Long police response times makes firearms necessary for protection in urban areas

Written By Neil McKenzie-Sutter, Posted on May 6, 2020

Before the Coronavirus, I had my own beliefs on gun control that I thought couldn’t be changed, and one of these beliefs was the importance of making a distinction between rural vs. urban gun ownership.

For people living in rural areas, I believed firearm access shouldn’t be considered a hobby or a privilege, but an essential tool and weapon for personal protection. 

On one level, farmers must have effective firearms to protect livestock from predators. The number of predators has risen in recent years, and semi-automatic/automatics are appropriate weapons to use to drive off or kill predators. Additionally, response times for emergency services can be in the hours-range at best in rural areas. 

Neighbours can be miles away, so yes, Mr. Prime Minister: in a home invasion gone wrong or similar situation, you may have to shoot with intent to kill more than one person if you live in a rural area. It’s tough and unpleasant, but it is a reality of rural life. 

My view on rural gun rights hasn’t changed, but I have changed how I think gun rights should be treated in urban areas.

As the argument goes, you don’t need a firearm if you live in a city because police response times are much speedier. For years I believed this was a solid argument, but it fails to hold during a widespread public crisis. This is what is happening during the Coronavirus pandemic, where civil order started to disintegrate in some cities and countries. 

In a North American example of this happening, New York City was struck by the Coronavirus, and their Emergency Services were especially affected. At one point last month, 20%~ of the New York Police department (N.Y.P.D.) was taken out of action on sick leave.

This reduction of active police members forced the N.Y.P.D. along with other police forces in the U.S. to announce they were cutting services to keep officers safe. Logically, therefore, the NYPD, as well as other police departments, reported their response times were being prolonged during the pandemic, as there were many instances of social distancing violations being reported with fewer officers to respond to calls. 

While the situation in New York City never required martial law to be declared, some poorer areas of the city did experience unrest, and this was especially prominent in areas affected by the Coronavirus. This is noteworthy because other areas of the city experienced a reduction of crime rates during the pandemic.

20% is a massive proportion of N.Y.P.D. forces, but it was not a shock that high numbers of officers would be infected due to the close contact officers must always maintain with the public on the job. 

Now I see this shuttering of NYC police services as totally logical. However, I was shaken when I first saw these stories being published. Call me naive or idealistic for not predicting it, but this was my legitimate reaction. Reading these headlines, I feared what happened with the N.Y.P.D. was a precursor to greater civil unrest in other cities if the pandemic were to worsen.  

We may be through the worst of the pandemic (knock on wood), but what if it had gotten worse?

In North America, our emergency preparations seem to have been enough to handle the outbreak. Still, countries like Spain and Italy experienced significant social unrest, and even Wuhan China experienced rioting, which is substantial because rarely do outsiders see examples of the highly censorious government in China losing control. 

Things could’ve been quickly much worse in Canada, and we could’ve experienced a similar breakdown like what we saw in China, Italy, or Spain. This social breakdown and the slowdown of police response times demonstrates a total failure of the gun control argument in cities. 

We don’t want these sorts of situations to occur, and we never want to find ourselves in a shootout with another person. What I’m talking about is an emergency. 

But in a future crisis similar to the Coronavirus pandemic, where police departments are overwhelmed/unable to respond, why should responsible people who obtain all necessary licensing not be allowed to access firearms to defend themselves and their homes or businesses? 


People’s natural reaction to seeing mass social unrest is to defend themselves, and this is exactly what we saw happening during the outbreak as record numbers of firearms were sold in the U.S., notably in States typically thought of as anti-gun: California, and New York. There was also a gun-buying surge in Canada as well.

I underline this because this is a natural reaction people have, no matter what their political opinions or thoughts on gun laws before: when social order starts to collapse, everyone’s instinct is toward self-preservation. 

So now, as we move into the final phase of the Coronavirus, I find I have a real moral problem with telling city dwellers they can’t have access to firearms. When crises like the Coronavirus pandemic occur in the future, delaying police from responding promptly, people need the ability to protect themselves, even in cities.

I am in favour of gun owners getting all proper safety training and licensing, but merely banning firearms outright does not automatically make people safer. The adverse effects of the Coronavirus on civil society proves this point. 

So as I now see it, Canadians, even city-dwelling Canadians, should reasonably be able to own firearms to defend themselves in times of emergency and not be limited by arbitrary bans on firearms.

Let’s not pretend that crises like the Coronavirus can’t happen again. We should learn from it and prepare appropriately.

Neil McKenzie-Sutter

2 responses to “Long police response times makes firearms necessary for protection in urban areas”

  1. Joey Bloggins says:

    Don’t forget to sign the reversal of the firearms ban Order in Council ePetition. Be patient with the confirmation email. Thanks! http://e2574.ca

  2. Peter says:

    Very well written, thank you, I agree 100%