Outlaws are, by definition, outside the law. Laws don’t stop them. Passing new laws to stop criminals is foolish.

Laws define criminals. No more than that.

Those who voluntarily comply are the lawful citizenry. That’s me and probably most of you. We voluntarily comply with the law. I slow at the 25 MPH sign because I don’t want a speeding ticket. First of all, it’s expensive! Worse, if I don’t pay or get too many tickets, I’ll lose my license. Those are consequences I don’t want.

So, I comply.

But let’s be clear, it’s the consequence of being caught that gives me pause, not the law. The law simply tells me when the consequences will kick in and what they are.

Have I ever exceeded the speed limit when driving?

Of course.

And I’ve been caught, ticketed and fined.

Sometimes. Sometimes I’ve been caught.

Do I still speed?

For any of several reasons, yes, I do.

Inattention is undoubtedly the most common reason I sometimes exceed the speed limit. That is, I do initially slow to 25 at the sign but after a couple of blocks, I glance down at the speedometer and discover I’m going a little over 30. My mind has wandered and I’ve inadvertently sped back up again.

As with my driving, laws don’t stop law breakers. It merely defines lawful versus unlawful. The law is words on paper. Nothing more.

The lawful comply, the unlawful don’t.

That’s all there is to the law.

But there’s enforcement, you say. They make people comply.

Do they?

No, they don’t.

Law enforcement – the boys in blue – come after the fact. The lawlessness has already taken place. They document, investigate and, sometimes, apprehend the lawbreaker that the courts, sometimes, punish.


But the law does none of that.

Putting more words on paper won’t reduce danger or stop crime.

People stop crime.

Police occasionally stop a crime in progress. But this is the exception, not the rule. Ask an officer how often he or she simply takes a report as opposed to actually stopping a criminal in the act. Most of the time, the back seat of the squad car remains empty.

If the Police aren’t stopping crime, then who’s left?

Lemme think now…

Have you ever wondered why crime rates go up or down?

There’s a reason.

And it’s not laws on the books.

Cops on the street will help.

But the biggest reason is what the citizenry, you and me, will or won’t do.

I’m not advocating a citizen’s defense league or armed citizen patrols in the neighborhood.

But I am saying that if you look away, it will get worse. If you do nothing, it will get worse. If you leave it up to someone else, it will get worse.

The purpose of laws is to document, to spell out, the rules of civilization, what we agree to do and not do.

Laws stop no one. They merely draw a line in the sand.

What you do when someone steps over that line is what makes civilization work, or not work.

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