The Face of the Enemy

The Face of the Enemy.

There are two sides to the gun ownership argument hunting and self-defense. I have and will further argue that the amount “gun crime” is relatively small and remains unchanged over the decades despite changes in the “gun control laws” and within society itself. In these few paragraphs let us look more at the public perception of crime; what makes a criminal tick and how citizen ownership of firearms can reduce the criminal misuse of firearms.

Are you afraid of criminals? YES. Then your fears are justified. If you haven’t been confronted by a criminal yet, you don’t know just how justified you are. To understand the criminal mind, try this purely hypothetical experiment. Take a human embryo; breed it in a ghetto environment where the only people who are successful and enjoy creature comforts seem to be the pimps and the drug dealers and the armed robbers. Give that child only a half a chance of getting even the most menial job in a world where the only cheap entertainment is TV and videos, where the upper middle-class life-style this child can only hope to partake of through criminal enterprise is glorified. What do you expect to end up with? Somebody that lives by their animal instincts!

You’re born with intelligence, but not with ethics if crime has become the recognized avenue for success because most of the others are effectively choked off, then it will become ethically acceptable to that organism. When that human organism commits a crime, throw it into a prison system where a whole different dimension of life exists, a world of predatory animals who dwell within a hierarchy based on who is the strongest, the most vicious, the most ruthless a world inhabited by those whose stock-in-trade is crime. These people can teach that young and malleable young organism how to make a hundred thousand a year dealing dope, or a thousand dollars an hour stealing cars or burglarizing homes. Our young organism, if he has a quick mind, can learn enough to pursue his new trade in a couple of weeks, but there’s no one out there who would fund him through trade school for a couple of years to learn a middle-class skill acceptable to middle-class society.

In the seething world behind the prison walls, there is one criterion only: “Look out for Number One, and everybody else can go to hell”. If you don’t, they’ll bash you to steal a few packs of cigarettes or worse rape you and move themselves another step up in the food chain hierarchy of prison life. This is the culture and the habitat where criminals breed. They regard human beings who conform to society as a resource, to be harvested like corn or complacent livestock for their bounty. See them in their prison environment, and you can’t help but feel sorry for them. There isn’t one of them who won’t seem like a victim to you when you talk to him in the visiting room, because there isn’t one of them who aren�t a victim.

Call it genetic defect, call it society, but something victimized them and robbed them of the rich sensitivities law-abiding citizens enjoy. But sympathizing with a criminal in the prison visiting room is like sympathizing with the timber wolf caged inside its bars at the Zoo. It’s safe enough there, but you don’t want to meet either of them in their natural habitat. Veteran prison officers and cops will tell you, “Look, save your sympathy. They’re animals”. You respond with outrage and think the guards and cops must be animals themselves for feeling that way about other people. You’d be stupid. Crims themselves will shrug and tell you, “You act like an animal if you’re treated like one”. But I don’t think of them as animals. Spend time with animals and you can learn to relate with them. To most of you, criminals are as alien as supernatural beings. The best analogy is with werewolves. We all know that werewolves are mythical creatures that exist only in the minds of the scriptwriters, they make you tingle with excitement in the movie theatre, but you don’t have to fear that one is going to bite you on the way home.

Most people still feel that way about violent criminals; until they meet one, they simply don’t exist. You might say I believe in werewolves. If so, it’s because I’ve met them. One of them just sits there across the desk in the prison office and says, “I’ve always maintained my innocence”. His eyes are slate-gray, and he has learned to stare people down like Kipling’s Mowgli staring down the wolf pack, and he can’t keep a mocking hint of a sneer off his face when he speaks of the crime he was convicted for. One senior officer at the prison where he is serving his life term says of him, “He’s a model prisoner. We’ve never had any trouble with him, and we probably never will. He’s bright and articulate. And he is possibly the single most dangerous human being in this institution”. He says, he was setup and railroaded on circumstantial evidence.

The police think he’s a psychopathic killer who is so good at covering up his hideous murders that they’ll never convict him for more than the one. He’s bright and engaging and informative to talk to, and when I’m alone in an interview room with him, I keep my hands free and my chair back from the desk so I can move fast, just as if a strange Doberman had walked into the room. The kinds of werewolves I’ve met carry their fangs in their belts or their pockets (almost never in holsters, so they can ditch their weapons immediately with no evidence attached to their persons). They react less to full moons than to bellies full of alcohol or a couple of days doing speed or three weeks without sex or three days without money.

Psychiatrists call them sociopath. Sociopaths don�t really care about other people one-way or the other. They see people as a resource, as food as it were. They will steal your belongings the way you devour an apple, feeling good afterward having sated their appetite, and with absolutely no regard for the feelings of the apple tree that grew the bounty and left it where it could be harvested. Being a sociopath isn’t necessarily bad. There are times when society deliberately trains sociopath since they can serve extremely useful functions. If a conglomerate has just taken over a marginally profitable firm and has to clear out a lot of deadwood, they’ll send in a personnel executive who can be ruthless about firing people who don’t produce. He hasn’t spent fifteen years at work and at play with the people he’s firing, and if it occurs to him that this loss of their jobs will be the most shattering act in their lives short of the death of a child or parent or spouse, he sloughs it off. He is doing it impersonally, for the greater good of the corporation.

In wartime, every soldier on the battlefield has been taught that the enemy is subhuman or nonhuman, a target to be destroyed in return for recognition (medals, favored assignments, and promotions for those producing the highest body count). The tragedy of the foreigner’s death, of the widowhood of his wife, and the orphaning of his children, is ignored. The soldier kills wholesale for the greater good of his unit, and is rewarded by his own survival and that of his nation. That soldier’s own generals will send him to die, because they know that there is a certain “acceptable casualty rate” when the death of one’s own compatriots is accompanied by strategic victory. The general sends his men to die for the greater good of the service, and the head of state that commands the general endorses this act for the greater good and survival of his government and his society. The dead soldiers on their own side are ciphers. The dead soldiers on the other side are body count and victory, with tangible rewards in terms of national riches and security and of forestalling the advances of Communism/Capitalist Imperialism (pick one).

In corporate head-rollings, the suffering jobless disappear from sight, and all that remains is the relief and good feelings of those who still have their jobs and are still occupationally alive. The sociopath outlaw who commits crime against another person feels those same justifications. He does it for the greater good of himself; the suffering of his victims doesn’t concern him. He is isolated from it. He feels he has his own problems that drove him to this life-style; the agony he causes for others is simply their problem. The average person could not identify with murdering for profit. The sociopath criminal will do so with no more compunction than the manager of your local MacDonald’s makes his order for the week’s hamburger. Each is doing what he perceives his job to be, and if some living thing dies for it, that is a problem for the thing that dies, not for him.

Consider another one of the “model prisoners” a young man who we will call “Ronnie”. Ronnie is around twenty-nine, a congenial person with a raffish air about him. Everybody who chats with him likes him. Ronnie is in a maximum-security prison where he’s going to be for quite some time, because Ronnie has done a lot of sociopath things in his life. Ronnie tells me about how he makes his living as a professional burglar, home invader and car thief when he’s “outside the walls”. I asked Ronnie what he would do if he faced an ARMED homeowner. “If neither of us had drawn yet, I’d draw and shoot him. If I had my gun out and he went for his, I’d kill him. If he had the drop on me, I’d wait till he turned away, and then I’d pull my gun and shoot him”. “What if, I asked, the homeowner didn’t give him an opening”? “I’d let the coppers come and take me back to prison”, he said. “I’m not stupid enough to get myself killed”.

If Ronnie comes into my house when I’m there, he’ll either threaten me with death or actually kill me, since I�m sure won’t be inviting him over for a drink. And if I ever come home and find Ronnie there, I will violate every one of societies rules and, if I could, shoot him down on sight. He is the wolf, and I am the shepherd. It is one thing to grieve for the loss of natural ecology for arctic and timber wolves, and quite another to be responsible for the sheep that they kill. Timber wolves are wild and free and they love their families, and if you could get to know them you’d like them. All that is true of Ronnie, too. I feel sorry for the wolves in the zoo and for Ronnie in prison. But I know that their instinct is to kill my sheep, and if they try to, I’ll destroy them, just as they would me if they got the drop on me first. Pogo said, “We have seen the enemy, and they is us”. That’s something that crosses every citizen’s mind when he gets bitten by someone like Ronnie and decides that it isn’t going to happen anymore. But we don’t wont to be like them.

Those who want to ban guns make the point that burglars and home invaders kill more homeowners than vice versa. That’s only because the criminals come in ready to kill anyone who messes with them, like Ronnie, and some of them have a bit of rogue leopard in them and kill just for fun Homeowners, by contrast, don’t kill unless they have absolutely no choice. When a Ronnie runs, they don’t shoot him in the back, the way Ronnie might do to them. Ronnie isn’t afraid of silver bullets or garlic or anything else except either two Dobermans at once, or a gun held on him that doesn’t waver and that he knows is going to go off if he turns mean.

These predatory people don’t think like you. They aren’t people like you. They are a different breed. Talk to doctors and psychiatrists and lawyers and parole officers. These are all people who understand the criminal mind. They’ll be reluctant to talk about the full depths of what they know until they know you a lot better, because they think you’ll say, “Come on, there really aren’t beings like you’re describing except on TV and in the movies”.

But if you could look into the list of registered holders of pistol-carrying permits for a city like New York you’ll find that their doctors and psychiatrists, probation officers, judges and lawyers, are among the highest occupational categories of people who carry guns for self-defense where it is permitted by law. This is because they work every day with the sort of people we are talking about. They have seen the face of the enemy and they are indeed frightened. They arm themselves with guns/guards/dogs/alarms because they also know what fends off the sociopath werewolves from their city’s streets.

Call a guard dog breeder, in any city, any state and any country and ask him how many of his clients are doctors and lawyers and judges. It’s not just because they can afford the money.

Those of us who have dealt with hardened criminals know them better than anyone else. We also, even more than the bleeding heart pseudo penologists, understand just what a rotten hand they were dealt even before they got to prison, let alone after they got out again, too. I’ve spent a lot of time researching them. I can empathize with the wolves and the werewolves, however. They follow their nature, the dark animal side that resides in us all, the way they were bred, then into an environment and a shape they didn’t choose for themselves. They are predatory and carnivorous and protective of their own. They are in effect a slave to their genes. But if one of them gets out of his cage and comes after me or mine, I know that the only effective way to stop him is to shoot him. I know that, and the wolf knows that, and if the wolf senses that it’s going to go down that way, it’s probably not going to come after me or mine at all.

� Copyright Michael KAY 1997.