By Don Keelan
Several months ago, my co-host of our GNAT-TV show, Civil Discourse, posed the question for a possible future show, “Why is it that there are so many guns in America”? My initial response was whether we really wanted to debate the Second Amendment, and we let the question pass.
Now, I am not sure I should have walked away from the question. Why are so many guns being purchased and stored in American homes?
Set aside those who own guns for hunting, competitive target shooting, work-related, and, of course, the criminal element. There are still tens of millions of guns of all types in homes today, and the number continues to grow. But why?
When I asked several folks, who had never previously owned a gun, why they now own a semi-automatic handgun or an AR-15 rifle, the answer, without hesitation, was to provide home protection.
Not too long ago, criminal justice experts advised folks that the chance of encountering an intruder at one’s residence was comparable to having a meteor strike your home. Such a comparison is no longer valid in the minds of millions of Americans. The recent news items of outright lawlessness, lack of police patrols, and repeated failures of the criminal courts validate their concerns. The criminal element knows this and has become emboldened.
We don’t have to venture far if we start with the criminal courts: Bennington County is a sad example. In an October 6, 2023 piece in the Bennington Banner, reporter Michael Albans details the collective frustrations of crime victims, the State’s Attorney, and the State Superior Court judge.
Albans points out that many are arrested and have been in and out of court while awaiting trial. They have prior felony convictions, consistently disregard court orders, and often fail to attend their hearing. As Albans noted these were not petty crimes.
One example is a Bennington resident with 46 open criminal cases: the majority are misdemeanors but eight felonies—burglary, aggravated assault, drug possession, etc. I will not elaborate on the indicted major child sex offenders currently out on the street, ignoring the court’s no-contact orders.
Bennington County has had and continues to have good people trying to do their jobs in law enforcement, but listening to them is to experience the Blame Game once again: it is not us, but the Legislature; not us, but the Supreme Court. Is it any wonder law-abiding citizens have purchased guns?
Another fear factor is seeing gangs loot stores with no consequences whatsoever. It is not just in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York, but in Vermont. Store employees and their security are asked to stand down and take no action. Will our homes be next?
Our police and the Vermont State Police are the last bastion between us and chaos. Statewide, it ranks 50-60 fewer troopers than what has been authorized. In practical terms, only three troopers are on patrol between Pownal and the northern end of the coverage, Rupert, Vermont. It is an hour’s drive between the two areas.
The VSP can only do so much, and in some towns/cities, private security agencies have been employed to patrol certain areas of towns. The criminal element knows this better than anyone.
Unfortunately, so many are now in possession of guns. Having done so brings forth awesome responsibilities as well as untold risks. These are the times in which we live. With more to come, the level of fear that grips these recent gun purchasers can be placed on the doorsteps of politicians, the media, and government officials. The public looks to law enforcement for its safety. Well, that safety net has been torn apart. What is worse is that no one has the courage to fix it.
The author is a U.S. Marine (retired), CPA, and columnist living in Arlington, VT.