Friday, February 02, 2007
Are Gun Owners Crazy?
As mentioned in previous posts, I found gun owners to be pretty scary before my own interest in guns surfaced. As I've talked to other gun owners and read their online forums, I've become more understanding and sympathetic.
The following is my attempt to state their case in terms that anti-gun people might understand. These views are not necessarily mine, and I'm not trying to convince people to change their minds. I'm just trying to promote understanding, without any of that from-my-cold-dead-hands style of extremist rhetoric.
Why on earth does any private citizen need to carry a gun? This isn't the Old West. We have police and a legal system to deal with criminals.
Violent crimes may be rare, but they do happen. If you have a weapon, you can defend yourself and your loved ones. If you don't, then you can't.
When an attack occurs, the police won't be there. They may come along later to catch the guilty party, but while an attack is occurring, you are on your own.
The Katrina experience shows that if Something Really Big happens, the government may not be able to restore order for days or weeks. Having some means of defending yourself and your household during such a period just seems prudent, no matter how unlikely it is.
If an aggressive, armed criminal attacks you, it's unlikely you'll be able to defend yourself. You're deluding yourself if you think carrying a gun is going to be helpful.
Maybe, but some chance at defense is better than no chance. Some of us aren't willing to just let the bad guys have their way.
We don't need vigilantes taking the law into their own hands.
People don't carry guns with the intention of hunting down and punishing criminals; they simply want to be able to take advantage of their legal right to defend themselves with appropriate force if attacked.
It's immoral to carry a weapon designed to kill. If you just want to defend yourself, why not carry pepper spray or a taser, or learn martial arts?
Would you be willing to use lethal force to prevent a deadly attack upon yourself or your family? If so, is it immoral to be prepared to do so?
A gun is a tool. It is not intrinsically good or evil. What matters are the motivations of the person using it, and the consequences of its use.
Pepper spray, tasers, and other non-lethal defensive weapons available to the public are less effective than those available to the police, and those are less effective than are firearms. Martial arts require a lot of study and practice, and are still of questionable effectiveness against an armed attacker.
If you are attacked, you'll want the most effective means of defense you can possibly have. It may be distasteful, but if you find yourself in a violent conflict, you'll need to be as willing and as able to use lethal force as your opponents are.
Aren't you worried about accidentally shooting yourself or a member of your family?
Accidents with firearms do happen, and receive a lot of media attention when they do, but they are actually very rare. With care and common sense, the risk of an accident is small in relation to the risk of being the victim of an attack.
Some gun owners get rid of their guns when they have kids, but others keep them, believing that children are safer when their parents are able to protect them. To not have a gun in the home would be like not having a fire extinguisher.
OK, it might make sense to have a gun in the night stand, or to carry one in a briefcase, purse, or glove compartment while traveling alone at night or in unfamiliar areas, but why would anyone feel a need to carry a concealed weapon at all times?
You never know when an attack could happen. Criminals want to attack when their victims are unprepared. The best defense is to always be prepared.
Many shootings have happened in schools, churches, government buildings, restaurants, shopping malls, and other "safe" places. There are no safe places.
For those who have made the decision to carry, it actually makes a lot of practical sense to carry all the time. Wearing the gun becomes part of one's daily routine. In contrast, if one carries only when nervous, there is a greater chance of some sort of accident.
People who always carry do not live in a constant state of panic. They always carry their guns for the same reason that people always wear seat belts and always lock their doors.
We can't tell which gun owners are good people, and which are bad people, so wouldn't it be prudent to take guns away from everybody?
It's a cliché, but it's true: Gun bans really only affect law-abiding citizens. The bad guys will always be able to get guns.
We trust law-abiding adults with cars, motorcycles, swimming pools, power tools, poisons, and many other things that can kill if misused or used negligently. Why can't we trust them with guns?
The UK has effectively banned guns, and their murder rate is much lower than that of the US. Doesn't that show that bans work?
The UK's murder rate has always been a fraction of the US's, even when the people of both countries had unrestricted access to guns. European countries such as Switzerland, with few restrictions on gun ownership, have much lower murder rates than the US. Whatever the reasons are for the high murder rate in the US, it can't all be blamed on the availability of guns.
When more people have guns, won't that lead to more arguments escalating into violence?
Many critics predicted bloodbaths in the states that have passed concealed-weapons laws over the past few years, but there has been no significant increase in gun violence in those states (some studies and statistics show there has been a decrease).
People who carry guns generally take the responsibility very seriously, and are more likely to avoid confrontations, ignore provocations, and keep their emotions under control than unarmed people.
I'm also in the computer field, also back into shooting ... and (asisstant) coaching a JROTC Air Rifle Team ... in Washington, DC of all places. (Talk about your restrictive gun laws ...)
So the people who feel the need to carry guns will tend to do it whether it's legal or not, if they can get the guns. And the people who need to conceal-carry will do that whether it's legal or not. Making such things illegal mostly gives the police one more thing to arrest people for.
And so gun laws turn into an issue whether you think the police want to arrest the right people. If so, then giving them one more charge to use to arrest the people they want to arrest, is a good thing. Otherwise it's a bad thing.
Laws won't affect the death rates from guns unless you can make laws that actually make guns mostly unavailable. This is unlikely. Gun deaths are a red herring for the question of gun laws -- for either side.
Frankly, I have no idea what I'd do with a gun if I had one, other than shoot other people. And for 51 years, I've never had the need to do that. Nor has anyone I known, whether they carry a firearm or not.
Maybe I hang out with the wrong crowd.
Recently heard of a customer in a large dept. store who observed a man beating an employee with a tool. The employee was the assailants estranged wife. The customer intervened and after repeated warnings was forced to use deadly force. Had he not been carrying a hand gun that woman would likely have died.
Pray that you never need to, but be ready when you do.