Nicholas Kristof, the knucklehead

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New York Times columnist, Rhodes scholar, Harvard alum and pro-gun control sympathizer Nicholas Kristof.  (Photo: CNN)

New York Times columnist, Rhodes scholar, Harvard alum and pro-gun control sympathizer Nicholas Kristof. (Photo: CNN)

So, a friend of mine forwarded me a link to an article entitled, “Stranger Danger and Guns,” written by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Given my friend’s political persuasion and stance on guns (emphatically pro-gun control), I knew right away that it would end up being an advertisement for tougher gun laws. And, sure enough, it was. But it’s reasoning was so flawed and it’s evidence so tenuous that I felt the need to respond.

In the piece, Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer, recounts an incident that happened earlier this month when he misplaced his iPhone. Using an app called ‘Find My Friends,’ on his wife’s phone, Kristof found his phone. It was at a residence approximately 15 miles away in a neighborhood he was unfamiliar with.

He decided he would go pick it up in person. He brings his wife. He writes:

I drove there. It was night. The house looked creepy.

My wife stayed in the car, cellphone in hand, ready to summon the cavalry. I walked to the front door and rang the doorbell.

Nothing. The lights were on, so I rang again and knocked hard. I spent five minutes ringing the doorbell and pounding on the door. Finally, a man emerged.

“I think you have my phone,” I explained tautly.

“Your phone?” he asked.

“YOU HAVE MY PHONE!”

“Oh,” he said, “your phone.” He pulled it out, still with my name, email address and office phone number pasted on it, and meekly handed it over.

I left, no questions asked.

Following the drama-free encounter, Kristof shared his story on social media. Not surprisingly, many folks blasted him for being stupid and reckless. As it’s one thing to retrieve one’s property in less-risky conditions, but it’s quite another to retrieve one’s property at night, unarmed, in a neighborhood that one is not familiar with (high-risk conditions!).

Yet, Kristof’s deflects attention away from his risky and carless behavior and instead poses the question, “Why we tolerate a society so bristling with guns that such a quest may be perilous? Aren’t we all knuckleheads for tolerating such a threat?”

The short answer: no. Putting aside the fact that only knuckleheads go banging on an unknown individual’s door in a strange neighborhood at night, the reason why it’s acceptable to tolerate a high level of gun ownership in this country is because the gun and self-defense laws are written in a way to protect and encourage reasonable behavior and punish unreasonable behavior. In other words, as long as folks act reasonably, that is they exercise sound judgment in the face of adversity, then they are protected under the law.  Those who don’t face the consequences of their actions before a jury of their peers.

To give one an idea, take the “controversial” and much talked about ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, the self-defense statute that removes a duty to retreat and allows one to use deadly force outside the home. While many pro-gun control proponents have dubbed it a ‘kill at will’ or ‘shoot first’ law, arguing that fosters a Wild Wild West type of mentality, it’s clear that they haven’t read the text of the law because it not only emphasizes reasonableness, but clearly defines what reasonable behavior is under various circumstances.

A person who shoots an armed suspect during a robbery on a city street is reasonable behavior. A person who shoots a cop serving that individual a warrant on a city street is unreasonable, and therefore, unlawful behavior. Likewise, a homeowner shooting an intruder is reasonable behavior whereas a homeowner shooting a mailman is unreasonable behavior. (All of this is laid out in the Florida statute if one cares to look at it).

Generally speaking, the legal system does a pretty fair job of determining on a case by case basis whether or not the use of force was justified. That is, whether the shooter acted reasonably given the situation.

So, to make a long story short, Kristof’s fear is overblown. Citizens do not have to worry about responsible gun owners. Overwhelmingly, we tend to act reasonably and in accordance with the law. Crime statistics back this up. While Kristof glibly says firearms “kill 32,000 Americans a year,” without differentiating between homicides which make up approximately one third of gun deaths and suicides which make up approximately two thirds of gun deaths, he fails to mention that the gun-related homicide rate and overall gun-violence have been on a steady decline for the past decade.  He also neglects to mention that lawfully instances of DGU (defensive gun use, good guy with gun stops crime) are far more common than instances in which a criminal uses a firearm to perpetrate a crime.

By and large America is a safe place. And neither guns nor the level of gun ownership make America any more dangerous or violent. What does? Knuckleheads.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Johnny Alamo March 2, 2017, 11:27 pm

    There is no point in comment on old posts, but I’ll make an exception in this case. The Florida law cited is not the one to worry about – it is the section just prior, 776.012, where the only safety the general public has is the potential shooter’s belief whether or not he is in imminent danger of great bodily harm. With cowards, who is to say when or where they feel endangered? Is it when they are nudged away from the basket in a game of pickup school ground basketball? Is it when they lose at a stoplight drag race? How about when they try to bully someone with a gun, and the other guy smacks them down, then turns to walk away, only to get shot in the back. The survivor can then claim oh boo hoo poor me felt in danger of my life, and with only one living witness, who is to say otherwise? We have seen this happen all across America ever since these nonsensical stand your ground laws were enacted with the help and advisement of the gun industry lobby in the form of the NRA. I can’t help but think even law enforcement nowadays are a bunch of cowards because of how often, how willingly they shoot first at unarmed people, at people stopped for minor traffic violations, at people hanging out at the neighborhood gathering place, the corner convenience store, or at people obviously suffering from mental health events.
    All of these newest laws are designed simply to enhance gun sales through fear, to keep the gun industry profitable no matter how many innocents get killed at home and in the community at large. The sales of guns has peaked, and it is with pink guns that the NRA and their cronies in the gun industry try to return to the days when they could gin up sales based on a black guy being elected President… with all the fear that ginned up. The black rifle, an assault rifle in thought and deed, which is even more deadly accurate than the military version since it lacks the accuracy-defeating full auto feature, has at its core the Barbie doll like trick of accessorizing, and that is the gun industry’s biggest profit center since, well, since the Barbie doll.

    I am sure that more and more states will adopt laws like New Jersey, New York, and California, laws which are too draconian towards those of us who properly use and enjoy guns recreationally. But what choice do they have? Against the millions spend by the gun industry lobby and the NRA, their only defenses are these laws which are harsh, because the NRA and the gun industry have prevented all intelligent data colllectin, prevented any collection of statistics which could allow lawkakers to make laws based on facts instead of fear. And what is the main tool of the NRA and gun industry lobby? It isfear, fear of the big black president who wants to burst into your home castle and take away all your guns (but who in fact in 8 years did nothing except expand gun rights). Now with Trump in office, gun sales are way down, because there is no bogeyman on the horizon that the NRA’s hierarchy can point to and claim is coming to repeal the Second Amendment, or who wants to make everyone register their guns so they can be confiscated later, or who might even, heavens forbid, close the gun show loophole that lets anyone anywhere buy any number of guns without so much as producing identification showing they are of legal age…

  • Doug October 7, 2014, 4:54 pm

    I’ve heard a thousand improbable stories like this over the last forty or so years that back up the liberal presumptions of how to live this life. What I’ve discovered is that most (MOST) of them were made up. Lies. Untruths. It’s what liberal progressive socialist communists are best at. Ignore the reality of a diverse society and make up a story about how combiyah everything is.

    It isn’t. Don’t believe it. I get that feeling with this presentation, too.

  • Russ October 6, 2014, 5:00 pm

    My head almost blew up by just looking at those freaks.
    That Kristof guy had a nervous twitch in his left eye, and the other two looked like bad cartoon characters.
    Anti gun nuts are misguided and misinformed.
    It should be mandatory for all public servants to at least pass American history.
    And maybe they should have to join the NRA before opening their pie holes on firearms matters.
    In fact the NRA should be in charge of all laws pertaining to firearms in the USA.
    Nobody in the world knows more about firearms than the NRA—-period.

  • Larry October 6, 2014, 12:56 pm

    Nick is a moron looking for a place to get killed. In fact, he is beyond a moron. I can’t even come up with a word to properly describe just how stupid that move was.

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