Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Aug/09

14

Self-help in Harlem

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrShare on Google+

I’m no fan of the death penalty, having concluded that its massive costs outweigh its obvious justice and that its deterrent effect is next to nothing, given the decades-long due process gauntlet that the courts have imposed on its exercise.  I also have tended to defer to police chiefs on gun control: every chief I know wants fewer guns, illegal and legal, not more, in the public domain. Being a sissified urban dweller with no instinctive urge to own a gun or visceral identification with NRA-types, I have been happy to follow their lead.  The idea of a greater number of periodically irrational human beings walking around armed to the teeth has not filled me with a sense of security.

But this heart-warming story of a 72-year-old restaurant supply store owner in Harlem who blasted away four armed thugs who tried to rob his business yesterday, killing two and wounding the other two, has me reconsidering.  Some delicious details: After one of the primeval-scum robbers started pistol-whipping an employee of proprietor Charles Augusto, Jr., Mr. Augusto “rose from a chair 20 to 30 feet away and took out a loaded Winchester 12-gauge pump-action shotgun .. . and fired three blasts in rapid succession,” according to the New York Times.  Mr. Augusto had bought the rifle after being robbed 30 years ago.  “The first shot took down the gunman at the front,” who died almost immediately; the second two shots hit all three accomplices, who stumbled bleeding out of the store.  One died after having been taken to a local hospital (at whose expense?); the other two were picked up on the basis of their blood trail and witness descriptions and also treated at the hospital.  

(The Times of course supplies us with what it must intend as heart-wrenching images of friends and relatives of the robbers wailing and slamming their fists into light poles in despair, and notes that a bystander “sympathized with Mr. Augusto, but not with the would-be robbers.”  How odd!) 

Mr.  Augusto has not been arrested, and I would hope that the Manhattan DA would not dare to bring criminal charges against him. 

As I say, I have not heretofore been persuaded by the argument that the solution to crime is ubiquitous civilian gun-carrying.  But I readily concede that this triumph of good over evil could arguably do as much to deter commerical robberies in Harlem, at least for a while, as the NYPD’s brilliant Compstat tactics

(More good crime and police news today: A grand jury has declined to indict NYPD Officer Andrew Dunton in the tragic fatal shooting of fellow Officer Omar Edwards this May.)

11 comments

  • Hillbilly Hank · August 14, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Heather,

    I can certainly sympathize with your desire not to have armed thugs wandering your neighborhood. However, I have never understood the urban dwellers desire to criminalize owning a firearm. As the above story notes, a well place weapon in the right hands can be a life saver.

    I live in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here in Little Rock there are over 5,000 felony parole absconders. We have a population of about 175,000 people. Arkansas has an absolutely horrible criminal justice system. Murderers, rapists, home invaders, etc are routinely released from the state prison system after serving only 3-5 years.

    I have a wife and three children. I would never live in this town unless I had a shotgun for home protection. I have taught my wife how to use it as well. The LRPD are wonderful but they are swamped with crime and I can’t take the chance that they’ll get to my home to late to save us from a home invader.

    I agree with almost everything you write Heather, however, I consider owning a firearm an absolute necessity to protect my family from the wolves at the gate.

  • DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » Self-help in Harlem · August 14, 2009 at 11:03 am

    [...] Read it. After one of the primeval-scum robbers started pistol-whipping an employee of proprietor Charles Augusto, Jr., Mr. Augusto “rose from a chair 20 to 30 feet away and took out a loaded Winchester 12-gauge pump-action shotgun .. . and fired three blasts in rapid succession,” according to the New York Times.  Mr. Augusto had bought the rifle after being robbed 30 years ago.  “The first shot took down the gunman at the front,” who died almost immediately; the second two shots hit all three accomplices, who stumbled bleeding out of the store.  One died after having been taken to a local hospital (at whose expense?); the other two were picked up on the basis of their blood trail and witness descriptions and also treated at the hospital. [...]

  • Xyz · August 14, 2009 at 11:09 am

    The dead criminals had a previous history of gun and weapon possession charges. The old “if you outlaw guns, then only outlaws will have guns” line comes to mind; in this case the outlaws did indeed have some sort of illegal weapon history. Too bad the other two scumbags were only wounded.

  • Donna B. · August 14, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I grew up in the mountains and valleys of western Colorado and the presence of game rifles was ubiquitous year-round. Our ‘summer’ home for several years was in the wilderness at the edge of a national forest. The rifles had to be powerful enough to bring down a bear or mountain lion and that was the protective reason to have them.

    The other reason was food. We were neighbors of sheep ranchers who kept us supplied with mutton which caused me to develop a love of venison. I dislike mutton to this day. Also, bear meat is really gross. I only remember one bear being killed, but I remember my aunt saying as long as there was dirt to eat, she’d pass on the bear meat. It could make one love mutton for sure.

    In the winter, the valley we lived in bordered the desert. Rattlesnakes were reason for keeping a shotgun handy.

    It wasn’t until I was a teenager that the same weapons that had been in the house as long as I could remember were considered protection against other humans. By then, we’d moved to northern NM and Reies Tijerina was terrorizing the neighborhood.

    I cannot remember ever not having a gun, though I’ve never shot at anything other than paper or metal.

  • Polichinello · August 14, 2009 at 11:40 am

    It’s a pity he didn’t kill all three. It would saved the community much more trouble in the future. We had a guy in Houston plug a couple of thieves. No sympathy for them outside the usual suspects, like our local black nationalist gualeiter Kwannel X.

    As far gun ownership, if we could trust the government, I’d be fine with training and registration as a condition of ownership. As it is, we can’t. We do, however, have training and licensing for concealed-carry permits in Texas, and it’s been a successful program.

    Remember, too, with police chiefs that they’re political animals and they have to tell their bosses, often liberal big-city politicians, what they want to hear. Cops on the street are more varied in their view.

  • Caledonian · August 14, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I also have tended to defer to police chiefs on gun control: every chief I know wants fewer guns, illegal and legal, not more, in the public domain.

    I don’t see the problem with that. As a first step towards that goal, let’s have the police give up their guns. All of them. They can serve as a shining example for the rest of the citizenry.

  • Donna B. · August 14, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Polichinello – yes, but Texas prevents open carry.

  • Author comment by Bradlaugh · August 14, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Heather: I’m with the commenters here. What’s left of American exceptionalism, as we are seeing in these “town hall” protests, is a rooted distrust of government and its works. This leaks over into distrust of the police, often justified. Remember that when Sir Robert Peel set up London’s Metropolitan Police force, Londoners demonstrated in the streets. Police were a horrid continental phenomenon, inimical to the ancient liberties of the English. A little of that spirit of liberty still survives in the U.S.A. today. In England, alas, it is stone dead.

    Apart from the fact of just liking guns and shooting, I want to be able to protect myself and my family in the event of a major breakdown in social order. There are several ways this could happen, none of them preposterously unlikely. (See William Forstchen’s latest novel for an example.) In that respect, I have the situation very well covered.

  • Heather Mac Donald · August 15, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    The commenters make excellent points; if I felt vulnerable in my home, I would undoubtedly be more instinctively inclined towards gun ownership. But I don’t think I go along with fitting the question of how best to ensure public safety into a larger anti-government critique. THough no one has suggested it here, I don’t think that a compelling reason to own a gun is to defend onseself against the black helicopters.

  • John · August 15, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I want to be able to protect myself and my family in the event of a major breakdown in social order. There are several ways this could happen, none of them preposterously unlikely.

    I don’t own a gun, but I came very close to buying one after seeing the hurricane Katrina aftermath.

    Though no one has suggested it here, I don’t think that a compelling reason to own a gun is to defend onseself against the black helicopters.

    OK, then I’ll suggest it. One of the first things any totalitarian government does after taking power is to deprive people of the right to bear arms. The reasons are obvious.

  • Al Fin · August 18, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I am wondering, Heather, whether you know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun. The difference in terns of home defense is quite significant, and relevant to your article. You quote the NYT reference to Augusto’s “Winchester 12-gauge pump-action shotgun”, then immediately refer to the gun as a “rifle.”

    Persons who know so little about guns might consider taking an NRA gun education and safety course. Think about learning to shoot as well. It might even make you a better writer — on this topic.

<<

>>

Theme Design by devolux.nh2.me