Should you use a gun if your home is invaded?
Ta-Nehisi Coates ponders how extensively guns should be controlled:
I’ve spent this week arguing for gun control and more regulation, but for some reason I can’t get myself to endorse the idea of banning handguns. Maybe I’ll feel different in the week. It’s just so contrary to everything I’ve felt all my life. Part of this is being black and having in your actual family history–and in the history of your immediate community–several instances of people (white, black, whatever) invading the home.
Is looking at homicide too small? Should we include assault? Burglary is, in of itself, an intensely traumatic experience. Is the mere fact of invading someone’s home an act of aggression that justifies lethal force? I don’t know.
Of course he doesn’t know. He’s a good liberal. If you are the victim of a burglary or a home invasion (loosely defined as a burglary in which the burglars know that the residents are home) then when someone comes into your home to take things from you, you have to assume that they’ll also entertain the possibility of killing you. You have no way of knowing what your odds are, so since the threat is right there in your face then you might want to shoot first and then deal with your “what if’s” later.
Coates addresses home invasions after U Chicago professor Harold Pollack emailed this note to him:
I enjoyed your conversation on Up with Chris Hayes. You mentioned the risk of home invasion, and the realistic fear that the cops just wouldn’t get there in time. That’s obviously a primeval motive to have a gun by the bedside or whatever.
But the fear is also easily out of proportion to the threat. I had the Chicago police run the number on homicides. In 2011, precisely one homicide listed “burglary” as the motive. Nationwide, there are about 100 burglary-homicides every year. When you compare that to more than 18,000 gun suicides, the conclusions seem pretty obvious.
How many home invasions ended in a person “just” getting beaten up? Or their valuables taken while the invader(s) hold them hostage on the couch until the robbery is over? Homicides are an incomplete statistic to use if we’re thinking about situations in which a gun might have come in handy.