Posted by: Kate | April 10, 2009

No Tricks, No Weapons

I am extraordinarily anti-gun. I would love to see them all immediately outlawed for all citizens, and after some period of time (once the unregistered and otherwise illegal ones have been mostly gathered… 15 years?) to have police stop carrying them on routine patrols, as well. I have a master’s degree in criminal justice, and once upon a time I could cite statistics about how rare it actually is for citizens to successfully defend themselves with personal firearms, particularly in the situation of a home invasion… how impossible it is to justify a gun as a safety measure but also to store it safely (i.e., locked up, bullets locked up separately, etc.)… how puritanical our society is about sex but casual we are about violence… I don’t have the statistics anymore but I’m still a strong proponent of “gun control,” though “eradication” would be a better word.

I don’t much understand the general resistance to gun control. I attribute it mostly to insecurity and unrealistic thinking. The insecurity seems to be an underlying American trait, and many of us compensate by digging in our heels and insisting that no one even consider restricting our actions or perceived rights in any way. My belief is that the writers of the Constitution never intended for private citizens to own guns; I think “the right to bear arms” has to do with the right to form a militia in the case of oppression or war, and the right of people with reason to own one… hunters, once upon a time, though now I’m skeptical even on that count. I’d be willing to have a compromise: a sort of game preserve, only open for hunting, where the hunters store and keep their guns always on-site and there are clear boundaries outside of which the guns and bullets must not go. And the unrealistic thinking has to do with most of the pro-gun arguments I’ve heard, about the ability to protect oneself and a gun’s contribution to the security of their home and society.

I already realize that this is going to make some people unhappy, many of whom I like a lot and whose opinions I respect. I’m not interested in proselytizing or bringing anyone else over to my point of view; I didn’t go to law school, despite kick-ass scores on the LSAT, because I simply don’t enjoy topical debates like that. But it’s been on my mind – mostly because Baino posted a comment to last Friday’s post that got me thinking, and instead of flooding her inbox with my rambling, I posted it. I’m secure enough in my opinions to be willing to irritate those who aren’t secure enough in theirs to let me be.


pssst… what movie is the post title from? The followup line is, “Skill against skill alone.”

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Responses

  1. The Princess Bride?
    Well said.

  2. Fight Club?

    I almost completely agree with your post. However, I work in a very rural, mountainous area. People live hand-in-hand with various forms of wildlife, including bears and cougars, both of which can be dangerous. I do see the need for people to have something on hand to scare those kinds of large animals away, and use to defend themselves from those animals. While it is rare, there have been instances of children being attacked by cougars, and bears trying to get into homes. In those situations, a gun is really the only real way to defend yourself, or scare the animal away. In addition to being a very rural area, it’s very high poverty. The rural aspect makes it very difficult for families to take advantage of services (food banks, etc.) that are available in less isolated areas. Many families hunt as a way to provide food for their families.

    I do think the gun laws should be more strict and there are many guns available that just aren’t needed for hunting. I am completely against hand guns and automatic weapons, as they serve no real purpose except to kill people.

  3. Well you know where I stand on this Kate but I’m really interested in the American perspective and I think you’re absolutely right about the Constitutional right to bear arms. In the language of the day (and considering that the United States was borne on the back of a civil war) it means the right to defend oneself against an invader or oppression, not to trapse around the city with a revolver in your purse. Another perfect example of lax laws, a woman shot her 20 year old son in the back of the head on a Shooting Range last week for God’s sake. She had every ‘right’ to use the gun but had a history of mental illness . .naturally she didn’t confess when signing the disclaimer . . .She walked off the street, into a gun range and simply ‘hired’ a revolver. GAH! Apparently she was a fallen angel and Satan made her do it.

  4. I couldn’t agree more, but I’ve never been able to explain it so well. I think I might print this blog entry and frame it …

  5. I totally agree. I just can’t imagine why anyone would want to hold something in her hand that could end generations in a second.

    When Shane first moved in and unpacked his stuff, he came to me proudly with a small black plastic box. I sort of recognized the name on the top of the box (Ruger) but it didn’t click until he opened it to display a semi-automatic hand gun. I was more than horrified – not just because he had brought a gun into my house, but that he thought it was a good idea to purchase it in the first place. Once I calmed down enough to discuss the matter somewhat rationally, he explained that he had bought it the previous year because he thought it was cool (he’s a guy, I don’t understand it). He had never fired it and didn’t even own any ammunition. I then explained to him that as a testament to how much I loved him, I was going to allow him to keep the gun, but it was to remain in the top of a closet and ammunition was never to be purchased for it. It hasn’t seen the light of day since then. We don’t usually tell each other what to do, but this was nearly a deal-breaker for me. I think he was so freaked out by how angry I was that he complied with my wishes just to calm me down. I’m hoping I can get him to sell it someday. I really hate having it in the house.

  6. Beyond Thunderdome?

    I am so with you on the gun thing. Friends of ours think I am insane because I left their rowdy New Year’s Eve party after discovering a rifle and box of guns casually placed behind the door of the room I was supposed to leave our sleeping baby in. I just grabbed the diaper bag and walked out because I could not understand how people could be so stupid, so naive, as to leave a gun and its ammunition in plain sight of very drunk and rowdy people. I am the mom that asks if there are guns in the house before I let my kids play there. I don’t care…I will be the crazy mom if it keeps my kids from being shot or shooting someone accidentally.

  7. I’m rather sure your statistics can back up your stance on gun control. And if I were going to continue to live in a tract house, in a housing development, I would agree. As someone who is getting closer to living out of the city/suburbs, and as someone who has family who hunts for food (not for sport), AND as someone who will be buying a ‘varmint rifle’, I must politely disagree.

    I would never think of having a gun “for safety” while living where I do now, in the suburbs where houses are 50′ apart, but once we get the ranch house built, if I find myself (or eventually my sheep) threatened by predators, I will defend myself and my animals, as no one’s going to outlaw teeth as a deadly weapon, and pull the teeth from the coyotes or mountain lions or bears.

  8. It seems unrealistic that one could actually gather all of the illegal fire arms that are floating about. My brother is a NYS trooper on the SWAT team, and I would never, ever want him going to work without his weapon.

  9. Oh Kate, just when I didn’t think I could like you more you go and write something that floors me. In a good way. I am *so* conflicted about guns.

    Both sides of my family grew up in remote rural areas. Despite very different and very rigid gun laws in Mexico, I know my Mom’s virtue and safety were defended with a gun. My maternal great-grandmothers were famous for carrying weapons to enforce their word.

    My Daddy has always refused to have anything to do with guns. He is such a pacifist. He has never allowed a gun in our home. I’ve grown up here around a culture that is very gun…I don’t want to say happy? but I can’t think of a better word.

    I can honestly see having access to one with our earthquake/disaster supplies.

    I also know that the primary purpose of that gun may not be to hunt game, but to hurt humans in defense of me and mine.

    Yet I agree with your post wholeheartedly.

    I’m cynical that I doubt that bell will ever be unrung. They’re here to stay. The sentiments of those who want them run too deeply for them to ever give them up.

    I have a ways to go before I could ever wrap my mind around this.


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