Friday, February 16, 2007


What Kris Thinks About Guns

I've been worried about Undefined Value becoming a "gun blog." Guns have been my primary interest for the past couple of months, so I'm writing a lot about guns, but I hope I'll be writing about other stuff in a month or two.

In my Are Gun Owners Crazy? post, I wrote my interpretation of what gun owners think, but was careful to say that those weren't necessarily my views. So this leads to the question of what my views are.

I'm still working through this. On the one hand, I've lived 40 years without any need for a weapon, and so I wonder what kind of lifestyle one must lead to feel that a deadly weapon is a necessary piece of equipment. On the other hand, I've learned that many people who carry guns are not paranoid, survivalist rednecks—they are people who just want to be prepared in the event that Something Really Bad happens and the police won't be able to help.

I've gone 40 years without the "need" for a seat belt, a helmet, a smoke alarm, or a fire extinguisher, but I don't think anyone would think I'm paranoid for using those things or having them available. Maybe wanting to have a gun available isn't paranoid either.

I would like to believe that there is no need for guns, but I can't give myself satisfying answers to these questions:

So, I guess I've become pro-gun. The Assault Weapons Ban, gun registration, and other proposed gun-control laws seem nonsensical to me. (FWIW, the Glock 19 I own would be illegal under the AWB. It's ridiculous to consider my little pistol to be an "assault weapon.")

I still respect the views of those who wish that guns didn't exist, and I am sympathetic to their wish that we could live in a world where people don't shoot one another. However, I accept the reality that Americans will always have access to guns, and as long as "bad guys" can get them, good people should be able to get them too.

I don't have much respect for the gunnies who refer to unarmed people as "sheeple," "hoplophobes," "gun grabbers," and so on. In a society where most people are comfortable being unarmed, I think it is perfectly reasonable to be wary of people with guns. If gun owners want greater acceptance, I think they should try to educate people and address their concerns, rather than just reciting the second half of the Second Amendment and spouting slogans like "Molon Labe!". If somebody asks you why you carry a gun, and you answer "In case I need to shoot someone," you are an idiot.

To some people, guns are symbols of crime, violence, and death. To others, guns are symbols of protection and freedom. With such opposing worldviews, each group thinks the other group is either stupid or evil. Neither group is right.

I've been following your gun related posts with interests because the whole situation is so foreign to me.

Living in Canada where the gun laws are amongst the strictest in the world, it's difficult for me to even fathom any member of the public carrying concealed weapons at all, never mind legally and for any valid reason.

Yes, there is still sport shooting, hunting, and the such here of course, but only police and security is allowed to carry weapons in public at all outside of sport.

Concealed weapson? Unheard of outside of high-level law enforcement.

Different country, different views, different reality I guess. Guns are just not part of the culture here, and at the risk of sounding anti-gun (Which I'm not, really) I think I like it that way.
Interesting to me also, like Mark I live within a culture that has strict gun laws (UK). Although if you read the news over here you would think not, with a spate of recent shootings by gang members.

My views can best be described as confused, I don't own a gun, I don't know anyone who owns a gun. In my mind guns are there for one purpose to kill another human being, which doesn't sit comfortably with me.

If for instance I gave my wife a handgun to protect herself lets look at the possible scenario; she is attacked and draws her gun. Her attacker also draws his gun. On the one hand my wife who would be terrified and is also incapable of killing anything let alone another person. The attacker seeing the threat, not from my wife but the gun she is holding pulls the trigger.

Having said all that, there admittedly have been times I would have liked to have carried a gun.

Therefore I try and keep a balanced view of it, but let me repeat something my Grandad used to tell me:

If you draw a gun on someone, you had better use it, else it is more likely than not that they will use it on you.
These are good rules to follow:

1. Don't draw a gun until you're justified in using lethal force, and you've made the decision to fire.

2. Don't fire warning shots, and don't aim at non-vital parts of the attacker's body. Aim at the center of the atttacker's torso.

3. Once you start shooting, keep firing until there is no longer a threat.

4. If you don't think you can follow rules 1-3, don't carry a gun.
I think the problem I have with allowing the public to carry guns is rule number 1.

People with short tempers (only one perhaps stereotypical example) are high on my list of people that I don't want owning a gun, much less carrying it on them at all times.

If I accidentally (Stressing the word accidentally) cut someone off in traffic the last thing I want to worry about is some hothead pulling out his gun and "teaching me a lesson" because at that moment in time he felt personally "justified" in doing it.

I've seen people that flip out at the slightest thing - I really don't want yahoos like this being able to take out their spontaneous anger on me (or any member of my family) because it was a convenient "out" for their mental problem.

People will justify anything in their mind if they want, and a split second "justification" to shoot someone out of anger is what I fear the most.

Although I'm sure alot of people realize moments after the fact that their "justification" for such was wrong, but that doesn't help the dead guy, does it?

Just one example that pops into my head.
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I agree that #1 is the most important rule, and I hope that hotheads will self-select themselves out of the carrying population. Also of concern are the people who think they can draw their gun in a bad situation and the bad guys will flee, or misbehaving people will start behaving. Then there are the guys who think that carrying a gun means that they "don't gotta take shit from nobody."

People with "impulse control issues" are likely to have incidents in their histories that would preclude them from getting a carry permit. Unfortunately, that doesn't prevent them from carrying illegally.

Many people report that after they started carrying guns, they became much more even-tempered and tolerant of abuse and minor injustices. They literally feel the "weight" of their responsibility at all times.

FWIW, states that have passed liberal gun-carrying laws have not seen any significant increase in shootings over traffic incidents and other minor squabbles. I have the same concern you do, but the fear may be out of proportion to the risk.
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