...Kennesaw, Ga... in 1982 passed a mandatory gun ownership law in response to a handgun ban passed in Morton Grove, Ill. Kennesaw’s crime dropped sharply, while Morton Grove’s did not.
To some degree, this is rational. Criminals, unsurprisingly, would rather break into a house where they aren’t at risk of being shot. As David Kopel noted in a 2001 article in The Arizona Law Review, burglars report that they try to avoid homes where armed residents are likely to be present. We see this phenomenon internationally, too, with the United States having a lower proportion of “hot” burglaries — break-ins where the burglars know the home to be occupied — than countries with restrictive gun laws.
Likewise, in the event of disasters that leave law enforcement overwhelmed, armed citizens can play an important role in stanching crime. Armed neighborhood watches deterred looting in parts of Houston and New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Precisely because an armed populace can serve as an effective backup for law enforcement, the ownership of firearms was widely mandated during Colonial times, and the second Congress passed a statute in 1792 requiring adult male citizens to own guns.
Daniel Pearl's mother in today's NYT:
IN late 2001, three months before my son, the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was kidnapped, he interviewed the influential Qatari cleric Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and asked him about suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. The sheik replied with a novel twist of logic. “Israeli society in general is armed,” he said, implying that Israeli civilians — including women and children, doctors and journalists — are legitimate targets.