Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

An Armed Society is a Polite Society

According to this AP report, the state legislature of North Carolina has recently passed a law requiring that courts give information on how to apply for a concealed-carry permit to all battered spouses when they come forward to request restraining orders.

"We’re not interested in them shooting their abusers," said Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina. "We’re interested in delivering a message: When police can’t protect these people, they are capable of protecting themselves."

Now here’s a feminist cause worth getting behind.

Hat tip: Division of Labour

Discussions - 23 Comments

Great idea!This is certainly the Amurrrican way!

This should be very interesting. My prediction: After two self-defense related male deaths, the law gets repealed.

Anybody else want to play the prediction game?

Fung: Why would anyone repeal a law because it allowed a women to defend herself? Wait a minute, I do believe the law wouldn’t matter/be necessary since self-defense is a natural right. In a perfect world NC wouldn’t even have to pass such a law because the right to carry concealed would be automatic. But this is liberal America where the very unliberal Democratic party tries to control everyone. Another victory for the citizen thanks to southern conservatives!


I doubt if the law will make much of a difference. I suspect that most battered women are probably not likely to defend themselves, which is why they are battered women. Violent act builds upon violent act until such women feel helpless, the process and resulting effects on the woman is known as battered women’s syndrome (bws). I suppose women seeking injunctions have shown some resolve, but they could be seeking them because of family, community pressure. I’m curious about your perspective on bws (is it real?), and what it means for this law.

I’m sure that terrorists will be thrilled to know that they have a "natural right" to carry guns onto subways, purely as a self-defense measure, of course. Although maybe that Brazilian (non-terrorist) civilian might’ve stood a fighting chance if he’d been packing heat, eh?

S Wynn:

Do not put words into the mouth of Clint. He stated that SELF-DEFENSE was a natural right, not the right to carry guns. The civilian would have been morally entitled to use force to resist an unjust use of force. Usually the police win. I think Locke termed such a use of force as an Appeal to Heaven, with God deciding the way it should work out according to some standard. No state ever has the right to prohibit others from acting in self defense.

Oh, I think Clint was clear enough. He also said that "In a perfect world NC wouldn’t even have to pass such a law because the right to carry concealed would be automatic." And why do you suppose he thinks that right (to carry a concealed weapon) would be automatic? I think it’s a very fair interpretation -really, it’s pretty much just reading what he wrote- to surmise from what he wrote that the answer would be "because carrying a concealed weapon as a self-defensive protective measure is a natural right," and such natural rights would not require legislation to ensure their free exercise.

Ditto Steve on his defense of my comment.

Once again S Wynn is way out of line and out of context. Any logical person realizes the right to self-defense (which is so clearly a natural right even though Wynn seems to deny it) varies depending on the danger one’s life is in. Should everyone carry concealed handguns for no reason? Perhaps not, but we are talking about battered women with abusive (ex)spouses. For them the natural right to self-defense requires more than a telephone and police. Obviously self-defense for them requires a gun to be effective, and they have a right to that with or without NC’s law. Its really simple. All people have a right to defend themselves, and the situation dictates the type of defense. This right can be seen in Locke, nature, common sense, and the most of the laws of America except in the bastions of liberal Democrats.

Well, Wynn’s example of that Brazilian guy (I’m assuming he’s talking of the one on the London "tube" train) does make me think, should he have been carrying a gun? Pretty clearly, the threat to his life was very real. But then, what of other citizens riding on the train who might have been endangered by crossfire? Since we can’t predict if/when our lives will be threatened...

To Steve Sparks:

I think you have a couple of good points, and we might point out to Clint (comment 3) that this law does NOT confer a new right, rather it requires the court to provide information about an existing right to a woman seeking a restraining order.

I am not an expert on BWS, though I have worked with more than one facility (as a board member, and as a researcher)for women and children seeking help from violent males.

In my view, BWS is very real, and shows tremendous similarities with other syndromes (prison camp survivors, abused children, wartime rape/terror victims) in which people suffer repeated abuse and perceived loss of control. We know, among other things, that human catastrophe causes more significant trauma than does "natural" catastrophe, and the damage increases yet again when the perpetrators are supposed to be loved ones (parents, spouses).

The one caution that I would offer regarding BWS is this: Too often, friends and relatives commit the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE) which is to explain the syndrome using internal, dispositional factors (lack of will, lack of resolve, backbone, etc.).

Research has shown (beginning with American prisoners during the Korean War, and continuing on through cult and BWS research) that (a) social isolation, (b) loss of control and predictability and (c) loss of power, and (d) unpredictable and significant physical abuse can cause ANYONE (ANYONE!) to behave in a helpless, hopeless manner.

I think your point is well taken, Steve. The women affected by this law are women who already have sought a restraining order. They are likely to have available more social support (less isolation) or more hope than many others, who have not, sought some help.


Good comment. One question: do you thing that rights come from laws? My argument is that laws never "give" rights, but only protect them. Battered women (or anyone else) should not have to get a concealed carry permit to defend themselves. To the extent that the law informs people of their rights, good. To the extent that the law implies (through concealed carry law) that a person must get an okay from the government for self-defense, bad.

Wynn: I fail to see how the Bazilian man killed in London relates. He was not acting in self-defense. I was not aware that his life was in danger when the police asked him to stop. He put himself in danger by running. Reasonable self-defense does not mean running from the police.

Some good insights Fung. I know nothing BWS so I am asking relating to your experience and research of the issue. Do you think that this new law could give others who might not otherwise come forward the courage to do so? (Even if it is only by informing them of what their options are)

Clint: The case of the Brazilian civilian (hey, it rhymes!), Jean Charles de Menezes, only relates in that Menezes might have been able to take advantage of his natural right to defend himself if he had had a gun. You are correct that he "was not acting in self-defense," and he could not have, since, presumably, by the time he realized he was under attack from the police, he was already being shot dead.

Apparently, you haven’t been following the Menezes case very closely. You are wrong that he ran from the (plainclothes) police, and that he was asked to stop by the police. Whoops, some documents from the government commission investigating the shooting have been leaked, and they reveal the following:

a) Menezes never ran from the police.

b) He didn’t know he was being followed at all.

c) He didn’t jump any turnstile at the station - he paid with his card

d) He boarded a train and sat down, with plainclothes officers in the same car

e) The police never positively identified Menezes as the man that they were actually looking for (and, obviously, he wasn’t) and also never identified themselves as police to Menezes until AFTER they had grabbed him, immediately before he was shot (and even this is not clear) From an article that I’ve linked to below: "A surveillance officer admitted in a witness statement that he was unable to positively identify Mr de Menezes as a suspect because the officer had been relieving himself when the Brazilian left the block of flats where he lived."

f) Unlike what was originally claimed (he had a heavy jacket and was wearing a belt, with wires!), Menezes was wearing a thin denim jacket (the temp was 62F that day), and he wasn’t wearing a tool belt or carrying his work tools at all.

Go here or here for more information on this. Menezes was shot in the head seven times and once in the shoulder. I’m curious Clint, what has been your source of news on this incident? Yes, I realize this is a big side-trip from the spousal abuse/self-defense/guns origin for the thread, but I couldn’t let such uninformed comments go unchecked, sorry.

I think the concealed carry scenario is a bad idea; one which could lead to the shooting deaths of already-abused women, among other negative outcomes. In the current reality, if an abused woman wants a gun to protect herself, she can get one and carry it around, permit or not. I wouldn’t recommend it, but they’ll do what they wish, of course.

to .....: The best answer is: It depends.

It depends on the filtering system between the circulated information and the woman. For instance, some women may be relatively isolated (physically, in some cases) from tv, radio, and newspaper. Others will find the information filtered through, or via the spouse, and will find it distorted, or delivered as a threat ("do you know what I’d do to you if you even think of getting a gun?"). It depends on the availability of social support, and presence/absence of of alternative plans of action. It depends on the results of any past efforts to stand up: many women have stories about valiant attempts (escape, retaliation, verbal retaliation, legal avenues) which resulted in violent physical retribution, and a resolve to protect self and children from further violence. The presence of kids, by the way, makes it very difficult to plan a successful strategy. If any or all of these factors measure positively, then the answer to your question gets closer to "yes."

Clint- I know very little about the law , but I’ll give it a try.

At some level, I agree with you: we all have a right to certain freedoms (to and from) whether the law recognizes them, or not, but even that statement depends on some ultimate "law" or "principle" that legitimizes it: humanism, in my case, but religion or pragmatics in someone else’s.

Now, here is where I step way out of my area: I think that modern societies offer social practices that might be better deemed "privileges" than "rights." I also expect privilege vs right is a continuum, rather than a discrete distinction. Driving a car seems like a privilege, and having a child and carrying a gun fall into gray areas. In some cases, the law seems to function more as a potential "taker-away" of rights, or privilege, than it does a recognizer of innate rights

Long ago, in another post, I wrote about guns and marijuana. My right-wing friends want the government to take away my right to smoke pot in my living room, and my left-wing friends want the government to take awy my right to have a gun in my living room. They both abhor the law when it infringes on their "rights," and they want it to be togher when it fails to infringe on the "rights" of the other side.

Finally, I might suggest that basic rights pertain to more basic forms of behavior, and not so much to modern variations in behavior. Kids have a right to play, which is a basic form of behavior) but not all kids have a right to play violent videogames. Adults have a right to protect themselves (basic) but not everyone has a right to protect themselfves with a howitzer.

Not surprisingly, I think I wrote myself into a corner....

Thanks Fung I appreciate the insight.

S. Wynn: I have not followed the case of the Brazilian civilian (couldn’t resist copying that rhyme) hardly at all. What I know about it is very general and picked up by accident while looking at other news as the story didn’t really interest me. No particular source just a few newspapers and general web browsing--mostly headlines. I tend to side with the police and assume that they were doing their best to protect people. Perhaps your information is more correct, and the police made a larger mistake than shooting a very suspicious and uncooperative suspect.

Fung: It sounds like we mostly agree on this issue. Your thoughts on "privileges" and "rights" seem very good, and this is what I was arguing. Of course its not unusual for people to have disagreements about what exactly these natural rights are, and as long as they are in the ballpark, minor differences don’t especially bother me. Our views certainly differ some, but we both accept the right to self-defense. So while not a ringer, I think its close to the same thing.

Clint, a coupla quick follow-ups. Thus far, the evidence in the Menezes case is building up to indicate that the police while trying to "do their best to protect people," killed someone, execution-style, that they were supposed to be protecting from terrorists. And their action probably didn’t help to reinforce the citizenry’s trust in law enforcement, either. If non-combatant civilians at home in the countries that are waging the Global War on Violent Extremism can become "collateral damage," (and here the outcome of the investigation and the accountability of the officers is pivotal), and that becomes acceptable, then the terrorists are certainly seeing some success.

Also, I haven’t denied that self-defense is an obvious natural right (if you read that anywhere, let me know; I certainly didn’t intend to deny it). But I think Fung is getting somewhere with his "not everyone has a right to arm themselves with a Howitzer" point. It’s always going to be gratifying to conjure a tv-movie moment when an abused woman pops her loathsome abuser at that critical moment when he was about to fatally attack her, but I dare say that just result stemming from gun possession is likely not as common as 101 other tragic outcomes, despite what any slick NRA infomercials might say.

Getting back to the title of this article, "An Armed Society is a Polite Society", I think every American citizen not otherwise restricted from doing so should go armed any time they’re outside their home. It would only take a few months to weed out the jerks and malcontents whose bad manners will be the cause of their demise. It would also reduce such stupidities as "road rage" and a host of other violent behavior. Knowing that there’s a 99% chance the person you’re being violent toward may have a larger, more powerful weapon than you do, and may even be more proficient in using it, will keep most of the arrogant members of society in check.

S. Wynn: Your comments 5 and 7 certainly made me suspicious of your belief in the natural right to self-defense. Glad to hear that you believe in it.

Should everyone carry concealed handguns for no reason? Perhaps not, but we are talking about battered women with abusive (ex)spouses. For them the natural right to self-defense requires more than a telephone and police. Obviously self-defense for them requires a gun to be effective, and they have a right to that with or without NC’s law.

I wrote that in comment 8. Of course nobody is suggesting anyone carry a howitzer down the street; I never implied anything of the sort. But people (in this case battered spouses) who have a reasonable threat to their person have the natural right to defend themselves with reasonable means. I would conclude that carrying a concealed handgun (not a howitzer) is a reasonable protection for many people, and therefore, a natural right.

Lastly you seem worried that concealed carry will make the streets more dangerous. This is simply false. Some interesting gun facts are here, and while you may be suspicious of this site, you can note that they cite all of their sources. The most telling fact is that 90% of U.S. violent crime is committed without a gun. Most criminals and thugs don’t use guns but beat, steal and rape in gangs and groups. And they will gladly ignore any gun law you pass. Guns are usually used by the innocent for self-defense.

you people are all absolutely insane

Clint, it’s the frightening prevalence of attitudes like "Old Patriot"’s above that causes me to be concerned. Thougts similar to "ff"’s came to my mind, also, after reading that.

Yeah, you’re right, I’m fairly suspicious of the site you recommended, but it’s possible that some of those stats are credible, I don’t know. No time to give them a rigorous examination.

Owning or carrying a Howitzer around might not be a "natural right," but owning
50 caliber sniper rifles -arguably capable of bringing down passenger jets- is a legal right, for some disturbing reason.

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