February 15, 2012 11:19AM

Broken Windows and the Unseen Crime Victims

Jack Goodwin was at home listening to a Lakers basketball game when he heard someone breaking one of his windows. He retrieved his handgun and then saw two intruders trying to gain entry at which point he fired, hitting one criminal. The other intruder ran away.

John Stossel and others have made the point that broken windows do not stimulate economic growth. Appearances can mislead—so we need to be mindful about where the money spent fixing the window would have been used if the windows had not been broken. Jack Goodwin’s broken windows provide us with a similar lesson: we need to consider what would have happened if this elderly man had no gun in his home because of a government policy overriding his option/​choice.

The new Cato study, Tough Targets, describes scores of such instances where citizens were able to stop attempted murders, rapes, and robberies. And we are now tracking such cases on our new interactive map. Co‐​author Clayton Cramer recently had this piece in the Washington Times. More here and here.