Guns save lives?
May 20, 2000 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Guns save lives? (I suppose it's the bullets that kill people) The NRA today staged the "400 Man March" to show their support for guns and opposition to last week's Million Mom March. On CSPAN today, I also caught a bit of their convention, where they were openly talking about Bush being "their president". I don't know what scares me more, seeing the speeches from their convention on TV, or someday going to an NRA-themed restaurant ("I'll take the saturday night special please, with armor piercing sauce on the side.").
posted by mathowie (57 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well Matt, if we're taking bets here... my money's on the Million Moms beating up the 400 men. Here.... put me down for $20.00 :0)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 12:10 PM on May 20, 2000

"Smith & Wesson, the nation's largest gunmaker, got a mixed reception, with some people shunning its exhibit because it agreed to put childproof locks on its pistols."

Is it me, or did this statement defy all logic (as I know it)....? NRA @ssholes! At least S&W was trying to show they're, at least, a responsible bunch. Must be the Brooklyn in me, but I *still* think the ultimate "intruder-deterrent" is the good ol' Baseball Bat! (ooh..I feel another rant coming!)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 12:22 PM on May 20, 2000

Eddie Izzard did a skit:

"They say 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people.'

But surely the gun helps?

After all, if I just pointed my finger at you and said 'Bang', you're not quite as likely to die..."

[more seriously, how is it that in the US, firearms are exempt from the kind of safety regime that applies to, say, cars? or children's toys? is it from the belief that kids should be introduced to weapons as soon as they can reach out from the crib, so as to "familiarise" themselves with them...]
posted by holgate at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2000

I was in Washington Last weekend and happened to run into the million mom march on my way to Hirshhorn. They had quite a showing and seen amongst the crowd were more than a few people waving "Heston, you are not moses" signs. I didn't see a single dissenter in the mass, they were all huddled together near the capital building totaling maybe 50. The important part is that probably 25 of those 50 were carrying camera.

Does anyone have statistics on the % of people who support the NRA vs. those who don't? (Please let the latter be up...)
posted by bryanboyer at 2:58 PM on May 20, 2000

cameraS! ack.
posted by bryanboyer at 2:59 PM on May 20, 2000

There's long been a large majority for gun control (60-70%, depending on the poll). The hard core of gun rights advocates hasn't changed much over the years, but the NRA was still viewed favorably by many people ... until the latest flap, with their spokesman charging that Clinton "needs a certain level of violence" to support his agenda, i.e. their real aim is to take away rights and people dying just helps them politically. That lost them a lot of support. Not that they can't win it back.
posted by dhartung at 3:05 PM on May 20, 2000

A gun is a highly effective device for killing, maiming and causing extreme pain to others from a safe, comfortable distance. Therefore, they will always be the weapon of choice for the cowardly, the criminal, the bloodthirsty and the morally bankrupt. As defensive devices, guns are far less effective, and there are a lot of superior ways of protecting yourself that are underused thanks to the shameful propaganda of the self-proclaimed gun-lovers. And that is why people like me do have some difficulty seperating the gun-weilding criminals from the "law-abiding gun-owners" of the NRA (who have, through their President, Charleton Heston, already publicly pledged to stop being law-abiding if laws are passed that they do not like).
I have a great deal of respect and empathy for those who have survived the ordeal of the wartime battlefield, and continue to dedicate myself to do whatever it takes that will prevent that ordeal from being required of anyone. But the arguement that guns are anything better than the absolute last resort will ultimately make their use far more likely - maybe inevitable. And that ain't good.
posted by wendell at 3:09 PM on May 20, 2000

Yes, Matt; guns save lives.

Ask a vet.

Americans haven't *been* put at risk of life recently enough, most of 'em, and forget this.

Do this math, and tell me what you think:
(numbers, as they say, are approximations)

260 million law abiding Americans     2 million criminals
1% have guns                          50% have guns
2.6 million guns                      1 million guns
Personal ownership of guns is outlawed:
260 million law abiding Americans     2 million criminals
0% have guns                          50% have guns
0 guns                                1 million guns
Quite apart from the second amendment, take back your government approach to the whole topic, why is it that people can't understand the accuracy of the old chestnut "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns"?

Why is that? It's pretty obvious to *me*: criminals are going to break laws prohibiting gun ownership, just like they break *other* laws. That's what criminals *do*; it's in the union rules or something, I think.

This topic *is* amenable to rational, logical thought and argument... it's just that the gun control people tend not to *engage* in that sort of behavior. Face it: all the big gun control pushes have come from people who'd just had people get shot on them. That doesn't encourage rational thought; it encourages emotionalism.

Emotionalism makes for crappy arguments.

I don't necessarily defend all the NRA's arguments, mind; they go around the bend, too, sometimes. But sometimes, it is *necessary* for pepople to go around the bend to make the point to the apathetic.

To draw a pertinent example, do you think that the Continental relatives of the colonists involved in the American Revolution thought they were being especially sane?

No. Me neither. *Were* they?

Can you fly to Washington and tell the government you think they suck without being jailed?

Thought so.

Sure I support gun control. I think all shooters should be able to hit precisely what they aim at, without accidentally winging innocent bystanders.
posted by baylink at 4:08 PM on May 20, 2000

Damn. Link: Myths of gun control advocates.
posted by baylink at 4:10 PM on May 20, 2000

Warning: Opposing View!

A , has an interesting view on gun control.

"The Million Moms would do much more for this country if they would focus on the breakdown of family and community ties that produce sociopaths like the goons who shoot up schools and day-care centers."

From Camille Paglia's (a social democrat)latest article at salon (4th-10th paragraphs).
posted by Mick at 4:12 PM on May 20, 2000

interesting percentages, baylink. can you tell me either of these?

what percentage of confrontations between armed criminals and armed law abiding citizens result in desirable scenarios? (criminal captured/shot, citizen unharmed).

and how does that percentage change when the criminal is armed and the law abiding citizen is unarmed?

posted by muta at 5:04 PM on May 20, 2000

I'd say muta has the obligation to present her own argument, complete with statistics. So far I side with baylink. Should I just throw all logic to the wind and join the popular anti gun movement? Why insult us with half-baked arguments and finger pointing like that muta? Seems that war and guns are undesirable in any situation, problem is, the world isn't a perfect place.
posted by greyscale at 5:43 PM on May 20, 2000

Hi greyscale. I have no argument and don't know enough to take a side. I'm genuinely curious.

baylink's myths link actually gives answers to my questions so.. never mind.

posted by muta at 6:39 PM on May 20, 2000

Then only time I can see someone needing a gun is for hunting or defending themselves against wildlife if thy happen to live in remote areas. I guess those living in remote areas are far enough away from law enforcement that they might need a weapon to protect themselves from criminals.

Collectors may have a justifiable case for owning weapons, as to marksmanship athletes, etc.

In otherwords, a small number of people (probably smaller then the 1% cited by baylink) living in North America actually need a gun. Shooting at criminals is a job for law enforcement, and not for Joe Sixpack. If your law enforcement cannot protect you, then the solution is not to get a gun, but improve your law enforcement, or better yet, look at the root causes of the crime taking place (poverty, lack of opportunity, etc).

Then again, I'm a Canadian, so having the right to bear arms is not in my blood, so to speak. I'd appreciate it if someone could explain to me why allowing the general population to carry guns is the best way keep everyone safe.

("You see, the only way that we can prevent a nuclear war is to make sure that all the countries have nuclear weapons. Only when each country posesses the ability to obliterate their enemies will the world truely be a safe place.")
posted by Calebos at 7:09 PM on May 20, 2000

Aren't we taking the government and local law enforcement for granted?
posted by hobbes at 7:21 PM on May 20, 2000

To Muta, I'm glad that link provided you with the numbers you sought; I can't vouch for them personally, but they rang true to me.

Calebos, that wasn't the actual underlying reason for the Second Amendment; the Right To Keep And Bear Arms was intended by the Framers of the US Constitution to avoid the need for a Second American Revolution: that is, it's there *precisely so* we'll have guns to oust our government if they stop doing what we as an electorate tell them to.

As far as the "is it Joe Sixpack's job to be killing criminals" question is concerned, if that criminal is in my house, yeah, it's my job. A large part of the purpose of organized law enforcement is to 'show the flag'; ask any cop. LE prevents much crime by the knowledge of it's existence. The part it cannot prevent, it *cannot* prevent -- knowing the cops "are out there" will *not* keep a psychopath from breaking into a random house and murdering someone. Not that common, but it does happen.

His walking into the muzzle of an M1911A1 .45cal automatic pistol won't necessarily stop him, either... but it will when you pull the trigger.

It's sort of capital punishment, retail. But you know, if a burglar breaks into *my* house at night, *I* know he's guilty.

The laws of Florida formally recognize this, interestingly enough; a person "is justified in the
use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to
prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent
the imminent commission of a forcible felony."

"Forcible felony" covers one *hell* of a lot of ground:
treason; murder; manslaughter;
sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping;
aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful
throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony
which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

The relevant sections are FS 776.012 and FS 776.08. The entirety of Chapter 782 (Homicide), is also intereting; in general, the law in Florida is *very* loose concering the prosecution of homicide in the defense of persons and property... as you might expect the laws of a Southern state to be.

In Massachusetts, where I grew up, the law was understood to be, roughly, 'you had to let the burglar back you into an unescapable corner before you could shoot him', that is *not* the case in Florida.

I'm not certain what case law exists on point, since IANAL, I don't have access to Lexis. I'd certainly be interested to find out what defenses on justification have been made in Florida, and how they turned out.

But note the statistics in that link I pointed out about the percentage of homicide victims *who have criminal backgrounds*, and wonder...
posted by baylink at 7:54 PM on May 20, 2000

BTW: greyscale? I didn't take Muta's question as fingerpointing... You're not up to the scale of Yarf, here, but this seems a little OTT for you. Bad week?
posted by baylink at 7:57 PM on May 20, 2000

that is, it's there *precisely so* we'll have guns to oust our government if they stop doing what we as an electorate tell them to. I always felt that this was the actual underlying reason that many in the US don't support gun control.
Personally I feel safer knowing that people in my neighbourhood don't own guns. I like to leave the protecting to the professionals. But then, the countries I lived in have always had crime rates much much lower than the US. And if there is crime (violent or otherwise) very little of it involves guns because guns are not available.

posted by cmacleod at 9:09 PM on May 20, 2000

You know, Clark, lots of people think that way... but there's a fairly convincing essay here that suggests that *becoming* a shooter tends to make you become less the sort of person taht your neighbors would worry about... and why.

[ Anti-Eric Raymond people; avoid this link :-) ]
posted by baylink at 9:23 PM on May 20, 2000

And here's a followup that will be completely unexpected to the "Oh, he's a gun proponent; what a violent murdering asshole..." squadron:

The NRA is unhappy with S&W for shipping trigger locks with guns because it will *reduce* people's 2nd Amendment rights?

What sort of moronic horseshit is *that*?
posted by baylink at 9:32 PM on May 20, 2000

Gun control is a steady hand.

It is better to have a gun and not need it then to need a gun and not have it.
posted by brent at 9:33 PM on May 20, 2000

From the CNN article:
"If we win, we'll have a president, with at least one of the people that's running, a president where we work out of their office. Unbelievably friendly relations."
Good grief. I hate to hear this kind of blather from any special interest group, whether I agree with their aims or not.
posted by harmful at 9:55 PM on May 20, 2000

baylink wrote: "The Right To Keep And Bear Arms was intended by the Framers of the US Constitution to avoid the need for a Second American Revolution: that is, it's there *precisely so* we'll have guns to oust our government if they stop doing what we as an electorate tell them to."

If the guns are there to take down the government,, why are you using one to kill criminals? True, if I crimial breaks into my apartment to steal my TV ... he'll take my TV. It'll be pretty hard for me to kill him and stop him from taking my 500$ TV, since I don't have a gun handy.

And does anyone seriously think that owning a gun is going to help them take down the US government, if, during their 4-year stint, they don't do what they promised? If that 1% of americans who own guns (or some, more militan subset of that group) decided to move against the ggoverment, what do you think would happen? How do you think the American people would react to such a move.

Anyone who believes that they need to own a gun to protect themselves from the government is going to own a gun, regardless of what the law is.

I guess that Canada is just a lot safer then the US. I'd hate to live in a country where I needed to carry weapons to feel safe.
posted by Calebos at 10:30 PM on May 20, 2000

I'm glad I live in a country where It is my decision on whether or not to own a firearm.

"When the government fears the People, that is Liberty. When the People fear the Government, that is tyranny".

Thomas Jefferson

posted by Mick at 10:42 PM on May 20, 2000

"Shooting at criminals is a job for law enforcement, and not for Joe Sixpack. " Yes, I used to live in a place where only the police were allowed to have guns. It's called Washington, D.C., and there I was held up at gunpoint twice, was a witness in a murder case (involving an assault rifle), my now-wife had her home broken into twice in one week, and my home was broken into. All in one year, within six blocks of the capitol building. If gun control works, why is Virginia safer than DC?
posted by mikewas at 11:22 PM on May 20, 2000

Hilary Shelton, NAACP: "What works is that when you cut down the number of guns that are able to be sold by licensed dealers throughout the country, doing what they've done in states like Virginia, as an example -- New York and Washington, D.C., found that most of the violent crimes, the gun-related incidents that occurred in their cities were because there were no restrictions on how guns were being sold in Virginia. The state of Virginia decided to implement the same kind of policies..."Looks like perhaps Virginia doesn't feel so safe without gun control after all.
posted by jess at 11:42 PM on May 20, 2000

I don't know anyone in my part of Alaska who doesn't own a gun, and most of them support the NRA too. I don't support the NRA, but I do own two rifles. My father owns like 30 guns or something... I don't like hunting, and will never go hunting, but it's nice to have a rifle with you when you go camping or hiking or something just for protection.
posted by premiumpolar at 12:43 AM on May 21, 2000

I still haven't heard any good reasons every citizen has a right to bear arms, aside from the fact that certain areas of the US are hellish pits of crime, and the governent/police are not to be counted on, trusted, or expected to improve. From what I can tell, it started out as a way to ensure that the government could be overthrown if it became disjointed from the will of the people. Now, it's more about needing a gun to protect yourself from your fellow man.

If you happen to live in one of those hellish crimepits, don't guy a gun. Move.

to mikewas: I don't understand how having a gun would have helped you when you were held up at gunpoint, or when your homes were broken into, expect that you'd probably be dead now. I guess the point you are trying to make is that if the criminal knows they are likely to face a person with a gun, they are less likely to commit the crime.

I'm fairly sure that the cause of safely crime is not dictated solely by the presence of guns, but by of deeper social issues. Guns are how some people have decided to address the issue of safety. It is that mentality that I just don't understand. If I was stuck living in some crime-ridden area Washington, and left my life was in danger... who knows, maybe I would feel that owning a firearm was the only way for me to feel safe. I thank God that I am not in that situation.
posted by Calebos at 8:38 AM on May 21, 2000

sorry, major typos: "I'm fairly sure that the cause of safely crime is not..." should read "I'm fairly sure the safety of an area is not..."
posted by Calebos at 9:55 AM on May 21, 2000

We can sit here and argue over this issue until the end of time, but it's all just so much finger-twiddling. There's a political, and legal, reality out there that transcends all the emotionally-based rants above:

1) The Second Amendment exists, period. You don't have to like it, but you can't simply choose to ignore it. If there is to be any truly meaningful alteration of the status of gun ownership rights in the US, it will require another Amendment to change the rights granted in the Second. This has never come anywhere close to occuring, because the number of people that would be against it is far higher than we in this self-selecting community like to think.

2) Even if an Amendment was passed that completely obliterated the Second, it wouldn't work. It would probably stop the production of any new weapons, sure. But that would only leave, oh, about 300 million firearms in the US to be, ::ahem:: "collected." Some would be voluntarily turned in; most wouldn't.
So welcome to door-to-door searches from your Friendly US Government. I don't think that would go over well, to put it mildly.

Anything short of these sorts of actions will just leave us in more or less the same position we're in now: Gun Control laws will come and go over time. Liberals will enact the laws, conservatives will repeal them, liberal and conservative justices will keep shuffling the line back and forth over the same small patch of land, ad infinitum.

posted by aaron at 11:07 AM on May 21, 2000

"If you happen to live in one of those hellish crimepits, don't guy a gun. Move"

That is part of the problem, people do move leaving only criminials and those with no way of moving.

Giving in to the miscreants and running away only increases the crime in an area and then it spreads infecting more and more of the city.

Staying and improving the area is the solution. If that means a firearm under the shopcounter, then so be it.

posted by Mick at 11:09 AM on May 21, 2000

Even though I don't like guns, I don't see the point of passing new laws when we can't effectively enforce those we have.
posted by harmful at 11:24 AM on May 21, 2000

And, BTW: Calebos, concerning his odds of being safer when confronted with a gun, scroll back up and look at the stats in that myths document I listed. Yes, it can help.
posted by baylink at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2000

to baylink: The way I see it, a guy pulls a gun on you and asked you for your wallet, you go for your gun, bang, you're dead. But I guess if the governement says that guns are the safest way to defend yourself, then I guess that's the way to go.

I can see that my reality it quite different from the folks here advocating gun ownership. I still think that solving problems with a gun is wrong, but I don't live in your shoes. You'll never see me living anywhere that I need a gun to feel safe. I'm fortunate enough to have that freedom on movement, and I plan on making the most of it.

I sincerely hope you folks are right, and that having a gun keeps you safe.
posted by Calebos at 12:41 PM on May 21, 2000

For what it's worth, here's *my* reason for not owning a gun:


* If I give a family member a concussion for the horrible crime of fumbling through the house in the dark, with my trusty ol' bat...I can live with myself.

I don't have exact numbers, but the odds of a gun killing a loved one by accident are a *lot* higher than it ever being used in a self-defense/intruder scenario.
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 4:08 PM on May 21, 2000

Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be

We always seem to forget the well regulated Militia portion of this amendment. I fail to se why the NRA and their ilk again and again fight common sense gun regulation.
posted by owillis at 1:41 AM on May 22, 2000

Also, unless you're familiar with the stylistics of 18th-century English, it's easy to forget what a dependent (and possibly subjunctive) clause looks like.
posted by holgate at 1:49 AM on May 22, 2000

It seems to me that it's very easy for those of us living outside the US to criticise the situation there. I was going to contribute with something along the lines of "Aint in great not to be American" but it's just not that simple. In Britain, not even the Police have firearms, consequently theres less pressure for anyone going to commit a crime to carry any sort of weapon. For those who still find it necessary we have armed response units in most major cities to deal with them. The point is, there has never been widespread use (or ownership) of firearms.
However the right to bear arms in the US has been in effect since the constitution was drawn up, 'ordinary' people have guns, it's their right protected by law.
It seems to me as an outsider then, that the issue is not whether gun control would stop criminals carrying or using guns, but that there would have to be a total culture shift for gun control to be effective. Something which isn't likely to happen, as too many people would see a change to the constitution as an infringement on their civil liberties, no matter what the arguments for or against are.
posted by Markb at 5:19 AM on May 22, 2000

The problem, as I see it, is that the NRA and other gun-rights groups are so paranoid about a possible slippery slope that they take a hard-line stance against *any* controls.

The Second Amendment is quite clear when it says that any citizen has the right to bear arms. However, there is nothing that precludes the government from regulating how those arms are acquired - background checks, waiting periods, etc. Some would argue that these measures are necessary to prevent criminals from getting their hands on weapons. I do not have statistics to argue either side, but from a legal standpoint, gun regulations are on solid ground.

The problem is the slippery slope fallacy. The NRA operates under the presumption that once there is even the slightest amount of government regulation in gun ownership, it's only a matter of time until all guns are outlawed. It's a logical fallacy; waiting periods have nothing to do with federal officers confiscating guns from every home in the land. But it's a powerful emotional sway, no matter how wrong it is.

Tangent: the psychoethical dilemna of firing a gun. I have handled a gun exactly once in my life. When I held it - and mind you, this was just a small pistol - I suddenly became acutely aware that simply by squeezing my finger, I could end the life of someone else. Just like that. Hell, at least musketeers had to load their weapons for minutes beforehand.
The huge disparity between the actual physical action required and the consequences of said action is staggering.

Handling a firearm demands such a level of responsibility and ethics that I think only someone who grew up in such an atmosphere could be completely trusted to treat them as the weapons that they are. When you try to kill someone with a knife or a blunt object or even your own two hands, there's a struggle, an effort. It takes no effort, and thus no responsibility, to point a gun and shoot them. I believe that's where the severe discomfort with widespread firearm ownership comes in, because it's just too damn easy to take someone else's life with a gun, and no one trusts anyone else to be responsible with your life.

I would also put forth the gulf between rural, suburban, and urban experience in America as a big source of discord in the gun control debate. Suburban Soccer Mom wants her children to be absolutely safe; Rural Sportsman scoffs at this and teaches his son how to handle firearms; Urban Poor Kid needs a gun just to stay alive another day. Three different realities, and this is just the broadest outline.

But Chuck Heston really needs to shut up and stoking the flames of this debate, and so do the Million Moms. Odds of that happening anytime soon?
posted by solistrato at 7:03 AM on May 22, 2000

Whoops - it should read:

"Handling a firearm demands such a level of responsibility and ethics that I think only someone who grew up surrounded by the culture of firearms could be completely trusted to treat them as the weapons that they are."
posted by solistrato at 7:05 AM on May 22, 2000

Concur completely. That's why I think the way I do.

For the statistics you don't have handy, Eric; hit the Myths link above; I think you'll find them. The numbers aren't what you've been led to believe.

posted by baylink at 9:12 AM on May 22, 2000

On numbers: Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

If someone robs you at gunpoint, a gun will not help you. Full-body battle armor might, but not a gun. A gun is an offensive weapon, not a defensive one.

The only way to use guns as a defense is to adopt the old adage, "The best defense is a good offense.' In other words, shoot them before they shoot you. So, what are you folks waiting for? Take the war to their neighborhoods, their living rooms! Get the cops in there, the army in there, the local militia, whatever. Then when you are done, get some serious oppression going. Armor-plated black vans with tinted windows, a few of those stealth attack copters that rocked in the Gulf. Clean it out then clamp down big time.


>>Handling a firearm demands such a level of responsibility and ethics<<

Right. Isn't that what gun control is all about? Making sure that everyone who owns a gun is fit to own one? I don't think that just because you grow up around guns doesn't mean that you are fit to have one. I'd guess that there are a large number of people who want a gun who shouldn't have one (I know, I know, you have statistics...).
posted by Calebos at 9:47 AM on May 22, 2000

I hate to point this out, Ed, but if a guy accosts you on the street and points a gun in your face, the *cops* aren't gonna help you much, either.

If, however, you have a concealed carry permit, and a concealed pistol, when he turns his back, you can solve the problem.

The usual thing is happening here: the pro-gun people are being led to look like Wyatt Earp by the rhetoric of the anti-gun people.

In the final analysis, it comes down to this: Americans are entitled to keep guns because Thomas Jefferson et. al. said we were, and there's a statistically significant number of Americans who will use those guns, if necessary, to fight to keep that right.

*Your* government is about to start reading all your email; I hope you never break any rules...
posted by baylink at 1:13 PM on May 22, 2000

On the subject of gun control; how many of you have shot something? Something living and breathing? Something which screamed as the bullet tore through bone and sinew, and hot blood which smelled like burning copper flew back into your face? My father owns 300 firearms. He supports the NRA. He made me learn how to shoot, and he made me shoot farm animals for him.

I know what it feels like to kill. Trust me, if you have never killed anything before, YOU WILL HESITATE. Try that carry permit criminal turns his back shit, and you will die.

The gun will not save you. It is not magic. It is not a friend. It does not, in fact, care about you at all, and it is far more likely to end up in the hands of a child who will use it on a friend, or a burglar who sneaks into your house late at night. Statistical fact. Look it up if you think I lie, but I do not.

A gun sprays little pellets of molten lead back at you when you pull the trigger. This is disconcerting if you've only fired at a range, as some of the blobs of lead will strike you in the eyes and make you blink. Especially if you've never experienced it before.

The second you pull the trigger, your arm will spasm from the imagined recoil, even if you are a trained marksman. In order to correct this problem, you will need to practice in live-fire situations, the way my father forced me to.

Have you any experience in drawing a concealed weapon and firing it in a second? No? Then abandon your cowboy fantasies...they shall not come to pass. A man with a knife will be able to disarm you. He will simply cut your throat while you draw your concealed weapon, or stab you in the belly, and you will scream and cry and lay on the ground bleeding and pissing yourself while he takes your gun and shoots you with it.

You are not Dirty Harry. Don't feel bad. Neither is he.

Do not misconstrue my statements. I do not, in fact, support any new gun laws. We do not enforce the laws we have. Why make new ones? I know people who have bought kits (perfectly legal kits) that allowed them to convert their firearms into fully automatic weapons. These people have completely illegal firearms, and no one is doing anything. So what good are new laws going to do?

I have been hunting, and I was good at it. I have worked as a knackerer over endless summers, killing dozens of livestock a year. I have had enough blood on me to stain me forever, and even I would hesitate before shooting a man. Only someone innured to killing other human beings can draw and shoot casually, and those are the people who should least have such power. Do not assume a gun will make you safe. It does not have such an ability.

All a gun can do is kill. It is a weapon, like a broadsword or a bow and arrow. It knows no morality. It has no conscience. It doesn't care about anyone or anything, and it will kill anything it is pointed at. It cannot safeguard your freedom (unless you think your pistols and rifles can stop tanks hardened against EMP and designed to weather Molotov cocktails and shaped charges) nor can it defend your home.

All it does is kill. Now, sometimes killing is exactly what you want or need to do. Without killing, my family would have starved on more than one lean winter. Without the killing power of the gun, I would have had my throat torn out by a rabid feral dog one autumn afternoon. I respect and fear the firearm, and I am not a radical.

But child locks are not a bad thing.

Enforcing our existing gun laws is not a bad thing.

Teaching our children that guns are dangerous, not glamourous, and should not be played with is not a bad thing.

Reducing the 250 million firearms in this country (The United States) is not a bad thing.

Stripping the gun of all its mystique and reducing it to what it is, a collection of metal parts (or advanced ceramics, or plastics) designed to channel a chemical explosion and throw a wad of lead forward at transonic speeds to rupture flesh, shatter bone, cause the painful death of the impacted target, and above all kill, kill, kill human beings is not a bad thing.

This is what I, a man with blood on his hands, a man who has shot at other human beings, has to tell you about guns.
posted by Ezrael at 9:50 PM on May 22, 2000

>> If, however, you have a concealed carry permit, and a concealed pistol, when he turns his back, you can solve the problem.<<

Baylink, I don't think you need the "rhetoric of the anti-gun people" to make you look like Wyatt Earp. You are doing a fine job yourself. I full understand your position now, thanks.

To Ezrael, thank you, sincerely, for posting your thoughts here.

posted by Calebos at 6:39 AM on May 23, 2000

> But child locks are not a bad thing.

Enforcing our existing gun laws is not a bad thing.

Teaching our children that guns are dangerous, not glamourous, and should not be played with is not a bad thing.

Ezrael, I concur completely with everything you've just said. You make it sound as if I *don't* think those things. You're wrong.

I didn't suggest everyone should "have guns". I suggested that everyone should "be a shooter", a decidedly different thing.

And Calebos? The entire thread is right here before you. I invite you to go back and read it, and reevaluate your snide snipe.

And re-read Ezrael's posting too. I'm pretty sure you've missed his point as well. I do disagree with Ezrael on one point. I *have* looked up the statistics. See the link above, for one set of references thereto.

Children will not get into guns if they are too small to get past the rifle cabinet lock. Older children who have, as you note, gone out and shot dinner, will *know* why the guns are not toys. And as for night burglars, well, we keep the guns in the bedroom for a *reason*.

Ezreal, I'd greatly appreciate it if you, as probably the only 'shooter' on this thread right now, would go read the ESR shooting ethics paper I linked second above, and comment?
posted by baylink at 8:09 AM on May 23, 2000

Sorry, baylink. If you feel that it is your right to kill someone because they have stolen something from you, then you and I have very little in way of a common ethical ground upon which we can have a conversation without talking past each other.

I did not miss Ezreal's point. I realize that his post did not necessarily support my position. Still, I think he did a good job of presenting the cold, hard reality of guns as only a "shooter" with blood on his hands can. And for that, I thank him.

(BTW, in my neck of the woods, the criminals are smart enough to wait until you are not home to break in and steal stuff. They make sure that we are not there, even though the chance of the person in the home having a gun in almost zero. And if someone robs you at knife-point, gun-point, whatever, we give them our friggen wallets and watches.)

As you said, the only reason Americans are entitled to have guns is because your forefathers said so. I would argue that the reasoning behind that was that the "right to bear arms" gave the people some sort of power over the government. That is no longer the case. I think it would be better to update your constitution so that it reflects the original intent of your forefathers. I'm sure the powers that be are much happier, though, giving you the right to carry guns then giving you any kind of real power.

And the email snipe? Your government has been snooping your email for quite some time now as well. I doubt that having a gun is going to protect you should the government ever decide to move against you.
posted by Calebos at 9:13 AM on May 23, 2000

Time for someone to mention Hitler, isn't it?


But you know, you're not *required* to agree with me, or even understand me, Calebos -- and if you think you do, I suspect you're wrong.

It's *ok* if you don't agree with me.
posted by baylink at 3:07 PM on May 23, 2000

>>Time for someone to mention Hitler, isn't it?<<


I'm sure that there is are quite a few points that we do agree on, when it comes down to it. Still, I concur that I probably do not fully understand you. I'm still evaluating what you say from my own point of view, my own situation, and my own beliefs. There are, and I suspect always will be, some core issues that I think we can agree to disagree on.

A question: I was discussing this issue with a transplanted American at the office today, and he told me that the part in the US constitution about "right to bear arms" was originally there only so that if the government wanted to raise an army, they would all be armed. I've never heard that one before, but since I suspect that you've heard both and every side of this debate several times, I thought I'd get your comments on it.
posted by Calebos at 8:23 PM on May 23, 2000

That wouldn't really have been an issue, I think, but no, it's not a line of reasoning *I've* ever heard. I suppose it's an interpretation of the "militia" language in the Second Amendment. I do not claim to be a second amendment scholar by any means, but the internet is wonderful, isn't it:

Google and DMoz have extensive collections of pointers to the relevnat materials.

Some of that will no doubt be biased... but that's life, no?
The only thing that *does* cause trouble sometimes is differential language: words do not always carry the same connotations these days that they did when these laws were written, and that's a material thing: it affects what they *meant* for the laws to mean... and those who say "no, they intended for the laws to track the changes in the meanings of words" posit an argument I don't think I really buy.

That's a little too loose for my tastes. But of course, if I give them credit for thinking about it at the time, I'm pretty much required to assume that they ought to have been a little more loquacious, too, ain't I? ;-)
posted by baylink at 9:02 PM on May 23, 2000

>>Joel Barlow, a political theorist of Jefferson's time, wrote tellingly: ``[The disarming of citizens has] a double effect, it palsies the hand and brutalizes the mind: a
habitual disuse of physical forces totally destroys the moral [force]; and men lose at once the power of protecting themselves, and of discerning the cause of their

I went back and read the article Baylink mentioned, and it has its points. The idea of personal responsibility is one I strongly agree with. The idea that every human being has a moral and ethical duty to understand the potential lethality of his or her actions, whether or not she or he is armed, is one that appeals to me. I only have one sizeable problem with the article. It does not address the fact that, for all intents and purposes, we have already been disarmed by the sheer military might of our nation. (Baylink, thank you for pointing it out to me...I had missed it earlier.)

It makes the assumption that we can successfully resist our government. This is a fallacy. We cannot. As Waco proved, even a compound of heavily armed men and women will fall against the armed might of the US Military/Industrial Complex.

Now, I am not a raving paranoid. I oppose the NRA exactly because in many cases, I believe they are whiny, sycophantic and craven. No gun owner needs kevlar-piercing ammunition unless he is going manhunting. No one requires an Assault Weapon unless his or her goal is to kill indiscriminately. To simply back these people based on the Second Amendment, which as the article Baylink mentioned points out was written by armed revolutionaries (and ones who existed in a time when a weapon needed to be reloaded after every shot, instead of a world where a Glock can carry a 22 shot clip if you know where to look) is dangerous folly.

I'll say it as plainly as I can. The world has changed, and if it ever came down to a war between our Government and ourselves, our best weapons are non-violent. We cannot beat the military with force. It will always have more than we will. We have AK-47's? They have A-10 Warthogs. We have Armalite AR-15's illegally modified to fire a .223 round in three shot bursts? They have Caseless Ultralight Over and Under Ordinance Delivery Systems.

In terms of the average citizen going out and fighting crime by means of living in an armed society...well, some locales seem to be able to make that work. Small towns, rural locations. It doesn't work in Cities, and it is a dangerous trade off for the freedom from being mugged.

Ultimately, Baylink, I didn't mean to imply that you thought child locks were wrong, or that guns were toys. Obviously, by the amount of thought and expression we are all putting into this, we are not fools. I'm just used to having to step-by-step my arguments in past my father, who as I pointed out, is excessively and heavily armed.

Calebos, on the subject of the Second Amendment being aimed at the formation of a militia...the text reads as follows:
"A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

Seems pretty unequivocal to me. The people have the absolute right to keep and bear Arms. This does not neccessarily give them the right to keep and bear whatever Arms they want...for example, it does not say they can have nukes, or anti-aircraft missiles. It does not even say they can have guns. All it says is that the people have the right to keep and bear is possible for someone to argue that the Arms in question could be restricted to Swords, or Muskets, or what have you. It does not even specify between individual people and 'The People' as a whole. In other words, there is an extreme amount of wiggle room in this amendment, and it has been subject to repeated Supreme Court debate, and it will be so in the future. I am not a Constitutional Scholar, and so I cannot with assurance say what the future will bring in this debate, but in general I would agree with those who said that the original intent of the Founding Fathers (who, despite their masonic connections, were not soothsayers and could not anticipate the full power of the coming Industrial Revolution) was to ensure the defense of the nation.

Baylink may well point out that Jefferson, at least, would have felt that the keeping of Arms by the populace would help keep the government honest. He'd be right. Others of Jefferson's time would have agreed, like Hamilton and Adams. I have no argument with that. I merely think that the right of the People in this instance is no more absolute than in any other. If I can be told that my right to free speech is limited by circumstances (Fire in a crowded theatre, that sort of thing) than the right to bear arms is no more immune, and should be as firmly controlled.

Well, that's enough for now. I'm sure the debate will continue.

posted by Ezrael at 9:18 PM on May 23, 2000


Apparently, Wyatt Earp is a granny.

You know, I've seen half a dozen of this sort of article in the 20 years I've lived in Florida. Not one ended in an accidental shooting of a bystander.

Not *one*.

Surely, if one had, it would have made the news, no?

Very thoughtful reply comments, as I'd expected. Thanks, Ez.
posted by baylink at 5:13 PM on May 24, 2000

>>We cannot. As Waco proved, even a compound of heavily armed men and women will fall against the armed might of the US Military/Industrial Complex.<<

You might be disappointed to learn that the "US Military/Industrial Complex" lost Vietnam. You might be surprised to learn that the Afghanis beat back the Red Army. You might even be surprised to learn that the American Colonies won the war against the British Empire.

Of course, you know these things. But the point is important enough to restate - no army is invincible.

I doubt we'll see in the next hundred years any type of serious resistance to our government, but I can't help but align myself with Jefferson on the principle of the matter.

posted by mikewas at 5:35 PM on May 25, 2000

And on another point, the "fire in a crowded theatre" quote comes from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, in SCHENCK v. U.S. , 249 U.S. 47 (1919), to justify the conviction of a man for passing out Socialst leaflets. The Supreme Court later receded significatly from that position. Perhaps this may be best continued in another thread...
posted by mikewas at 5:41 PM on May 25, 2000

>>You might be disappointed to learn that the "US Military/Industrial Complex" lost Vietnam. You might
be surprised to learn that the Afghanis beat back the Red Army. You might even be surprised to learn
that the American Colonies won the war against the British Empire.<<

You make a point. Are you saying you can hide like a ghost in the woods, so silent and motionless that armed soldiers cannot find you? Are you counting on aid from the US government or the French Crown or the Soviet Union?

No, no army is invincible. Yes, it does matter how much the incredibly outgunned want to win. And yes, a lot of people will die if it comes to that.

Nonviolence is still the best way to win an argument with this particular government. I think the Bourbon's are all dead.

And on the subject of the court receding significantly, good. But the same people who are always pro gun are the same ones who argue that I can't burn a flag. I always find that fascinating. They want the rights they like, and they want to deny me the ones I cherish. As far as continuing this in another thread...okay, I guess. I'll go where the discussion does.
posted by Ezrael at 8:23 PM on May 25, 2000


I'll defend to the death your right to burn a flag.

"Defending *palatable* speech isn't notable." --me

If we make it illegal, those who refrain from doing it are doing so *merely* to avoid breaking the law; what the hell good is *that*?

On the topic of taking out armies, the trick is don't *fight* with the privates. Shoot the right 6 *generals*, and you win. It's all over but the mopping up.
posted by baylink at 10:43 PM on May 25, 2000

But no fair extending it.

Last Post.
posted by baylink at 2:25 PM on June 15, 2000

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