Appalling Elitist Arrogance

Michelle Malkin nails NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg for his refusal to acknowledge the right of individuals to possess weapons for self-protection. Bloomberg’s behavior on this issue, like that of Richard Daley and numerous other big-city pols, is unfortunately nothing new. What makes it appalling is its rank, inhumane hypocrisy. Bloomberg is a wealthy man who can afford to live in the safest of places and hire bodyguards. And now that he’s a prominent public official, he gets full-time police protection for which the taxpayers pay the bill. But for ordinary NYC residents who live and work in relatively dangerous areas (dangerous in part because the City doesn’t police them as assiduously as it does the Mayor’s neighborhood), Bloomberg’s message is: You’re on your own, but if you try to defend yourself against vicious killers we’ll throw the book at you.

Yeah, it’s the greatest city and it has the opera and the library and all that. But in this fundamental way it treats its residents like serfs. I don’t know why they put up with it.

26 thoughts on “Appalling Elitist Arrogance”

  1. It also has rent control. If he really wants NYC to percolate, it should be removed.

    After all, the major combat operations of WWII are over.

    But somehow I don’t think we won their hearts and minds.

  2. “I don’t know why they put up with it.”

    Maybe it’s because, after decades of being famously dangerous, it’s now by many measures the safest big city in the US.

    But I only lived in Manhattan for 9 years (1990 -1999), so what do I know?

  3. Yes, I agree. NY is safe. The mayor should give up his bodyguards. Do you think he will?

    This should be a question of letting individuals decide what is best for themselves, rather than one of statistics and centrally imposed one-size-fits-all solutions. There will be some violent crime even when the overall rate is low, and a low crime rate isn’t of much benefit to the citizen who is nonetheless victimized. Crime isn’t a problem for you? Great! Then you don’t have to do anything about it. But if some guy who owns a little store that is at risk of being robbed wants to protect himself, what’s wrong with that?

  4. NYC is hell for the middle class. The citizens are subjected to poor services, a dismal educational system, a fraud of a university system, and high crime. Crime depends on your perspective but I’d like to see any New Yorker try walking through Central Park at midnight. If one eliminates the truly dangerous places like Washington, Detroit, Newark, and Atlanta, NY ranks up there. Its almost impossible to get a license for a weapon so most people have to run the risk of breaking the law in order to protect themselves. Still its better to be tried by 12 then carried by six.

    NY is a jungle and I’m glad I left it in my dust and dread having to return there for business. But when I do I am armed.

  5. “Still its better to be tried by 12 then carried by six.”

    Good one! Makes me want to go out and exercise my 2nd admendment rights.

  6. NY is actually safer than London these days. I have walked through Central Park after midnight. This ain’t the 1980s. It’s well lit, there is traffic and if NY is a jungle to you then the whole world is.

  7. I agree that NYC is generally safe. But there are parts of most cities that are not safe, and there is still violent crime in “safe” areas. (“Safe” means that on average few crimes occur, not that you will not be victimized.) Why is maintaining a goo-goo fantasy of civil disarmament more important than the safety of actual people?

    The NYPD can’t protect individuals. It can’t. It doesn’t claim to. No American police department does. So where does the City get the moral authority to forbid them from protecting themselves?

  8. There is no moral authority. Just an authoritarian claim on the monopoly of defensive violence by the local government. If you defend yourself, you are no better than a criminal.

    That’s where Nito’s assertion needs a refinement. If you outlaw guns, only the criminals and the police will have them. As if criminals would then limit themselves to cops.

    Generally, it’s about denying you the moral authority to make that choice, derived from a principle that you cannot take the law into your own hands, pretty much no matter what. What constitutes legitimate defense essentially requires that your life is at stake, by which time it probably is too late.

    What really puzzles me in those cases, is that people who defend themselves and kill the attacker in the process end up in front of a judge and have to argue how and why their defense was legitimate. Which, essentially, almost implies society considers them guilty until they prove themselves innocent.

  9. Well, you should have to explain yourself in cases like that. The facts are not always obvious to observers, some claimed defensive killings are unjustified, and “self defense” is the first claim of criminals as well as of people who really did defend themselves. The problem in places like NYC and England is that the legal system refuses to recognize the moral or legal legitimacy of actual self-defense by ordinary individuals.

  10. Of course you should have to explain yourself. But the process and the way it is framed – including, in some countries, public prosecution by the state – goes counter the assumption of innocence. As for the legal system, is it NY’s or the state of NY’s ? Have there been constitutional challenges against this, in NY or elsewhere ?

  11. Most of the anti-gun laws are NY State laws, though NYC has some additional restrictions of its own. The prosecution of self-defense cases is, I think (Lex may correct me), a function of the local district attorney under state law.

    The DA decides, as a matter of discretion, which cases to prosecute, and hence which illegal activities the police will arrest people for doing. So the issue is more one of the local political culture from which these prosecutors come than it is of the laws per se. The political culture in NYC is such that a person might be charged there with murder or manslaughter (plus maybe additional charges for violating gun-possession laws) for actions that would not typically lead to indictment in other jurisdictions.

    WRT constitutional challenges, see writings by Glenn Reynolds, David Koppel, Daniel Polsby et al. There is probably also a lot of relevant info at

  12. The entire concept of “gun control” is grounded in elitism. A gun is an inanimate object. In order to cause harm, a human must misuse it either from malice or incompetence. People who advocate “gun control” are making an implicit statement that ordinary, law abiding citizens are to stupid and mean to safely manage guns.

  13. Gun control is not an elitist argument. There are plenty of people who do electively engage in criminal activity (or as Shannon says, are “mean”). A gun enhances a criminal’s chance of success. Stating this does not make me an elitist.

    Crime in NYC went down in the ’90’s for two main reasons…

    1) Guiliani
    2) The Economy

    Gun control has not been shown to have played a role.

  14. People who spend their time in relatively safe environments, or who (like Bloomberg) are protected by armed bodyguards, yet who advocate the disarmament of everyone else, are elitists and hypocrites of the worst sort. I’m sure that some gun-control advocates do not fall into these categories, but it’s obvious that many do.

    Not quite sure what you mean by your other point, MP. Yes, having a gun enhances a criminal’s chance of success. That’s why violent criminals will generally get guns no matter what the laws are. Gun-control measures do not disarm such people. They only disarm potential victims.

  15. My fault for being too brief…

    My point in my original post was to disagree with Shannon’s statement that “The entire concept of “gun control” is grounded in elitism”. Just because elitists promote a concept does not make the concept elitist. I would argue that most gun control advocates are people who believe that restricting access to guns would reduce gun crime. They likely believe this based on their own “common sense”, which tells them that less guns=less crime. They also believe that people can be mean, and mean people with guns (even ones who were formerly considered “law abiding”) are more likely to use a gun than mean people without guns.

    And you correctly interpreted my second statement, which was simply to reaffirm the obvious in that guns are effective tools for use by criminals. Gun control advocates are correct in believing that if we were to be able to keep guns from criminals then we would reduce gun related violence. Contrary to what Shannon says, having this belief does not make them, or the argument, elitist.

    Unfortunately, I’m a realist. A realist knows that it is easy and cheap to make a gun. A realist knows that criminals would always desire guns. A realist knows where there is demand, there will be supply (just like with drugs, sex, gambling, …). And a realist knows that it is far quicker to defend yourself with a .45 then calling 911.

    Gun control adovcates cannot simply be written off as elitists. Statists maybe, but not elitists.

  16. MP,

    I agree with almost everything that you write. It’s inaccurate to characterize all gun-control advocates or theories as elitist. However, aren’t you doing something similar by suggesting that gun controllers are generally not elitists? Certainly some of them are, and Bloomberg seems to me to be a good example of the type. And while many of the the pro-gun control people I have personally encountered appeared to be motivated by sincere (though IMO naive) beliefs about the efficacy of reducing crime by restricting guns, some of these people were true elitists. They believed that ordinary people, particularly those whom they saw as “rednecks,” were too irresponsible to own guns. Believe it or not, these elitists were mainly academics.

  17. MP,

    your argument should be restated without the use of fallacy or question begging. For example, “restricting [legal] access to guns” is not the same as “less guns”, nor do you demonstrate the assumption that legally possessed firearms necessarily relate to illegal actions that involve legally possessed firearms. Nor do you demonstrate any relationship between municipal restriction of legal gun ownership and a parallel decrease in crime involving illegally possessed firearms.

    Furthermore, this idea of yours is not very serious:

    “They also believe that people can be mean, and mean people with guns (even ones who were formerly considered “law abiding”) are more likely to use a gun than mean people without guns.”

    First of all… are you on crack? That was me being mean. Since when is “being mean” against the law? Are you trying to claim that it’s “common sense” to fail to know the difference between a “mean act” and a “criminal act”? Perhaps I should be registered at city hall as a “mean person” and wear a badge that warns strangers that I’m more likely to randomly murder them with a gun because I don’t like puppies or kittens or muppets? Misanthopy doesn’t equate to a tendency towards homicidal killing spree’s… duh. Working at the Post Office does!

    “Gun control advocates” are not clever if they fail to grasp that they cannot read minds in order determine another persons potential to become “a criminal”. Nor is a material conditional useful if the condition is unlikey to ever be met. Thus I can point out the obviously satirical argument: IF EVERYONE in the world WOULD OBEY ME then there would be WORLD PEACE!!!! Gosh darnit! Why won’t you obey me??? Don’t you want World Peace? It’s common sense!! Obey me=World Peace! Less Guns=Less Crime. Simple.

    I just returned from Brazil. Guess what? “Gun Control Advocates” in Rio and Sao Paulo should be happy, because like you their “common sense” tells them that average citizens shouldn’t be allowed to own guns, and they can’t by law. But those people aren’t happy at all. The “criminals” in the slums own lots and lots of guns anyway, and murder a few “average citizens” with those guns… But when the POLICE shoot an “average citizen” in cold blood something amazing occurs. They weren’t citizens at all! They were “criminals” posing as citizens until killed by Police. It turns out the Police cannot be “criminal” no matter how many “average people” they shoot, because the Police merely claim everyone they murder IS A CRIMINAL.

    So average people in Brazil are much more afraid of the Police than they are of the “criminals” in the slums with guns, because they’re less likely to be killed by “Criminals” than to be murdered themselves because some Policeman decideds THEY’RE a “criminal”! In Rio average people carry $20 that’s “robbery money”, because if some “criminal” gets $20 they’ll go right away. Police, as a rule, always want more than that because not deciding someone is a criminal and shooting them is a hard job. Plus the police earn far less not killing and robbing potential citizen criminals than real criminals earn merely not killing. Which isn’t fair, obviously.

    “Gun Control Advocates” seem to think Police are not “people with guns”, and that it is rational for people WITHOUT guns to pay SOME people with guns to try to take away guns from everyone else. If Gun Control works ONLY POLICE and CRIMINALS have guns. Everyone else is out of luck.

  18. MP,

    Gun control is inherently elitist since it begins with premise that the gun causes the crime to occur and not the person wielding the gun. It is elitist and dehumanizing since it postulates that the presence of an inanimate object causes human beings to make moral choices.

    Neither is it common sense that “more guns equals more crime” Were that true, rural America where every household virtually without except has guns would be the most crime ridden segment of society instead of its least.

    The profound elitism of the gun control movement was starkly revealed during the debates over concealed carry permits in the 90’s. Opponents of the measure claimed it would herald a return to the days of “Dodge City” as the ignorant masses started blazing away at each other on the least pretext.

    Empirically, this belief was shown to be absolutely wrong. People with concealed carry permits misused their weapons less often than police officers.

  19. Practical, totally interested question. Can a lawful foreign resident – i.e. foreign worker on a visa – buy a firearm in the US ? Or does one need either permanent residence – green card – or citizenship ?

  20. I think gun ownership is no problem under federal law for a legal resident alien. Whether permanent residency is required, I don’t know. State law might be more restrictive. Suggest you check the NRA website. You might also check the BATF website or call the local BATF office. For state law, a call to your attorney general’s office should provide a quick answer.

  21. Alexander,

    Your post deals with the very real consequences of gun control. It however does not address the basic underlying belief system I was trying to point out. It is absolutely correct, without question, that if no private citizens had guns then there would be less gun related crimes. That is simple math. It is important to remember this fact when arguing with a gun control advocate. Gun control advocates use this as a foundation of their argument, because they are seeking a less violent (particularly gun related) society. You are wrong in stating that if gun control works, criminals wouldn’t have guns. Because if gun control truly worked, then only the police would have guns. That is the goal of the gun control advocates.

    Thus, when arguing against gun control, one must start by recognizing this mathematical truth of the gun control argument, and then pull the carpet out from under the advocates by introducing the real world. Your arguments relate to what would happen in the real world as a consequence of gun control, given the imperfect nature of people and the limited resources of goverment. Government enforcement of gun control laws lead to high costs in civil liberties, high costs for enforcement, and in the end low results. I do agree with you in that in the real world, it is not practical or possible to implement the perfectly controlled society imagined by the statists (uh, I mean gun control advocates), and that the harder they push, the more it will be only criminals and police that have guns, as you suggest.

    I am firmly opposed to gun control. I would have no objections to a society in which private citizens and criminals were only allowed to have guns, and the police could be trusted to only use guns in appropriate circumstances. I have no belief that such a society is possible, and thus will continue to advocate a society of empowering the individual vs. empowering the state.


    Gun control does not begin with that premise. It begins with the premise that people fear what a gun empowers a criminal to do, more that what a tire iron empowers the same criminal. In conjunction with this is the somewhat elitist argument that the victim cannot be entrusted with the responsibility of defending themselves with a gun, but this argument is secondary to the fear argument.


    Bloomberg is an elitist. It’s a shame that he is the best the Repub’s had to offer, but the Demo city councilman running against him in the last election was a jerk and would run the city into the ground financially.

  22. MP,

    “It is absolutely correct, without question, that if no private citizens had guns then there would be less gun related crimes. That is simple math. It is important to remember this fact when arguing with a gun control advocate. Gun control advocates use this as a foundation of their argument, because they are seeking a less violent (particularly gun related) society.”

    You are committing a simple fallacy (Begging the Question). All “criminals” are either “private citizens” or “non-citizens”. (All police are “private citizens”, by the way). Because there has never been a time in the US when “private citizens” had no guns, there is no basis for you to believe there would be “less gun related crime”. The FBI estimates that around 60,000,000 Americans own appox. 300,000,000 guns. When you try to reason about a “what if” where this were not the case, your argument lacks what’s called ‘existential import’ because it IS the case. I will conceed that IF there were NO guns in the world THEN there would be NO gun crime in the world. But so what? How do you propose 200,000,000 people without guns should take away the guns of 60,000,000 people who have them? Spitwads?

    You repeatedly evoke “simple math”, yet when I point out your logic is fallacious you do not seem to understand what I mean ([A, B, D; A=B, B=D] A=D is true. A=C is unproven. C=X, lacks ‘existential import’). If you read my post more carefully you will see that I clearly wrote that if gun control works ONLY Police AND Criminals would have guns. This is a tautological truth because if private ownership of guns were illegal ANY private citizen who had a gun in violation of this law would be a criminal.

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