April 02, 2018

Thoughts on gun control & public safety


The government can't protect you, only you can protect you!

I agree, I just think that there are different ways of defending myself, and having served in the Marine Corps it's pretty difficult for me to look at people marching around with their AR-15's and claiming that those are for self-defense. Like, self-defense against what -- a dinosaur? You won't hear any complaints from me about non-semi-automatic and non-automatic handguns, shotguns, and hunting rifles: those are absolutely for self-defense and hunting, and have absolutely proven to not be the preferred tools of shooters who want to blast classrooms of little kids and teenagers into tiny pieces.

For all the risk factors involved in gun ownership, I'd rather defend myself from gun violence by petitioning my elected officials to look out for my self interests by ensuring that only responsible people are trusted with the responsibility of gun ownership, including a graduated license system, firearm education, mandatory testing and educational requirements, and depending on the class of weapon in question being restricted to military use only.

The government must be resisted, and guns are the first line of defense!

Who do you even think you're fooling? Have you even seen the kind of hardware that law enforcement is carrying these days? And if this is really a matter of resisting a tyrannical government, then what exactly is your plan for dealing with a Cobra gunship, a Bradley fighting vehicle, or even just a squad of US Army infantry? They'd steam-roll right over you and every fantasy you had about freedom-fighting for the American dream would amount to little more than a grease-stain on the pavement.

That's why we need a well-regulated militia!

Yes, now we're getting somewhere! As part of the regulations for this militia, we could crowd-fund the money to supply them with easily-identified uniforms, consistent armaments, and regularly convened training regimens to improve mental and physical strength. We could even build armories at well-appointed intervals to ensure strategic coverage, and just for good measure this militia could be placed under civilian control but only within the geographic confines of the community which it serves. Why, this well-regulated militia might even look like... 

... the National Guard, which is funded by tax-payer money, equipped with the same uniforms of the federal military, receives military-grade weapons, is sent for war-fighting drills at regular intervals, is stationed at armories throughout their home states, and falls under the civilian authority of the state's governor who can deploy guardsmen during emergencies that threaten the safety of the state's residents.

Yeah, but people still need guns for self-defense and hunting!

With perhaps the exception of ranchers and others fighting to control the population of wild boars wrecking their property, I struggle to imagine any hunter needing to send dozens of rounds down range to make sure Bambi is well and truly dead. You're welcome to try and convince me if you feel differently, but I'm not convinced that people need semi-automatic or automatic weapons for hunting, and if you're in a situation where you need a semi-automatic or automatic handgun or rifle for self-defense, then I'd sure love to hear about it.

You're so stupid -- why are you rushing to give away your freedoms?

As a parent, one of the reasons I don't keep a gun in the house is because I want to reduce completely to Zero the possibility that one of my children gets a loaded gun in her hands for any reason, or that a home invader could use my privately owned gun against me. Sure enough -- I could put a trigger lock on the gun and keep the ammunition locked in a separate room of the house -- but in the event of a home invader, what am I gonna do? Ask the invader to just wait a minute while I stumble around in the dark unlocking my gun and then going to the other room where I keep the ammunition? Somehow I don't think it's gonna work out well for me.

Fine! If you don't want to own a gun, then you don't have to own a gun, but don't go taking away other people's freedoms!

Every freedom citizens of the US enjoy is restrained in some way. You're free to express yourself, but you're not free to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater or libel somebody just because you don't like them. You're free to be religious, but you're not free to require other people to participate in your religion. You're free to swing your arms, but not beyond the tip of my nose. You're free to own a gun, but when there are on average four or more people killed every day in the USA by a single shooter during the same shooting, then you can damn well expect some limits on your freedom. If you disagree, I'd love to hear why, but I don't think that an acceptable risk of gun ownership is school shootings on what feels like a monthly basis.

That's why you've got to arm the teachers, or put armed guards in every school!

Are you for real right now? Our schools don't even have enough money to pay for school supplies without guilting parents into regular donations of paper and pencils or coercing children into selling magazine subscriptions. You're telling me that our state and national legislatures can miraculously find money to train and arm teachers, or to hire armed security guards, when we can't even get enough funding for basic educational activities? Or what happens when during a school shooting the teacher gets killed -- how do I know that the shooter isn't going to pick up the teacher's gun and use it on other students? And as usual, I'm willing to be proven wrong, but judging by the reports of teachers shooting their guns off in school, and armed security guards either threatening and beating students, or in the event of a school shooting just waiting outside the school and doing nothing, I'm not presently convinced that guns in schools is going to solve the problem of guns in schools.

Goddamnit, you're so stupid. If somebody wants to kill you, they'll do it with or without a gun.

So what, this means that just because people can be murderous assholes that no attempt should even be made to place limits on weapons capable of churning out 9 rounds per second? I'd like to see somebody try and commit a mass murder with a single-shot hunting rifle or a revolver. I bet they could succeed in killing a few people, but the dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded that we're seeing in some of these shootings isn't gonna happen with a hunting shotgun. 

And if somebody is so determined to kill me personally no matter what, then they're welcome to try, but the way I understand it, self-defense isn't about if I can out-draw and out-gun the other guy, but a pattern of decision-making that reduces my exposure to risk. I suppose I could always become the victim of an insane madman who decides that it's just my day to die, but self-defense isn't about push coming to shove, but making wise decisions that prevent or avoid dangerous interactions to begin with. I agree that guns are a part of the self-defense equation, but to my eyes they're only one variable among many, and I think that if I've reached the point where I'm looking at the variable of kill-or-be-killed, something has gone terribly wrong in the other segments of the self-defense equation.

Are you really that dumb that you think a law written on paper will protect you?

I agree with you that I'm responsible for my self-defense and that I can't depend on the police to protect me -- on a good day, the local cop shop's response time for a 911 call is 5-10 minutes, and that's basically forever while a home invader or street thug is 10 steps away from me -- but I also think that this isn't an either/or scenario, but a both/and scenario. This isn't about "Ban all guns!," or "Let's not even try!" This is about, "There are practical, common-sense ways I can protect myself," and "In the name of self-preservation I can petition my elected officials to improve the safety of the community in which I live by reducing other risk factors." 

Gun-proliferation advocates seem to enjoy invoking extremes in defense of their justification for private gun ownership, but I don't live in a prison, war-zone, or any of these other scenarios where civil unrest might break out at any moment. Gun-proliferation advocates like to say that I'm giving up my rights and am deluding myself into a false sense of security, but from where I'm standing the world they claim exists where people everywhere should be free to own weapons which exist for arguably no other purpose than to kill humans looks like a reactionary fever-swamp. 

If you really think that the need for semi- and fully-automatic weapons is so important, then you're welcome to convince me why that's so, but I'm just not seeing it.

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