In 1999, a book title Dial 911 and Die: The Shocking Truth About the Police Protection Myth was published. Written by attorney Richard W. Stevens, this book discusses various incidents in the United States and Canada regarding people who were killed, injured, or had property destroyed to negligence by the police, fire department, dispatcher, or corrections system. When the victims or their next of kin tried to sue, for the most part the case was dismissed because the judge decided that the government entity in question had the duty to protect the public in general, but not the individual in question. However, there are exceptions, such as the victim having established a special relationship with the police, e.g. being an informant, being guaranteed protection. Under these circumstances an individual (or their next of kin) be allowed to sue.
Every state has a law addressing this issue, and for the most part they declare the government to be immune from lawsuits as previously described. The main purpose of such immunity is to prevent a limitless number of lawsuits. But some statutes go so far as to protect the negligent public servant from being sued.
Crazy, isn't it? But it is true. Very rarely will such a tort lawsuit be allowed to proceed, but even if it does, there is still a chance the plaintiff will not win. And even if the plaintiff wins, he or she will have to pay their attorney's fees, and sometimes there are more than one plaintiff. Also, some states that do allow such suits put limits on how much can be paid (sometimes insurance coverage is a factor). Of course, getting money out of the lawsuit will not bring back the deceased.
Whereas some public servants have been disciplined or even fired for their negligence, it's unclear if the police or fire department in question has made changes to ensure that such tragedies never happen again.
What it comes down to is this: the police are there to protect the public in general, but not an individual (except under certain circumstances). If a citizen fear he or she might be the victim of a violent attack, then self-defense is the best choice. Dialing 911 might result in a slow response, or even none at all. And even if the police arrive within a few minutes, those few minutes could mean life or death for the victim.
In most parts of the country, it is permissible to keep a loaded firearm at home. But for those who live in areas with strict gun control and high crime rates, it is quite dangerous, because if someone is attacked by a violent criminal in their home, dialing 911 is a gamble, because the police might be slow in arriving at the scene. In the meantime, the victim is assaulted or even murdered.
For those who think having guns for self-defense is not necessary because the police can protect them from crime, they should think again.