When I awoke a week ago this past Saturday, I was among the most rabid supporters of laws and measures to curb gun sales. My fervent opposition reflected my Canadian upbringing, where I grew up believing that only police officers should carry guns and that I could rely on them to protect me. That might still be true in my native Toronto, but it’s not in Los Angeles where I now live.
That’s why even the most liberal Angelenos are arming themselves. I, too, was all set to buy a gun, but after research and some reflection, I decided against it. Nevertheless, count me among those who avidly supports the right of Americans to bear arms. In an increasing number of U.S. cities, residents must decide on their own how best to protect themselves.
My acceptance of gun ownership began to evolve upon reading this New York Post article ten days ago about Beverly Hills residents increasingly buying guns and getting the training to use them. Beverly Hills is less than a 15-minute drive from my West L.A. home, and I frequently walk my dog there. I enjoy looking at the beautiful homes and spotting the many rich-and-famous people who occupy them. My BFF enjoys pooping and peeing on the impeccably maintained lawns, particularly those with signs instructing him not to do so.
Debbie Mizrahie, a 40-something mother of two teenagers, was among the Beverly Hills residents featured in the Post article. Mizrahie doesn’t strike me as a “Dirty Harriet” type who dreams of confronting a thug on fashionable Rodeo Drive and saying, “Go ahead, make my day.” Mizrahie is afraid of the surge in Beverly Hills crime. It’s also where Black Lives Matters protesters have frequently staged demonstrations and have been known to show up with antisemitic and anti-Israel signage and chants. Beverly Hills has a significant Jewish population, but liberals prefer not to mention how Jew haters seem attracted to BLM protests. The “mostly peaceful” BLM demonstration in Los Angeles a year ago last summer was staged in another Jewish enclave where synagogues and Jewish businesses were damaged and defaced.
Mizrahie told the Post that during BLM demonstrations in Beverly Hill last year, her neighbor’s home was firebombed with Molotov cocktails.
“My kids were outside and they saw a huge explosion,” she said. “[The neighbor’s] backyard went up in smoke. Trees burned down … But it’s only gotten worse. Beverly Hills has been targeted.”
The Post reported that Beverly Hills residents have organized themselves, block-by-block and in nine city zones, for self-defense. The emergency preparedness committees, Just in Case Beverly Hills, were started by Vera Markowitz, a former 1960s radical who was a member of the New Left Students for a Democratic Society before moving to Beverly Hills. Seems one’s liberalism tends to wilt when there’s an increased likelihood of staring down a gun’s barrel, although the Post reported that all the people it interviewed “are very concerned” about racism and police brutality.
In L.A. and Beverly Hills, the likelihood of gun violence is increasingly very real. A philanthropist, Jacqueline Avant, was killed earlier this month by an intruder in her Beverly Hills home, where she and her music executive husband reportedly had a private guard on duty. Last March, at the celebrity-laden Italian restaurant Il Pastaio, a woman was shot around 2 p.m. after three-armed men robbed another diner of his Richard Mille watch worth an estimated $500,000.
Last week, two armed robbers invaded a holiday party at a house in the wealthy Pacific Palisades neighborhood and took a watch, jewelry and phones from frightened guests. In affluent Hancock Park, a woman with a baby was robbed at gunpoint. Closer to my home, there was an armed holdup less than a half mile from my house where I also walk my dog and shop at the corner Trader Joe’s.
According to statistics cited by the Post, more than 1,800 people have been shot in Los Angeles in 2021, up from 1,530 in 2020. More than 800 people in L.A. County have been murdered in the past 12 months, most of them Blacks and Hispanics. Their photos and where they were slaughtered can be found here. The Establishment media, which has championed and legitimized the defund the police movement, prefers to emphasize that L.A. crime was even worse in the 1990s. Admittedly, L.A. has a ways to go until it achieves Portland’s anarchy.
L.A. Crime Again Became Personal
L.A.’s surging crime became very personal after reading the Post article when I returned home after dinner at a neighborhood restaurant just before 11 p.m. and found a side driveway window smashed to smithereens. In a panic, I rushed into the house to check on my dog, who initially was hiding and then emerged terrified and rushed out the door. He was trembling and wouldn’t come back into the house for several hours.
Having one’s home broken into is very traumatic. There is an immediate sense of violation seeing drawers opened and personal contents spewed on the ground. A Sonos speaker was thrown against the wall, creating a hole. A bedroom pillowcase had been removed, and most of the contents in the adjacent dresser were taken, including my tefillin, religious black leather boxes worn for weekday morning services. I don’t keep jewelry or anything else of value in the house, and the only money the intruders found was about $100 in Canadian currency in my office desk, which they didn’t take. What a diss to Canada that L.A. house burglars consider the country’s money not worth stealing.
It took the LAPD more than two hours to show up and take a report. Both officers were Asian and they couldn’t have been any nicer or more understanding. They were very diligent walking through the house looking for clues and said they would arrange for someone to visit my house on Monday to look for fingerprints. I was surprised by their time and dedication because it was an exercise in futility.
This wasn’t my first break-in rodeo since moving to L.A. six years ago. Three intruders wearing hoodies (I know it was three because one of my cameras filmed them) previously attempted to break into my home, but fortunately they couldn’t penetrate both layers of my double pane glass side door to gain entry. The police came and took fingerprints, and much to my surprise, used them to identify and arrest one of the intruders. He was charged and convicted, and later I received a letter from the court saying I was entitled to restitution. After filing a claim, I was notified the convicted person was a minor and his parents didn’t have the means to pay it.
Break-ins happen with great frequency in my neighborhood and on my street. Neighbors a few doors down had their home robbed multiple times, and across the street another home was robbed four times. A woman around the corner told me her home was broken into three times, once when she left for about 20 minutes to walk her dog. My neighborhood has a significant Asian population who are especially vulnerable because word among criminals is that Asians are more likely to keep money and jewelry in their homes.
Talking to the police and other neighbors I learned that alarms and cameras aren’t effective deterrents for break-ins. L.A.’s house thieves know that the LAPD is woefully understaffed and that at best it will take at least seven minutes to respond to an alarm. That allows the thieves sufficient time to perform “smash and grabs,” breaking into a house and taking every item of perceived value and making a hasty exit before the police arrive. Getting caught and arrested is more of an inconvenience than a fear; in California stealing $950 or less is a misdemeanor and is considered no biggie. Even those accused of violent crimes do little or no jail time.
The person who shot the Beverly Hills philanthropist in her home was a career criminal named Aariel Maynard, who was nabbed in a subsequent burglary after he accidentally shot himself in the foot. According to the Post, Maynard had previously been sentenced to five years in prison for robbery and was out on parole when he murdered Avant. Aariel had multiple other robbery charges. He was involved in a domestic-violence incident in 2013, for which he was sentenced to probation for 36 months and was ordered to take domestic violence classes.
California’s and L.A.’s elected officials take pride in their “progressive” policies quickly putting career criminals back on the street. Some of these officials hope to be inured from the consequences of their policies because they secretly enjoy personal police protection unless the media finds out. Most Hollywood celebrities live in communities heavily patrolled by private security services; the very high profile have personal bodyguards.
My Gun Buying Moment
When I awoke Sunday morning, I was still seething about the trauma the intruders caused my dog, although I was grateful they hadn’t physically harmed him. Fearful I might not be so fortunate a second time, I decided it was time to join the legions of other Angelenos opting to buy guns.
Gun sales in liberal California are surging. Nearly 1.2 million new firearms were registered in 2020 in California, with handgun sales up 65.5% from the year before. The number of long-gun purchases jumped 45.9% from 2019. Last year, there were 686,435 new handguns sold in California, eclipsing the previous record of 546,254 in 2016.
These are 2020 statistics. I’d wager that in 2021, gun sales surged even more.
To my surprise, there are far more gun stores in L.A. than I imagined, and Yelp lists the ten best. I took it as an omen that when I checked my neighborhood Nextdoor site Sunday morning, the third posted item was a recommendation for a gun training academy offering the required instruction to carry a concealed weapon.
Also, to my surprise, when I mentioned to some friends I was planning on buying a gun and expected pushback, they disclosed owning guns as well. A family friend told me she owned nine guns and offered to introduce me to a gun store owner she befriended in nearby Culver City. Another was my friend Charles, who lives in the Bay area and who I consider the quintessential liberal Californian. Turns out he owns a shotgun and a revolver. While talking to him on the phone he graciously cocked his shotgun to let me know he wasn’t joking. He told me that if anyone tried to harm his family, he wouldn’t hesitate to use it.
Reading up on gun ownership I discovered that statistically the most likely person I’d injure or possibly kill is myself or a loved one. A 2015 NIA study by David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, and Sara Solnick, an economist at the University of Vermont, found that guns are used for self-protection in less than one percent of all crimes involving a victim. They also found that people were more likely to be injured after threatening attackers with guns than they were if they had called the police or run away. Hemenway and Solnick concluded there is “little evidence” that gun ownership is “uniquely beneficial in reducing the likelihood of injury or property loss.”
A 1993 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people with guns at home were nearly three times likely to kill a family member or intimate acquaintance. States in the highest quartile of gun ownership have 65 percent more domestic gun homicides than the quartile with the least, according to a 2019 study. Men who purchase handguns are more than three times likely to commit suicide, primarily with a gun, than men who hadn’t bought handguns, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study published in June. Women who bought handguns were seven more times as likely to die by suicide than women who hadn’t bought handguns, according to the study.
My friend Stan, a licensed therapist who knows I’ve had multiple depressive episodes since the pandemic began, strenuously objected to my gun purchase. “You could start drinking one night in the midst of a depressive episode and say, ‘Fuck it’ and blow your brains out. I know of instances where that’s happened,” he warned.
The best argument for me against buying a gun was given to my friend Allan in Detroit by a local police sergeant when he considered buying a gun for protection in that crime ridden city. “No, when you buy a gun you have to be willing to kill somebody. And you aren’t willing to kill somebody,” the sergeant said.
Other Defensive Measures
I’ve decided against buying a gun, though I plan to take lessons on how to use one. Even Stan supports this, saying there are therapeutic benefits to gun training.
I’m also taking other security training measures and precautions, including enrolling in Krav Maga, a self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces. The global headquarters is in walking distance from my home. I thought my house was already properly secured and fortified, but the LAPD officers who visited my home gave me some additional suggestions.
I also want to find ways to support the LAPD and explore whether there is a movement to run out of office every public official who advocates defunding the police, particularly in L.A. The ratio of police officers for every 10,000 Angelenos is 25.7. That compares to a ratio of 41.8 in New York, 41.6 in Boston, and 46.7 in Newark. We need way more police, not less. Growing up in Toronto the police in their then vibrant yellow cruisers were seemingly ubiquitous, emerging out of nowhere to ticket a driver for rolling a stop sign on a little trafficked side street. A higher police presence is a crime deterrent. I will forever make certain to come to a complete halt at a stop sign.
I support “Refunding the Police,” not only restoring and increasing police force budgets but also treating them with public respect. There may be some bad apples among the police, but the two officers who came to my home were good people. The entire time they visited with me I kept thinking how foolish politicians and mindless Establishment journalists put police lives increasingly at risk.
The officers shared with me that L.A. crime is far worse than gets reported. A day earlier two people were held up at gunpoint on upscale Melrose and robbed of their watches in broad daylight. The LAPD advises locals not to wear expensive watches and jewelry when going out in public. A homeless person recently stabbed someone at random 17 times and killed him. Unregistered guns are routinely confiscated on Rodeo Drive. Gun control measures won’t stop evil people from obtaining guns.
New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, who has considerably enriched herself promoting America as a fundamentally racist country, argues that destroying property “isn’t violence.” It is violence to the occupant of the property. One feels violated coming home and finding a window smashed, a dog traumatized, and belongings stolen and trashed. The room where the thieves broke the window I use for yoga and meditation. It’s hard being at peace in that room these days. My dog hasn’t been the same since the break-in. He grew up perceiving all humans were loving, dog-petting creatures. An awareness that the police can’t protect my neighborhood and that evil is always lurking undermines feelings of security.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “people who perceive their environment to be less safe from crime may also have higher body mass index scores and higher levels of obesity due to reduced physical activity.” I can relate to that. Since the break-in, I have skipped multiple workouts, which is uncharacteristic of me. I’ve also been ordering fries and other unhealthy foods I’ve long avoided.
As an aside, when someone began scaling the New York Times’ headquarters building a year ago last October, the police were called. If I oversaw the NYPD and the New York Times called for assistance, I’d send a social worker so they could write a first-hand account how that worked out for them.
I asked the LAPD officers why they remained on the job, rather than relocating and working as police officers in a safer city where their lives wouldn’t be constantly at great risk. Without missing a beat, one of the officers replied, “I’m not sure any such city exists anymore in America.”