Why We Don’t Need Avengers

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published May 25 by Grand Junction Free Press.

There’s a great scene in the Avengers film where the villain demands that a group of people kneel before him. One elderly gentleman refuses, saying he remembers what happened last time a dictator demanded the people kneel. Just as the villain prepares to kill the man, Captain America intervenes with his protective shield. The symbolism is moving.

But in the real world we don’t need magical shields and hammers, super strength born in a laboratory, or super-powered suits of armor to protect us from those who would do us harm. For we have the firearm.

Because we remain largely free, our society has the wealth to outfit our military with the best tanks, airplanes, rockets, and other machinery to protect us from foreign aggressors. Still, the basic tool of the soldier remains the rifle. The men and women in uniform serve as our real-life “avengers,” not in the sense of taking revenge, but of protecting the innocent from aggression. And they do an amazing job; the real Captain America walks among us. (Indeed, our military’s biggest obstacle is not the enemy but Washington’s policies and rules of engagement that often prevent soldiers from acting in America’s self-defense.)

Domestically, firearms allow civilians to defend themselves against burglars, rapists, and would-be murderers. Guns are the great equalizer, empowering the smallest women and those with disabilities to successfully defend themselves against the strongest criminals.

Even if superheroes existed, they could respond only to a small fraction of crimes in progress, as is the case with the police. Those at risk of attack don’t need Thor’s hammer if they have a reliable Glock 9 mm or Colt .45 and know how to use it. Notably, the mere possibility that a potential victim might carry a gun deters many criminals. And, once a criminal realizes his intended victim carries a gun, usually the criminal flees without a shot fired.

If we were to plan our own movie featuring these tools of self-defense, we might include a couple scenes based on real-life events.

Picture a lonely agricultural road on a beautiful spring day. Our heroine enjoys a lovely walk. But as she rounds a street corner, two large pit bulls come within feet of her. Just that morning she had seen the news that a pit bull had mauled a woman to death in a neighboring city. The dogs become aggressive. Our heroine draws her pistol and aims it toward the dogs.

Later she recounts, “I don’t know if they smelled the gun oil or could smell that I was fearful but determined to defeat them, but they backed off. I was shook up, and I don’t know how I would have reacted if I hadn’t had the pistol. I knew that if I had tried to run the dogs likely would have pursued me.”

Next picture a dark moonless night in the Colorado mountains. A couple pulls their car into a lonely restroom at the top of Vail Pass. As the husband walks out of the restroom, he encounters three terrified young women. They say young men in another car had been harassing them as they drove along the interstate, and they had stopped seeking help. The husband tells the women to go into the women’s restroom and come out with his wife. While they are in the restroom, three hot-headed men park at the facility and storm out of their car.

The husband later recalls, “The three men eyeballed me up and down, but I just stood there against the wall calmly. I had my pistol safely concealed, so I knew I had the ability to protect myself and the others if I needed to. My wife and the three young women came out of the restroom. My wife and I never so much as mentioned that we were armed. We escorted the young ladies to the next town, and that was that.”

If our movie were a documentary, we might interview John Lott, author of the book More Guns, Less Crime. His findings suggest that the high rates of gun purchases in recent years is nothing to fear but rather something to welcome, as armed civilians deter crime. Moreover, he finds that minorities and women tend to benefit the most when legally allowed to own guns for self-defense.

We also might interview Alan Gottlieb, author of Politically Correct Guns. He reports a variety of interesting facts. For example, gun-banner Dianne Feinstein got her own permit to carry a .38-caliber revolver. Nancy Reagan sometimes slept with a .25-caliber handgun on her bedside table. Other famous Americans to have obtained gun permits include Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Howard Stern, and Joan Rivers.

Thankfully, civil arms are not fantasy but reality. Guns are not restricted to an elite few with special powers; rather, any peaceful citizen may obtain one (though some American cities continue to make that extraordinarily difficult). So go and enjoy the movies, but then appreciate the real-life tools of self-defense.