Friday, September 23, 2011

December 22, 1984

I think that December 22, 1984 is when there came a fundamental change in the psyche of the average American citizen. That was the day in a New York City subway car that Bernhard Hugo Goetz shot four Usual Suspects who were preparing to rob him. The Goetz incident resulted in a couple of things, both of them good: it aroused sympathy for the normal, law-abiding citizen forced to defend himself when the State failed to defend him; and it reminded the State, in this case New York, of any government's primary responsibility: to protect its citizens from both external threats (war) and internal threats (crime).

The armed self-defense right now enjoyed by millions of Americans only came after the Goetz case, with Florida being the first to liberalize carry laws, just 2 years after Goetz. Now, in 2011, Illinois (the state that gave us President Obama) is the last state that refuses the law-abiding the right to go armed legally.

It was also after Goetz that New York City, shocked out of its complacency by the reaction to the case, began to clean itself up and crack down on street crime. Now the subways and Times Square are safe for the law-abiding to go, and the city has experienced a renaissance as people are willing again to live there.

All because a nerdy, nebbishy white guy decided one day in 1984 that he was tired of being a victim and not being in charge of his own destiny.

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