Most Police Have No Legal Duty to Protect Citizens from Criminal Attack
Richard Stevens is a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and author of Dial 911 and Die (Mazel Freedom Press, 1999).
Underlying all “gun control” ideology is this one belief.” “Private citizens don’t need firearms because the police will protect them from crime.” That belief is both false and dangerous for two reasons.
First, the police cannot and do not protect everyone from crime. Second, the government and the police in most localities owe no legal duty to protect individuals from criminal attack. When it comes to deterring crime and defending against criminals, individuals are ultimately responsible for themselves and their loved ones. Depending solely on police emergency response means relying on the telephone as the only defensive tool. Too often, citizens in trouble dial 911 . . . and die.
Statistics confirm the obvious truth that the police in America cannot prevent violent crime. In 1997 for example, nationwide there were 18,209 murders, 497,950 robberies, and 96,122 rapes.1 All those crimes were unprevented and undeterred by the police and the criminal justice system.
Many criminals use firearms to commit their crimes. For example, in 1997 criminals did so in 68 percent of murders and 40 percent of robberies. Thus criminals either have or can obtain firearms. The existing “gun control” laws do not stop serious criminals from getting guns and using them in crimes.
Practically speaking, it makes little sense to disarm the innocent victims while the criminals are armed. It is especially silly to disarm the victims when too often the police are simply unable to protect them. As Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, has observed: “Police do very little to prevent violent crime. We investigate crime after the fact.”
Americans increasingly believe, however, that all they need for protection is a telephone. Dial 911 and the police, fire, and ambulance will come straight to the rescue. It’s faster than the pizza man. Faith in a telephone number and the local cops is so strong that Americans dial 911 over 250,000 times per day.