not hunters.

Marcel Parcells   ·  November 26, 2007 7:30 PM

I'm moving to Iowa soon, and I can think of a good reason to have a gun....maybe to chase all those damn Presidential candidates offa my lawn, dammit!!

But seriously....I don't think I would necessarily need one up there in the same way I would in Philly, or heaven help me, Detroit. There's plenty of parts in those towns I wouldn't enter without a machine gun and backup.

KoryO   ·  November 26, 2007 7:31 PM

It's a trick question.
You need them equally in both places - you just need them for different reasons

SMSgt Mac   ·  November 26, 2007 7:48 PM

This whole thing is based on he assumption that a gun is used primarily for self defense. In Iowa, a gun is tool more so than protection. It's used to subsidize food budgets (hunting) and to protect crops and animals and manage livestock (sick and injured, population control). And for recreation. Plus, you don't call 911 for a animal attack. You shoot it.

I'm probably naive, but I see the likelihood of needing a gun for defense to be so low as to not justify the cost and the time to become educated and responsible. Combined with the satisfaction of being a good hobby, it makes sense though.

But in addition to my lack of focus, which I'd need to overcome to consider myself responsible enough to carry a gun, I also have repetitive stress problems and nerve damage that would probably prevent me from getting the level use to make ownership worth-while, to really enjoy it, and to become proficient enough to use a gun for defense.

I am glad, however, that others are more responsible and committed to responsible gun use. I suspect that they play a small part in keep the chance of me needing a gun low enough that I don't feel the need to own.

aaron   ·  November 26, 2007 7:59 PM

"So the point is, though, we should be able to do that, and we should be able to enforce laws that keep guns off the streets in inner cities because some unscrupulous gun dealer is, you know, letting somebody load up a van with a bunch of cheap handguns or sawed-off shotguns and dumping them and selling them for a profit in the streets."

Uh, who has ever advocated the legalization of sawed-off shotguns? If Mr. Obama is worried that there are sawed-off shotguns on the streets and we need laws to get them off the streets, perhaps he needs to be informed that sawed-off shotguns already are illegal. So if they are on the streets, it clearly shows how little impact a ban has.

vengeful zhid   ·  November 26, 2007 8:01 PM

Let me guess, he'll make new regulations that decide whether you can have a gun or not based on the population density of your county.

Aaron   ·  November 26, 2007 8:17 PM

aaron, you've never lived in Iowa, have you? The average Iowan is far more likely to need a weapon to defend themselves/their families from crazed meth addicts than to "protect crops" (gotta wait for gun season to shoot deer; most people live in towns where you can't shoot at the rabbits) or "manage livestock" (we have nice veterinarians with degrees and syringes). And parts of Davenport, Cedar Rapids, and even Des Moines resemble Chicago--people have been moving out from Chicago to get their kids away from the gangs and the gangs follow them.

So yeah, Obama's straight-up pandering.

HeatherRadish   ·  November 26, 2007 8:24 PM

I was born and raised in Eastern Iowa. It is not 5 miles between houses anywhere. Even where there are only farm houses, they are much closer together than that and the Obamas would know that if they looked out the windows on their travels.

Anyway, the notion that the police will rush over and save you if you are in imminent danger is just a fantasy to which cowardly people cling. Do they imagine all the reported crimes in your figures for various cities involved people who didn't think to call 911? After the crime, you call the police and then they file a report which you'll need for the insurance claim - at least that has been my experience.

Cooper   ·  November 26, 2007 8:47 PM

"Uh, who has ever advocated the legalization of sawed-off shotguns?"

>>raises hand

It's *tool*, and for some problems a very appropriate tool.

Billy Oblivion   ·  November 26, 2007 8:50 PM

It's *tool*, and for some problems a very appropriate tool.

1 - "Dynamic Entry"

2 - Carrying a concealable weapon with the intimidation & firepower of a shotgun

That's really only for police & criminals. The average homeowner, hunter, security guard or even bodyguard would have no use for it.

Daryl Herbert   ·  November 26, 2007 8:54 PM

I heard an alderman in Chicago express a similar sentiment, many years ago when the City Council held the hearings that led to our current handgun ban. The alderman's thought seemed to be that in Chicago you were never far from a squad car.

JJE   ·  November 26, 2007 9:08 PM

HeatherRadish's got a point. I grew up in a large town in Kansas. Plenty of crime there committed by lowlifes with nothing better to do (Remember Dick & Perry?). The meth epidemic, the "ganglets", small police forces, & poor job opportunities are the componants for rural crime. Life often America isn't very civil in the hinterlands.

Is arming oneself with a gun a crime deterrant? I'm not sure. There's loads of guns in the inner city. Doesn't seem to put a dent in crime there.

Andrea   ·  November 26, 2007 9:10 PM

Should read: "Life often isn't very civil in the hinterlands."

Andrea   ·  November 26, 2007 9:13 PM

I seem to recall an study reported on Instapundit a while ago that stated the chance of a male with an ancestral heritage from a large continent south of Europe and having a large populace in downtown Philadelphia had a better probability of being shot than a male with that same ancestry patrolling the streets in Iraq. Maybe that's what Barack is citing. To think, Glenn's defining election rhetoric for the Democrats!!!!

Rick   ·  November 26, 2007 9:27 PM

Point of fact: 'sawed-off' shotguns are actually legal, with law-enforcement signoff and a $200 tax stamp made out to the BATF. They're not magic weapons, they're just short shotguns for pete's sake. Heck, it's my understanding that our friends to the north don't regulate them the way we do here.

Anonymous   ·  November 26, 2007 9:31 PM

Posting from way southwest (Fremont county), way rural Iowa...

As my eight-year-old daughter would like to explain to Mr. Obama:

Guns are for when you're doing business in bad parts of Omaha. Rifles and shotguns are for shooting deer and turkey.

Man, outwitted by a young gal. They must be scraping the barrel over in that party these days.

redherkey   ·  November 26, 2007 9:44 PM

HeatherRadish - You had some pretty dead-on comments about one of the only reasons for needing personal protection in our rural parts. Three weeks ago, we had a small pickup go airborne at 1 am and smash into a power pole on the west side of our farm.

I headed down (with protection, just in case) and discovered some Council Bluffs gang kids thinking they were clever taking gravel back roads to avoid detection. There was some indication of meth production materials spilled out of the pickup bed, and the young-20-somethings were clearly agitated and very upset I came upon them. They insisted and threatened that no law enforcement should be contacted ("rescue crews" were already on the way and they spent the night in the county jail).

The point being... about the only issues we have down here is from the ilk the Democrats create with their social experimentation. So perhaps Obama is right... as long as we have liberal social programs, promotion of single parenting, tolerance for drug abuse, etc., us rural hicks will need protection from the product of Democrats.

redherkey   ·  November 26, 2007 9:51 PM

As a farmer living in rural eastern Iowa, I leave our door unlocked at all times, leave tractors and combines parked overnight by roads with keys in them (these are worth 100K and over, by the way), and have never, ever needed a gun except for hunting. I can't speak for people living in Philly, but if I were Obama I'd stick to talking about things I know about (not sure what that might be since he's too young to have done anything substantial).

Chris   ·  November 26, 2007 9:57 PM

Oh, please... Keeping firearms in the home is perfectly legal in Philadelphia, and it's quite possible to get a concealed carry permit there. In fact, New York City has about half the number of concealed carry permits that Philadelphia has -- /even though Philly has about a quarter of New York's population/... Which is kind of interesting, now that I think about it. I mean, I thought that the trend was supposed to be "more guns, less crime", not "fewer guns, much less crime".

But that's a moot point. Philly's crime problem isn't a result of too much gun control (or too little), it's a result of the fact that the city's a major hub in the East Coast drug distribution network. It's that simple.

Chris   ·  November 26, 2007 10:38 PM

The shootings in philadelphia are largely a black-on-black problem, and tend not to bleed over into more upscale neighborhoods.

Go here and you can see a philadelphia map with statistical breakdowns by victim race/sex/weapon and time of day

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods - some neighborhoods are blighted with violence, others remain tranquil. It's not Detroit by a long shot.

stirner   ·  November 26, 2007 11:16 PM

I think it's more likely that Obama has not actually considered this issue, and is just shooting from the hip. Throughout his compaign so far he has shown an amusing tendency to give a gut hunch answer flaveored bt the tenets of leftism instead of a thoughful one. We know he's smart, so it's probably just that he hasn't thought much about these topics at all.

Steve Skubinna   ·  November 26, 2007 11:50 PM

I work in Philadelphia and carry a gun every day for my job. Most of the criminals I deal with do too. When they get caught, they know the good guys won't hurt them, but they know the bad guys will hurt them if they get caught without one. I have had criminals tell me that the first thing that they do when they get out of jail is get a gun because they know how bad people are. They are more afraid of being caught by the bad guys without a gun then of being caught by the good guys with a gun. And by the way, Mr. and Mrs. Obama do not appear to be too bright based on their knucklehead comments.

Tom   ·  November 27, 2007 7:01 AM

"I think lawful gun owners should be able to hunt, be sportsmen, protect their families."
Let's change a word or two in this quote, shall we... "I think lawful newspaper owners should be able to opine, be critical, promote their businesses", but...Does anyone else see what I think I've seen? Does he believe rights come from the elected?

Kerry   ·  November 27, 2007 7:57 AM

Some folks seem to think that there is a correlation between concealed carry permits and firearms related crime levels, and that isn't neccessarily true. There does seem to be linkage in the firearms related crime rate and the ease, or not, of firearms access to law abiding citizens. In fact, nationwide, concealed carry permit holders are involved in an amazingly tiny, something approaching .01 % or less, of all crimes.
Regarding the ease of firearms access in Philadelphia, mentioned above, the statement is inaccurate. While it is true that firearms ownership is allowed in Philadelphia and concealed carry permits are "available", firearms and permit laws are uniform throughout the state of PA. The concealed carry permit is issued by the sheriff or police chief of your county of residence, keep in mind that Philadelphia isn't just a city, but, also, a county of it own, and as such ,despite PA being a shall issue state, Philly does not make the process easy, unless you happen to be politically connected or grease the right palms. A permit can be had after circumvention of various roadblocks and the passage of time. So, the assertion that firearms permits are easily and freely available is somewhat disingenuous. One should also note that the city and our buffoonish governor are trying to implement legislation allowing the city to fabricate it's own firearms laws/restrictions and state level restrictions on purchase quantities.

Edward Lunny   ·  November 27, 2007 8:57 AM

Philadelphia is relatively safe if you stay in the Center City (Downtown) area. Drug dealers don't hang out on street corners there. This is where middle-upper class people work and where the best restaurants/bars are. The city made a determined effort to make that section safe- although a murder did happen there recently.

Almost all the murders are between drug dealing blacks or the people who get in their way. Tragic of course, but still avoidable.

I used to carry a gun (with a concealed carry permit) when I worked in a badder section of town. The area was so bad (around the U of Penn) that Penn bought my boss' building and turned it into a Police station. Now I work across the river in NJ and can't carry legally- I think they fine you $1000 for each hollowpoint.

What annoys me is that the Left acts like everyone is a potential murderer if they just had access to a gun. I remember an old Hawaii Five-0 episode where a gun was used by a robber, then abandoned. Everyone who found it used it on their significant others.

Cutting down on the murders have a clear method (not "easy"- considering the politics involved). Frisk young black men who hang out in high crime areas. Take their guns - throw them in jail. It lowers the crime rate- but many politicians loathe to do it.

E Mastro   ·  November 27, 2007 11:45 AM

"[W]e should be able to enforce laws that keep guns off the streets in inner cities because some unscrupulous gun dealer is, you know, letting somebody load up a van with a bunch of cheap handguns or sawed-off shotguns and dumping them and selling them for a profit in the streets."

And please, Sen. Obama, explain again how more laws in Philly are going to stop someone who is already breaking several other existing laws? This is the legacy of silly mantras like "visualize world peace." Just the words and thoughts haev power all their own to effect the change ... puh-leaze.

submandave   ·  November 27, 2007 11:52 AM

What annoys me is that the Left acts like everyone is a potential murderer if they just had access to a gun.

There's a lot more than that presumption: law enforcement often has competing agendas that conflicts with the protection of its citizenry.

Before we left the Benson neighborhood of Omaha Nebraska, we saw our area go from a nice working area to one with significant crime, vandalism, home neglect, etc. The city was worthless in enforcing housing code (yet would spend relentless effort fighting amateur radio operators from putting up 40' towers).

Worse than that was the OPD. After a crack-dealer moved into a neighboring house, he hit most homes and vehicles on our street. We all knew he was the guy - one neighbor was brave enough to knock on his door and saw my stolen radios and tools on the living room floor, but OPD refused to investigate. Turns out they were after him for drug distribution and didn't want something minor to interfere with their target.

I had to use my Glock 21 one early morning to "evict" my neighbor from my garage, only to receive a serious scolding from the OPD officer who arrived 15 minutes later.

When law enforcement has a financial incentive to go after drug crimes, all other crimes will be relegated to secondary status.

redherkey   ·  November 27, 2007 1:09 PM

I do have to pick a nit with your logic. I would be more likely to need a gun for self defense in Philly, but I would be more likely to use a gun as a tool in Iowa. Grew up on an Illinois farm, and we did occasionally have to kill a wounded or sick animal. My Dad is no hunter or shooter, but does keep a couple of guns around for that purpose.

tom bri   ·  November 27, 2007 5:30 PM

"The shootings in philadelphia are largely a black-on-black problem, and tend not to bleed over into more upscale neighborhoods."

Not counting, of course, the murdered police officers.

I carry in Philly. I carry in the country in central Pennsylvania where I live. I would carry in Iowa. I'd be more likely to have to do more than just carry in Philly.

rightwingprof   ·  November 27, 2007 5:39 PM

I've lived in New York City for eight years now. Before that I lived in Chicago for seven years. I have witnessed one violent crime in that fifteen years. It was a drunk guy getting beat up by a few other drunk guys. A gun in that situation would have only gotten some idiot killed. Quite possibly an innocent bystander.

The bottom line is this - If you feel that you couldn't live in a major city without a gun, then you live in fear. And there's a word for people who live in fear. The word is "Coward." And Coward + Gun = Dangerous Idiot.

Dug   ·  November 27, 2007 7:03 PM

I voted Iowa. Don't know about you guys, but if I'm in Philly, I'm in a cab or in a hotel.

In Iowa? I'm probably with somebody with a pick-up truck. And I'm gonna need a gun. You shoot stuff in Iowa. It's okay.

In Philly? You shoot stuff you probably have some huge problems.

Now, if I lived in Philly, the likelyhood that I would have a gun is the same as the likelyhood that I have a gun now. But I wouldn't carry it with me. When I lived in Portland I had a gun pulled on me. Twice. I remember it clearly. Both times. Yet, I never felt that "packing" would be a smart choice.

The first time, I walked away. The second time, I tackled the guy. The first time the guy was clearly nuts, and walking away seemed the thing to do. The second time was at my place of business, and a kid pulled it. I jumped over my desk and grappled the kid, held him until the cops arrived. It seemed the thing to do. Had I a weapon, chances are both would be dead...and chances are, I might have been shot, too. Don't know. Just never seemed I had to walk down a street with a loaded gun as a usual thing. I've done it with an unloaded gun. Never figured I find a bear on the streets of Estacada. Probably short-sighted.

OregonGuy   ·  November 28, 2007 1:03 AM

It's your God given right to protect yourself. The 21 century requires that protection to include a gun. Blacksburg Virginia is arguably about as peaceful looking as any town in Iowa. I wonder if Mr. Obama would have dirtied his underwear had he been in one of the fateful classrooms.

nina   ·  November 28, 2007 1:35 AM

Hmm ,interesting perspective "And Coward + Gun = Dangerous Idiot."....are you suggesting that those whom would ,or do ,own firearms are dangerous idiots ? Since alcohol is so prevalent and accessable in our society I suppose that you would prefer that the government regulate all sorts of "dangerous" items that might be " mixed" will drunkenous ? But, since the incidence of alcohol fueled altercations among legal firearms owners is about nil, I propose a different equation....gun control = tyranny = government and gun grabber cowardice, or perhaps ,gun control = subjagation of the people to the will of the government. Basically gun grabbers and gun control advocates are a bunch of gutless shits. Not to put to fine of a point on it. If you would be in fear of your neighbors if they were armed, your concern goes far deeper than firearms issues.

Edward Lunny   ·  November 28, 2007 7:46 AM


I'll repeat what I said before: If you feel that you couldn't live in a major city without a gun, then you live in fear.

I was not suggesting that all gun owners are dangerous idiots, merely the ones who dampen their trousers at the thought of dealing with life unarmed. I'd like to think that most gun owners aren't like that.

Dug   ·  November 28, 2007 5:32 PM

" If you feel that you couldn't live in a major city without a gun, then you live in fear. ".....If one will not take basic precaution to protect family ,home, and self then one is living by luck and denial and abject stupidity. How many city dwellers lock their doors at night ? Isn't that, too, fear ? How many would choose to live without a police presence ? That, also, is fear, no ? If I am armed, it has been said, then I have no need to fear. I will repeat, if you are so distrustful of your armed neighbors, or the thought of armed neighbors, why do you reside there ?
I think that you confuse fear with concern, a common, but serious mistake. One can be concerned about safety without being fearful.

Edward Lunny   ·  November 28, 2007 5:49 PM

So you think I'm "lucky" to have survived this long and "stupid" not to own a gun? You know, living in the big, bad, super-dangerous city as I do?

Well thanks for making my point for me, I guess.

Oh, and Edward?


Anonymous   ·  November 28, 2007 6:25 PM

"So you think I'm "lucky" to have survived this long "...ask those whom live in north philly, east la, dc, etc how lucky they feel to lived another day despite the violence perpetrated around them every day.
Do you lock your doors at night......why ?
Does your home town have a police presence...why ? Would you willingly enter the "unsafe" areas of your town unescorted at night....why not ?......doesn't a level of concern account for the answers to these questions, a little bit of fear, certainly not to the level of affecting ones ability to function, but, a level of fear none the less. Oh and "boo" yourself, like I said I've nothing to fear, not even my neighbors.
As for your point, it would seem that you illustrate it well, in light of your answers to the questions that I posed above and your apparent fear of your neighbors.

Edward Lunny   ·  November 29, 2007 9:23 AM

Nice site. Thank you:-)

led christmas lights   ·  December 7, 2007 4:05 AM

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