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Guest Post: I Own a Gun

(Today's post is a guest post by longtime contributor Matty P. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines.)

I am a gun owner. Nothing ostentatious, just a single action .22, a gift from my father. I keep it for recreation, home invasion, and the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

When I was five, I saw my first real gun. My dad knew that with guns in the house, gun safety was a necessity. My education was limited to “stay away” and “find an adult”. As I aged/grew older, so did my education. Always, there was an emphasis on danger and respect. It was more than the simple, “this is not a toy” speech, but an explanation of what a gun can do and why it exists. My father made sure there was no confusion. Exposure was progressive. I’m not sure when, but I was finally allowed to handle a gun under supervision after a professionally licensed safety course at a firing range.

I have no intention of ever using my gun on someone. I have been angry and never considered the gun as an option. I have been severely depressed and still never considered the gun an option. I was at home once when someone tried to break in. At that point, the gun became an option; though it never came to that as the burglar ran off after realizing I was home. The only time my gun leaves the house is if I am taking it to the range, and even then it is unloaded. I keep the ammunition and firearm in separate locked boxes as per state law for transporting firearms. I have never fired my gun anywhere other than at a range and I have no intention doing otherwise.

With all the above mentioned; I consider myself a responsible gun owner. As such, I believe I have demonstrated the right to own a firearm. As have scores of Americans who use them at work, for sport, and for recreation. But dangerous people have challenged this right by doing stupid and terrible things.

I understand the motives propelling those who want to reform or even abolish the second amendment. The simple truth is, without guns, there would be no gun deaths. While I will not speculate on how getting rid of guns would affect the statistics on clubbings or knife inflicted injuries, what I will say is that what we need isn’t to get rid of the second amendment, but to better define it and enforce it. Because too much freedom is no better than removing freedom. At this moment in time we have so much freedom we lead the world in non-war gun deaths, which isn’t a tribute to freedom, but to chaos.

The truth is: I don’t trust you. I trust me because I know I know how to responsibly use a firearm. I trust certain members of my family because they’ve demonstrated proper use of a firearm through years of safe use. Some of my fraternity members I don’t trust... And I don’t trust most of you, because I don’t know you or what training you’ve had. Plus, guns are potentially dangerous to me and those I love. And me having a gun doesn’t make me feel safer about you having a gun.

Eddy Izzard had a set of jokes based on the motto “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” in his show Dressed to Kill. While meant as comedy, there’s some truth ringing through the laughs. I have no real answers to the riddle. Only a suggestion that we make gun legislation an issue again rather than avoiding the fact that firearms are constantly finding themselves in dangerous hands. And while people do kill people, guns help.

five comments

Two comments.

First, when considering firearms, consider that you are talking every bit as much about a petite 60 year old woman as you are about the stout young men that seem to make up a large part of this blog’s readership. That petite 60 year cannot defend herself, herself, against a stout young man or a group of stout young men without a firearm. If she has recourse to one, or a group of stout young men with mayhem on their minds thinks she might have recourse to one, she has a good chance; without, no chance.

Second, when considering the American murder rate vs. the rest of the world, the collapse of the black community in the US since the 60s must be borne in mind. If that community hadn’t collapsed the stats would be rather better.

@ Carl – This is why I don’t like hypothetical situations. While I agree your frail 60 year old woman has a right to defend herself from one or a group of stout young men looking to harm her, I’m not convinced putting a gun in her purse protects her. Statistically, she is more likely to wound or kill a family member than an assailant. Further, the majority of murders are single acts of one individual against another.

I would suggest that rather than more guns we promote programs like neighborhood watches and other civic programs that promote safety and mindfulness.

As to the comment of “the collapse of the black community,” I cannot broach the subject because I’m not sure what you’re implying.

Matty P.:

I’ll get my smart alecky comment out of the way first. I think the frail 60 year should be left to decide for herself whether a gun in her purse is good protection or not. Whether you are convinced is of little consequence.

There, that’s out of the way.

I am not so sure of your stat that a woman is more likely to wound or kill a family member than an assailant. Where did you get that? Women are very unlikely to murder and they seem to be, from my limited observation, very prudent gun owners so maybe that isn’t so.

One thing that should be borne in mind is that firearms use encompasses more than firing the weapon. A uniformed police officer for example, uses a firearm every day. He carries every day and everybody can see it in the holster. That is using the gun. And because everybody can see the gun being used, they are rather less likely to try the guy out because it might be drawn and fired.

Same thing with civilians. If you carry a concealed weapon for self defense or have one in the house for the same purpose, it is being used every day. And, as with the officer, people are less likely to try you out, not because they can see the weapon, but because they have to figure you might have one.

Neighborhood watches and such are fine ideas but I am talking about self defense, you defending yourself, not encouraging your neighbors to help you out. Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t. Maybe they can, and maybe they can’t. So you got to be able to help you.

I am talking about what Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned about in the 60s and what Thomas Sowell very often talks about as having happened. Check out the stats concerning rates of single motherhood, abortion, murder perps and victims, infant mortality and other things. The black family, the black community has collapsed in the US. It didn’t used to be like that as Thomas Sowell has written about often. I figured the stats once and if you account for the number of abortions and the number of single mothers, the odds of a black child conceived being born into a family with a mother and a father are shockingly low. It is a disaster.

@ Carl – Regarding my statement about the woman in the hypothetical situation being more likely to harm someone they know rather than an unknown assailant, this was meant to be a blanket statement for gun ownership. It’s well documented that gun owners are more likely to harm someone they know (intentionally or accidentally) than a stranger. Since I can only post a single link, I’ll go with (this one) which cites various sources.

Regarding your comment regarding people being “less likely to try you out” because you do or might have a weapon, this may be true for certain offenders looking to commit crime of opportunity or passion. Banks with armed guards are still robbed, gangs commit acts of violence against other gangs knowing there will be retribution, and sadly police officers still die in the line of duty despite carrying weapons.

With the above link regarding violence, note the statistic regarding areas with more firearms having proportionally higher gun deaths/injuries. My comparison would be the old west. A large portion of the population owned and even holstered a gun, but people were still murdered or robbed. To curb violence, communities would not allow weapons to be carried unless by law enforcement.

Matty P.:

I couldn’t find anything in the ref you provided that showed that gun owners are more likely to harm somebody they know rather than a stranger. Could you provide something a bit more specific? Also, how are you using that contention? If it is an absolute, then it stands to reason, since the absolute would include criminal activity. Most murderers know, at least a little bit, the victim. That goes for gang bangers too. If you cut out the criminal use of weapons, it seems less likely that more gun owners harm those known to them than strangers, and that is complicated also by the fact that a firearm can be used to defend oneself against somebody known, an abusive domestic partner for example.

That construction you used is sort of meaningless. It needs to be better defined in order to be useful. The ref you cited is filled with stats like that, ‘wow’ type things that don’t stand up when thought out. For example, “More than 75% of guns used in suicide attempts and unintentional injuries of 0-19 year-olds were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend.” Well naturally, unless the poor kid committed burglary to get the gun. Or this, “On average, states with the highest gun levels had nine times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths compared to states with the lowest gun levels.” That’s like saying more people from Florida drown in the ocean than Nebraskans.

My statement still stands whether it applies to an individual 60 year old woman or blanket people, I think they are rather more capable of determining what they need for themselves than others are.

I said “lees likely to try you out”, as you noted. Less likely doesn’t mean ‘never will’. It means less likely. People tried out Michael C. I would guess and he had jets and artillery to back him up. If you, as a stout and fit young man, were really really mad at the not young me, would you be more or less likely, likely now, to try me out if you thought I might be armed?

Some communities in the old west restricted firearms. The only ones I could find reference to were mostly some Kansas cow towns. They did so because they were confronted for a few years with seasonal inundations of Texas cattle drovers, young men just off the job with a lot of money in their pockets. The towns wanted that money but they didn’t want too much violence, so they made them check the weapons or leave them in camp. It was a special situation and targeted a specific group. It was about the same thing in Tombstone too. The ordinance passed was, I think, mostly aimed at a specific group. It wasn’t a widespread thing to my knowledge.