A Former Marine Corps Weapons Instructor on the Desirability of Guns for Self-Defense

Turns out he has a few cogent reservations. I would agree with them.

Relatedly, I suspect it would surprise a number of people to know I don’t have a philosophical issue with gun ownership. Own them if you like; please take substantial training with them and learn to operate them responsibly, since they really are designed to kill things, including people. I live in a rural area that has a large amount of gun ownership; on many evenings I can hear my neighbors having target practice. There’s never been a problem. I prefer a bow myself.

Likewise, gun ownership, sensibly practiced, as part of (but not solely comprising) an overall security regimen? Sure. Keep the weapon instructor’s reservations in mind; he has experience on the matter. There are lots of ways that introducing a gun to a self-defense situation can go very wrong.

On the other hand, gun as fetish object? Creeps me out. When I see a picture of some dude hoisting some big damn gun about, often with appallingly poor trigger discipline, the first thing that comes to my mind is not look out, we have a badass on our hands, but, rather, here’s a dude who’s afraid of every fucking thing in the world. The big damn gun is like the eyes on the wings of a butterfly or a pufferfish sucking in seawater — a way to look bigger and maybe not get eaten. By whom? By whomever, man, I don’t know — when you’re afraid of every fucking thing in the world, I guess you spend a lot of time worrying about getting eaten.

So wait, are you calling me a coward? I hear some of these dudes saying, hoisting their guns. No, not a coward. Just afraid.

I’m not afraid! I have a big damn gun! Yes, well. Whatever makes you feel not afraid, chuckles.

You wouldn’t be saying that if I were in front of you, with my big damn gun! Indeed, I probably wouldn’t, because when people who are afraid of every fucking thing in the world wander about with big damn guns, bad things have an increasingly likely chance of happening. I’ll just go have lunch in Chipotle until you wander off, if it’s all the same to you.

Knowledgeable about guns? Sweet. Geeked out about guns in all their varieties? Hey, everyone’s a geek about something, and this is one of your things. Rock on. Wanting to share the joys of responsible ownership and use of guns with others? I am all for positive role models with these particular machines. Please do. Have to display yourself with your guns and/or can’t bear to part with them for a moment? Dude, you’re afraid of every fucking thing in the world.

I’m gonna be thinking that every time I see that picture of you with your big damn gun. I doubt I’ll be the only one.

401 thoughts on “A Former Marine Corps Weapons Instructor on the Desirability of Guns for Self-Defense

  1. The Mallet is out. Please discuss with each other civilly and politely. Likewise, please stick to the topics at hand. Let’s not get sidetracked, for example, into a larger discussion of whether guns should be allowed to exist here in the US. Let’s take as read that they are allowed, and proceed from there.

  2. drunkenafficianado:

    Not in particular, no, although I personally believe Cheney is deeply embedded into the “I fear everything” camp. But that’s not relevant to the discussion here at the moment.

  3. I love guns. I own several. I don’t carry them around with me, and unless anyone asks, I don’t bring them into conversation. I tale them out when I want to shoot, and I put them back in the safe when I’m done.

    I am not at all worried that the government is going to take them from me. I believe that gun control should start with gun owners. If you improperly store your guns, and they fall into the wrong hands, you are responsible for what happens with it. Failure to report a stolen gun should carry pretty stiff penalties.

    The best self defense is in your head. Be aware of what is around you so you can avoid getting into danger in the first place.

  4. I don’t have extensive experience in firing guns, but I’ve heard several people say that there is a higher rate of satisfaction from firing a large gun. Watch the Mythbusters episodes where they use big guns. They use an abundance of care. They aren’t obviously using guns as fetishes. Yet, the talk about and display great pleasure when firing the big ones.

  5. The argument I always hate is “an armed society is a polite society”, not really. What they mean is “if I have a gun, people will be too scared to tell me I’m wrong”. Turns out that an armed society is a bully-based society. Legit reasons (like hunting, always good to get your own dinner from scratch occasionally) or to sports target shoot, or even just as a collector’s hobby, but don’t try and claim it is to enforce some sort of social order. That is just weak.

  6. I grew up in a rural area, learned responsible gun ownership and hunted until I went off to college and got too busy. I think our guns laws are insane. Take a look at the number of people killed by gun by country. That says it all. We need to get rid of politicians that won’t vote against the loony NRA. Children are dying needlessly and it is stupidity, stubbornness and cowardice that keeps things this way.

  7. There is truth to that. Large caliber wheel guns (revolvers) are a complete hoot. I explained it to my European in-laws (who don’t have access to guns) thusly. “2nd amendment blah blah blah…. Sometimes it’s fun just to blow shit up.”

  8. pdefor:

    Having fired big guns in my life, I can reliably say it is indeed a hell of a lot of fun. But with big guns come big responsibilities.

    crypticmirror:

    “The argument I always hate is ‘an armed society is a polite society'”

    Yeah. There’s not much polite about a school shooting.

  9. Totally agree with you on guns, and I wish more gun owners were like Jerome. I don’t have a problem with guns, per se. My dad has always had one, and while it’s not for me, I get that some people want them.

    I’m just of the mindset that it’s pretty obvious that a lot of people who shouldn’t have guns do. We can debate about mental health (and I agree that it’s neglected in this country), but to own a gun, you need to prove that you know about guns and gun safety. If you need a license and insurance to drive a car, we should have at least those standards for gun owners.

    Breaks my heart every time I read about some little kid who shot himself or a friend because his parents were irresponsible and left loaded guns within reach. (Why are these parents not prosecuted?!) Also gives me chills when my daughter tells me about the lock-down drills at her school.

    We need to work together to solve this problem. What we are doing is obviously not working.

  10. Nicely stated. I was a police officer once a long time ago in a suburb far away. I carried a pistol daily and had a shotgun in the car. I thought long and hard about that pistol before I took up the badge. I could easily qualify for a concealed carry permit but I frankly don’t see any actual use for one. I have my firearms secured, I shoot in a league, occasionally hunt and figure if someone breaks in to our house I’ll be trying to pry one of the dogs off their butt while the police are on the way instead of reenacting the shootout at the OK Corral.

  11. Glad to see someone else with a similar outlook on this subject. I’ve fired a gun maybe two, three times in my life? Not my bag, and I sucked at it anyway (my eyesight keeps me from having perfect aim). I’m fine with people having them for collecting, sport, what have you. [I do have an issue with the self-defense reason, but that's just my irrelevant opinion.] Seeing the pictures of these goofballs fully armored to buy Oreos or get their medication at CVS–and these pictures seem to be most if not all white males, no?–I can’t help but think the same thing as you: “What are you afraid of?” It’s an honest question, really. What are these people afraid of, truly? I really would like to know.

  12. I was making this distinction in my head, while framing some arguments, just yesterday. I grew up with friends who owned guns, but I never had anything more interesting than a pellet gun myself. I used to refer to them as “gun nuts” and sort of included myself in the group – I was just too cheap to invest in my own weapons.

    I’ve since split the group into two piles – the “firearms enthusiast” who collects them, shoots them properly for sport or recreation, and can tell you all about the various ballistics statistics; and the “gun nuts” who fall firmly into your constantly terrified group. They can definitely look like they’re the same group from the outside, but it doesn’t take much time talking with them to start to sort them out.

  13. The preponderance of open carriers in a location must have a diminishing effect on vigilance. I mean, you could be enjoying some pizza for lunch or refilling your coke in the moment two seemingly ordinary open carry gun owners become bad guys with guns…

  14. I’m glad to see this has moved off twitter, which imo is no place to discuss something this complicated.

    I see a lot of conflict comes up where people are misreading each other – one side sees “people with firearms” and thinks “largely made up of people with unhealthy sexual fetishes who would enjoy hurting people”. This negative attitude comes up in conversation and does not go well. Another side sees “people who have reservations about firearms” and thinks “largely made up of hysterical drama queens with zero practical information about the subject”. Again, this comes through in interactions and does not go well.

    It does not help that both opposing sides contain these minorities, whilst both are also trying to claim that they don’t, either, and besides your momma is ugly.

    It might be most helpful if people would not make blanket statements about what they think groups of people might be thinking, but instead talk about specific actions or statements made by specific people.

    Regarding firearms as self-defense – I note that the professional in question points to practical matters like locking the door and getting an alarm system. In terms of the original ‘defense against rape’ debate, I read this as ‘don’t get drunk in uncertain situations and don’t wear clothes that suggest you’d like to be peeled out of them’. Which is sound advice, imo (just like the warning to lock your doors) yet is not treated as such by many who responded so negitively to Miss Nevada.

  15. “When I see a picture of some dude hoisting some big damn gun about, often with appallingly poor trigger discipline, the first thing that comes to my mind is not look out, we have a badass on our hands, but, rather, here’s a dude who’s afraid of every fucking thing in the world. ”

    I don’t worry so much about trigger discipline as I do muzzle discipline. Triggers are one thing but the tube the bullet comes out of is the thing you watch because accidents can happen even with the best trigger discipline. Control the tube and you control the safety. Plus, you left out the third and fourth options.

    As a redneck hippie liberal chick, I’m thinking one of two things that you didn’t mention, and probably both at the same time if said idiot is a dude–“Dude, what a freaking incompetent idiot. You’re going to hurt someone,” and “A little short in the manhood department, eh?”

    Harsh, but if someone’s going to act like a fool, then they deserve to be viewed as a fool, albeit a dangerous fool. As someone who was raised rural by a father who went through WWII and brothers who went through the Vietnam-era military, I see guns as tools for specific uses. They aren’t magic wands that convey power. A person who fetishizes guns is a very, very small, weak person, in my opinion. Most of the gun geeks I know don’t wave open carry around in people’s faces, and that’s a good thing. Heck, I like a good round of plinking and playing around with different types of weaponry in a safe, controlled setting…which isn’t usually around the gun fetish sort. I wouldn’t trust my own safety around a fetishist in the hunting field, because most of them have crappy muzzle discipline.

    And as for option four, well, as a female, do I need to say anything more? What you see as fear I see as overcompensation. BTDT, nothing further needs to be said. Just imagine some of the latest SFWA kerfluffles…with gunz.

  16. I don’t understand why law enforcement and the military don’t take a firmer stand in the side of some rational gun control. In the case of the police, they are the most vulnerable to these armed people. Most citizens would value their professional opinion in this debate.

  17. I’ve never owned a gun and never fired anything other than a BB gun at a summer camp. I’ll second the others who have said it comes down to responsibility. A gun is made to kill. If you want to own a killing machine, you need to accept that I and many others want to be sure you know how to use it safely and responsibly.

  18. I feel like there’s only two real legitimate reasons for owning a gun: as sporting equipment, or because it’s for work. I mean, I prefer tennis racquets but whatever floats your boat.

    I think, if you think you need a weapon for self-defense in a civilised society, you should either adjust your location or your attitude. I also think that our understanding of democracy and political change has moved on since the second amendment was written – and honestly if people aren’t forming armed militia to resist the US government after all we’ve learned about who they are and how they operate, they’re basically never going to.

  19. I grew up in the US (including some very rural areas), but now live in the Netherlands. This means (a) I have roots in American gun culture, (b) I’ve chosen to live in a place without a gun culture, and (c) I spend a heck of a lot of time explaining ours to locals who are bemused, baffled, or badly misinformed.

    The best way I’ve been able to explain us to the Dutch is that we have, for historic and cultural reasons, attached some of our identity and values to the way we treat firearms. I point out that the Dutch have a thing in their culture that has many of the same emotional functions as a common-identity marker: the bicycle. The conversation goes down predictable vehicle-is-not-weapon lines from there; I can lead them to comprehension, but not to agreement.

    I do wish we’d managed to hang these historical and cultural associations on something more productive and constructive, something safer. But we are where we are, I guess. Or you are. I’m over here, where my kids don’t know what a lockdown drill is, and get to cycle everywhere in safety.

  20. Agreed entirely on the fetishization of guns.

    However, I DO have a philosophical problem with gun ownership, at least as it’s allowed and accepted in the country at present. I think all gun ownership should be strictly licensed (“a well-regulated militia,” after all, and please spare me Scalia’s superfluous comma logic) after an extensive period of training — at least as much as we require for auto ownership — along with liability insurance, mental evaluations and annual registration. You want to own a firearm? Fine. Earn the right. Show you can be completely trusted. And if you show you can’t be, lose your guns like you’d lose your privilege to drive a car. Drunk while handling a weapon? Lose it. Accidental discharge? Lose it. And so on.

    Aside from cars, there is no other common object I’m aware of that can kill as quickly or as carelessly as a gun. It’s not just yourself or those right near you who are in danger when you act like a dumbass with a gun. It’s people in the next house over, enjoying their baby’s homecoming, who can suffer for your poor choices (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/new-dad-shot-death-newborn-homecoming-article-1.1834858). Short of smashing your car into someone’s house or cooking meth in an apartment complex, I can’t think of many other popular products that carry that level of risk to other people.

  21. keranih:

    I see this discussion as supplementary to, rather than a continuation of, the discussion on Twitter — which I agree is ill suited for complex subjects.

    Speaking about self-defense generally, I see some of the problem being a belief that teaching self-defense is in itself sufficient. What’s better, in my opinion, is society constructing itself to reduce problems before they reach the point where self-defense is necessary — and then self-defense being the option that gets used because there’s no 100% safe society. So: make society safer (which includes, yes, teaching folks what sexual consent is), which will make the need for self-defense more rare.

    Which seems reasonable to me but apparently seems impossible to others.

    Kayjayoh:

    Rightie. 50 pound recurve.

  22. Jerome O’Neil “..you are responsible for what happens with it.”

    Except that isn’t even necessarily true. This dipshit:

    “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2642096/Woman-26-pushing-newborn-baby-Walmart-shot-arm-56-year-old-mans-pistol-falls-holster-floor-fires.html”

    dropped his gun in a Wal-Mart and shot a woman. BUT, because he had a permit to carry, it was just deemed “an accident” and he was not arrested and no charges were filed.

  23. @sarcasmorator: I’m not aware of any requirements for auto ownership. Pretty sure I could get on craigslist or ebay right now and buy one pretty easily.

  24. I agree with Jon Davis about people not thinking through the scenarios whereby a gun might have to be used. Recently we had a situation here in Vegas where some anti-government folks ambushed and killed two police officers while they were eating then moved to a WalMart for a confrontation with police. A guy with a carry permit decided to intervene when one of the pair shot his weapon into the ceiling. Unfortunately for him he didn’t realize there were two and he was shot before he cleared his weapon.

    People don’t often think about the tactical situation. Despite this I do not agree that carrying a weapon is a bad thing. But you do need to understand the tactical situations in which you might have to deploy your weapon before hand and know what you are going to do, if anything with your weapon.

    I keep my guns locked up during the day precisely so no burglar can break into my house and confront me with my own weapon. And I won’t enter my house if I see a break in has occurred even though I’m armed.

    Similarly if I hear noises at night (when my guns are unlocked) outside my home I will not go outside with my weapon to investigate. It is very difficult to control the tactical situation out there (not to mention I would be silhouetted in the doorframe when I leave). I would call 911, get the family in a single room and have my weapon pointed at the door (but I would never shoot through the door like “Blade Runner” recently did). I would tell 911 that I was armed and where in the house my family was.

    In general you want to avoid a situation (like they teach you in martial arts classes) but be prepared with training both in the physical sense and the mental sense.

  25. Good Quora article. Sadly, I’ve spent enough time in life and on teh intarweb toobs to know that military are people too, and the “gun freaks” will happily point to some other Marine firearms instructor who will equally happily suggest that every upstanding citizen carry the biggest gun they can in order to gun down every thug that looks sideways at them (read: just as racist and terrified as you image).

    Re: Mythbusters: oh, I’m pretty sure Jaime is fetishizing something. It’s just not the guns, per se. it’s the destruction to inanimate objects they cause in such a short amount of time. :) Still and all, though I don’t know him personally, I suspect we can file Jaime in the “gun geek” box.

  26. I’ve had issues with the people in Texas who stroll into a Starbuck’s, Chipotle, or Chili’s with a long gun strapped over their shoulders. It’s their right, the law in Texas says they can do that, but just because you CAN do something, it does not follow that you SHOULD do that thing. In my opinion, they’re only rubbing their rights into the faces of the other people in the establishment. “Nyah, nyah, look what I’ve got, you can’t do anything about it….nyah, nyah.”

    I’ve argued with people who seem to think that if a business is open to the public, then the individual rights of the customer somehow outweigh the rights of the business owner to prohibit certain activities on their premises. So, rather than be the super legalistic stud that these other people seem to be, I asked two attorneys for their opinions. Both said without a doubt that they believe the property owner has the right to say, “No”, and in Ohio, that is backed up by the Ohio Revised Code. When I presented these opinions the the number one arguer, he said that lawyers are paid to follow the orders of the courts, not to make opinions. Hmmmm, so when this clown goes up in front of the judge, I hope he reminds the judge of that very fact, since the judge is most likely a lawyer, too.

    What these people are protesting is the ban on open carry of handguns, while open carry of long guns (rifles, shotguns) is legal in Texas, handguns must be concealed. Do they have a point? Yes, but it’s not one that I’m willing to risk pissing off everyone else in the restaurant just because I don’t like the law. I tend to whine to my representatives when something doesn’t go the way I think it should with regards to the law. In Ohio, open carry is not against the law, but in order to carry concealed, you must pass the required course of instruction, which also includes range time. I’ve gone through the course twice, simply for refresher training, and to catch up on any changes I might have missed. I don’t tell you when I’m carrying, and 99% of the time, people don’t want me to tell them. I don’t open carry, either. I just believe that if I’m going to be armed, then I need to be in compliance with the law (for liability issues, etc), and that I need to ensure that my firearm is safely secured where it is not visible and not easily accessible by any other person. I don’t go around with my firearm strapped to my hip as if I’m a big gunslinger. I’d rather you didn’t even know I was carrying.

    The Ohio CCW course stresses heavily on the use of deadly force, when you can, when you cannot, and especially what situations specifically forbid the use of deadly force. I hope that I never, ever, have to use a firearm in the defense of myself or anyone else, because the thought of taking another person’s life, however justified, is abhorrent. But when it comes to a choice between the criminal’s civil rights and the civil rights of myself and those around me, then I hope I have the courage to act properly.

    I like to shoot, but all of my targets are either paper, or clay (trapshooting). I’m a Life Member of the NRA, as well as a Life Member of my local shooting club. I don’t hunt, either, but that’s because I choose not to hunt, not because I’m against it. I volunteer as a coach at various events for new shooters, since I’m also a certified Range Safety Officer. I want it to be fun, but above all, it has to be safe for everyone.

    As a side note, there’s been speculation that some of these “open carry” advocates in Texas are plants for the other side. Nothing substantiated…….just speculation

  27. I’m not afraid! I have a big damn gun! Yes, well. Whatever makes you feel not afraid, chuckles.

    Perhaps they should read Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky.

  28. My father was a Sheriff’s deputy when I was a kid. My first time shooting was with his service .357 at five years old. Grew up with them and gave them the respect they deserved. Was offered a place on my university’s summer biathalon team (I declined). Carried one around in the Navy for four years and never fired a shot outside a training range. Owned one for a few years after I got out. About five years ago, I sold it because I realized I really didn’t need it anymore. I’m all for responsible gun ownership. And at the same time, I wonder why so many people think they /need/ guns. Yes, fear is a big part of the equation. A primary motivator for fear is change and heaven knows there’s been plenty of that going on lately.

  29. I’m especially confounded by the mentality of open carry “activists.” They genuinely don’t seem to understand how jarring it is to see a complete stranger in a restaurant or a store with a gun, and the fear they generate by their very presence.

  30. Fuzznose:

    I went in and put spaces between your paragraphs. Did nothing to the text itself. Should make your post a little easier to read.

    Diane:

    I suspect a few of them know, and get a kick out of it.

  31. …and may I ask that if you don’t like the NRA, folks, that’s your prerogative, but when you lump every member of the NRA into the category of “loony”, then you do a grave disservice to us responsible members. If you only know about the NRA through what you read in the New York Times, without ever investigating the various safety programs that the NRA advocates, especially for youth programs, womens’ programs, and new shooters, then again, you’re just parroting what someone else told you about their viewpoint of the NRA. Not grounds for a reasoned discussion.

  32. “imilarly if I hear noises at night (when my guns are unlocked) outside my home I will not go outside with my weapon to investigate. It is very difficult to control the tactical situation out there (not to mention I would be silhouetted in the doorframe when I leave). I would call 911, get the family in a single room and have my weapon pointed at the door (but I would never shoot through the door like “Blade Runner” recently did). I would tell 911 that I was armed and where in the house my family was.”

    So if you hear a noise outside your house your first instinct is to gather your family in a room and point a gun at the door? Dude…. where do you live? Iraq?

  33. I had two firearms a while back (shotgun and pistol) supposedly for home defense. I sold both of them shortly before my first son was born because I realized that A) I didn’t want him getting into them for any reason and B) I hadn’t used either one of them for years. They just sat there collecting dust. That was 26 years ago. I have many friends that own them and I enjoy going to the range with them because it is fun, I just don’t see the need to own one now.

  34. Regarding the “people should take more care to be safe with guns” theme…well, yes, most of us are tired of seeing jackasses on youtube. However, firearms aren’t the only product that is misused and causes death in American society. (It’s not even the most common cause of accidental death for any age group.)

    I am strongly against any sort of mandatory licensing for firearms, and I think the comparision to licensing cars is silly. However, the idea keeps coming up again and again.

    How about this as a compromise?

    Given the success that many have touted for reducing drunk driving deaths through education – particularly through culture changing education of youths during drivers ed, I propose that “shooter’s ed” be a mandatory part of high school. Students would have to demonstrate an ability to id muzzle, magazine, trigger, & safety (on all common weapon types – revolver, semi auto pistol, rifle and shotgun); maintain muzzle discipline, cock and decock a weapon, and completely clear a weapon. They would also have to demonstrate understanding of backstop, maximum range, sight alignment, and trigger pull. They could also be lectured at length about prision sentences for crimes committed while carrying, the horrors of dealing with accidents, and so forth. At the same time, material on the tendency for totalitarian states to use de-arming regulation to make it simplier to commit crimes against humanity could be presented.

    In states and municipalities which do not opperate under a ‘shall issue’ I could see this sort of class being a check off for signing CCW permits. (My personal pref is for “shall issue” states, but that is another matter.)

    Of course, my best pref would be to make this a part of a mandatory education package for minor citizens, as a way to prep them for being an adult – along with mandatory classes on managing gasoline, lighter fluid, bleach and ammonia, changing the oil in a car, running an iron and a sewing machine, basic food safety, enough math to balance a check book and forcast student loans vs future income, CPR for drowning victims, managing small fires, etc.

    IMO, all this should be handled by parents, and we shouldn’t have to turn to the state to get this done. But just as we don’t live in a world – and won’t for a long time – where self defense is needed “rarely”, we don’t live in that perfect world where all citizens are taught how to be self-supporting useful contributions to a community.

  35. I have fired a number of guns in my life and yes, there were times it was a lot of fun. I was thankfully always in the company of someone who knew a lot about firearms – one was a police firearms instructor, As a woman, never been fond of them. One brother used to push me constantly to get a gun and then one of his friends said something that put it all into focus for me.

    He asked if I could kill a person. No qualifier, no “in self defense” or “if it was their life or yours” just, could I right in that moment say without hesitation that I could kill someone. And I couldn’t answer. I mean, yeah, it is one thing in the abstract to say “sure, if it’s me or them, it is going to by god be them” but the truth is I don’t know. I don’t know if I could pull a trigger on someone.

    Hey, I have no problem with the notion of beating the snot out of someone with my collapsible baton because having been physically threatened, I know just the sort of rage that I could put behind that (and have seen inklings of it in at least two situations). But shoot someone? I just don’t know.

    That, I was told, could put me in more danger. He said if you pull a gun on someone you had better be able to do so with the intent to use it. Not to shoot the attacker in the leg or the arm or whatever, but to use it with deadly force. Otherwise that gun became more dangerous to me than it was to the attacker. So I never got a gun. And I had a lot more respect for guns as a result.

    I don’t have a problem with gun owners and I think that being a true collector – the kind that geeks out and loves every single aspect of guns – isn’t a bad thing. I do think, however, that you are right about the wielding of great big guns as a sign of insecurity.

    We live in anxious times and being that anxious and armed – with anything – makes you a dangerous person. I tend to shy away from comments about masculinity in these situations because fear is fear is fear. Our culture has decided that fear is feminine and therefore being male and afraid? Bad stuff. We reinforce it when we make comments about penis size or impotency or turn it into a really bad Viagra joke.

  36. MPAVictoria. Indeed. I know that when I hear noises outside my home at night my thoughts are not “gather the family and panic”, it is “damn cats trying to get into the trash again”, or possibly “drunken idiots coming home after the bars have closed”, depending on the type of noise.

  37. ” But just as we don’t live in a world – and won’t for a long time – where self defense is needed “rarely””

    I have never in my life needed to use force in my defence or the defence of others.

  38. Thanks, John, for your comments and for the link to Jon Davis’ remarks. I completely agree. I grew up with guns and was a competition shooter and hunter in my teens.

    I’m a former Vietnam War combat infantry officer and also a former weapons and tactics instructor in the Army, teaching everything from pistols and rifles to 50 caliber machine guns, mortars and hand grenades.

    Although I no longer own firearms, I’ve owned many over the past fifty years. I’ve never seen much value in firearms for personal or home protection and believe that the risks outweigh the benefits except for professionally trained military and law enforcement personnel.

    It isn’t just a question of becoming technically proficient in their use. Many gun owners and hunters are proficient in their use. However, much more importantly, it’s the training as to when and how to use them and developing, through rigorous training, the necessary judgment as to when use of deadly force is justified and necessary.

    Very few private gun owners have the training or the mindset to even consider using a firearm for personal protection. You’re much better off avoiding situations that can put you into this sort of danger and you can almost certainly avoid such situations by using good judgment.

  39. I used to respect the NRA, and I’m pretty sure that the gun safety course I took when I was young was sponsored by them. But there’s a reason I dislike them now — they’ve become far too focused on being a PR and lobbying firm for gun makers and far too willing to encourage the political weaponization of stupidity.

  40. @Kilroy True, but if you want to use the automobile*, there are plenty of requirements. Or (I imagine) if you wanted to purchase an automobile from anyone other than an individual. I’m not a lawyer, but I also seem to recall that if the previous owner doesn’t transfer ownership to you, they and/or their insurance company are also liable for any accidents you get into. (Which gives them a strong incentive to make sure the law knows that it is now your car.)

    Realistically, if folks wanted to keep unloaded firearms for display in their homes, I really don’t care if they are not my housemates. Similarly, if you collect cars — well, that’s an expensive hobby, but whatever makes you happy. But when you try to use those, I want laws showing that you aren’t going to be reckless with things that can kill people.

    * Besides possibly on your own land, and not harming anyone or breaking others’ things.

  41. Diane, as John said, some of them are very aware, and trying to inspire fear. It’s part of a bully mentality.

    A few other think that, by promoting open carry, it will become ubiquitous and not inspire fear. Or at least, get to a point of resignation. I suspect these people genuinely envision their “polit society” scenario. But I think they misunderstand it. Me, I see three possible outcomes, in decreasing likelihood:

    1) we get a “polite” society, but it’s a politeness based not on mutual respect, but on quiet fear. (Sadly, I suspect too many of these folks really don’t understand the difference. Or perhaps don’t care.) We also see a statistically significant uptick in shooting deaths.

    2) the guns do become ubiquitous, and because most people are not at all prepared to take another’s life, they stay in everyone’s holsters. We end up right where we are now, in terms of politeness and civility, with the add puffery of “You’re not worth shooting”, and that same uptick in shooting deaths.

    3) we descend into lawlessness of a kind that would make late-19th-century dime novelists green with envy.

  42. Looks like you’ve decided you want to spend the day moderating comments, eh, John? :)

    More seriously, this open carry business makes me thank the stars I live in NY state–possession of assault weapons and large magazines is illegal, handgun permits rare, all weapons must be reported stolen within 24 hours or you face misdemeanor charges…none of this means you’re safe from crime, but you just don’t have people carrying threatening weapons in public.

  43. @Becca Stareyes: I just happen to a lawyer that practices in that area, but limited to only two States. And the only time (in the States that I practice) where an owner becomes responsible is for negligent entrustment or parental responsibility.

  44. I live in a country with exceedingly stringent gun control codes, and thus very rarely see guns at all; when I am abroad I do notice them since they are so strange to me.

    My experience of the US is limited to NYC, Chicago and San Diego; I have made a mental note to never visit states with open carry laws because I have no desire to be someplace where the legislature thinks it’s vitally important that very scared people should be able to shoot people they are scared of at all times and all places…

  45. Jim Scarborough: a the risk of drifting off topic [JS, I'm honestly not sure here.] individuals should work on avoidance. As a society, much as in the sexual assault issue, we need to work on prevention. In my lay estimation, in a society like this, violence mostly comes from two sources: the mentally/emotionally unstable, and the desperate. For the first group, we need continue to develop better tools to identify those individuals, and to provide them resources to manage themselves, or if need be, to manage them on their own behalf. For the second, and again in my lay estimation, desperation of that degree stems largely from poverty. Again, we need to continue to work toward the elimination of poverty, through a combination of capitalist opportunity and (and I’m gonna use a dirty word here) socialist intervention.

  46. Stevie, a lot of states have open carry laws and the residents don’t all walk around carrying guns. I have lived in an open carry state for almost my entire life and not only was I initially not even aware it allowed open carry, I have never seen anyone who wasn’t law enforcement out and about carrying a gun. I think most people who own guns do not open carry. I would encourage you to feel free to explore all of the United States, and not avoid states with open carry.

  47. Stevie: You may be surprised to learn that only 6 states (+ the District of Columbia) prohibit Open Carry. That will severly limit you ability to visit most of our country.

  48. @keranih – “I propose that “shooter’s ed” be a mandatory part of high school”

    Not a bad idea and one (as a liberal, Lefty, gun-owner) I’ve espoused. I think a lot of the problems with guns in this country, like what John says above with turning them into fetishes, comes from what you mention, our culture. In many other countries where guns are more common (Switzerland, Finland) they have fewer gun fatalities and fewer accidental gun deaths. Some people like to say “Well, that’s because they’re all armed!” and I think it’s not that. I think it’s the culture. Here, because of the 2nd Amendment giving everyone the “right” to own whatever gun they feel they need, guns are treated as an entitlement where in places like Switzerland, because the gun is part of a citizen’s place in the national army, they are treated as a civic responsibility.

    I mean, changing the culture is just the best benefit; everyone, IMO, should know the basics of firearm safety and trigger discipline.

  49. Okay, I admit that this is a bit childish, but I present the idea as a former gun owner: A group of faux Open Carry activists armed with dildos, all properly holstered and slung. Extra points for having “permits”, to be shown on demand.

  50. @DocRocketscience: People with mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetrators. I’m all for increasing available resources for and awareness of mental illness, but linking it with gun violence is a mistake.

    It’s kinda like blaming seasonal allergies for a gun death because the person killed someone when they sneezed and the weapon they were threatening someone with went off. By all means, everyone should have access to allergy meds, but that’s not the real issue.

  51. Hm. Not sure, but I think I like the idea of universal gun instruction. Even if you hate guns, it’s still useful to have solid information on them.

    I think I don’t have problems with responsible gun owners. I DO have problems with gun owners who THINK they’re responsible, but don’t act responsibly.

    One of the traits that bug me is that thinking guns are a superlative self defense tool. They’re actually not. They’re LIMITED self defense devices because their main use is offensive (and they are GREAT at offense). They are not a shield against attacks, and they do not defend against attacks you are not consciously aware of. Too many gun nuts over-estimate the defensive capabilities of guns, without ever realizing that their defensive utility comes from their OFFENSIVE capabilities.

  52. Wow. First, huge thank you to you, Mr. Scalzi for both this post and link, and the subsequent discussion on guns. It’s the best discussion on the matter I’ve read/seen… well, probably ever, in a public forum.

    I am a gun owner (I was raised around them, and my father has had a concealed carry permit since before I was born, as his job takes him to sometimes bad locations wherein there are bad locations where someone is already dead – read crime scene- at the darkest hours of night) but I was raised understanding that the only purpose a gun has is to kill, and since my father worked with dead people, I was also raised understanding that dead is permanent and you can’t take bullets back.

    I agree with absolutely everything this former Marine said. I can also vouch for the fact that I know at least two other former Marines who will absolutely agree with everything he said, as well.

    I respect the right to own a gun. But it’s not an accessory, it’s a tool. A deadly one. I live in the country and I’ve used guns to kill snakes (only poisonous ones who pose an immediate threat) and to put down animals struck by cars and left maimed (it still shocks me how often this happens) but I can’t imagine shooting a healthy human being with my gun. I can’t imagine it because I’ve never been in a position in which I felt that in order for me (or someone I love) to survive, I had to kill someone. Which is awesome. I honestly pray that I’m NEVER able to imagine shooting someone.

    Firing a gun takes milliseconds but everything that comes AFTER firing that gun lasts an entire lifetime. And I really wish people understood that BEFORE they pulled the trigger.

    Also, I have total and utter love for the ‘Gun Geeks’ and ‘Gun Freaks’ terminology. The former I respect, the latter I fear.

    And in case anyone clicks on my name and follows links that end up leading to a picture wherein I’m pushing my niece in a swing with a revolver strapped to my hip, I’m not ‘displaying myself or my gun’. It’s a photo my twin sister snapped (not even realizing the gun was visible in it) That is a .38 loaded with snake shot which I always carry when outside in the summer because copperheads have become a real problem in our area and the trouble with poisonous snakes is that they show up when you least expect it and don’t like to ‘wait right there’ while you go fetch something that will let you kill them without getting close enough to be bitten. I don’t enjoy killing ANYTHING. But I’ve got a 4 year old niece that I love. Yes, my niece already TRULY understands how dangerous guns are, and how permanent death is (because she’s already been exposed to it, unfortunately).

  53. I’m a gun owner, as is or was nearly everybody in my family. Here in Illinois, we recently allowed concealed carry with a permit. I’ll probably get one, although having not carried a gun for my entire adult life to date I probably won’t start doing so now.

    I do think a lot of the gun debate is driven by extremists. Per the NRA, about 8 million people in the US have an active carry permit. That sounds like a lot, but with over 300 million Americans, that’s only 2.5% of the population.

    So, almost by definition, the gun advocates are a fringe minority.

  54. @Doc Rocketscience: Violence much more often comes from the presence of opportunity, or the lack of awareness of consequence. mental health and desperation can and do come into things, but violent behavior is much more a situational result, rather than in inherent inclination. I get very concerned about those who fetishize guns because they frequently also seem to drift into that lack of awareness arena (buying candy colored guns for their toddlers, bringing high capacity long guns into public spaces). Every gun owner thinks they’re a responsible gun owner, right up to the moment they forget the tool in their hands is a deadly weapon. Some still consider themselves responsible after they’ve fucked up. It’s the mentality that led a well educated man and licensed dealer and instructor here in MA to let an under 10YO kid handle an uzi at a gun show, with exactly the results you’d expect.

  55. only ever fired a gun once. It was awkward and uncomfortable.
    Its fine to own guns and use them responsibly but the NRA doesn’t want that. They simply want more laws allowing more guns to be bought so they can make money. Even if innocents die as a result.

  56. At the risk of stirring the pot, I DO so enjoy the phrase Jim Wright coined, calling the gun fetishists members of “The National Man/Gun Love Association.”

  57. Bearpaw, I see your point, and it’s a good one, but isn’t the description “more likely to be the victim of violence than the perpetrator” true of everyone.

    Also, that allergy analogy isn’t really working for me. Sorry.

  58. Every gun owner thinks they’re a responsible gun owner, right up to the moment they forget the tool in their hands is a deadly weapon.

    Yeah, that’s an important point. If you think you’re acting responsibly, check again—you may have forgotten something. Being cautious and careful is not a fault when dealing with guns.

  59. “in the moment two seemingly ordinary open carry gun owners become bad guys with guns…”

    Have you noticed that all those pictures that we are seeing from “Open Carry” are white people with guns? Can you imagine what would have happened it two black, armed gunmen had walked into the same stores? I can only imagine the other gun toting patrons, standing their ground and killing the armed terrorists.

    This hasn’t happened yet, but you can easily imagine it happening rather soon.

  60. Having been brought up (by my hunter/ex-military/firearms enthusiast dad) that you never pick up a gun unless you’re going to fire it, and never fire it except in order to kill something (unless you’re on a firing range), when I see someone who’s not an on-duty law enforcement officer open-carrying, I can only conclude that either (a) he’s planning to kill someone or (b) he’s reckless about guns.

    Neither one makes me feel safer.

  61. There are people who know me who probably think I want all guns confiscated, just like they seem to think that Obama is coming for their guns, but, no. I’m actually ok with gun ownership, but, since the thing that a gun is made for is to kill things(people, animals, targets…) we should be treating them like the dangerous tools that they are.

    Whenever I am around a power saw, I am AWARE of the damage that it can do. Whenever I am around a gun, I am AWARE of the damage that IT can do, as well. Lots of gun owners seem to want people like me to just relax already….but…

    My car is dangerous. It is registered, insured, and I have a license to drive it(a license that I have to renew in person with a vision test and new picture next week). Licenses have an age restriction and can be revoked.

    Most people introduce newbie woodworkers, metal workers or glass blowers very carefully to the dangerous tools involved in making things. You don’t see 5 year olds being presented with their very own power saw(I have never seen it…who would ever? ).

    But, people give VERY YOUNG KIDS guns. Things designed to kill. They post pictures of their little kids with their very own guns and I just can’t even…

    Once upon a time, my husband took me to a gun range to try to convince me that I might like to take shooting up as a hobby. We shot. I didn’t do badly. He was convinced that he had made his point, and that I would agree to go shooting with him more, because to him, people like doing what they are good at(my fist time handling a gun. He thought I was good.).

    Me? I could not wait to get off the gun range. What I had noticed that he had apparently tuned out, was the family next to us, with two kids under twelve, who were pointing their guns in other directions besides down range. I felt unsafe. I wasn’t interested in continuing to feel like I was in danger of being accidentally shot.

    I, personally, couldn’t use a gun effectively to defend myself, because I have trouble with the idea of killing another person. Therefore, I would be in more danger from my own gun being used against me, than my opponent would be from me. I do wish that more of the people who defend gun rights so emphatically would at least consider licensing and safety training as a prerequisite.

  62. Good link; I’ll have to save it. Or share it to facebook if I am in the mood to read a lot of sputtering from my 2Am friends. I’m a gun owner who entirely shares this fellow’s concerns and attitudes.

    I have a concealed carry permit but can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left the house with a pistol in my pocket; in most any problem situation I think it’s 80% likely to be irrelevant (things happen too fast/without my being able to do anything to get my hands on the gun) and 19.99% likely to just make things worse (used against me, bystander gets hurt, etc). That tiny possibility of positive result – and with widely different possible definitions of “positive” – isn’t worth all the downsides.

    I still think there’s some small potential value to having it in the home and that I can mitigate most of the downsides. I might feel differently when my son gets older and I would probably view the risks as higher if we weren’t in a single family detached home (and thereby reducing the odds a round will hit someone outside one of my walls). But if I didn’t also enjoy target shooting I’d probably not consider them worth having around. From a purely defensive standpoint the money would be better spent on locks and a bat.

    The open carry people are just disturbed. I think there’s truth to the bully assessment, but there’s also a sense of demonstrating and reinforcing their perceived superiority. They have a lot in common with people who wear their religious faith on their sleeve and want you to know they’re Right and you’re Wrong. The fact that someone feels (reasonably, in my opinion) threatened by them is just proof to them that said person is a Them. It’s delightfully cyclical for them.

  63. Jerome O’Neil “..you are responsible for what happens with it.”

    Except that isn’t even necessarily true.

    Oh, to be sure. I’m not stating that’s how things are, I’m stating that is how I think they should be. In my perfect world, gun ownership would be a “positive control” model. That is, it is either on your person, or positively secured in a locked safe. Not under your bed. Not in the glove box of the car. Not in the closet.

  64. As a parent I sent my young teens (girl and boy) to a gun safety course. I knew they would be in homes were there were guns and I wanted them to know when a gun was being handled safely and when they should get out of there. If they wanted to fire a gun, I wanted them to know how to do that safely. Seems like basic education in our society.

  65. @Kilroy: When it comes to auto ownership, you’re right, there are no restrictions. What I should have said (and what I intended) was operation, for which there are several restrictions when it comes to automobiles. You need a license and to demonstrate you know how to drive safely by passing a test; in many states you need insurance. But because a gun’s only purpose in operation is to shoot something, restrictions on ownership, as opposed to operation, are the appropriate analog.

  66. So what does anyone think about the idea of greater consequences to existing gun laws, rather than simply adding MORE gun laws?

    I know laws vary by state, and I’m certainly not saying that we don’t need any new laws (I think we could definitely benefit from an overhaul on many gun laws/restrictions regarding ownership) and I’m not trying to start an argument, just gain opinions.

    I read about various crimes and many times (not always) articles will list out prior criminal acts and there can be multiple gun violations (everything from possessing an unlicensed weapon to more violent offenses) and cumulatively these violations result in a simple fine, or suspended jail time, or dismissed charges. It seems to me as if perhaps whatever laws are in place (or future laws) need to be correctly and seriously enforced. Am I alone in this thought? Opinions?

  67. @ sarcasmorato – still not following why ownership of firearms should be licensed. Isn’t the only purpose of vehicles to travel down a road?

  68. I spent 27 years in the Marines Corps and have a lot of experience with weapons. I gave a presentation to some family law lawyers in my state when the issue came up of being armed to protect themselves from violent clients/other parties. I made many of these same points but his last one is the one i returned to – how do you know you will be able to use the weapon on a human even assuming it is the right weapon, you have been properly trained, you have practiced regularly, and you truly have no reasonable choice? In my city some years ago a young man went through the mall shooting people and at people and a merchant had a pistol and a concealed carry license and confronted the shooter and just stood there unable to fire until he himself was shot and permanently and seriously disabled.

    Many years ago my wife awakened me at 0300 saying she thought there was someone in our garage. I stumbled out of bed and crept to the door to the garage and peeked through and saw that someone was in my VW bus. There was a beat and then I saw that the arm was very small and that it was my 6 year old daughter searching for her favorite doll at 3 in the morning. I asked myself “If I had had one of my weapons ready to hand would I have ended up confronting my 6 year old daughter with it when i went to see what was going on in the garage?:” I didn’t like the answer and so my guns have always and will remain locked.

  69. From a practical stand point, I don’t see much benefit to restricting gun ownership at this point. I think the cat is a little to far out of the bag. I prefer the idea of tracking and taxing bullets. Require IDs on all bullets and track ownership, make bullets expensive enough (other than training bullets, which need to be discounted) that firing one is an expensive process.

  70. I refuse to keep a gun in my home because there is a non-zero chance of me using it against myself in a fit of suicidal ideation. This is why the “MOAR GUNZ R BETTR” school of thought really irritates me. In theory, I could buy a gun for my ‘protection’ but it would leave me LESS safe than being without one.

  71. Jim, thank you for holding up the shitty end of the stick in Vietnam, as a combat veteran from Iraq and Afghanistan I am generally in awe of your generation. You fought a harder war and got shit on for it. Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t picnics, but at least it was all hugs and kisses for us when we got back (for the most part).

    That being said, and I know it’s not your intention to do so, I think limiting firearm ownership to only military and/or police creates a dangerous possibility for the stratification of an armed elite versus as an unarmed mass. No, I don’t think it would be a problem initially, perhaps not even in our lifetime, but I’m a history major; I think in generations rather than election cycles. Disarming the masses sets a dangerous precedent for our posterity.

    I think shooter’s ed is a brilliant idea and fulfills the “well regulated militia” portion of the 2nd Amendment. Those with ideological objections do not have to participate and are, accordingly, barred from owning a firearm unless they go back and finish the training. Do not register ownership of firearms, but do require the card or whatever the class generates to be presented at any purchase.

    I think this is the most rational conversation about gun control I’ve seen, maybe ever. Yay for all of you on all sides of the issue.

  72. Most people of color in the US have already had a long talk from their parents and friends about how to avoid such crimes as DWB (Driving While Black, the penalty for which can range from inconvenience to capital.) Most know that if they were to open carry in public, no matter what the local laws, at best they would be introduced to local law enforcement very quickly, and at worst they’d be spending the evening in the morgue. So the chances of seeing a guy with skin darker than Pantone 23-6 C carrying openly are virtually nil.

    The vocal majority of people who are most strongly clinging to their guns these days, from what I’ve seen (and this is not data so much as anecdata) are utterly convinced that the government is tyrranical and wants to take their guns away preparatory to sending the US-SS marching down the streets and dragging off anyone remotely conservative and throwing them into prison camps. No, I am not kidding — there is a very strong belief that at least some of these school shootings are ‘false flag’ operations, the entire goal of which is the ultimate disarmament of the American people so that they can be well and truly oppressed. C.f. not-Joe the not-Plumber’s deeply sympathetic and empathetic commisseration with the parents of the children shot in Newton, when he said that their dead daughters don’t trump his right to his guns. It’s not about responsible gun ownership for these people, it’s not about needing a gun in a rural area. It’s about having a gun to take down a tyrranical US government.

  73. One cannot have a rational discussion of self defense in the United States without taking in to account the National Crime Victimization Survey data collected by the FBI. There are issues with generalizing it too much, but most of the bias that can be identified in it will tend to reduce the effectiveness of guns for self defense, not increase it.

    And the analysis says that if you are the victim of a felony assault, or a felony robbery (or attempt at either), the best odds of not being injured, or having the robbery completed, is to have a firearm of your own. This is true even if the attacker has a firearm, and even if the attacker shoots first. Not only is that the best odds, it is better by a ratio of two to one. In other words, if you choose the second best option, which is passive cooperation, you are twice as likely to be injured or robbed.

    Not the final word, but given the source – the FBI – it can’t be ignored.

    A weapons instructor is certainly a credible source for anecdotes, but the plural of anecdotes is not data.

    (I haven’t read the link, because it goes to a page that wants my permission to spam the hell out of my email address until the heat death of the universe, and I’m too lazy to create a throw-away one for it.)

  74. Lots of people who seem to think they’re “responsible gun owners” aren’t. Here’s a link to a picture of a big water jug a third filled with ammunition from “unloaded” guns brought into a single gun show: http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/photos/20140110-photos-inside-a-dallas-gun-show-with-powerful-rifles-antique-pistols-and-more.ece?ssimg=1379357#ssTop1379378

    Interesting that a gun show would require patrons to remove the bullets from their guns. Do you suppose it was for safety reasons? What possible harm could there be in allowing dozens of people to wander around with loaded weapons? Don’t they believe in the Second Amendment? Oh, wait. They’re a gun show. Maybe, just maybe, they know something about guns and some of the people who buy and carry them.

  75. @keranih I believe @sarcasmorato is merely saying that in order to drive a car (legally) which can kill people if misused, you need a license. If you wish to fly a plane (even a private one) which can kill people if mishandled, you need a license. If you wish to deal with/transport/use explosives or dangerous chemicals, which can kill people, you need a license. If you wish to SELL guns, which can kill people, you need a license. So if you wish to own/handle/use a firearm, which can kill people, it stands to reason that one would expect that you needed a license. It makes sense.

    I own a gun, and I, personally, would have nothing against being required to go through a licensing procedure in regard to my weapon. Now, a lot of people won’t agree, and that’s fine. But anyone who tries to say they don’t want licensing for firearms to be required because it will allow the government to somehow track them, or anything equally wild, is off base. If you own a house, a credit card, have a drivers license or anything like that, there are already ways for you to ‘be tracked’. Being licensed for a gun won’t change anything.

  76. @ artemisgrey – My understanding is that the areas with the highest firearms violations (and deaths, and injuries) are also the places with high African American populations. Increasing sentences on violators in these areas will contribute to putting more young men of those populations behind bars. This is not acceptable to the neighborhood community and so not acceptable to local politicians. I am sure that there are other influences at work as well.

    So, yes, I agree with you, but there are second and third order effects. (See NYC’s stop and frisk policy, which saved lives, but at a politically and socially unacceptable cost.)

    If there really was an easy answer to this, some other morons would have already fixed it.

  77. Vmink, I think people who advocate for armed revolt agains the US government as it currently stands are being irresponsible. That being said, do you think it is absolutely impossible that a truly oppressive government might ever come to power in the United States? The founding fathers were worried about it enough that the 2nd amendment got in there in the first place, in the long view isn’t it at least worth considering? Like I said, I think armed revolt against the current government is a horrible, stupid idea, but aren’t there at least SOME disturbing trends in terms of surveilance culture and other areas of concern?Extrapolated over years or decades, might not those authoritarian tendencies in our government create a situation where the ability to resist might actually be relevant? I’m not saying it will, but it might.

    And before someone says that a bunch of amateur rednecks couldn’t possibly stand up to the might of the US military, I really wish someone had told Jaysh Al Mahdi and the Taliban that. I’d be carrying a lot less metal in my skeleton.

    Unrelated: I also agree that people who carry shotguns or rifles into a restaraunt are being assholes.

  78. I’m not a writer or anything, so maybe I’m failing to recognize if Jon Davis (the Marine and self-defense instructor who wrote that post linked to by Mr. Scalzi at the top of this blog entry) is using hyperbole to get a point across. To me, it seems that he’s speaking in absolutes “Guns are NEVER a good idea for self-defense”, “Self-defense situations ALWAYS happen in a way that you haven’t prepared for”, “Concealed carry NEVER made anyone safer”, “No normal person has EVER been capable of killing another without preparation”.

    “No swans are black”… therefore if I can show that at least some swans are black, I’ve disproved his thesis. So I offer this:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/dgu

    It’s a sub-reddit devoted to chronicling defensive gun uses. While this is, of course, anecdotal data, it shows 2 things: 1) defensive gun uses happen, 2) defensive gun uses happen regularly. Every day. So obviously, there is a non-insignificant number of people who have figured out how to use guns, didn’t panic when confronted with a threat, didn’t have reservations about shooting someone despite lack of preparation and ended up safer for carrying concealed.

    Caveat 1: I appreciate, Mr. Scalzi, that you take a more nuanced view than the black-and-white picture painted by the man you cite. But you’ve cited him and cited him as a greater authority on the subject than you (due to his training and experience).

    Caveat 2: Take away the black-and-white absolutism of the man’s post and temper the message to something like “You’ll probably never need a gun in your life, but if you’re going to get one, get the training and practice!” and I would agree with the man 100%.

  79. As a lighter but somewhat morbid aside, for those questioning the car/gun analogy, one may want to go on YouTube and search “Russian dashcam”. Great examples of someone using something that, if used correctly and responsibly, gets the job done and hurts no one, but if used stupidly and irresponsibly, can kill.

  80. @Kilroy: I’m not far removed from your thinking regarding the level of gun ownership in the country at this point, but something to keep in mind regarding munitions is there was a push a few years back to add Taggants to bullets, making them traceable back to their purchaser. It was defeated by the gun lobby. Also, there was a push to limit firearms purchases to one per month (increasing the frequency of background checks, hindering straw purchases, hindering stockpiling), but it’s fiercely opposed by the same lobbying efforts. Those efforts also oppose smartgun technology.

    There are many incremental steps which are very helpful and responsible and don’t take anyone’s gun, which get hamstrung, not just by money and lobbying, but by the fear-driven mentality that any action is the first step to forced government disarmament of private citizens. Couple that with self-defining themselves as responsible (sometimes in the face of evidence to the contrary) and a belief “bad guys” are pure evil and easily identifiable, and you end up where we are; a population peppered with gun addicts and their suppliers, who feed their addiction and fight tooth and nail for their right to keep pushing their product.

  81. As a gun owner of over 40 years, a CCW permit holder for the past 17 (carrying daily) and a soon-to-be NRA certified firearms instructor, I must say that I agree with 99.9% of the sentiments in the article. Like any sane, normal human being, I hope that nobody ever tries to kill me and that I’ll never need my firearm for anything but a bit of fun at the range. Given that I only have one life, however, I prepare for even unlikely threats to my life, just as I did when I installed smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for the even more statistically unlikely event that I might be involved in a fire.

    As the Marine says, everybody’s a geek about something, and I don’t mind gun geeks. I can’t say I’m one of them; I’m not a collector. To me, they’re tools and toys; they have a job and they’re fun recreationally.

    I’d say that I don’t even mind the gun fetishists. As long as they’re not hurting or endangering anyone, let ‘em kiss their ARs. I don’t really understand the car fetishists, the golf fetishists or even traditional sexual fetishists, but they don’t bother me and, if they’re happy, then so am I. Different strokes n’ all.

    The think that a whole lot of people are missing, though, is that the situation in Texas that keeps generating the pictures of guys toting huge guns in public places is, in fact, a protest of weird Texas law. Most states either allow by statute or, like my state of Michigan, simply never passed any laws against openly carried firearms. So for those who don’t have a CCW permit (they’re expensive, for one thing), open carry is their only legal option. Most are content to simply wear a pistol in a holster. Few people are bothered by this.

    Yet Texas legislators, in their blindingly FINITE wisdom, decided to make THAT illegal! So rifles are Texan’s only legal option, unless they have the time and money to go through the CCW permitting process. That’s the true fight.

    Our Marine here speaks in unison with many of the pro-gun rights and shooting sports’ leading lights, such as Michael Bane and Team Smith & Wesson champion shooter, Jerry Miculek when it comes to knuckleheads scaring people unnecessarily. “It’s just not friendly,” Jerry says. Michael is more blunt: “It does all gun owners a disservice.” So while their strategy is unsound, most Texans, including those of Texas Open Carry, aren’t crazy, bloodthirsty or afraid. They’re just determined to get the law changed.

  82. Every gun owner thinks they’re a responsible gun owner, right up to the moment they forget the tool in their hands is a deadly weapon.

    I live in the Deep South. Practically everyone I know owns a gun, including all the Democrats. We own a few ourselves and are members of a local gun club, where we go target-shooting several times a year. This club costs a fair bit of money to join, has a limited membership, and requires every member to take a thorough range-safety class and repeat it periodically. Every member is therefore by definition a serious gun enthusiast, and every single one would doubtless identify as a “responsible gun owner”. Yet the Range Safety Officers at the club run into hair-curlingly terrible safety violations on practically a daily basis.

    I also note that one of these club members developed serious mental-health issues a few years back and wound up in a large-scale police standoff at his home. It was sheer good fortune that only a couple officers were minorly wounded in the firefight that took place before the guy committed suicide.

    If the guys who are serious enough to join an exclusive gun club can’t manage basic muzzle /trigger discipline, or occasionally snap and wind up with SWAT outside their homes, I certainly don’t expect better out of every asshole whose “responsible” qualifications consist of the lack of a criminal record and a few hundred bucks spent at Bass Pro Shop. I’ve seen plenty of “responsible gun owners” scare me absolutely to death on numerous occasions, including a situation where I personally very nearly got shot.

    I’m pro-Second-Amendment, but if I don’t personally know you and trust you, I’m going to assume that you are a dangerous idiot until proven otherwise. From the outside, I can’t tell the difference between a Marine weapons instructor and a jerk who walks around with the safety off, or for that matter, the guy who is about to hold up the convenience store. For my and my family’s own safety, I’m not EVER going to be comfortable around armed people in public spaces.

  83. Diane, Coolblue

    Yep: it does mean that I would have to miss places I would very probably find interesting. On the other hand, the world is full of places I find interesting, and I don’t have to worry about the mental processes of people cuddling their assault rifles in coffee shops.

    There is a very big disconnect between the sort of heavily armed security appropriate for Presidents Hollande and Obama having dinner together in Paris a fortnight ago, which I personally witnessed, and the same weapons in the hands of people who are so driven by their fear of everyone around them that they cannot bear to be parted from their weapons.

    Security blankets are all well and good but I draw the line at getting shot by a gun freak; I can certainly understand gun geeks, and a friend of mine who lives in the wilds of Scotland has guns for hunting. He would not, however, take them into town, and he does not regard them as a means of self defence.

    It is perfectly possible for a country to have a high level of gun ownership and yet low levels of gun violence; Switzerland is the obvious example. I visited Basel recently and was struck by the total absence of citizens clutching guns; they do seem tolerant of higher levels of personal risk -swimming in the fast flowing Rhine is an obvious example- which brings us back to John’s point about fear being the driver of the people who fetishise guns.

    I am happy to take risks which depend on my ability to do something, for example paddling in the Rhine without falling in, just as my daughter, who is a strong swimmer, was happy to swim in the Rhine; I am not happy with risks I can’t do anything about. And once you reach the point in a state where the legislature thinks it’s a good idea for people to carry assault rifles around with them then the multitudes of other fascinating places around the world are calling…

  84. The only reason to walk around carrying a gun at a protest is to intimidate the opposition.

  85. @mikes75: I can’t find any fault with your statement. Any change in gun laws takes a lobbying effort probably beyond what rational minds are capable of at the moment. And I actually own several guns and have shot many many thousands of rounds. However, I don’t keep them in the house with my children.

  86. keranih, stop and frisk was woefully ineffective. It had a 3% conviction rate, and that means the crime was already committed. Stop and frisk actually didn’t “save lives” unless you assume that those arrested would have committed murder. Not everyone who was arrested had killed someone, and likewise with the convictions.

    Stop and frisk directly advocated profiling based on skin color and a set of arbitrary standards for “suspicious behavior” akin to Trayvon Martin’s wearing of a hoodie. Being stopped just because you happened to have dark skin or because you happened to dress a certain way is no way for a country to behave and still uphold itself as a land of equal opportunity and freedom.

  87. @Mikes75 – As a personal note, I also oppose current smart gun technology as it’s based on RFID which could, in theory, be blocked by someone unscrupulous. I like it in concept, but I’d like it to be done in a way that it wouldn’t be able to disable a legitimate user from using the weapon.

  88. @Mikes75 I’m right with you! I don’t think the Taggants, the limited firearms per month or the smartgun (as an option, if nothing else) are unreasonable at all. For crying out loud, my local ASPCA has restrictions on how many animals I can adopt in one month! As someone who is not particularly trusting of the government and its ofttimes hidden intentions, I’m still able to look at these logical and reasonable steps in gun control/regulation and think they’re good ideas.

  89. @keranih I don’t agree with you on the ‘they can’t enforce gun laws because it’s mostly African American kids who break them and that’ll look bad politically’ thing. I don’t have statistics, but at least one of the instances I was thinking about involved caucasians who had been raided for drugs, and in that whole procedure the police also came up with a laundry list of gun violations. This was a local thing, happened several years ago. The crux was that all the gun charges were dropped in plea deals or, else wise diminished and the focus was on the drug charges. It’s not about race, it’s about the fact that courts simply don’t seem to consider gun violations as more than ‘infractions’ and thus do not enforce them. If the gun is used in the commission of a felony? Yes, that’s a charge tagged on. Presuming a plea deal isn’t made. But by a large gun laws just aren’t enforced in the same manner as many other laws.

  90. I’ll believe that smart guns are a good idea when police departments start requiring them for all officers. (And remember, being shot with your own gun is a genuine concern for police officers, so there is considerable incentive there.)

  91. @Pete Cibulskis: Or just two Black men whose music is too loud, or two Black men who look suspicious, or wearing clothing the carrriers don’t like, and in some cases just two Black men showing up at all and not paying proper obesiance to them. That’s already happened in some cases. Then there are situations that start off non-violently, only to end up with someone dead because a gun escalates the tension.

    i actually like guns..I don’t have a problem with people owning them. I also think handguns are pretty. I DO NOT own a gun.and I don’t think I should. I don’t want to either. I know what their purpose is for.

    The question,for me, is not: can I shoot someone? I could if I had to. The question is : could I handle taking a human life and the answer is NO! If I killed a person, I would very likely completely lose my s*** afterwards and not be right for the rest of my life. So for me, not owning a gun is a matter of self preservation. I have no intention of ever owning a one.

  92. Interesting topic, one which I experience total confusion over. I mainly understand the rural folks here, wanting guns to stop snakes, packs of domestic dogs gone wild and so on (like, hurting our horses; a neighbors was killed by such) and so on. At our barn, the main lady insists no guns because our horses might eat the meta bulletsl! That being said, most stuff here seems to involve urban handling of guns. I can see gun shooting as a sport like bowling, just not interested; but much of the news out there of crazies with guns weirds me out.

    That being said, enjoyed the discussion so far.

  93. @ artemisgrey – I think that limiting sales to smartguns is extremely unreasonable, and that is how the NJ law is written. The ASPCA has restrictions, but the pet shop down the corner does not. The ASPCA is a private organization putting voluntary restrictions on who it does business with. No government agency is restricting them.

    As for licenses for firearms – as I said, I am all for increasing the availability of training. But given the difficulty of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens to obtain a driving license or some other type of official id, I am very hesitant to put any sort of “gun tax” on private citizens that would restrict their ability to exercise their 2nd amendment rights.

    And as for the ‘stop and frisk’ infringments – the restrictions on liberty and “no way for the land of liberty to act” is precisely the feeling of firearms owners who have harmed no one, but face persecuition and demonization. Perhaps we could focus a little less on what we think about people and more on what actually they do.

  94. Scalzi,

    What you call “guns as fetish objects”, I just call “guns as collector’s items” – as firearms are often quite expensive, many guns are manufactured to scratch the collector’s itch, with high-quality materials and design. Showing them off just fills that sort of “mine is better than yours” role… in fact, many of the people I’ve seen who would post a picture of their newest gun on Facebook or wherever will also do the same if they purchase a new car, or even new power tools.

    In other words, it’s just bling.

    It’s not actually a threat.

  95. B. Lucerne:

    “In other words, it’s just bling. It’s not actually a threat.”

    I’d agree that sometimes it is exactly this thing. Other times, not so much.

  96. I don’t put a whole lot of stock into police use of gear, or police in general as any kind of expert on weaponry. Cops fought double restraint holsters tooth and nail when they first came on the market (it’s gonna slow down my draw!), and now that is pretty much standard issue equipment. They fought body armor for much the same reason.

    The RFID “jamming” problem with smart guns is vastly over stated. Yes, theoretically you could jam it up, but given the way that radio signal works, you’d need to bring along a jammer with enough transmitting power to fill a truck. Smart gun technology is far from perfect, and there are legitimate concerns with it. The jamming thing, isn’t one of them, though.

  97. Urban and rural aren’t that helpful as descriptors. People can die or be attacked in a variety of places. Good suburban neighborhoods can see crime, and the “afraid of everything” types seem especially afraid of this. Everyone wants to believe their neighborhood is full of good people, and that no one could harm others; some people want to justify certain methods in the name of “preserving peace,” like excluding those who “don’t belong.” When you decide that you’re able to determine who doesn’t belong, you end up with things like Stand Your Ground and discriminatory housing laws.

  98. When your (using the generic “you”) bling also happens to be a weapon, then whether you intend it to be threatening or not is beside the point. It is threatening, even if all you intend it to be is bling. You might want to impress people with it but, anywhere outside a meeting for like minded souls, the impression others are getting is not one of harmless bling. Take it to meetings to show it off to friends by all means, but keep it in a (preferably locked) carry case when you do so. Weapons are threatening, that is pretty much their purpose. If you are only treating it as light hearted bling, then perhaps you are not really responsible enough to own one.

    Reminder: all instances and variations of “you” are generic and not aimed at anyone in particular.

  99. I am a non-gun owner. I have no desire to own a weapon or ever have one in my home for many of the same reasons expressed up-thread. That said, I’ve already decided that when my son (three years old at the moment) is a little older, he and I will attend gun safety training and shooting classes together. Not because I want to own a gun, but rather because I live in a rural area with a high ratio of (as John terms) gun-freaks. There is a non-trivial chance that in his youth he will be at the house of a youngster who has become his friend whose parents are MOAR GUNZ BETTER types and likely may not practice any kind of gun safety. I want my son to respect the power of firearms, know just how dangerous they can be and to know that if he encounters guns in a friend’s home which are not being used or stored in a safe manner to get the hell out of there.

  100. @Richard Norton I have to say that in large part, I feel as though the news sensationalizes guns and their use in the commission of crimes. Now, I’m not saying that the news isn’t important or that gun violence shouldn’t be reported. But I REALLY wish there was a way to have a neutral, knowledgeable weapons expert weigh in on gun related news stories. Take the term ‘assault rifle’. During the most recent (read most recently highly publicized) school shooting, the news outlets repeatedly referred to firearm that was used as an ‘assault rifle’. Now, let’s ignore the fact that ANY gun can be used to ‘assault’ someone. That goes without saying.

    As per Wikipedia’s definition (not sure if the link will work) of ‘assault rifle’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_rifle this term refers specifically to ‘standard service rifles in most modern armies. Examples of assault rifles include the StG 44, AK-47,[2] M16 rifle, INSAS rifle, QBZ-95, FAMAS, Heckler & Koch G36, and Enfield SA80′

    The gun used in the most recent (highly publicized) shooting was an AR-15, not an ‘assault rifle’. Does this lessen the fact that two children are dead? No, it most certainly does not. Every shooting where an innocent is killed is a tragedy, and I’m not saying we don’t need something to change.

    However, the media terrorizes the public with pseudo truths and misinformation. People reacted to this recent incident by demanding stronger control, and the banning of assault rifles. In many states it’s ALREADY illegal to possess actual assault rifles, or they’re specially licensed/regulated/etc. But the media continues to PURPOSEFULLY use terminology that they KNOW will stir up response and get the largest reaction.

    Also from Wikipedia: Rifles that meet most of these criteria, but not all, are technically not assault rifles despite frequently being called such. For example, select-fire M2 Carbines are not assault rifles. Because, their effective range is only 200 meters.[16] Semi-automatic-only rifles like the Colt AR-15 are not assault rifles. Because, they do not have select-fire capabilities. Semi-auto rifles with fixed magazines like the SKS are not assault rifles. Because, they do not have detachable box magazines and are not capable of automatic fire.

  101. keranih, I disagree that gun owners are, by and large, facing “persecution.” No one is taking away people’s guns.

    Gun control advocates are asking for a little more accountability in who qualifies to purchase guns, and for additional qualifications like proof you’ve taken safety classes. This is similar to asking for people to pass a test before being allowed to legally operate a vehicle. Like with vehicles, you must qualify before driving one and if you ask the bank for a loan, you must qualify for it before the bank will give you funds. Those rules don’t preclude you from the right to apply for a loan.

  102. Theophylact: The original report (not study, the original FBI report) is from, I believe, 1994. The data has been consistent over the years since. The report, as revised in 2002, is available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/hvfsdaft.txt

    The relevant over-simplified summary is:

    “*A fifth of the victims defending themselves with a firearm
    suffered an injury, compared to almost half of those who defended
    themselves with weapons other than a firearm or who had no weapon.”

    Again, NCVS data is not the final word (in particular, NCVS is a questionnaire administered to crime victims, and thus, by definition, excludes murder victims), and is very limited in scope (and very easy to extrapolate beyond what it’s actually worth). But it is very suggestive, and must be included in any honest discussion of defensive gun use.

    This is the original report. There are thousands of Google hits with various interpretations, most of them worth exactly what you paid for them (on both sides), but the place to start is with the actual facts.

  103. I’m going to encourage folks to circle back around to the main thrust of the article when they can, please. We’re beginning to see a bit of drift in places.

  104. @keranih I’m not supportive of limiting the guns available to OWNLY Smartguns. Just that they be an option.

    As for the gun licensing being unavailable to ‘poorest and most vulnerable’ of citizens, I don’t live in a huge city, but we have a sizable homeless (thus highly vulnerable) population who regularly utilize the local shelters/food services etc. and while some of those homeless might have drivers licenses, it is a minuscule percent. They’re homeless. They have no cars, no homes, no guns. They cannot afford a car, or the upkeep of a vehicle if you gave them one outright. If you gave them a home outright, they could not afford the taxes on them, or the upkeep. They surely don’t have the funds to go down to a gun shop and legally purchase a firearm, license or no license. Those who are capable of getting back on their feet do so in a slow process. By the time they’ve begun making enough income to provide themselves with food/shelter on a regular basis, and possibly a car, etc. they will also have enough income to buy a gun and any license associated with it. If they have enough money to legally purchase a firearm, requiring them to take a reasonably priced (I’m talking like $50) licensing procedure is not going to overly burden them.

  105. Goober: I don’t see any statistic in there for percentage of victims injured that did not defend themselves, only that 50 percent that defended themselves with weapon other than gun or no gun at all were injured compared to 20% that defended themselves with a gun.

    (I’m assuming this thread is on topic?)

  106. Diane, I hear that you don’t think that gun owners are facing persecution. I know that most gun control advocates and anti-gun people don’t view what they are doing as “persecuting” law-abiding gun owners or limiting their rights or charging them extra money for using constituationally permitted items.

    What I’m asking is that those who are promoting more and more restictions – and have been, for all of my lifetime – understand that what they are doing looks pretty much exactly like persecution.

    I know, I know, *you* don’t think it is. Right, got that. You’ve said that. People have said that all my life. And while they’ve said that, they’ve called for waiting periods, and background checks, and restictions on ownership, and restrictions on ammo, and restrictions on transport, and restrictions on what weapons are legal, and “more responsibility” and “more qualifications” and higher fees and it never stops. Anti-gun people keep on demanding more and more restrictions.

    Even when crime goes down in areas with more CCW. Even when true “assault rifles” are never used in crimes and even AR15 models are used to kill people less often than fists and feet. Even as murder rates go down across the country.

    Let me emphasize that – we are not facing an “epidemic” of any sort of violence. Nor is it on the upswing. Nor are school shootings or mass shootings or any sort of crime increasing – and crime and murder both are dropping fastest in areas with the most permissive firearms rules.

    So why ask for “more accountabilty” when there is no evidence that “more accountabilty” is going to help? Why keep conflating crime with accidents? Why not look harder at issues like mental health treatment for people who are likely to commit crimes instead of more paperwork for people who aren’t?

  107. I definitely don’t disagree that some people are paranoid, or that some people posture pretty aggressively. The redneck thing. Or those guys who went into… was in a Chipotle?… with assault rifles strapped to their backs.

    Really? Are you trying to make a point or something? Because you’re really just making people nervous, and you look like a bunch of a$$holes.

    I don’t even have a problem with people owning an assault rifle. If they enjoy recreational shooting, and they’re well-trained and responsible, hey – more power to ‘em. Freedom.

    But be considerate of other people.

    I guess, yeah, I pretty much agree with Scalzi on that point after all.

  108. Sorry for the multi-post, but delving deeper: looks like only 3% of victims of handgun crimes were injured. So it would appear that defending oneself with a gun compared to not defending oneself at all is about 7 times more likely to lead to injury.

  109. Kilroy: Please reread the quote:

    ““*A fifth of the victims defending themselves with a firearm suffered an injury, compared to almost half of those who defended themselves with weapons other than a firearm . . . ”

    Important part you apparently missed:

    “or who had no weapon.”

    Clear now?

  110. @goober: but still defended themselves. Looks like those that didn’t defend themselves at all were only injured 3% of the time: “In 3% of all handgun crimes, the victim was wounded.”

  111. Kilroy: You are misreading something. There’s a more in depth version of that somewhere, as well as a lot of analysis done over the years. The most credible analysis is also from the FBI, and they were quite chagrined by their conclusions in 1994.

    If you’re truly interested, I’d suggest hitting Google (and reading with a cynical eye, whether you agree with the author or not), because the subject is a *lot* too complicated to deal with here. Just search for “NCVS self defense” and you’ll find tons of information.

  112. As to a discussion of self-defense and safety, I’ve seen both arguments and I can see both sides. It’s a measured risk.

    I think that if you buy a gun and think you’ve got a magic anti-bad guy device, you’re wrong. Martial self-defense, I think, can often be a more potent tool.

    Still… if you understand the risk associated with having one, and you’re prepared to handle that risk, I’m not going to stop you.

    And most of us have heard stories about people who were helped by their carry. I know a woman who was once driving through a less-than-pleasant section of the city – she took her gun out of her purse as a just-in-case. At an intersection, she saw a guy start to approach the driver’s side aggressively, as if to carjack her… she brandished the gun, and he backed off.

  113. Kilroy: 3% is how many were *shot* (not injured – there’s other numbers there for other kinds of injuries), out of 16% who were shot at, so it’s about 20% of all victims. It’s a tricky thing to read. That’s why I recommend looking up more in depth analysis.

  114. @goober: not misreading anything. 20% of those that defended themselves with a gun were injured. 3% of all victims of gun crimes were injured. take out all those that were injured defending themselves, and about 2.8% of gun crime victims were injured. Your study shows that it is much safer not to have a gun.

  115. @Goober: The FBI findings there are interesting, as is this 2000 study finding many cases of defensive gun use may in fact be illegal or unjustified: http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/6/4/263.full.

    That’s not to say either study trumps the other, it’s just to emphasize that there’s a distinct and evident danger in the promotion by some gun – let’s say – overenthusiasts that a gun isn’t just a solution, or even a reasonable solution, but the preferred solution.

  116. I have no problem with open carry laws, but that is no reason to carry a rifle into Chipotle. So far as I know, there isn’t a law against carrying a running leaf blower into a black-tie fund raiser, but it would still be an astonishingly stupid idea.

    @Killroy

    , but something to keep in mind regarding munitions is there was a push a few years back to add Taggants to bullets, making them traceable back to their purchaser.

    How would that work? Are these chemical taggants in the powder? Would you have to change the tag before filling each box of 20 or 50 bullets? Then you would have to trace each box all the way to the purchaser. Would that involve filling out a federal gun purchase form for each box?

    It might be scientifically practical, but from an engineering, manufacturing, distribution point of view it isn’t very practical.

    And as for option four, well, as a female, do I need to say anything more? What you see as fear I see as overcompensation.

    As hypervigillant as society seems to become about use of words, apparently it’s still fashionable to accuse men of trying to compensate.

    Some women own large guns. For what are they compensating?

  117. John, when I was on active duty in the Navy, we were required to undergo Base Defense Force training, which meant, you carried a firearm. The courses were taught by senior Navy petty officers who were members of the Base Defense Force or the Base Police force themselves. I asked what would be the best firearm for home defense, and without hesitation, it was a shotgun. It doesn’t have to be a 12 gauge, a .410 will put some hurt, too. The reasoning is that the shotgun doesn’t have to be aimed, and since you’re going to be shaking, that makes a difference. A bullet from a rifle can go through walls, depending on the caliber of the bullet, its shape, and the type of powder that propelled it from the barrel. A shotgun has a limited range, and is less likely to penetrate other walls. I am not a proponent of using 00 buckshot, I use #5 in my defense loads (by the way, I do NOT use my own reloaded ammunition for any self-defense use), and the 00 would be a last resort. One other thing, too, you have to be sure of your target and what’s behind your target. Once that round leaves the barrel, you can’t call it back. This same instructor told me about an incident where his wife was home alone and someone tried to break into the house. She took the shotgun, unloaded, and walked up to the door and cycled the pump one time. It’s an unmistakable sound and quite effective at convincing whoever was on the other side of the door that it would not be a good idea to come through that door. As for people who claim that if we stay out of areas where we might come into contact with violent people, I’d like to know where those areas are, because it seems to me that you can be accosted in your home just as easily as if you were walking down a dark alley in a big city. The kid in Santa Barbara killed three men with a knife before he ever took up the pistols, and I’ve read that he also used his car to injure people, yet the focus is all on the gun, not on the fact that this man was unbalanced.

  118. I have never owned a gun in my life. I fired guns about 30 years ago at boy scout camp. Thats about it. I have friends with guns and when they tell me the price, ammo, shooting costs, I am thinking about how many xbox games I can buy for that. They told me I was cheap. They would be correct.

    I actually think I agree with John alot on this. One thing I would add is that I think there should be federal laws requiring gun owners to get a significant amount of trainer and to get trainer every year. This training should include shooting, safety, situational awareness, dude if you shoot a guy you better be right or your going to the electric chair, other ways to defend yourself other than shooting people, and that your not that tough just because your packing. This kind of law would probably help the NRA because I think they offer all this training don’t they? Not sure why they would fight it.

    The first part is in response to the link John provided about the Marine Gun Instructor. Very good post. Basically he is saying most gun owners don’t know what they are doing and are more likely to hurt themselves or innocent bystanders than a bad guy.

    I also live in northern virginia and this is a wealthy low, crime area. I don’t feel the need for a weapon in my home. I also live in a town house and those walls are not bullet proof…. It appears that John currently lives in a wealthy area. I don’t think he did growing up. However, the crime rate where John lives is probably relatively low. There is probably little need to defend yourself. The feral cat that almost scratched or a stray moose is about the worst thing he has to fear out here. Its different take from people in crime ridden, low income areas. If I live in a poor crime ridden area, I would almost certainly own a gun. I would also get extensive training and practice with it. The 2nd part is just me, there are no laws forcing you to do this.

  119. @Mikes75 ‘there’s a distinct and evident danger in the promotion by some gun – let’s say – overenthusiasts that a gun isn’t just a solution, or even a reasonable solution, but the preferred solution.’

    LOVE. This sums up the issue fabulously. I don’t know a soldier (active or former) or firearms instructor, or an officer of any kind who would consider their firearm to be the ‘preferred solution’ in ANY situation. Their preferred solution would be to avoid the situation to begin with. I agree. A firearm in personal defense should always be the last resort.

  120. Justin Watson: If the Founding Fathers were concerned about an oppressive government, why would they stipulate a ‘well-regulated’ militia? Keep in mind that when the country was founded and the Second Amendment was established, the US had no standing army. It had no navy, either. It had no power-projection capability at all. All it had was a Revenue Cutter Service for collecting tarriffs and stopping pirates and smugglers. A gaggle of yahoos hiding in a bunker does not constitute ‘well-regulated.’

    There *are* issues with increased government surveillance and government overreach. I am so not a fan of the NSA anymore despite geeking out about their tech many years ago. And any government can take a turn for the worse. Note too that I am not against complete civilian disarmament. But I strongly disagree with the notion that the only thing standing between what freedoms we have, and a red-white-and-blue jackboot stomping on a human face, is going to be a fraction of a percent of the population who have semi-automatic firearms. Violent insurrections, when they are won with a lasting state of affairs, are won with guile, subterfuge, and networks of contacts, not last stand shootouts, however heroic it is to the participants’ imaginations.

    All this being said, I get the sense that we’re drifting a bit off-topic.

  121. I’d also like to remind folks that the United States Supreme Court in Gonzales vs. Castle Rock, 2005, ruled that the police have no duty to respond to the aid of the individual unless previous arrangements have been made. The Court ruled that the police exist for preserving the common peace for the general public. This was the same ruling that was found by the 3rd Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Warren vs. District of Columbia. So, while I would certainly call the police if someone were breaking into my house, I’m not going to expect they’ll be there in time, either. I’d just prefer that when they do get there, they find the perpetrator lying face down on the floor, spread-eagled, and unhurt and me ensuring that the perpetrator remains in that position until the police take them over.

  122. @fuzznose I’ve had people tell me that in home defense I should ALWAYS keep a round chambered, but I never have because I’ve always preferred to utilize the sound of chambering a round as a warning. Possibly this is a foolish choice, but I’ve always felt that if a supposed intruder heard me chamber a round and did not call out to identify themselves, or take off running, I would then be reassured that the intruder is either deranged, truly evil, what have you. A serious threat.

    It just come down to the fact that you can’t take that bullet back, so I want to be sure it needs to leave the gun to begin with. And really, I pray I’m never in that position.

  123. Guess:

    “It appears that John currently lives in a wealthy area.”

    Not at all, in fact — Bradford is mostly farmers and blue collar folks. We’re odd ducks out here.

    But I’m not really aware of there being a lot of crime in the time I’ve been here (since 2001).

    vmink:

    “All this being said, I get the sense that we’re drifting a bit off-topic.”

    Heh. Yes, a little. Thanks for noting it (as well as other folks who are trying to bring discussion back around) — I appreciate it.

  124. @B. Lucerne I know a woman who was once driving through a less-than-pleasant section of the city – she took her gun out of her purse as a just-in-case. At an intersection, she saw a guy start to approach the driver’s side aggressively, as if to carjack her… she brandished the gun, and he backed off.

    The immediate thought that went through my mind as I read this was the 1991 video footage of the people who went underneath a bridge to avoid a tornado. Everyone suddenly clung to this idea that the best place to go if you were on the road was under an overpass, when in fact that was a spectacularly bad idea to do that. So rather than understand they drew an incredibly lucky break (weak tornado, not a direct hit), people wound up deliberately doing this spectacularly bad act, and dying as a result.

    In the article above, the author notes that having an unholstered weapon is a horrifically bad idea, as is proven by every comical news item about weapons going off in really painful locations from not being properly secured in a holster. So having a friend draw a lucky break doesn’t change the fact that the behavior was extremely lucky. One does not say it’s okay to have eight vodka tonics and drive home just because they pulled it off once.

  125. I have had trouble with this issue, because my core belief is that complete gun control isn’t right, but I also think it is way too easy to obtain guns. Then I wonder, “Also, should the more lethal guns be readily available, too?” One part of me thinks if you want to kill someone, it doesn’t matter what type of gun you own, but then another part of me thinks that the damage you can do with something like a machine gun far outweighs what can be done with a pistol. Ultimately, as a school teacher who does fear for her life sometimes (especially in a budget-strapped school with gang activity that’s laid off 80% of the security guards), I think there needs to be stronger gun control. The idea of “if the ‘good guys’ have guns, then they can stop anything that happens” is like the idea “if everyone has nukes, nobody will nuke anyone”. And giving guns to teachers? Crazy.

  126. vmink,

    It’s kind of hard to deny that our Founders feared an oppressive government. They spoke on that topic quite a lot.

  127. @artemisgrey “A firearm in personal defense should always be the last resort”

    Eh. This is one that I don’t think holds up to close scrutiny.

    Should the first step be something along the lines of “don’t voluntarily go into situations where you expect to shoot someone”? Probably. Should the next step be “go in with the intent of having your way without having to physically fight someone”? Sure.

    (And by ‘have your way’ I mean ‘live your life’ – go to school, work in your workplace, stop at the store, sleep in your house, admonish lawbreakers and address government officials in your community. All people should be able to do those things without physical violence.)

    Where I hesitate to totally endorse “firearm as last resort” is because I don’t agree that “move out of your neighborhood if you don’t feel safe without a firearm” is appropriate. Nor do I think “don’t go outside after dark to walk your dog because of muggers” is correct.

    I’m even hesitant to agree to “don’t go to your local bar for a drink because the bikers and wannabees have moved in and there are fist fights all the time”. And normally I’m of the opinion that the only people in a bar who should have firearms are the stone cold sober emergency designated drivers with a CCW license who came in to help peel ol’ Fred off the bar and get him home. Just like I don’t think aunts with CCW should have to drive all the way across town and lock up their sidearm before driving BACK to the school to pick up Johnny when his mom is sick because otherwise the aunt is committing a felony having a firearm on school grounds.

    Lots of people live in places where they will never have their home broken into, never will be mugged, never will have their daughter followed home from the bus stop. But for people who do live in places where that happens, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the law abiding citizens to work through a checklist of “scream for help, beg for mercy, bare handed attack, blunt weapon attack” before using a firearm.

    There are situations where a firearm is the first thing a reasonable person will reach for in defense of life, limb, or others. As always, the most critical thing is not owning a particular tool, but knowing how and when to use it.

    As I posted upstream – I am very supportive of more access to training classes for all citizens (ALL citizens – concienous objectors can file for a wavier just like people who don’t want vaccines). However, I am also very resistant to measures designed to limit firearm access or reduce the numbers available or otherwise imply that having a firearm around is bad.

    Make our people tough enough to handle the rough spots in the world, instead of trying to pad the whole world into featherbeds.

  128. Gun owners are *not* being persecuted in this country by regulations, or by the call for regulations. Some gun owners, however, clearly have a persecution *complex*.

  129. keranih, those are inconveniences, not persecution. But don’t worry, they’ll never pass, not while people can just blame the mentally ill every time the inevitable happens..

  130. I’m one of those odd people who lives on the border between a gun-loving home (Virginia) and a gun-fearing work (D.C.) – the irony being that there is less crime, and the police far more competent – in the place where guns are legal versus where they are not. Yet while I am very sympathetic to the right to keep and bear arms (going so far as to write a published law review comment on it in law school), I do understand the perspective of those on the opposite side.

    Yes, guns can be intimidating. But at the same time, they are inanimate objects. How they are used depends, 99.999999% of the time, on the character of the user. If you trust the person who carries the gun, then you have nothing to fear from the gun itself. This is really a case where personal familiarity with guns – not shooting them necessarily, but understanding how they work as machines and tools, the names of their parts, their classifications – can do much to alleviate fear of guns. Fear of people is harder to overcome. But conversations like this help.

    Also, you can, in fact, have an armed society and a polite society… if you have a public commitment to civil discourse, public respect for the rule of law and equality before that law, and a public commitment towards caring for the poor and the mentally ill that involves more than throwing money at the problem.

    We will never be able to un-invent guns, or remove them entirely. Believe me when I tell you that when we get 3D printers capable of printing high-quality metal parts, gun control by force of law is going to get harder and harder, to say nothing of attempts to “denormalize” firearms possession by making it seem deviant or abnormal through public and media pressure. (That strategy didn’t work with alcohol, drugs, prostitution, abortion, gambling, interracial marriage, homosexuality, or SF fandom either.) But giving up on the idea of a gun-free society, and saying “OK, people are going to carry guns, that is a given, now how do we make sure that they do so responsibly?,” IMO, is the first step to real progress on this.

  131. @ArtemisGray

    An AR-15 and an M-16 are the same rifle. If an M-16 is an assault rifle, then so is the AR-15.

  132. “So for those who don’t have a CCW permit (they’re expensive, for one thing)”

    I hear this repeated a lot and I have a hard time buying (hah) it. I have two pistols, both purchased used. One was a little more of a desirable brand and over $500 in 1999 dollars. The other is somewhat unpopular, on average, and was still over $300 in 2006.

    My permit? Well, I’m in Virginia so…

    Fees for Concealed Handgun Permits – Section 18.2-308.03

    The court shall charge a fee of $10.00 for the processing of an application or issuing of a permit. Local law enforcement agencies may charge a fee not to exceed $35.00 to cover the cost of conducting an investigation pursuant to this Code section. The State Police may charge a fee not to exceed $5.00 to cover the cost associated with processing the application. The total amount of the charges may not exceed $50.00, and payment may be made by any method accepted by the court.

    There’s an education requirement, but the courses are rarely a full $100. And, disgustingly, there are now online-only options where you never have to fire a shot, as cheap as $25. I used to think it was abhorrent in Florida in the 90s when places were meeting the letter of the law by having a trainee fire only one shot, but at least they got SOME hand-on training. Who knew I could be nostalgic for something so awful.

    As an incorrigible cheapskate I would never tell someone that $150 is not a notable amount of money, and Texas’ permit is $140 – almost $100 more. But many of those open carry folks are sporting leather holsters that run close to $100 and if any of them are carrying weapons that cost less than $300 I’ll eat my crappy nylon holster.

    So I get not being excited to spend that money, but to suggest that it’s a significant barrier of entry to folks who are in many situations going to spend 10x that on their weapon… I don’t buy it. They may be protesting the lack of open carry because they feel strongly about it, but money is not their prime motivator.

  133. a 2013 analysis of specifically homicide rates is states with Castle Doctrine legislation actually found that passage of a more permissive standard for self defense led to a measurable increase in gun deaths in those states, not a decrease.

    http://econweb.tamu.edu/mhoekstra/castle_doctrine.pdf

    This isn’t an implication that firearms are bad, because a firearm is a tool. This is an implication that encouraging people to use that tool in an irresponsible manner by turning it into the ultimate totem of protection, instead of considering it a last resort, is a gross misrepresentation of “responsibility.”

  134. I’m generally in agreement with Mr. Davis (from Quora). Personally, guns are here in the USA to stay, for better or worse. Responsibility has worked in the past so I don’t know why it can’t work now. While having no wish to own firearms myself, I see no reason why a citizen can’t own a firearm per the 2nd amendment. The key is responsibility and complete understanding of what one is partaking in when owning a highly effective killing tool.

  135. $HERSELF grew up in rural Montana, and there wasn’t a lot of meat on the table her father hadn’t shot one way or another. She learned to handle firearms right along with all of the other tools.

    She reports that in a fairly eventful life the scariest thing she ever saw, bar none, was during the Argentine Dirty War. She got off of the airplane and one of the first things she saw was a kid — maybe 17 — in Army uniform carrying an automatic rifle and looking nervous.

  136. @keranih See, this is where you’re kind of frightening me in your opinions of personal defense using firearms.

    In this list of nearly 150 comments, not one single person has suggested that people should move out of a neighborhood because they felt unsafe, or not to go out after dark because they might get mugged or not go to bars because there might be a brawl. Yet you obviously feel the need to clarify that YOU have no intention of taking such steps. Well, I think that most people would resist moving, or not doing the day to day activities they enjoy out of fear.

    I also disagree with your statement that ‘I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the law abiding citizens to work through a checklist of “scream for help, beg for mercy, bare handed attack, blunt weapon attack” before using a firearm.’

    One, your ‘checklist’ is condescending in nature, whether or not that was you intention. And two, uh, YES, when you’re about to kill or permanently maim another human being, I think it’s entirely reasonable that you really think about it BEFOREHAND. Yes, there are going to be situations in which you ‘don’t have time to think’ or ‘react instinctively’ which is why it’s vital to have good, regular training in the handling of your firearm.

    *IF*, by the grace of God, you are a conceal carry permit holder and you’re currently armed and you have the opportunity to – without endangering bystanders on the opposite side of your target – shoot and disable a rampaging gunman, then yes, draw your firearm and use it without hesitation. You could save lives.

    But if you waken in the middle of the night, without benefit of manmade light sources, or you see a strange person following your daughter up the driveway, then I’m sorry, but I believe those are situations wherein a little more information is required before your discharge your firearm and kill your kid while they’re digging in the refrigerator, or shoot an out-of-towner who was hoping to ask the parent of a kid they saw get off the bus for directions.

  137. As usual, memories and uffish thoughts bubbling up, possibly connected.

    Back in grad school I had two smart, funny, gifted friends–both poets, as it happened–who liked and owned handguns. One was a kind of tech enthusiast whose current fascination was with handguns–he admired their engineering and enjoyed firing them at tin cans and such. Owned a pair of S&W revolvers, a .357 magnum and a .22 Combat Masterpiece, if I recall correctly. He was meticulous, careful, and respectful of their capabilities. (Later he fell in love with photography and won prizes and then with flying and wound up multi-engine/instrument-rated. Again, a tech-and-skillset geek.)

    The other was a romantic-outlaw-bohemian-autodidact-intellectual who carried a .45 auto in his waistband and dabbled in drug sales. A really lovely, interesting guy. They pulled his body out of the Illinois River in early spring of 1968, shot (apparently) with his own gun.

    A couple months ago I passed a guy in our Wal-Mart, a rural-style graybeard with a holstered semi-auto pistol on his belt. It gave me pause, in a way not unlike the pause I feel when bunches of young drunks make noise outside our bedroom window at 2 a.m. In the past, I would pull on my pants, grab a Maglite, and suggest that they tone it down and move along. But now that Minnesota issues CC permits to anyone who meets minimalist standards, I think twice. (The fact that I am now officially an old man, three times their age, also figures in there.) Sure, it was always possible that a random yahoo or late-night druggie might be heeled, but now any college boy can decide to exercise his Second Amendment rights and get his badass on at the same time. Neither the Wal-Mart graybeard nor the possibly-armed late-night serenaders make me feel any safer.

  138. @Alexvdl An AR-15 and an M-16 are not the same thing. I’m going off Wikipedia (which I sited and linked to) wherein the definition an ‘assault rifle’ is a rifle with selective fire capabilities.

    I’m sure it’s possible to turn pretty much any rifle into a selective fire rifle if you know how to alter it, and the government terminology is different, and involves round capacity and other features. But the two guns are not identical.

  139. @artemisgrey I think we’re talking past each other. Or, at any rate, you’re reading things into my reply that I never meant.

    not one single person has suggested that people should move out of a neighborhood because they felt unsafe, or not to go out after dark because they might get mugged or not go to bars because there might be a brawl

    Correct. But neither has a single person here stated that they have had their home broken into, been mugged in their neighborhood, or been at bars where fights have broken out. In fact, people have outright said that they’ve never been in that position.

    I suspect it’s more about what sort of people post here (ie, people who live in safe places). As for myself, I have had fine upstanding people tell me that I should move out of my neighborhood because it was not safe. They say that about where I’ve lived before and they say that about where I live now.

    And two, uh, YES, when you’re about to kill or permanently maim another human being, I think it’s entirely reasonable that you really think about it BEFOREHAND.

    Think about it beforehand? Yes. Sit there and have a debate about whether I want to live with killing someone while the door is being forced open? No. I’ve already had that thought.

    Yes, there are going to be situations in which you ‘don’t have time to think’ or ‘react instinctively’ which is why it’s vital to have good, regular training in the handling of your firearm.

    Agreed – which is why I’m confused about your insistance that every shoot/don’t shoot situation is going to include time for “non-last” resorts.

    I’m sorry, but I believe those are situations wherein a little more information is required before your discharge your firearm

    I’m really not clear at all where I gave the impression that I ever suggested firing a weapon without being sure of target or backstop. Can you point to where I said that?

  140. hope this doesn’t send the stalkers to the Scalzi compound… but to be fair they would have to be really ambitious stalkers given that John lives in the outback.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradford,_Ohio

    size: less than 1 square mile. I wonder if scalzi could jog across town and not die at the end?

    John is a 1 percenter:

    “The median income for a household in the village was $38,125, and the median income for a family was $43,594.”

    2 notable people: John, some guy who played MLB 100 years ago. That one was pretty funny.

    My additional demographic breakdown:

    registered republicans: 1100
    registered democrats: 2 (wonder who they are?)

    The really sad thing is I live near Dulles airport and the nearest bookstore to me is 11 miles away (Which is rather far with the traffic lights around here). John apparently has one in his home town. All the others shut down recently.

    Couldn’t help myself with this one. Rather addicted to wikipedia.

  141. @Artemisgrey: An AR-15 is a semi-automatic M-16 without full-auto capability. Originally designed by Armalite, it was later forced to sell the design to Colt. Colt made a few modifications and created the M-16. They then removed the full-auto selection and sold it as the Colt AR-15.

    And yes, there are kits to ‘upgrade’ an AR to fully automatic. I believe you need to a special license to get such kits legally. As for illegal kits, I have no idea.

  142. There is so much fear in this comment thread. I live in a major city in a not particularly wealthy neighborhood and I am not afraid of my fellow citizens. Why are so many of you?

  143. @ uldihaa – and without either full auto or burst capability, it’s not an assault rifle. And upgrades can no longer be made as of 1986. So anyone with an upgrade after that is illegal.

  144. Alexis, No an M16 is capable of firing fully automatic, iow, it will fire as long as it has ammo and the trigger is pulled back. An AR15 is semi-automatic, you need to pull the trigger to fire each bullet. Fully automatic weapons are illegal in the US unless you go through an expensive annual process to get a license to own one. The inability of people that are against guns to recognize the differences between the 2 guns, and other models like them, is one thing that ticks off gun geeks. It’s like saying that 6 cylinder Honda is equivalent to A Charger with an 8 cylinder and nitro injection.

  145. Keranih

    I think it would probably be sensible to reinforce your door; that would provide you with rather more security than clutching a gun whilst your door is being forced open.

    I appreciate that it’s a great deal less melodramatic…

  146. (don’t have time to read the entire long thread; apologies if this reiterates anything above…)

    @C. J. Czelling
    “My first sensei taught us that if we must use a weapon, our foe should never see it.”

    Indeed so! And if someone who was carrying concealed, and with a mad on for the long-gun freaks, encountered them at close range in a store—especially the freaks who carry the piece slung down the back—the freaks would be dead on the floor before they could unsling, deploy, and aim. They clearly want to scare people—but they should be feeling scared.
    …But now, that’s a scary thought: fearful, well-armed, public swaggerers…

  147. Guess:

    I have my address on the site, so you’re not sending stalkers my way. And as I’ve noted before, if people come onto the property uninvited, I’m happy to get in some archery practice. No one has taken me up on the offer, pretty much ever. The only random people who come by are the Mormons on their mission and the occasional Jehovah’s Witness. They leave disappointed.

    “registered democrats: 2 (wonder who they are?)”

    Neither of them are me; I’m registered as independent (or should be, anyway). I don’t know what Krissy’s registration is; I’ve never asked her and she wouldn’t tell me even if I did.

    Our local bookstore is actually about as far away as yours is — it’s in Troy, Ohio, which is about 11 miles from us. But we have the excuse of being far less densely populated than Loudoun County at this point.

    MPAVictoria:

    I’m not getting a frightened vibe from people. Am I missing something? In any event, I’m not afraid of my neighbors. They’re generally very nice people.

  148. No-one is saying what you are claiming/stereotyping… except you.

    And what do you base this on: “Dude, you’re afraid of every fucking thing in the world.”? I’m guessing you’ve never talked to any of the people you’ve stereotyped. Which is an interesting form of bigotry.

  149. @celeb47dol:

    That would be murder. A slung weapon is not an imminent threat. Nor is any open carry weapon if not in the hand, at the ready, and in a posture or with verbalizations presenting a threat.

    You should consult a lawyer about this before you, or someone who misinterprets your words, ends up in jail.

    I recommend the Turley Blog.

  150. John it is of course possible to read things differently but a number of commenters seem very worried about being attacked by someone. See keranih, Joe Hass, fuzznose, coo1b1ue etc.

  151. @Keranih I think your accusation of ‘reading into responses’ is a two-way street.

    ‘Think about it beforehand? Yes. Sit there and have a debate about whether I want to live with killing someone while the door is being forced open? No. I’ve already had that thought.’

    I never said you need to sit there and have a debate on whether you want to kill someone while your door is being actively forced open. You cited two situations in the paragraph where you said you didn’t believe a citizen needed to give pause to their actions, and I rebutted them. Namely the ‘possible intruder’ and the ‘someone following your daughter’

    ‘Agreed – which is why I’m confused about your insistance that every shoot/don’t shoot situation is going to include time for “non-last” resorts.’

    Never anywhere in my comments did I state that EVERY shoot/don’t shoot situation would include time for ‘non-last’ resorts. In fact I specifically stated that there WOULD be situations in which you immediately had no other viable choice, therefore in any situation in which you DID have a choice, it’s important not to merely open fire.

    ‘I’m really not clear at all where I gave the impression that I ever suggested firing a weapon without being sure of target or backstop. Can you point to where I said that’

    You never ‘said’ you suggested firing a weapon without being sure of target or backstop. You did, however and continue to IMPLY that because you live in a place that ‘fine upstanding’ people have said you should move out of ‘because it’s not safe’ and because you’ve ‘already had that thought’ about mortally wounding people, there is no reason for you to hesitate in firing your weapon. Even using your example of shooting someone who is forcing their way into your house, I can point out at least one recent example here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/15/justice/michigan-woman-shot-charges/ wherein one home owner felt the same way, and an innocent girl who was impaired and unarmed got killed. In that case the man understood his target and felt justified. He was not, however, actually in any actual danger.

    Very few situations are ever totally clear cut.

  152. Token Brit here. I lived in California for fourteen years. Shortly after I first got off the ‘plane I persuaded somebody to take me to a range so I could learn to handle a handgun. As a child I’d used a rifle on several occasions (Lee Enfield 303, don’cha know. Harrumph.) but handguns aren’t so common in the UK. The USA has… umm… how shall we say… really impressive gun death stats. For somewhere that isn’t actually a warzone, that is. As an incomer it just seemed like obvious common sense that I should know which end of a gun was which. Also, I *had* to know how to handle a handgun for that one time that was *bound* to happen where I’d be in a bank and armed robbers would show up and start shooting hapless innocents, and then I’d be able to tuck and roll, scoop up that fallen weapon and blow away the bad guys in a cloud of righteous, heroic gunsmoke.

    And this is often what I think is going on with people who are a little too attached to their guns: impotent heroic fantasy. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. Base empowerment and hysterically unconscious penis substitution too, but those things are a given.) It all seems very overstated. The odds are low that you’ll suddenly find yourself in the middle of a gunfight. In fourteen years the nearest I ever came to an incident involving guns was hearing shots somewhere across town at 2 AM.

    Oh no, wait. I totally lie.

    I was driving up the 101 in Marin County in 1997, I think. The freeway was quite empty, and I’m guessing it was a Sunday evening. A car pulled alongside. It was a big, expensive Mercedes. In it were five teenagers. They laughed and jeered, shouted things. Obnoxious teens. Go figure. Then they stopped laughing and one of them leant out of the window, pointing a gun at me. Right there, maybe seven feet away to my left. I didn’t do anything. I just carried on matching their speed and looked at the kid until, eventually, he leaned back in the car and they sped away, sulking.

    So how would me having a gun of my own have helped? Oh, sure, we could all have Peckinpah’d each other in slow motion until we looked like ugly bowls of salsa. Dead people! Brilliant! But really. What was I going to do? Shoot kids? Ah, but if I’d had a gun then I could have pulled it out, just to show those kids that they couldn’t threaten me. Except… except maybe pointing a gun at somebody who’s pointing a gun at you is a really good way to make them think they really do *have* to shoot you now.

    So, yeah. Living in the USA for a while convinced me that it’s really not such a great idea to carry around a firearm all the time when you don’t absolutely have to. This “Get a gun to protect yourself!” idea really doesn’t work. I don’t understand how anybody could think through the potential outcomes and come to a different conclusion, but obviously they do. It doesn’t seem like rocket science.

  153. @Bob v17.4.0 ‘Except… except maybe pointing a gun at somebody who’s pointing a gun at you is a really good way to make them think they really do *have* to shoot you now.’

    YES. Exactly. I’m not saying that there aren’t times when your gun might save your life. But 9 times out of 10, if I’m carrying concealed and find myself looking down the barrel of a gun being pointed at me, I’m NOT going to try and pull out my own weapon. And in a situation like the one you described with the cars, that’s not a situation in which waving a gun around will do anything but cause more trouble.

  154. Big assumption being made about why someone collects guns, displays their guns etc. An assumption that is incorrect in the case of those people I know who are gun nuts. They do not fear everything, they fear no more than others. The guys I know do it to grandstand their beliefs not unlike people who have anti-(Bush, Obama, Abortion, Jesus, etc) stickers and emblems or wear t-shirts etc to profess their love of whatever.
    But you know what they say about assumptions….

  155. You wouldn’t be saying that if I were in front of you, with my big damn gun! Indeed, I probably wouldn’t, because when people who are afraid of every fucking thing in the world wander about with big damn guns, bad things have an increasingly likely chance of happening

    I’m pretty sure their picture of “an armed society being a polite society” is a lot like the Bill Hick’s routine about Jack Palance’s gunfighter. The farmer being invited to pick up the gun is real polite as he pleads for his life…

  156. Pavepusher:

    “No-one is saying what you are claiming/stereotyping… except you.”

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Obviously I am saying what I am saying.

    “I’m guessing you’ve never talked to any of the people you’ve stereotyped.”

    If you’re suggesting I don’t speak to a cross-section of gunowners, then that would be wrong. Nor, for that matter, is my opinion about people who feel the need to be seen with big damn guns being afraid of things exclusive only to me, or only to non-gun owners, in my experience. That said, in this entry, I am expressing it as my opinion only.

    Whatwhen:

    “The guys I know do it to grandstand their beliefs not unlike people who have anti-(Bush, Obama, Abortion, Jesus, etc) stickers and emblems”

    I’m not entirely sure comparing a machine specifically designed for killing things with a bumper sticker is a very good comparison, personally.

    That said, note earlier in the thread about the distinction I make about gun geeks and gun freaks; it’s relevant.

    Also, for new folks coming in, it’s worth it to read the thread to date, to avoid needless replication, etc.

  157. @artemisgrey

    your accusation of ‘reading into responses’ is a two-way street

    Very well could be. Doesn’t mean you’re not assuming I mean things that I don’t.

    You cited two situations in the paragraph where you said you didn’t believe a citizen needed to give pause to their actions, and I rebutted them.

    Negative. I gave situations where a person could need to use deadly force as an option. I did not say that these situations did not need judgement.

    Never anywhere in my comments did I state that EVERY shoot/don’t shoot situation would include time for ‘non-last’ resorts.

    In your statement that I first replied to, you said: “A firearm in personal defense should always be the last resort.” This is very different from your later clarification that in some cases a firearm would be a first resort.

    You did, however and continue to IMPLY that because you live in a place that ‘fine upstanding’ people have said you should move out of ‘because it’s not safe’ and because you’ve ‘already had that thought’ about mortally wounding people, there is no reason for you to hesitate in firing your weapon.

    No. A serious misread. I said that I had already decided that I could live with damaging or kiling someone breaking into my home. I did not say that I would fire in a panic and forget how to aim or how to take into account backstop. That was something you read into my post.

    The example you gave is highly problematic – and I can give multiple more, better suited, such as when a young man approached a house at dusk to ask directions to a halloween party. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Yoshihiro_Hattori

    In the case you cited, a drunk, beligerant woman was repeatedly attempting to force her way into a home. This was outside Detroit, where the response time for the police is not exceptionally swift. I would also like to point out that the man stated that he had not intended to discharge his weapon – which goes back to both of our points about needing to be practiced with this tool. Finally, while in this case the result is being held out as a crime – the death of a beautiful drunk driving young woman – in slightly different circumstances it may well have turned out that an older man was killed by a drugged out vagrant looking for money or alcohol. In that area, that’s actually the more likely outcome.

    Very few situations are ever totally clear cut.

    This I do agree on.

  158. Responsibility has worked in the past so I don’t know why it can’t work now. While having no wish to own firearms myself, I see no reason why a citizen can’t own a firearm per the 2nd amendment.

    Well, we’re all talking about actions that we seem to agree that no responsible gun owner would do, but it seems that there are no consequences for them, either in a social or legal sense. That suggests to me that responsibility is not working.

  159. I used to hunt but it became more effort than enjoyment a few years back so I have not been out much in the last decade. I own long guns & shotguns, I keep them locked up. I have fired a whole lot of handguns and it can be fun but expensive. I was a member of the NRA from 1972 until 1988 or so. It became obvious to me that they were much more interested in selling more guns than in responsible ownership/citizenship.

    I am not afraid of guns but I am deeply afraid of the morons who parade around armed like they are ready for combat and built like they already spend way too much time at Chipotle. The ones who think the government is going to steal their precious and envision an armed conflict against the UN forces that will force them to gay marry a black man. Its that sickness that feeds many shootings.

  160. “But you know what they say about assumptions…”
    No?

    But I certainly know what I think about people who attempt to portray weapons designed to kill as being exactly equivalent to a bumper sticker on a car.

    I’ve fixed your ellipsis.

  161. @MPAVictoria John it is of course possible to read things differently but a number of commenters seem very worried about being attacked by someone. See keranih, Joe Hass, fuzznose, coo1b1ue etc.

    I have absolutely no idea how you picked that up from my comment, which has nothing to do with my own personal safety. Please reread and try again.

  162. Ack! You can delete my comment, John, as it repeats what you’ve said. Sorry, crosspost.

  163. Pursuant to the Oreos, this is largely a side point, but that guy wasn’t buying Oreos. He was displaying Oreos, because he’s not just a lover of firearms, but also a connoisseur of finely calibrated political satire. See, Obama… Oreos… ha ha ha. Get it? WINK WINK WINK WINK WINK. (Tweeeeet, woof.)

    It’s kind of shameful to me that I even know what he was going for there, but look how he’s holding the package with two hands and giving that “I’m being so politically incorrect” smile. He’s a wit.

  164. Glenn Hauman:

    Point that not every gun owner is politically conservative; I was just reading a forum for liberal gun owners earlier today.

    With that said, anecdotally it does seem that many of the folks I’d consider gun freaks, also have deeply conservative political views. I am open to the possibility of a deeply liberal gun freak, however. I can conceptually imagine it, at least.

    Bob v17.4.0:

    Comment can stay. But remember to be civil, please, even if noting possible incivility. Thanks!

  165. “The reasoning is that the shotgun doesn’t have to be aimed”

    That’s VERY poor and dangerous reasoning based on a fallacy. Despite Hollywood, shotguns are not short-range alley-sweepers with huge short-range patterns of destruction. You can’t just point them in the general direction of the target and obliterate a swath. Inside of any reasonable indoors self-defense distance (call it 5 yards) pattern spread is very minimal. Generally, even with an open choke and short-but-legal barrel, MAYBE the pattern will be twice the size of the barrel opening. For a 12 gauge, call it a 1.5 inch pattern at 15 feet.

    The pellets don’t magically alter their flight path from the end of the barrel to the desired target. You still have to be aiming in the right spot in the first place. The advantage of a shotgun is that it can be fired a lot more comfortably than a handgun while delivering the same amount of lead at the same velocity, while also largely reducing the chances of over-penetration endangering things/people behind the target. A .410 load of #5 is a half-ounce of pre-fragmented lead moving at 1300 fps, the rough equivalent of a .45 pistol slug. But a lot easier for a small person or a novice to fire repeatedly than a .45.

  166. I have to ask – while a gun may sometimes be impractical in self-defense situations, how in the world would a bow be practical?

  167. B. Lucerne:

    I don’t seriously wish to imply a bow is a practical self-defense implement (for me, anyway). I was merely saying I prefer my bow to a gun, particularly for things like target shooting. We have a target here at the house and I will occasionally take it out for practice.

  168. @B. Lucerne:

    how in the world would a bow be practical?

    Ask Harold Godwinson.

    If you are asking why John wrote he preferred a bow in the article, ICBW, but from context he looked like he was talking about recreational target shooting. Bow and arrow at short range is still a fearsome weapon in the right hands, and a quick to load and loose one too.

  169. Archers were dangerous at Agincourt, because they had barriers to ensure standoff and to protect them from the hand-to-hand. In other battles where commanders did not ensure the archers had protection, they got slaughtered.

    Longbows were considered outstanding weapons upto the invention of readily reloaded muskets. At that point, the superior rate-of-fire of longbows (and stopping power of crossbows) was made obsolete by the psycological power of gunshots sound and the ability to train people to use muskets fairly competently within a matter of days. Archery took much, *much* longer to master.

  170. “Good suburban neighborhoods can see crime, and the “afraid of everything” types seem especially afraid of this. ”

    The thing I mainly see from the fetishist types are these extreme nightmare-world scenarios that simply do not exist in civilized America. I once saw an argument for high-capacity magazines that went along the lines of the single suburban mother with three kids who has thirty ravenous meth-heads beating down her front door does not have time to reload. I really want to wonder where they live that they think this is a thing that conceivably happens.

    (Seriously, has there every been a home-defense situation on record where it was, ‘Well, he got the first dozen, but number 13 was the one who killed the whole family…”)

  171. I don’t know what the stats are, but here in the UK we have very few deaths by shooting – probably because it is illegal to carry a gun in public. Ownership is regulated by licence, rigorously enforced. Yes, there are shooting clubs; yes, landowners sometimes have rifles for animal restrictions or for culling; and yes, our police force has a tactical arm who are only called out in emergencies. But we don’t have them for hunting, or for home protection, or because we are afraid for our lives (there are a few examples of incidents where guns have been used in these instances, but they are statistically negligible). Our culture just doesn’t recognise the need for guns.

    Of course, there are a (very) small minority of firearm incidents, but they are unusual rather than the norm. So if ever we were shopping in a supermarket and saw any armed men strutting around showing off their rifles/guns, we would totally panic. There are harsh penal laws for anyone convicted of armed robbery (again, very few instances); and yes, we have a couple of instances where homeowners in rural areas have been convicted of excessive violence (by using a rifle) in protecting their home from burglars/intruders.

    But absolutely nothing like you have in the States.
    I do understand that historically, when America was a ‘new’ country, there was a need for personal protection, and that it ‘fitted’ the Constitution when it was drawn up; but I am unable to understand the ‘need’ for its continuance. The simplicity (as I understand it) of being able to buy a gun anywhere, by anybody (if one has the approved paperwork), beggars my imagination. I do understand the need for hunters and game-killing (and the filling of the freezer), but for anything else, I’m befuddled.

    Your gun laws need to be re-examined; there should be more protocols for owning a gun; and there should be harsher penalties for anyone using a gun in non-lethal situations. I’ll leave the topic of mental ability/health alone, because I don’t know enough about how licences are granted.

    All life is precious; and if you want to carry a gun, either openly or concealed, all I ask is that you think deeply before you use it.

  172. This is a long thread. I’ve done my best to read it thoroughly and I don’t think I’m being repetitive, but I will understand if I am declared off-topic.

    I want to address the suggestion, WAY back at the top, that schools should offer gun education the same way they offer drivers’ education.

    A lot of schools no longer offer drivers’ ed.

    The reasons are similar to why schools would not offer gun education:

    – Expense – Schools would have to pay someone to do that and would have to set aside valuable instructional time. Schools already have lots of staff to pay and a full schedule of activities that are intended to prepare students for college, careers, and life. Which staff and course offerings should be cut to make room for mandatory firearm safety?

    – Safety – While a number of schools employ/liase with police officers or security personnel who are armed on campus, they do so in an effort to reduce risk, and they are not students. There are significant concerns associated with having firearms on a high school campus, and even more significant concerns associated with having students handle those weapons.

    Please remember that public schools serve all the children. If something is mandatory, all of them have to do it. Even the ones who are struggling to understand the language of instruction, the ones with MI that causes homicidal ideation or makes them suicidal, and the ones who might really want to take a gun home for personal reasons (schools are generally not well-equipped to control inventory of small, portable items). There are generally 30 or more of them in a room at once, but larger groups are not uncommon. They are, mostly, of a developmental stage not noted for its impulse control and forethought.

    – Liability – There are guns in the building that are unsecured during class so students can learn how to handle them? How many guns is that? Like, 10? Great! Now our school shooters only have to acquire appropriate ammunition. What do you think it would take to settle the wrongful death lawsuit?

  173. @keranih Clearly, you and I will never see eye-to-eye, (besides the fact that few situations are ever clear cut) and after this, I’m going to refrain from rebutting/responding, because obviously you are someone who will always have an answer or argument for everything.

    ‘Negative. I gave situations where a person could need to use deadly force as an option. I did not say that these situations did not need judgement.’

    Yes. But obviously we differ greatly on what, exactly. denotes the possible requirement for use of deadly force. I, for one, would not look at a person walking up my driveway behind my child and immediately see it as a situation in which I might end up using deadly force on the stranger. That’s just not how I look at life.

    ‘In your statement that I first replied to, you said: “A firearm in personal defense should always be the last resort.” This is very different from your later clarification that in some cases a firearm would be a first resort.’

    To me ‘last resort’ means that there is no other viable option. If I’m standing there with a safe, direct line of fire to a gunman shooting civilians at will, and I have a firearm at my disposal, the only viable option is to shoot that gunman and hopefully save other people. Using my sidearm is my first resort in this situation, but it is also still my last resort because it’s the last thing I want to have to do. In that specific situation, the two are one and the same.

    ‘I said that I had already decided that I could live with damaging or kiling someone breaking into my home. I did not say that I would fire in a panic and forget how to aim or how to take into account backstop. That was something you read into my post.’

    Nowhere have I intoned or suggested that you would ever ‘panic’ or ‘forget how to aim or how to take into account backstop’ I didn’t ‘read it’ into your post’ and I didn’t imply you would do either thing. Your exact words were ‘Think about it beforehand? Yes. Sit there and have a debate about whether I want to live with killing someone while the door is being forced open? No. I’ve already had that thought.’ Within this very quote you say clearly that you do not intend to ‘sit’ and ‘debate’ your actions while someone breaks into your home. Your words, not mine.

    And finally,

    ‘In the case you cited, a drunk, beligerant woman was repeatedly attempting to force her way into a home. This was outside Detroit, where the response time for the police is not exceptionally swift. I would also like to point out that the man stated that he had not intended to discharge his weapon – which goes back to both of our points about needing to be practiced with this tool. Finally, while in this case the result is being held out as a crime – the death of a beautiful drunk driving young woman – in slightly different circumstances it may well have turned out that an older man was killed by a drugged out vagrant looking for money or alcohol. In that area, that’s actually the more likely outcome.’

    I followed this case and the man initially told first responders that he fired his gun because he feared for his life. It was only after the perpetrator was revealed to be a drunk teenage girl that he insisted he fired unintentionally. I don’t know what the eventual outcome will be, whether the man will be convicted of a crime or not. I am not passing judgement on him one way or another. I merely used the case to rebut your statement regarding ‘sitting and debating while someone breaks into your home.’ because in this case the girl was repeatedly, violently trying to break in.

    I’m not really sure what point you’re trying to make with the last sentence postulating that ‘in slightly different circumstances it may well have turned out that an older man was killed by a drugged out vagrant looking for money or alcohol’. It seems to add nothing to the discussion at all, and is irrelevant to the case I cited.

    Take this last comment and respond as you like. As I said, I won’t be pasting and rebutting any longer, though I’ll still be reading comments because this has been largely a very interesting and civilized conversation in regard to the use of firearms for self-defense. Only on Mr. Scalzi’s blog is it possible for such an event to take place. He can tame the wilds of internet commenters like no other.

  174. My high school used to have “gun education.” We had a shooting club and it would bring in NRA firearms instructors. We would shoot competitively against other schools in the area. There is a picture in my yearbook of a bunch of kids sitting on the school monument holding their target .22 rifles.

    These days, that would get you expelled and arrested.

  175. @ artemisgrey – thank you for your polite engagement throughout this thread. The thread as a whole has been quite decent, and superior to many politically-tinged threads in this space.

    I wish you good luck in finding future debate partners who will not have arguements or rebuttals to any of your points. Take care.

  176. As a veteran teacher, I’ve had a few warning lights ignite while reading this thread …

    1. Universal gun instruction in schools: folks, these days most schools don’t teach driver’s ed or even autoshop. They were cut years ago in rounds of budget cuts, and as the school year has been shortened the number of subjects we are required to teach has grown. Just what do you propose we cut this time to make room for gun training?

    2. Those who believe a well-armed society is a polite society should visit the neighborhood my students live in. It’s very well-armed, and it’s exactly the place you’d run from. If you’re picturing men of the old West with the virtue of John Wayne striding across the screen, you’e been dooped again by Hollywood’s sketchy connection with historical accuracy. The (mostly young, mostly male) gun owners in the inner city don’t own them to defend themselves against the government. They have them to defend themselves against the monsters on their own block. They are far more afraid of being shot in their own home than they worry about getting arrested or spending time in jail – they know the odds very well.

    3. When Mr. La Pierre advocated arming school staff to prevent school shootings, I just about blew a gasket. It struck me that right there we had the real division in this debate: the split within the NRA, and the split in our society in general. I highly doubt that most of the NRA members I’ve met would want me to be forced to carry a gun on the job. And anyone who thinks that teachers are going to be able to step outside of their classrooms during a lockdown to fire on the “bad guy” have never been responsible for 40 or more kids at a time. If my principal calls a lock down, I have my hands full grabbing as many kids out of the hallway as I can, securing my room, and keeping them down and quiet. I’m not about to put myself in front of the sheriff with the shot gun who’s trying to clear the campus.

    I’m also not going to try to secure a weapon in my classroom. For most of the past twelve years, I didn’t even have a place to lock up my purse. Do I really want to spend all my class time standing in front of my desk so the sixteen-year-old who just got dumped can’t get his hand on the gun he knows is there?

    4. I like John’s distinction between gun geeks and gun freaks, but I’ve been thinking of this debate in terms of a different split: those who live in legitimate fear for their lives, and those who are just playing at it. It’s all about what neighborhood you live in. I identify heavily with the parents of inner-city youth, and from their point of view I see the “no restrictions” argument placing some folks’ fun above the safety of our toddlers. Which is why I think there really ought to be differences in laws between city and country.

    I do really, really hope that the vast majority of gun owners, those who can see beyond absolutes, can take control of the debate away from those absolutists who make them all look like “gun nuts.”

  177. @Carole-Ann I feel as though an immense difference between America and places like the UK and Ireland (and dozens of others I’m not bothering to name) is that in America there just isn’t the same outlook on things, either from a lawbreaker’s point of view, or a law-abider’s point of view. If that makes sense.

    Example: When I was in Ireland, people got rowdy, there were arguments, sometimes. Brawls, even. Punches were thrown, words were had. It might be very loud. But never once did I ever feel like either side of the row was going to kill or seriously damage the other side. I mean, yeah maybe they hated each others guts, but hating someone is a long way from KILLING them. It’s just not done. NORMAL people don’t take out knives and guns and kill each other over inconsequential stuff like who took my barstool or sassed my girl.

    In America, if there’s a serious disagreement over anything from stolen chairs at a bar to misunderstood words, weapons (besides fists) often show up within the first minutes of the onset of the fight. It’s ridiculous. There’s no such thing as arguing without weapons.

  178. Possbily tangential (but hopefully not) is the idea that some violence could be prevented/avoided if more people were trained in de-escelation techniques. I know I would love to learn some, if only to de-escelate myself.

    In the situation that Bob v17.4.0 described, pulling a gun on the teenagers who pulled a gun on him would escelate the situtation. Personally if something like that happened to me I likely would have slammed on the brakes, pulled a U-turn and run away, but what I don’t know is if that would have made things better (the teens would have ‘won’ and let me go) or made things worse (the teens might have enjoyed ‘winning’ and tried it again, or decided to chase me).

    When I see people (other than cops) carrying guns, no matter who they are or what they are doing, I become anxious, and I know that this changes my behavior in ways that might make the people with guns anxious, which is exactly what I don’t want. This response has been hones by years of living in a city where the weapon of choice is passive-agressive ignoring.

  179. @Chris Gerrib: I do think a lot of the gun debate is driven by extremists. Per the NRA, about 8 million people in the US have an active carry permit. That sounds like a lot, but with over 300 million Americans, that’s only 2.5% of the population.

    It’s enough to make an interesting comparison. Presumably most of these people have to go through some sort of procedure to get a carry permit; in NZ, gun owners also have to go through considerable procedures to be licensed. Just over 5% of our population have done so.

    There’s a significant difference, of course, in that we need a licence just to own guns – there’s no civil right to ownership. But with 5% actively choosing and able to get that license, and 1.1 million guns in a population of 4 million, it’s not THAT difficult.

    The vast majority of them are category A weapons – rifles and shotguns intended for hunting. With anything else, the question is asked “why” and the answer “self defence” is not good enough (save for a very very few diplomatic protection staff who can be ignored).

    So in answer to the person above who considered licencing impossible – nope. It IS possible to have a rigorous licencing procedure on owners which enforces gun safety, excludes people considered by the police to be unsafe, allows a significant number of people who make the effort to own guns, and severely restricts anything other than hunting weapons.

    http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/firearms/standard-new-zealand-firearms-licence

  180. keranih: A legal technical definition based solely on rate of fire and magazine size, not on penetration of the rounds or range. Armor that can stop a rifle round needs to be either ceramic plate or a lamented fiber. A standard vest of Kevlar won’t stop one. So while an AR-15 doesn’t fit the legal definition of assault rifle, it fits my personal one.

    A licensed gunsmith can purchase three-round burst kits, though there are several federal hoops to jump through. Designs for a full-auto kit are readily available on-line.

    Moving on, there is one very curious thing I’ve noticed about this thread (other than the very polite and courteous honest-to-goodness conversations). I haven’t seen a single person mention a fear or concern as to what police officers might do if they see you with your gun drawn. There’s no “I might get shot by the cops” comments. Why is that? It certainly happens. I don’t even see “I might get forced onto my face and handcuffed, maybe even arrested ‘until they sort it all out’.” This is a real and legitimate concern for minorities like African Americans and Hispanics. There is a real risk that they could be shot or arrested for legally possessing a firearm, and that is something else that needs to be considered when it comes to guns.

    Can you imagine what the police response would have been if those Open Carry folks in Texas had been black or Hispanic or Middle Eastern?

    I like guns. They are mechanical marvels. They are also nothing more or less than a weapon meant to kill or harm. I personally feel that requiring thorough training for a concealed carry permit is reasonable, considering that this is a weapon meant to kill. I think a competency test on gun safety is also reasonable. It’s distressingly easy for the foolish to accidentally shot someone. I personally think the extremes on both sides need to be properly ostracized, since neither appears to be living in the real world, but instead they see some kind of idealized world (based purely on their own perceptions and completely ignorant of any other point of view or even personal experience).

    I trust police officers to carry because a) they have had at least some training in using it (certainly more than is required for a concealed permit) and b) there is more than one person legally responsible for what that officer does with his handgun and thus more than one person with a vested interest in that officer not misusing that gun.

    So, to sum it up, we need to really commit to treating guns as what they are: immensely deadly weapons that need to be treated with constant wariness and caution, rather than loud toys* that you shot targets with.

    *And yes, I’ve personally seen idiots treat them as exactly that.

  181. I was driving up the 101 in Marin County in 1997, I think. The freeway was quite empty, and I’m guessing it was a Sunday evening. A car pulled alongside. It was a big, expensive Mercedes. In it were five teenagers. They laughed and jeered, shouted things. Obnoxious teens. Go figure. Then they stopped laughing and one of them leant out of the window, pointing a gun at me. Right there, maybe seven feet away to my left. I didn’t do anything. I just carried on matching their speed and looked at the kid until, eventually, he leaned back in the car and they sped away, sulking.

    I’m a little concerned by the fact that no one has yet pointed out that this behavior by these thugs is completely unacceptable. No person should have people pointing weapons at them going down the highway.

    I’m also concerned that no one has asked “so, what did the cops say when you reported it?”

    These days, the smart phone camera is an awesome tool. Back then, one would have had to rely on memory of license plate and faces.

    In this case, I’m not disagreeing with the decision to ignore the taunts. Had the vehicle attempted to force one off the road, though, that might be a different situation, and one where a firearm might have made a difference.

    The decision to not pull off at the next stop and find a phone to call in a report on this kind of threatening behavior, though…I think that was a mistake, and likely only emboldened the thugs to go find someone else to try to push around.

  182. @mattmarovich: As a personal note, I also oppose current smart gun technology as it’s based on RFID which could, in theory, be blocked by someone unscrupulous. I like it in concept, but I’d like it to be done in a way that it wouldn’t be able to disable a legitimate user from using the weapon.

    Which do you consider more likely – an unscrupulous person planning on trouble will go to the trouble of designing and building some sort of RFID blocker on the remote chance that they will come up against someone with a smart gun, be able to use that blocker within a short range, and be able to prevent the gun owner from moving out of that range OR that an unscrupulous person planning on trouble will simply carry a gun and shoot someone bringing out a smart gun?

  183. @Tully

    “The reasoning is that the shotgun doesn’t have to be aimed”

    That’s VERY poor and dangerous reasoning based on a fallacy.

    Yes absolutely. This is surely in the top 5 list of misconceptions about guns.

    What is true is that any gun you hold onto with two hands and your shoulder is going to be considerably easier to point in the correct direction, particularly when under stress.

    I’m not well-versed on the over-penetration properties of various sorts of shot, but I do wish to note that people are generally more bullet-proof than drywall, so stuff that penetrates people will easily penetrate drywall.
    This site did some experiments:
    http://how-i-did-it.org/drywall/index.html

    Some varieties of AR-15 ammo does seem to be incapable of penetrating more than one wall constructed of 5/8ths drywall and 2×4, thought the experimenters note that the ones that did best with drywall don’t meet FBI recommendations for penetrating ballistic gelatin, though ones that did meet the FBI requirement weren’t too awful in wall penetration.

    If this is correct, AR-15 or other guns that shoot .223 ammo have several properties that are desirable for home defense, with the right choice of ammo. You use both hands, the recoil isn’t brutal, the bullets are less likely to visit the neighbor.

    I wonder if one could attach a device to the accessory rail to simulate the sound of a pump shotgun.

  184. I have 2 friends who are gun geeks (to use the terminology in this thread). One has 3 or 4 pistols and a couple of rifles, and keeps them locked in his gun safe at home when he doesn’t intend to take them to a range. He has children. The other enjoys some of the more exotic historic guns, has built a harquebus and intends to eventually build a Nock Volley Gun. Both of them have range training and experience in safe gun handling. I have no problems with their gun ownership, because they have taken steps to ensure they and others will be safe in the presence of their guns.

    While I have no particular desire to own a gun, we do have a pellet gun for plinking destructive free-range chickens. We also played paintball for over a decade, which is a soft-core introduction to gun safety. I say yes to training and registration, and reasonable limits on type and number of guns anyone can own or carry. Until the zombie apocalypse is imminent, let’s go for common sense.

  185. A legal technical definition based solely on rate of fire and magazine size, not on penetration of the rounds or range.

    Definitions have to be based on something. Rate of fire, multi-round magazine (including 3 round magazine) and light weight is what makes a weapon an assault rifle.

    It’s not some thing one has a personal defintion for, particularly if one wants to put legal restrictions on it.

    Armor that can stop a rifle round needs to be either ceramic plate or a lamented fiber.

    Right, but that’s rifles, period, not “assault rifles”. As a matter of fact, AR 15s have a relatively small, underpowered round, esp compared to deer rifles and AK 47s.

    A licensed gunsmith can purchase three-round burst kits, though there are several federal hoops to jump through.

    Three round burst is not full auto. And converting to full auto is illegal. It is something criminals do.

    There’s no “I might get shot by the cops” comments. Why is that?

    Because by the time the cops show up, the shooting has stopped. One is not outside runnin about, but standing over the intruder. When the cops show up, one raises one’s hands, obeys instructions, and yes, likely gets cuffed.

    This is a real and legitimate concern for minorities like African Americans and Hispanics.

    It’s a concern for Caucasian females, too. I would rather be cuffed and taken downtown for shooting a rapist than comforted by the police and taken to the hospital for a post-rape kit after the bastard leaves.

    Can you imagine what the police response would have been if those Open Carry folks in Texas had been black or Hispanic or Middle Eastern?

    I don’t have to imagine, we’ve already seen it. MSNBC would have cut and pasted them out of the picture in order to promote the idea that firearms and conservative values are only held by white rednecks.

    I trust police officers to carry because a) they have had at least some training in using it (certainly more than is required for a concealed permit)

    Check your local PD for details on this. I like cops, I respect cops, and I like having them around. But there is no magic wand that makes them not human, and the rules they have for range qualification are not always what the rules should be.

    Also, sad to say, there is a tendency in some departments to cover up bad shootings by cops.

    So, to sum it up, we need to really commit to treating guns as what they are: immensely deadly weapons that need to be treated with constant wariness and caution, rather than loud toys* that you shot targets with.

    Yes, agreed, a dozen times agreed.

  186. Again, it does seem to me to be absolutely extraordinary that someone who genuinely believes that she is at risk of someone breaking her door down to attack her doesn’t take the simple, straightforward and practical approach of getting the door reinforced, together with similar reinforcements of any other means of entry.

    It makes absolutely no sense to not bother doing that; if you really want to defend yourself then you play the percentages. The vast majority of opportunist criminals don’t waste their time on knocking down people’s doors which have been heavily reinforced; they go some place it’s easier to get into since it is, after all, a business.

    Choosing instead to nobly standing your ground, clutching your gun as the trashy door is kicked in, is not exactly a rational thing to do, and even more so if the person kicking the trashy door in has a lot more firepower than you, and knows how to use it.

    It is difficult to make sense of people who refuse to take such simple and effective steps to defend themselves, and then claim they need a gun because they haven’t taken those simple and effective steps…

  187. Um, quora requires a sign-in to even read the linked article and google appears not to cache it. Is it publicly available anywhere?

  188. @Jerome O’Neill: Bows worked OK at Crecey and Agincourt. :)

    I believe they came with stakes and hobelars as standard accessories, though. This makes the bow problematical as a weapon of self-defense – even if you could find a place for a cavalry troop in your bedroom, your spouse might object to the smell.

  189. @Jerome O’Neill: Bows worked OK at Crecey and Agincourt. :)

    I believe they came with stakes and hobelars as standard accessories, though. This makes the bow problematical as a weapon of self-defense – even if you could find a place for a cavalry troop in your bedroom, your spouse might object to the smell.

    Well, at Agincourt they also came with a really narrow, muddy field in which to get all those heavily armored knights bogged down.

    The point stands, though. The bow is an excellent defense weapon so long as you bring a thousand or so of your friends.

  190. @keranih

    A licensed gunsmith can purchase three-round burst kits, though there are several federal hoops to jump through.

    Three round burst is not full auto. And converting to full auto is illegal. It is something criminals do.

    I haven’t read the full text of the National Firearms Act, but I was under the impression that a three-round-burst rifle was an automatic weapon for legal purposes.

    Converting to full auto may be something criminals do in the theoretical sense, but the articles I’ve seen on the subject indicate that in practice, they do not.

    http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcassaul.html

    Not according to LAPD Detective Jimmy Trahin, testifying before the California State Assembly (Feb. 13,1989):

    … over 4,000 guns that came into the custody of our unit last year, less than 120 would be classified as this military-type weapon. Of those, only ten or less than ten were actually illegally converted to fully-automatic machine gun stocks. Why? Because these military style assault weapons of today are not easily and readily convertible without extensive knowledge of modifications to the weapon and/or substitution of available parts

    I think the part that detective Trahin left out is that criminals don’t use many rifles or machine-pistol-like guns to start with.

    I think it quite likely that the number of automatic weapons discharged by criminals on TV outnumber those discharged by actual criminals by a considerable magnitude, at least for those criminals operating well after 1934.

    I recall there was some scandal a some years back about National Guard soldiers stealing the relevant M-16 parts from Guard facilities where they were posted, but as I understand it, designs have been changed since then so you can’t just drop in hot parts.

  191. @stevie

    Choosing instead to nobly standing your ground, clutching your gun as the trashy door is kicked in, is not exactly a rational thing to do, and even more so if the person kicking the trashy door in has a lot more firepower than you, and knows how to use it.

    I think your point about reinforcing the door is a good one. Dogs can also be a good way to convince a would-be intruder to consider going elsewhere.

    I’m not so sure about this “more firepower than you” business though. Gun geeks like to go on about guns; that’s what they do. I think in practice, the question is more “does he have a gun”, maybe in some cases it gets as sophisticated as “does he have rifle or shotgun vs a handgun”. Does any criminal ever confront an armed potential victim and conclude that since he has a .45 and the victim only has a .32, he should continue business as usual. He may decide to do so, but it won’t be because of gun comparison. The same applies to the would-be victim.

    The wolf runs for dinner, the rabbit runs for his life.

  192. I wrote:

    You use both hands, the recoil isn’t brutal, the bullets are less likely to visit the neighbor.

    That was sloppy on my part. I didn’t mean to suggest that you should use a handgun with one hand. They are challenging enough with two.

    It is still true that using a shoulder arm is vastly easier.

  193. John: Point that not every gun owner is politically conservative; I was just reading a forum for liberal gun owners earlier today.

    Absolutely– but I’ve yet to see a liberal militia member.

    And the vast majority of political assassins in America target liberals.

    I will also posit that most liberal gun owners are much more tolerant and accepting of the idea of comprehensive background checks, etc.– in general not being afraid to take responsibility for themselves and their guns, and wanting others to do the same.

  194. MPAVictoria: As for fear and owning firearms for self-defense, I think of it as being prepared for an unlikelihood. Put it this way, I don’t live in fear of a car accident every time I drive, but I wear my seat belt and have insurance, even though in the fifteen years I’ve been driving I’ve managed to avoid ever being in a wreck. My personal firearms are the same way, I never expect to use them in anger, but they are there, and I am trained to use them, should the tragic necessity arise.

    John/Vmink: sorry about going slightly off topic, I just wanted to clarify that I don’t think personal firearms ownership is the only line of defense against possible oppression- I just think it’s one segment of the very last line of defense. One I don’t expect (and hope not) to see utilized in my lifetime.

  195. This feels a lot like a 60’s-70’s Archie Bunker conversation:

    I just had an argument (twitter slap fight) with someone that made me uncomfortable. So now I have gathered around my friends and feel it is important to assert “Really, some of my best friends are gun owners!” The well behaved ones with the right motives, you know.

    But there are these other ones, who show off their big guns (like big afros). In this conversation, I’m going to project my fear and bias onto them and declare that they are compensating for their own inadequacies by displaying those big guns (afros). And of course they are different and wrong to do that. All of us right thinking people can all agree on that, right?

    This way I can feel better because I said I am in favor of the “good” gun owners. It is thosse others that are scared and pitiful and marginalized. And of course I can dismiss anything the others say because, well; “They are just ignorant gun owners after all”. Nobody in our neighborhood (of the internet ) would ever have anything to do with them. In fact, there ought to be laws to keep them in their place and away from us. Or to make them conform to what we know is right.

  196. John,

    Another fellow you might agree with is Massad Ayoob, a noted gun writer. He wrote a book (which, sadly, does not appear to have been updated since 1983) titled The Truth About Self Protection. In it, he covered all the important topics, including: awareness, security systems, mental preparation, guns, etc. He had many of the same reservations as you and that weapons instructor. While the specific technology in the book is about 30 years out of date, the rest of it is still relevant.

  197. Dad of Four:

    “I just had an argument (twitter slap fight) with someone that made me uncomfortable.”

    This is the first place where you demonstrate you clearly have no idea who I am.

    Move along now, Dad. You’re disrupting people actually having useful conversations.

  198. @Dad of Four I’m going to go out on a limb here and postulate from your somewhat convoluted comment that you are firmly ‘anti-any-gun-anywhere’ and are merely dropping by to inform everyone else in the feed, as well as Mr. Scalzi, pointedly, that you think everyone who owns a gun, or believes people should have a right to own a gun are no better than the people who use guns in the commission of criminal acts.

    Since this is a polite thread, you’re perfectly welcome to any opinion you might have, though you might want to state it a tad more clearly because (and I’m truly not being sarcastic here) it’s not entirely clear whether you’re making an anti-gun statement, or some sort of racial statement, since you’re using afros as an analogy for ‘big guns’ which are ‘wrong’.

  199. “As for fear and owning firearms for self-defense, I think of it as being prepared for an unlikelihood. Put it this way, I don’t live in fear of a car accident every time I drive, but I wear my seat belt and have insurance, even though in the fifteen years I’ve been driving I’ve managed to avoid ever being in a wreck. My personal firearms are the same way, I never expect to use them in anger, but they are there, and I am trained to use them, should the tragic necessity arise.”

    You do realize that a gun in the home is much more likely to kill you or a loved one than any “attacker”.

    Why do you feel the need to have a gun? Who are you afraid of?

  200. Artemisgray:

    DoF was actually trying to model my thinking in his post. He did it poorly.

    That said, I’ve already invited him to move long. Responding to him when I won’t let him reply further is not fair play.

  201. ArtemisGrey – I obviously suck at irony and sarcasm. I am neither in favor nor against guns per se. I do like them. I also believe that those who want to own guns are well within their rights without having to justify themselves to others. God Bless America. I also am aware that many others disagree with this position. My concern with this thread is that some people who are in favor of owning guns are positioned and treated as the “other”; simply for their preference.

    John Scalzi – You are right,I do not know who you are. I think if I did, we would disagree on some things and agree on others. At the same time, this post \ topic soon after your twitter conversation with LC suggests a connection. If I am wrong on that assumption, so be it.

  202. I apologize, Mr. Scalzi, I was typing my comment (apparently) as you were posting yours. Your reply only showed up to me after I hit ‘post comment’ on my own reply. Feel free to delete my comment if you wish.

  203. Dad of Four:

    As noted earlier in the thread, this entry and discussion is supplementary to, not a continuation of, the Twitter discussion last night. It’s not directly on topic to it. This would be a nice place to remind folks that reading through the thread is a good idea.

    Again, let’s move on, please.

    Artemisgrey:

    No worries.

  204. @ Dad of Four Ah, thank you for clarifying. I can acknowledge the perception of an ‘us’ and ‘other’ after reading the threads, but because I feel as though both parties (pro-gun and less restriction as well as pro-gun with restriction, correct?) are commenting I don’t think that the differential between the two is being presented by anybody in a derogatory fashion. That’s an oversimplification of things, but I think it covers the gist of it.

  205. [gun laws look] pretty much exactly like persecution.

    Sir, I question whether you have any idea what persecution is. Applying reasonable restrictions*, even on “constitutionally permitted items”, is not and cannot be persecutory, because “the right to bear arms” has never been held to be absolute. (I am by no means a constitutional lawyer, but to my knowledge, no enumerated right has ever been held absolute. The 2nd was very recently and very specifically decided on.) I’d suggest you not try and argue that the right should be absolute. Around here, that’s referred to as the Libertarian Dismount, and it’s frowned upon. If you feel all restrictions are unreasonable, you’ve lost that argument, and you will continue to lose that argument for the foreseeable future, and continuing to push that argument is going to strip you of “the voice of reason” tone you’re clearly striving for. If you find a particular restriction onerous, it turns out you have a legal recourse: an appeal to the 2nd Amendment. Make your case in court. You may lose, but hey, that’s the price for living under the US Constitution. I mean, Chicagoans can own guns now, can’t they? (For all the good it’s doing them.) But the fact that such a recourse even exists indicates that you are not being persecuted. Disappointed, perhaps. Inconvenienced, maybe. But never, ever persecuted.

    * the key word there being “reasonable”

  206. MPAVictoria:

    The idea that a gun in the home is more likely to be used against the inhabitants than against an attacker comes from the Kellerman study. However, the authors of the study themselves said:

    “Mortality studies such as ours do not include cases in which burglars or intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of a firearm. Cases in which would-be intruders may have purposely avoided a house known to be armed are also not identified…A complete determination of firearm risks versus benefits would require that these figures be known.”

    So, they’re admitting that their study is limited by the fact that they did not measure anything but dead bad guys vs. dead good guys. And it stands to reason that frightened away, apprehended, and merely wounded bad guys are going to outnumber dead bad guys.

  207. @Stevie –

    Again, it does seem to me to be absolutely extraordinary that someone who genuinely believes that she is at risk of someone breaking her door down to attack her doesn’t take the simple, straightforward and practical approach of getting the door reinforced, together with similar reinforcements of any other means of entry.

    1) Why on earth do you think that I haven’t?

    2) The first time, they used a crowbar on the door. (A rental.)

    3) The second time, they threw a brick through the window.

    4) I had a dog, while she was there she was great. The last time when they did a solid break-in, me and the dog were at my parents.

    5) If I was a rape victim, instead of a victim of multiple break-ins, I would say that this sounds suspiciously like blaming the victim instead of either the specific attacker or the culture that supported attacks like this. But a) I’m not a rape victim, b) I wouldn’t play the victim card if I had been, and c) you guys, as fine upstanding citizens, would not imply that the attacks were not in any way my fault, rather than being the fault of the rat-bastards who did it, or that any efforts to protect myself were in anyway reprehensible.

    6) Why can I not both re-enforce the door *and* shoot him/them/it as he/they/it come through the door?

    @ Mike

    Converting to full auto may be something criminals do in the theoretical sense, but the articles I’ve seen on the subject indicate that in practice, they do not.

    Right. Nor do they typically use rifles or 100 rnd magazines either. Most murders are committed with handguns, and between 3 and 5 rounds are fired.

    Living one’s life as though a Sandy Hook was going to happen in your county is like living as though a 6.3 earthquake was going to happen at the same time as a CAT 5 hurricane tomorrow every day of your life.

    Far more sensible to be prepared to deal with muggers, power failures, and tornados.

    The wolf runs for his dinner

    *smiles with all her teeth* No bunny here.

  208. As someone who knows some of the people who started the Pink Pistols, I can personally attest that they’re gun geeks, not gun freaks.

  209. @ Doc Stevie

    Sir, I question whether you have any idea what persecution is.

    Is this directed at me, or some other person in the thread? *is somewhat confused*

  210. @keranih I’ve found one more thing that we agree on!

    ‘5) If I was a rape victim, instead of a victim of multiple break-ins, I would say that this sounds suspiciously like blaming the victim instead of either the specific attacker or the culture that supported attacks like this. But a) I’m not a rape victim, b) I wouldn’t play the victim card if I had been, and c) you guys, as fine upstanding citizens, would not imply that the attacks were not in any way my fault, rather than being the fault of the rat-bastards who did it, or that any efforts to protect myself were in anyway reprehensible.’

    This is such a valid point. So many times in the aftermath of a shooting people lose sight of actual facts and start looking at it in terms of ‘I don’t think firing the gun was reasonable’ or ‘I know I wouldn’t have fired it’ or ‘Why didn’t they have bars on the windows/extra locks, etc. I know throughout the thread you and I haven’t agreed, but there’s a huge difference to reacting to situations differently versus ‘victim blaming’ which is something that’s looked down upon in the case of rape victims, but overlooked (many times) in cases of shootings.

  211. I have actually read through all of the responses in the thread. That said, the words from your original post:

    “Have to display yourself with your guns and/or can’t bear to part with them for a moment? Dude, you’re afraid of every fucking thing in the world.

    I’m gonna be thinking that every time I see that picture of you with your big damn gun. I doubt I’ll be the only one.”

    this is what struck me as projection and prejudice in your original post.

  212. Dad of Four:

    Definitely not projection. I’m not afraid of everything in the world. It’s an assessment, however, and a first impression, as noted in the entry. Sometimes those first impressions might be erroneous, or incomplete. Sometimes they’ll be right on the money.

  213. @ artemisgrey

    Dang. Going to have to watch that, people will talk. ;)

    I think there is definitely a place for ‘after action round tables’ and I think that most of us benefit from outside perspectives on what we have done. I don’t think that giving good advice – meet new people in groups, watch your alcohol consumption, dress like you want to dance, not jump into bed, lock your doors, trim your hedges – is ‘victim blaming’ – it’s just helping people figure out ways to reduce risk.

    I do think that it is very easy to mispeak to the point of confusing the issue, though, and giving people the impression that the primary driver for a criminal action lay with the person assaulted or robbed, and not the criminal. Yes, if I left a door unlocked, that likely contributed to my stuff being stolen. But it doesn’t change the fact that someone came into my house (which was not theirs) and took my stuff (again, NOT THEIRS) and walked out with it. Forgetting to lock the door could have been a mistake on my part. You don’t walk into another person’s place and take their stuff “by mistake.”

    Now, if interpersonal sexual interactions were always so clear cut, that would be great.

  214. @keranih People are definitely going to talk :) because, this?

    ‘I think there is definitely a place for ‘after action round tables’ and I think that most of us benefit from outside perspectives on what we have done. I don’t think that giving good advice – meet new people in groups, watch your alcohol consumption, dress like you want to dance, not jump into bed, lock your doors, trim your hedges – is ‘victim blaming’ – it’s just helping people figure out ways to reduce risk.

    I do think that it is very easy to mispeak to the point of confusing the issue, though, and giving people the impression that the primary driver for a criminal action lay with the person assaulted or robbed, and not the criminal. Yes, if I left a door unlocked, that likely contributed to my stuff being stolen. But it doesn’t change the fact that someone came into my house (which was not theirs) and took my stuff (again, NOT THEIRS) and walked out with it. Forgetting to lock the door could have been a mistake on my part. You don’t walk into another person’s place and take their stuff “by mistake.”

    Now, if interpersonal sexual interactions were always so clear cut, that would be great.’

    YES. Just YES!!!

  215. Keranih

    Those of us who live in countries with exceedingly strict gun controls have to work out how to defend ourselves and our homes without guns. The vast majority of our police forces are unarmed, and they have to work out how to deal with criminals without shooting them.

    It is, therefore, entirely natural for me to think in terms of what I do to enhance my security, since I don’t have the option of shooting someone, and the police aren’t going to be shooting burglars either.

    The upside of this is that my chances of getting shot are negligible, and I have, fortunately, never been burgled.

  216. Those of us who live in countries with exceedingly strict gun controls have to work out how to defend ourselves and our homes without guns. The vast majority of our police forces are unarmed, and they have to work out how to deal with criminals without shooting them.

    Stevie, could you be a little more specific about *which* countries with exceedingly strict gun controls you are talking about? Because I’ve been in multiple countries with strict gun controls that have military police at road blocks with assault rifles. In those countries, my chances of getting shot were much higher than they are in my home town in the USA.

    Where I agree with you is that if your only option is fortifying the castle wall, that one should do that. Many people in the USA also take advantage of these sorts of arrangements, they are called “gated communities” and often include an armed guard and armed security patrols.

    (And congrats on not getting burgled! May your good fortune continue for a long time.)

  217. Guys comparing someone questioning your decision to shoot a human being to the “victim blaming” that rape survivors often face is NOT cool (or am I misinterpreting you? I hope I am).

  218. @keranih, given that you’ve been very civil and straightforward in your discussion, even where you strongly disagree, I am a bit surprised to see you sort of skipping past the discussion of how race affects the right and ability to carry a weapon, let alone use one in self-defense. As a Caucasian female, I do not have anywhere near the same level of worry as a black man or woman would that a police officer is going to assume I am a gangbanger or a threat who should be pre-emptively shot dead; ‘taken down to the station in handcuffs for a while so we can sort out why you shot that would-be rapist’ is not a lot of fun, but very different than ‘executed because whoa, he had a gun, or a cell phone that might have been a gun if you squint hard. If a group of black men with long guns thrown over their shoulders stroll into a Chipotle, it would be amazing if the only bad thing that happened were MSNBC being sleazy about reporting it, rather than a SWAT team being called in.

    This is not an argument that guns are bad. It’s an observation that when we talk about the right to have a gun and the right to self-defense, in the US, at least, we have a very long and ugly history of who gets to exercise those rights and who doesn’t. I think that’s an important part of the conversation about self-defense and open carry.

    WRT advice, yes, it is victim-blaming and not simply “good advice”, particularly as it’s almost impossible to follow (one person’s “dressing to dance” is a rapist-excuser’s “dressing for sex”), impractical (never meeting new people unless you have a posse?) and assumes that rape is brought on by indecent sexual behavior, like not ‘jumping’ into bed.

  219. Keranih

    I live in England, and our military police deal only with the military and have no civilian functions; there is a very clear dividing line, so no military police with assault rifles at roadblocks.

    Our weather is not always delightful but you can at least enjoy the benefits of ‘very unlikely to be shot’ tourism.

    I’m perfectly happy to visit places where well trained people are toting massive weaponry -see Presidents Hollande and Obama in Paris above- and I’m perfectly happy to visit places where there are a very high proportion of gun owners -see Basel, Switzerland above- but I am not happy visiting places where the legislature has concluded that people must be allowed to carry their loaded guns wherever and whenever they want.

    People have to be pretty terrified to believe that they need a loaded gun with them at all times, and people who are terrified are not very good at making reasoned judgements; I simply don’t want to be anywhere near them…

  220. It is true that there is a great deal of room for discussion on the interplay of weapons, race, and violence in this country. However, as young African American gangbangers are already using firearms as bling *and* using them to commit violence, even where firearms are highly regulated, I think we should look elsewhere for the race-related issues with using a firearm for self-defense.

    Current laws make it illegal for felons to own weapons. Increasing background checks will only make it more difficult for previous felons to legally own weapons. (Weapons rights for felons is very complex and I don’t want to get more bogged down in it.)

    The highest rates of firearm violence are in specific African American urban areas with high levels of poverty, highly transient populations, and very strong gun control laws. For a person living in those areas, even without racial bias, being in possession of a firearm is going to get one in deep trouble with the law.

    If we were to ease the already present barriers against legal possession of firearms by those citizens, I think that much of the police overreaction (when it happens) would decrease. And it would surely lessen the ability of drug-running thugs to terrorize neighborhoods.

    If people want to look at the history of arming minorties in the USA, an excellent resource is “The Negro and the Gun”. http://www.amazon.com/Negroes-Gun-Black-Tradition-Arms-ebook/dp/B00E2RWQHM

  221. @keranih, I don’t understand the comment about looking elsewhere; the problem is that who is and is not perceived to be a legitimate owner of a gun is not race-neutral. Particularly in a society where what is considered a crime, who is assumed to be a criminal or “gangbanger”, and who is more likely to be arrested, prosecuted and convicted for the same crimes, and to have possession of a weapon criminalized, are not race-neutral issues.

    As Cricket notes, people in areas with high levels of poverty and violence are already arming themselves, because they have to, whether or not they’re doing so legally. I’m not sure why you believe that would lessen police overreaction, particularly given that the poverty, ‘drug running’ and gang membership is also heavily influenced by racism. Disarming African-Americans and seeing any black man with a gun as an immediate threat wasn’t invented by gangsta rap.

    Thanks for the interesting book recommendation, btw.

  222. MPAVictoria You’re not misunderstanding the analogy.

    But I’m not sure why you would feel as though blaming a girl’s rape on the girl, because she wore a short skirt is inappropriate, but blaming someone who shot an intruder in self-defense for provoking the incident by living in a certain area, or not having a certain type of door is perfectly reasonable.

    @keranih has already acknowledged here:

    ‘I think there is definitely a place for ‘after action round tables’ and I think that most of us benefit from outside perspectives on what we have done.’

    that there SHOULD be certain forums for discussing events (be they home invasions that resulting in a defensive shooting or anything else) And she certainly hasn’t made any case for automatically dismissing the fact that someone shot and killed someone else. She merely pointed out that everyone defends rape victims (rightly so) because no matter what happened, they neither deserved, nor invited the altercation, but very often in publicized cases of someone shooting an intruder, the public sees no fault in questioning why the homeowner did whatever they ended up doing. Which – in *SOME* cases – turns into a form of victim blaming.

    Now, killing someone is a tragedy. Period. Justified or not, someone is dead. Yes, shootings need to be examined. I think it’s reasonable that they be investigated, and *should* it turn out (as it does in some situations) that the shooter really did overstep their rights, measures can be taken to hold them accountable.

    I don’t think that @keranih in any way meant to imply that one crime is worse, or less worse than the other.

  223. @ mythago –

    My point is that the degree to which people use race as a factor of “good guy vs thug” is complicated by laws and legal standing. It’s not unreasonable to think that, in a neighborhood where all guns are illegal, that any African American with a gun is a bad guy.

    Because he *is* a criminal, because he has an illegal firearm.

    Yes, there is racial bias in police response. There is also racial bias in death rates from firearms, and racial bias in who uses firearms to kill. Continuing to deliberately pass and increase laws that punish African Americans for attempting to defend themselves is, imo, a far bigger factor than the racial bias of individual responders.

    Our response to “DWB” and discriminatory lunch counters has not been to promote the idea that maybe we should have fewer cars and not so many lunch counters. Instead we have vigerously promoted the idea – with marches and education – that African Americans in vehicles and at lunch counters are normal, non-threatening, acceptable occurances.

    (And I seem to recall reading that ‘normalization through public exposure’ was part of the SSM campaign as well, and before that in normalizing homosexuality to the general public.)

    Dragging this back to the original topic – rude asses who are trying to get a rise out of people are rude asses, no matter if they are armed or not. Polite people who open doors and eat quietly in a restaraunt are polite people, no matter if they are armed or not. We should absolutely point out rude people and say, “Don’t be rude”.

  224. @stevie I’m in America, but I’ve lived temporarily in Ireland, which is not all that different from England in as much as the police don’t carry guns. One of the major differences, I feel, between ‘defending my home’ in a country like Ireland, and America’ is that when I was in Ireland, I never worried that someone who might break into my home would also try to kill me. The people of Ireland, even the ‘bad guys’ did not instill life threatening fear in me. At worse, I figured it would be a brawl, yes, I might get hurt. But I never feared for my life from someone breaking in. Here in America, unfortunately, it’s not the same. So often here, people who are willing to break into an occupied dwelling are also willing to kill that occupant just to avoid having them testify against them. It’s a sad fact, but one that could be supported by statistical facts if one did the research.

  225. MPAVictoria, what am I afraid of? Clowns and heights, but that’s not important right now.

    Why do I keep firearms? Well, to elaborate on my initial statment: I keep firearms in case of the unlikely, but far from impossible, event that someone breaks into my home with evil intent. Oh, and because they’re fun to shoot recreationally, as aforementioned.

    You quote statistics about firearms accidents, but fail to realize those statistics change when you account for safety measures and training. I store my firearms properly, and I am a trained marksman with combat experience. I’m fairly confident of my ability to both distinguish the target properly and hit what I’m aiming at in the close confines of a house- even with the adrenal gland working over time.

  226. @artimisgrey “people who are willing to break into an occupied dwelling are also willing to kill that occupant just to avoid having them testify against them”

    Though I (wussy European that I am) wonder if the likelihood that the occupant might reach under the bed and pull out a gun might also be colouring that. If you think that there’s a reasonable chance that the home owner might be able to kill you then it makes sense (in a mindset I’m sure we none of us have) to make sure that can’t happen.

  227. Nickpheas, soooo, it’s our fault for fighting back?

    I wasn’t comfortable with the victim blaming analogy a minute ago, but you’re making it more appealing.

  228. @nickpheas@artimisgrey@stevie

    There are places in the USA with very low crime rates. Likewise in the UK. There are also places in the USA & the UK with very high crime rates. While the murder rate with firearms is much lower in the UK than the USA, and the murder rate with non-firearms (feet, knives –

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Lee_Rigby

    – and so forth) is also lower in the UK than the USA, there’s a good deal of evidence to suggest that actual crime and violence isn’t significantly lower in the UK, and may be higher. (But not as high as some have claimed.) See discussion here: http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2013/01/12/fact-checking-ben-swann-is-the-uk-really-5-times-more-violent-than-the-us/

    As for home invasions – the data is tricky to work out, but US robberies tend to occur when the occupants are not home, more so than in the UK.

  229. @nickpheas Look at it this way. How many European burglars beat the homeowners to death during their home invasions? I’m reasonably sure that most Europeans have candlesticks or large books or kitchen chairs. If European burglars go into homes understanding that there is a ‘reasonable chance that the home owner might’ hit them with an object in the home, why don’t they ‘make sure that can’t happen’ by bludgeoning the home owner before they can strike back with the nearest blunt object?

    They don’t bludgeon the people they’re robbing because, in my limited experience, in European countries even the criminals see a huge difference between stealing inanimate objects and killing people. But criminals in America often don’t. The apathy toward human life here is staggering.

    And before anyone tries to make a point on it, no, I don’t think ‘good’ guys having guns is going to make the ‘bad guys’ any less ‘bad’. Guns will not change the way people think. But they might allow some of us to defend ourselves or those we love.

  230. The idea that a gun in the home is more likely to be used against the inhabitants than against an attacker comes from the Kellerman study. However, the authors of the study themselves said:

    Does this number include suicides? Suicides in the United States are significantly more common than homicides justified or otherwise.

    When assessing yours own risk, one should take into account your propensity to committing suicide.

  231. “And before anyone tries to make a point on it, no, I don’t think ‘good’ guys having guns is going to make the ‘bad guys’ any less ‘bad’. Guns will not change the way people think. But they might allow some of us to defend ourselves or those we love.”

    Yep. That about sums it up.

  232. artemisgrey

    I’m glad that you liked Ireland, and clearly you feel that there’s a very big difference in your personal safety between Ireland and the USA; it is your perception that is important.

    Reliable statistics are hard to find but it appears that the murder level in the US has now declined to around that in 1960; 86% of murders involve people previously known to each other.

    That leaves 14% which could include people murdering in the course of a robbery of a private home, but I cannot find any research that suggests that this is a significant component, or that you are at higher risk of being killed in this way than back in 1960.

    Statistically you are at much higher risk of being murdered by someone you know; sadly this may involve someone using your gun to kill you. It is, of course, entirely up to you to make your own choices, just as it is entirely up to me to make my choices about avoiding people who fetishise guns.

  233. “It is still true that using a shoulder arm is vastly easier.”

    No argument, Mike, completely true. I skipped much detail as it’s somewhat tangential to the thread. Even if you’re not firing from the shoulder, you have a much longer sighting indicator with a shotgun (the barrel) to work with and a larger firearm mass resulting in lesser felt recoil at any pistol-equivalent “lead projection” level. I mostly wanted to address the “shotguns don’t need to be aimed” myth/fallacy. They do indeed require proper aiming, just like any firearm. Inside of normal self-defense distances (<20 ft) pattern spread is fairly negligible, and close doesn't cut it. They're not short-distance space-sweepers as movies/fiction too often imply.

  234. The article John links does have some stuff worth thinking about, some of his emphasis is strange.

    How many criminals have had expert training in disarming people with hand guns?

    His point #2 about weapons being difficult to use starts with an exploded diagram of a shotgun and explains that you need to learn how to strip and lubricate the weapon. Yes this is true, but he makes it sound like a non-marine will be hopelessly overwhelmed by the process. He implies that you need to take it completely apart, down to ever little part in that diagram.

    Field stripping and cleaning a firearm is usually not rocket science. The manual has directions. There are YouTube videos for common models.

    It is not a lot easier to screw it up than do it right, provided that you go to the trouble of getting trained in how to do it right.

  235. @pavepusher
    “That would be murder. A slung weapon is not an imminent threat. Nor is any open carry weapon if not in the hand, at the ready, and in a posture or with verbalizations presenting a threat.”

    Obviously it would be murder—which, be it duly noted, I neither endorse nor condone; and I do not endorse or condone it at the hands of anyone else. My point is that a slung weapon has a large chance of NOT being defensively useful, despite what the wearer might think, because of the time differential in bringing various types of weapons to bear.

    So, since it’s not good defense, it’s merely posturing—a kind of posturing, which, I fear, might lead to the soi-disant Good Guy With A Gun being perceived instead as a Bad Guy With A Gun who simply hasn’t started shooting yet. (There might be a perception, even if a wrong one, of imminent threat.)
    And people who feel threatened might take unpleasant actions. I do not wish for unpleasant things to happen, whether to the Open Carry guys or to innocent bystanders in the store/restaurant/etc. Bystanders which could include me.

  236. @stevie

    ‘Statistically you are at much higher risk of being murdered by someone you know; sadly this may involve someone using your gun to kill you. It is, of course, entirely up to you to make your own choices, just as it is entirely up to me to make my choices about avoiding people who fetishise guns.’

    Statistically, yes, I’m at much higher risk of being murdered by someone I know, and yes it may well involve a gun. That’s true. I’m not sure where you’re going with the ‘up to you to make your own choices’ those choices being what? Are you meaning my choice to own my own gun, which might give me the option to at least fight back? Are you suggesting that standing there with my hands up begging for my life while an enraged acquaintance shoots me with a gun is an okay choice, just not one I’ve opted for?

    Also, just for the sake of clarity do you see any civilian who wishes to own a gun as someone who ‘fetishizes guns’? Or are you referring to the ‘let me post pictures of myself hugging and kissing my weapons’ gun owners? Because I am definitely not fond of, and have no wish to be clumped in with, the gun owners who display their weapons as if they were beloved family members or significant others. Each to his own, but I personally view my gun as a valuable – dangerous – tool, not to be mishandled or flashed around, but to (hopefully never) be used only in defense. Or, perhaps, in a situation involving injured wild animals who are suffering and need to be mercifully dispatched.

  237. MPA Victoria said Justin if you need a firearm to feel safe you are afraid

    Above, Stevie said People have to be pretty terrified to believe that they need a loaded gun with them at all times, and people who are terrified are not very good at making reasoned judgements; I simply don’t want to be anywhere near them…

    And our mallet-welding host has said Have to display yourself with your guns and/or can’t bear to part with them for a moment? Dude, you’re afraid of every fucking thing in the world.

    This seems to be a theme – some people see people with firearms, use the possession of firearms to deduce that the people with firearms are afraid to the point of mental incapacitation, and so reject/shun/ostricize/mock the people with guns, on the grounds of terrified people in public are dangerous, particularly if they have firearms.

    (Please correct me if I’m off, here.)

    I think there are some pretty large mistakes of fact here, but I’d like feedback on whether or not this is actually a good summary of what people think.

  238. MPAVictoria, I’m not much for psychobabble. I’ve answered your question. If you have a counterargument, please make it, otherwise we should probably stop clogging the thread with repetetive back and forth.

  239. @MPAVictoria I think there’s a difference between ‘Needing a gun in order to feel safe’ and ‘Feeling safER with a gun at hand. I know you were directing your question to Justin, but I just wanted to offer that.

    In my case, do I feel safe without a gun? Yes. Do I feel safer with a gun? Yes. (in most cases, anyway) Can I safely kill a poisonous snake with a long stick or pole? Yes. Would I feel safer killing a poisonous snake from a distance with a firearm? Yes. And it would be more humane, as well.

  240. “I can only think of two reasons why someone would want to openly carry a firearm, especially a very large one that reduces personal mobility by virtue of being so big and heavy. The first is in order to intimidate people around you. The second is simply to show off. But gun owners who fancy that people at McDonald’s and Chipotle will be impressed by their peacocking should learn that most people are unlikely to be impressed. I thought my Doctor Who fan club button might impress people back in 1986. I was wrong. Our interests, however devoted we are to them, don’t necessarily have universal acclaim. You might think your hobby is cool, but it doesn’t mean the rest of us do, especially when we’re worried it might kill somebody. At least my sonic screwdriver wasn’t dangerous.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/06/04/nra-gun-control-safety-column/9881417/

  241. ” If you have a counterargument, please make it, otherwise we should probably stop clogging the thread with repetetive back and forth.”

    My counter argument is that if you think you need a gun to be safe you are afraid. And my question is, what are you afraid of? Seems pretty simple to me but you are right we are just talking past each other.

  242. I’m a little concerned by the fact that no one has yet pointed out that this behavior by these thugs is completely unacceptable. No person should have people pointing weapons at them going down the highway.

    For serious, you’re bothered that nobody felt like they needed to chime in that it’s not cool to point weapons at fellow drivers? Lacking that explicit statement you figured, in a thread kicked off about guns being more dangerous than the problems they are meant to solve, people might think it’s all a-okay to go pointing pistols on US 1?

    If you really feel that denunciation is necessary, okay – I think it’s totally naughty tsk-tsk badness to imply you’re going to blow someone’s head off from the neighboring lane. I will also, for the sake of streamlining, go on record saying that setting people on fire or poking them in the eye with a needle is similarly impolite.

    Mocking ridiculous rhetoric I have no issues with.

  243. @MPAVictoria Kudos on the Doctor Who referencing.

    I think someone farther up the thread already specifically addressed the Chipotle and McDonalds incidents that you’re referring to, and in those specific cases people were actively protesting a Texas law that forbid open carry of handguns, but NOT long guns. The entire point behind the actions of those gun owners was to show how ridiculous it was to forbid the carrying of hand guns, which meant that should you wish to open carry a firearm you have no choice but to make it a long gun.

    Whether or not you think anyone should ever open carry any gun, those particular incidents while not an act of ‘showing off’ WERE an act of making a point. I’m not saying I, personally, would ever do that, either. I’m just pointing out that in those cases there was a clear intention to get attention for what they saw as an unconstitutional law.

  244. MPAVictoria, I’m armed against possible violence against me or mine. I don’t live in fear of it in the same way I don’t live in fear of a house fire, yet my family and I have a fire drill and smoke alarms. I think you’re trying to imply that I have to be irrationally afraid to own a firearm, well, I disagree. I have a very rational concerns which I address by being prepared for undesirable contingencies. Now- if you want to say I’m “afraid” of crime by that reasoning, sure, go ahead, if it will move the conversation on and you can make a point.

    As far as the Whovian you quoted- meh. I agree it’s obnoxious to wave rifles and shotguns around in public. And a really well-made sonic screw driver replica does impress me. :)

  245. “Whether or not you think anyone should ever open carry any gun, those particular incidents while not an act of ‘showing off’ WERE an act of making a point. I’m not saying I, personally, would ever do that, either. I’m just pointing out that in those cases there was a clear intention to get attention for what they saw as an unconstitutional law.”

    These open carry types are FAR worse than that.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/guns-bullying-open-carry-women-moms-texas

    The only reason to walk around with a big gun is to intimidate the opposition into being silent.

  246. “I think you’re trying to imply that I have to be irrationally afraid to own a firearm, well, I disagree. I have a very rational concerns which I address by being prepared for undesirable contingencies. Now- if you want to say I’m “afraid” of crime by that reasoning, sure, go ahead, if it will move the conversation on and you can make a point.”

    I view these as irrational fears and am happy to live in a place where getting a gun is a little more difficult. I hope in time the US moves in that direction. Currently it looks like your side of the debate is in winning and your fellow citizens will just have to “shelter in place” and hope for the best.

    But as you said we are not going to convince each other.

  247. MPAVictoria, careful with absolutes. Intimidating the opposition into silence is certainly a possible reason, and I’d entertain arguments that it’s a likely reason, but it is not the only POSSIBLE reason.

    But that’s sophistry on my part, not germane to the main crux of the argument. I think it’s obnoxious too, but not all weapon owners make a show of owning weapons. Those that do may be within their rights, but I don’t think it helps anything.

  248. “MPAVictoria, careful with absolutes. Intimidating the opposition into silence is certainly a possible reason, and I’d entertain arguments that it’s a likely reason, but it is not the only POSSIBLE reason.”

    I would say only possible reason besides mental illness. In which case they shouldn’t have the gun in question.

  249. MPAVictoria, et al:

    I think this particular conversation has been carried as far as it usefully can. I suggest letting it rest at this point.

  250. MPAVictoria, well, that’s the limit of your imagination then, not reality. But I’m done, I don’t want to get malleted for drawing us further off topic, and, as I said, regardless of motivation, it’s not a helpful practice.

  251. Mr. Scalzi is it acceptable for me to thank @MPAVictoria for the link to that article? It was very eye-opening and informative and I appreciate the link.

  252. JS – do you mean the particular thread, or does my question about the comment in the original post of “people with guns are afraid” also apply?

    And if that’s the case (that it does fall under the shadow of the mallet) can we get a restatement of the topic? Pretty please?

  253. And before anyone tries to make a point on it, no, I don’t think ‘good’ guys having guns is going to make the ‘bad guys’ any less ‘bad’. Guns will not change the way people think. But they might allow some of us to defend ourselves or those we love.

    Wait. You’re going to try and argue that deterrence is not a factor? That’s awfully revisionist, don’t you think? In fact, I’ll just straight up call bullshit on that. That’s the primary purpose of open carrying. It’s the foundational logic, tortured though it may be, behind “An armed society is a polite society”. You, artemisgrey and Justin, might not be thinking about deterrence in your decision making, but you don’t get to make a categorical dismissal of the notion.

    Please correct me if I’m off, here.

    First, keranih, I owe you an apology. You handle and avatar are somewhat androgynous, I didn’t read the thread carefully, and I let my biases show. Pardon me, ma’am.

    That said, it’s high time you climb down off your cross. The persecution complex you have is truly unbecoming. Some people make look at the statements vocal gun owners like yourself make, do an internal risk assessment (which will likely include significant biases), and conclude that fear is a motivator in the behavior of such gun owners. They may then describe that fear as anywhere from “healthy” to “unwarranted” to “irrational” to “paranoid” to “incapacitating”. This conclusion may or may not be correct. You, ma’am, are welcome to, and I’m quite certain you do, make your own assessments of the kind of fear gun control advocates have about things like accidental shootings, mass shootings, domestic terrorism, and suicide rates. Your conclusions also have a chance of being correct or not. In both cases, the assessments are “fair”, in a very broad sense, insofar as there do exist people who are afraid, possibly even “to the point of mental incapacitation”, of being gunned down by home-invaders or their next door neighbors. But let’s not pretend that such accusations come solely from one camp or the other. Or that gun owners aren’t wont to try to reject/shun/ostracize/mock “gun grabbers”. People are not always kind or reasonable – if they were, you wouldn’t need to arm yourself for protection, would you?

  254. Karanih:

    The current conversation between you and Justin and MPAVictoria is, I think, at a point where it’s pretty much played out. I think that conversation should be drawn to a close. Everything else may proceed.

    Note also that I didn’t say “people with guns are afraid” in the original article (or after that, either). I note a specific category of gun owner.

    DocRocketscience:

    Fixed your tag fail.

  255. I didn’t say anything about deterence not being a factor. I just don’t think it will ever be enough to completely stop violent crime. Also, I have no trouble acknowleding that some gun owners are paranoid asshats who call names instead of discussing issues just like some gun control advocates are paranoid asshats who prefer name-calling to discourse. But I take exception to the idea that paranoia is the only reason to see firearms as a valid means of self defense as MPVictoria was despearately trying to imply. But we’ve been told to drop that- so, yeah, there.

  256. @DocRocketScience ‘Wait. You’re going to try and argue that deterrence is not a factor? That’s awfully revisionist, don’t you think? In fact, I’ll just straight up call bullshit on that. That’s the primary purpose of open carrying. It’s the foundational logic, tortured though it may be, behind “An armed society is a polite society”. You,/i>, artemisgrey and Justin, might not be thinking about deterrence in your decision making, but you don’t get to make a categorical dismissal of the notion.’

    I’m confused. Are you inferring that deterring ‘bad’ guys’ from acting on civilians is the same as changing the way they thing and making them less inclined to be ‘bad guys’?

    I never mentioned ‘deterrence’ because I don’t think me having a gun will turn someone inclined to criminal activity less inclined to criminal activity. I DO think that if a so-inclined person sees me carrying a weapon they’ll be less likely to act in a criminal fashion ON ME. They might, indeed be deterred from acting right then.

    But I don’t think that simply knowing I have a weapon will change the way they think and see the world.

    That said, I also did not make a ‘categorical dismissal’ of anything. In fact, I said ‘I don’t think’ I, me, this body my soul inhabits. I in no way sought to pronounce my opinion to be that of every other person, nor would I do so. I only intended to head-off anyone wishing to head down the road of ‘violence against violence won’t win peace’ or anything of the sort, which would be off topic in regard to the thread that Mr. Scalzi has so kindly kept open.

  257. @keranih: “This seems to be a theme – some people see people with firearms, use the possession of firearms to deduce that the people with firearms are afraid to the point of mental incapacitation, and so reject/shun/ostricize/mock the people with guns, on the grounds of terrified people in public are dangerous, particularly if they have firearms.

    (Please correct me if I’m off, here.)”

    I believe the point stemming from JS’s original post above wasn’t merely the presence of firearms, but the fetishization of firearms, in both senses of the word. That there are gun owners who display and preen over their guns in an unhealthy way removed from any valid real-world application (believing they need their gun in the event the US Government becomes tyrannical and requires overthrow, for example). There are also gun owners who hold their gun as a sacred object guaranteeing them complete safety in the world, and express a willingness to use it for any and all situations, ranging from home invasion to kids in the next car with their stereo turned up too loud.

    It’s very similar to the difference between seeing someone comfortable in their own skin versus someone insecure about their attractiveness. Some people who own and carry guns do so with responsibility, and you might not even notice their firearm because they don’t make a point of drawing your attention to it. Others feel the need to stand on their lawn brandishing, so everyone knows not to fuck with them. The latter are most definitely terrified people, no matter how loudly they deny their terror.

  258. @ Johnscalizi – Okay, fair enough.

    Rolling all the way back up to the top, then…

    We have are firearms a decent method of self defense. JS posted a link that says, no, not really, while a variety of studies (summarized here: http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/rape ) suggest otherwise.

    We also have there are some people who handle firearms poorly and are a danger to themselves and others. True dat. I suggested a broad education package, which got some support and about an equal amount of “it will never work”. Are there other suggestions to address the (allegedly) widespread public danger from careless use of firearms by gun owners and non-owners?

    Beyond just people who don’t handle guns safely it seems there is a third part to the discussion – some types of gun owners are assholes who like to make the muggles jump/squirm.

    From reading the comments, it seems that people are as much displeased about the third one as they are the second.

    There does not seem to be much agreement about how to handle the third one. Perhaps it is because no one yet has figured out a way to satisfactorily make “being an asshole” illegal. Or, in our current state of expanding individual rights and freedoms, of even making it socially unacceptable.

    I am fully ready to get behind effective measures to address people harming other people. I am not so ready to armor up for a campaign against people being assholes.

    I am, however, open to suggestions.

  259. Statistically, crime victims who defend themselves with firearms have much better results (e.g. under 1% of attempted rapes completed) than those who use any other tactic. I would say that’s clearly cause and effect.

    Statistically, the cities with the strongest gun regulations have more crimes and gun crimes. I’d say that’s a correlation that deserves further investigation.

    In the last 20 years, most states have gone from “no carry” or “may issue a permit if they feel like it” to “shall issue”; the number of guns has roughly doubled, and the number of murders and gun murders has dropped by half. Again, those are all just statistics; but any argument that depends on them not being the case thereby fails.

  260. Glad you enjoyed the article Artemis.

    Will now be dropping off as per Mr Scalzi’s direction.

  261. artemisgrey, you said:

    And before anyone tries to make a point on it, no, I don’t think ‘good’ guys having guns is going to make the ‘bad guys’ any less ‘bad’. Guns will not change the way people think.

    The categorical dismissal is in the first clause. It’s saying, “This isn’t an argument you can make to me.” The phrase “I don’t think” doesn’t soften that as much as you imagine.

    Beyond that, you’re splitting that hair awfully fine. At best, the behavioral change is so limited as to be useless in a larger context, but it’s still a change. (Also, you’ve down deflected the threat in the direction of another target. You might not consider that any problem of yours, but you’ll have to forgive me for not applauding that philosophy.) And as I said, the logic behind “An armed society…” is to make all the “bad guys” (and can’t we all just grow up beyond this kind of pre-pubescent phraseology) change their behavior, so they don’t act in criminal ways for fear of being shot.

  262. keranih,

    I suggested a broad education package, which got some support and about an equal amount of “it will never work”.

    The response wasn’t “it will never work”, the response was “Who’s going to pay for it?” (More specifically, it was “How do we incorporate this into the already over-cramped and under-funded public school curriculum?”) It’s not other people’s job to solve that problem for you.

    You also mentioned that you felt it should be the responsibility of parents over the schools, so my question then becomes “Who’s going to enforce it?” Parent are free to instruct their children in firearm use and safety now, and many do. What incentive, either carrot or stick, do you propose to increase this?

  263. @ DocRocketScience – The response wasn’t “it will never work”, the response was “Who’s going to pay for it?” [snip] It’s not other people’s job to solve that problem for you.

    My apologies! I was taking my lead from those who suggested “If you improperly store your guns, and they fall into the wrong hands, you are responsible for what happens with it. Failure to report a stolen gun should carry pretty stiff penalties.”

    and

    “but to own a gun, you need to prove that you know about guns and gun safety. If you need a license and insurance to drive a car, we should have at least those standards for gun owners.”

    and

    “I think all gun ownership should be strictly licensed (“a well-regulated militia,” after all, and please spare me Scalia’s superfluous comma logic) after an extensive period of training — at least as much as we require for auto ownership — along with liability insurance, mental evaluations and annual registration. ”

    without digging into the details.

    I see now that I should have assumed a higher standard for my proposal. Let me see what I can put together.

  264. Wanted to comment earlier but got in right as the thread was closed for the night. Darn this living in the Western isles! ;p

    Seriously, one of the big problems with calls for “reasonable regulation” is that a lot of jurisdictions have what appear to be quite reasonable regulations on the books… and then these regulations are not enforced in a reasonable fashion.

    For example, it’s possible to get concealed carry permits in New York, in LA, and in San Francisco. The law is written so that the police can examine an applicant and make a reasonable determination of whether the applicant would in fact be responsible, and can be trusted to carry a weapon safely. It is, however, virtually impossible to actually get such a permit. They just don’t issue them, to the point that there’s not even any point in applying for one. (It’s also like that out here in Hawaii.)

    Except for one class of people, of course – those who are politically connected (or donors to the local political establishment, which is of course mostly the same thing). They get their permits approved with no problem. In a lot of ways that’s worse than a true ban, because to people who have the power to make policy, it looks like the “reasonable” regulations work just fine – you fill out a paper and you get your permit. To everyone else, it’s a ban.

    (Actually the 9th circuit just slapped down the LA system a few months ago, but in a way that’s controversial enough that we should wait for a Supreme Court decision before cheering… that’s off topic though.)

    But when so many “reasonable” regulations become a ban except when a politician is involved, you can perhaps excuse gun owners from being enthusiastic about the introduction of others. Mandatory licensing, from a government body that won’t issue the license? Mandatory mental health screening, from psychologists who consider wanting to own a weapon to be a sign of mental illness? Mandatory gun technologies that exclude virtually every gun in existence?

    Keeping in mind, of course, that having strict gun control laws versus permissive ones seems to have very little effect on the actual incidence of violent crime. If you want to fix THAT, take a look at legalizing the drug market (and that’s now way off topic, so I’ll bow out on that note…)

  265. The response wasn’t “it will never work”, the response was “Who’s going to pay for it?” (More specifically, it was “How do we incorporate this into the already over-cramped and under-funded public school curriculum?”) It’s not other people’s job to solve that problem for you.

    You do it the same way you do every other thing that happens at a school that can’t fit into a classroom. You make it extracurricular, and you have it supported by club dues and fund raisers.

    The problem here isn’t feasibility. I’ve already noted that when I was in high school we had a gun club and that is exactly how it was supported. The blocking factor is that if you were to suggest, in today’s climate, that schools have something to do with guns people would lose their ever loving minds over it. They’re suspending kids from school right now for making gun shapes with their fingers, and bringing plastic army men to school that are armed with little plastic rifles.

    As much as gun fetishization is an unreasonable position, so is absolute gun fear.

  266. I have commented quite a bit on this but I do think that it’s worth reiterating the fact that at no time have I ever suggested that all gun owners are terrified, nor have I suggested that all gun owners are mentally imbalanced. The posts are there for anyone who bothers to read them.

    The issue of people so attached to their weapons that they cannot bear to be parted from them at any time is somewhat different; there is good evidence that the number of households with guns has diminished:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/us/rate-of-gun-ownership-is-down-survey-shows.html?pagewanted=all

    in line with the reduction in murder and violent crime in the USA. What seems to be happening is that gun ownership is becoming more and more concentrated in the hands of smaller numbers of people; the USA still leads the world rankings in total gun ownership but the demographics have shifted.

    This may account for some of the apparent paranoia of people so psychologically dependent on gun ownership to the extent that they need constant physical awareness of the thing itself; with more and more households willing to forgo its alleged benefits the gun owner has to ramp up the perceived degree of threat to justify spending lots of money on really shiny guns, particularly since other people seem not to be as scared as they are…

  267. @DocRocketScience

    ‘Beyond that, you’re splitting that hair awfully fine. At best, the behavioral change is so limited as to be useless in a larger context, but it’s still a change.’

    I believe we need to simply agree to disagree, because what you see as ‘splitting hairs’ I see as two entirely different things. History has proven that you can enslave an entire race and force them to ‘behave’ a certain way, and it will not necessarily make them change their belief system. It will only breed hatred and discontent, and once the suppressed people eventually get free, they will behave as they wish to. The ‘behavioral change’ is not limited, it’s an illusion. You say that us carrying guns actually changes the behavior of others, but if that’s the case, we should have been able to stop carrying guns decades ago.

    Also, saying ‘before you try to argue this matter, here is how I feel about it’ is NOT the same as saying ‘This isn’t something you CAN argue.’ anyone can argue anything they like.

  268. @Mike: Field stripping and cleaning a firearm is usually not rocket science.

    Wait – there are time when it IS rocket science? AWESOME!

  269. Phoenician: Well, there ARE some weapons with overly complex/non-ergonomic parts, getting the star chamber clean on a M4/AR-15, for example, is rather tiresome, but no, sorry, easier than orbital mechanics in general. :)

  270. As a person who could be materially affected by which statistics and studies are available to lawmakers, I would prefer that the problems with Kleck & Gerst’s survey (cited up thread) from 1995 are noted for the record in this thread. We don’t actually have a national database of “gun uses” for protection, and self-reported surveys are notoriously unreliable.

    *librarian hat on*
    The study being cited about defensive gun uses has been debunked. Here’s one paper that explains the possible reasons that the 2.5 million figure may be inflated. A more recent review in 2009 explains the drawbacks in the survey method used.
    *librarian hat off*

  271. keranih, I don’t see what any of those quotes have to do with the feasibility of a firearms education program. If anything, those should count in your “some support” column.

    Oh, I see those quotes were all made prior to your comment on “shooter’s ed”. Nope, still not seeing your point. Maybe you think I’m not calling those people out as well? Those people only suggested training and licensure be required. They left open the question of who should be responsible. Your proposal was more specific, and therefore recieved more scrutiny. Also, they aren’t complaining that no one will listen to their ideas.

    At the risk of doing your research for you, I’m looking at a rather surprising NHTSA report from 2011. According to this report, only 28 states require driver’s education for licensure. 32 states definitely offer driver’s ed in the public schools. The cross-over between those groups: only 18 states. So, I guess we don’t require every driver to undergo formal driver training. Interesting. I’m also looking at a New York Times article that says, “In the 1970s, 95 percent of eligible students nationwide received driver education, primarily through public schools. That number has dropped as public financing decreased and the courses shifted to private companies”. They don’t say to what percentage.

    Of course, this does not mean that those states hand out driving licenses without testing. Only that formal training is not a universal requirement. AFAIK, all states have a driver’s license test of some kind. (I’m not sure if all states have both a written and a practical (road) test, and can’t find a single source, and I don’t care to go on a state-by-state search right now.)

    artemisgrey, I’m not hugely impressed with your understanding of behaviorism and behavioral modification, but ok, we don’t agree. I’ll also note that I did call the logic behind “An armed society…” tortured, and went into greater detail way up-thread. And if you really want to let anyone make any argument they want, I’d ask that you try not to rhetorically preempt them from doing so. Or at least be self-aware enough to know when you are.

    Jerome O’Neil, offering an extra-curricular program is, not surprisingly, vastly different from incorporating something into the required curriculum, or even from finding the teacher-hours to offer an elective. Also, I think you’d be surprised how many schools have active shooting ranges on campus, where JROTC air-rifle teams practice. In many of these cases, JROTC is offered as a for-credit elective class. We had one when I taught at Hollywood High School (which, despite the glamorous name, is an inner-city Los Angeles school), in the basement under the gym, next to the swimming pool.

  272. @DocRocketScience I’m not terribly impressed by your understanding of behavioralism and behavioral modification, either. Especially since your methods seem to involve the idea that threatening someone with physical domination is supposed to make them want to please you by living their own lives in the manner that you think is appropriate, rather than in the way they choose to. I know first hand how poorly that method works on animals, I’d be shocked if it worked any better on humans.

    I fail to see how giving one’s personal opinion – not even offering statistics or facts, just a simple opinion – in any way rhetorically (or otherwise) preempts anyone from making an argument about anything. If my opinion aligned with everyone else’s opinion, it would entirely negate the need for anyone to even counter with their own opinions. The fact that you are, in fact, arguing over the fact that you think I’ve ‘stopped’ someone from arguing anything seems to disprove your own assertion.

    But I can, at least, promise you that I do, actually, have a reasonable amount of self-awareness, just not much foresight into how other people might read into my stated opinions.

  273. offering an extra-curricular program is, not surprisingly, vastly different from incorporating something into the required curriculum, or even from finding the teacher-hours to offer an elective.

    That is as it should be. Shooting and gun safety shouldn’t be part of any curriculum, any more than cheer leading or football or key club should be. Trap and rifle clubs are, buy definition, extra curricular.

    Way back in the day, many schools were built with a gun range on them so it doesn’t come as a surprise that an LA school has one. Many do. . But the number of gun clubs in schools has fallen dramatically over the years, primarily because of unreasonable “gun fear.”

    JROTC is offered as an elective class because the schools receive funding for it. If the NRA was willing to pay for those same types of classes, and they could overcome the gun fear, you would have a better chance at getting it into a classroom setting.

  274. I have had a loaded gun with the safety off pointed at my head by a plainclothes cop, and almost didn’t freeze (as he commanded, without identifying himself as a police officer) because I almost didn’t believe it was really happening. I was walking to the mall to see a movie, and my hair and jacket resembled the hair and jacket of someone (not me) who had just committed a violent crime. I shudder to think what would have happened had I not believed his weapon was real or his intentions serious.

    I was also viciously bullied and abused all through school and made numerous plans to end the lives of my tormentors. I was completely out of my mind with rage and lacked nothing except the means.

    I’m in favor of strict gun control laws because only lack of access to firearms kept teenage me from becoming a murderer (well, not sure I would have succeeded even with a gun, but still). And no, I don’t think any of those kids really deserved to die. And to the extent I know what happened to them, they grew up into adults who, while not people I’d hang out with, are not people I’d cross the street to avoid, much less harm a hair on the head of.

    I’m an adult now, and I haven’t so much as deliberately struck someone in a couple of decades. And the last time I did it was someone who stole the punchline of my joke, the striking was a backhand slap on the arm, and I was upset for weeks. Not because I’d hurt him; I hadn’t. Because I lost control, and that hadn’t happened in years before that.

    And about Open Carry Texas: while I agree the law they’re protesting is fairly absurd, their way of dealing with it is a dick move, indeed fairly archetypal of dick moves. And they’re dicks for doing it. And bullies, jerks, and jackholes.

    mikes75: The preponderance of open carriers in a location must have a diminishing effect on vigilance. I mean, you could be enjoying some pizza for lunch or refilling your coke in the moment two seemingly ordinary open carry gun owners become bad guys with guns…

    Yes, let’s not underestimate the cost of this semiotic erosion. This is why I’ll always leave or go for cover when I see someone with a weapon; I don’t want the time I don’t to be the time the person is a shooter and not just a scared-witless gun freak.

    Diane (June 19 at 1:47): you speak truth. You can follow Twitter account @stopandfrisk, which is currently tweeting a brief report for each stop reported in 2011, one every 5 minutes. They’re up to February.

    The vast majority of stops are for bullshit, subjective reasons like “wearing clothes commonly used in a crime” (racist anyone?), “furtive movements,” or my personal favorite, “other.” Nearly all of them end in “No weapon is found.” The two I’ve seen so far that didn’t (that is, they ended in “A weapon is found”) were both for the cause “suspicious bulge.” If they only stopped for “suspicious bulge,” their weapon find percentage would go way up. And they shouldn’t be allowed to arrest people for marijuana if the idea is to keep the streets safe (a change to that effect is in the works, IIUC).

    Seth: Statistically, the cities with the strongest gun regulations have more crimes and gun crimes. I’d say that’s a correlation that deserves further investigation.

    Correlation is not causation. In this case, I think the “common cause” theory is most likely: that is, cities with a lot of gun crime try to curb it with stronger gun restrictions, and the effect of such restrictions is limited. Could be significant, since we don’t know what the gun crime level would have been without the restrictions.

    the number of guns has roughly doubled, and the number of murders and gun murders has dropped by half.

    Again, correlation is not causation. I remember people giving Rudy Giuliani credit for a drop in crime during his time as Mayor of NYC, but someone recently pointed out that crime dropped similarly in many other cities, and “leading by example” really didn’t cut it.

  275. @Jerome O’Neil “But the number of gun clubs in schools has fallen dramatically over the years, primarily because of unreasonable ‘gun fear.'”

    I don’t know if you have any data on this, but if I was to do a blind guess, I’d say it has a lot more to do with insurance liability and risk than anything resembling “gun fear”. You could have an entire school board and administration on board with this it, but an insurance company would say they’re not covering anything that goes wrong with it, and that thing’s DOA.

  276. @Joe Hass

    I don’t have quantitative data, either, but I have read a number of articles on the phenomenon, and none of them have mentioned insurance as an issue. They have mentioned freaked out moms in a number of cases, though. Since what we have is only anecdotal, I can only point to the small pile of anecdotes supporting “fear,” as I haven’t seen any that support some other motivation.

    The number of “zero tolerance” expulsions and suspensions goes to my point, though. A second grader suspended for chewing a pop-tart into the shape of a gun. An 8th grader suspended for drawing pictures (for Halloween, no less) of ninjas and soldiers. A 2nd grader suspended for shooting an *imaginary bow and arrow.* On and on we see this kind of reaction from the schools not for guns, but for the mere suggestion of guns.

  277. artemisgrey, that’s not actually my “method” at all, I assure you. And I am academically and professionally comfortable with my understanding of behaviorism, thank you. Besides, didn’t you ask to “agree to disagree”?

    It’s not the opinion, it’s the rhetorical flourish that preceded it that represents a preemption of a line of argument. And don’t confuse my unwillingness to accept the proscription with it’s existence. I’m happy to stipulate that you didn’t mean to dismiss that argument in advance, but you still did.

  278. @Phoenician:

    @Mike: Field stripping and cleaning a firearm is usually not rocket science.

    Wait – there are time when it IS rocket science? AWESOME!

    If you happen to own a gyrojet pistol, then I suppose cleaning it would literally be rocket science, or more accurately, rocket technical support. You wouldn’t do it very often, because the ammo is too collectible to expend. They never caught on. There was a Larry Niven story that featured a Gyrojet.

    I have encountered a pistol with rather inconvenient disassembly instructions and to reverse the steps to reassemble you have to align and tilt stuff before it fits.

    I suspect the engineer now works in the auto industry, making it impossible to change headlight bulbs.

  279. @Keranih: “I am fully ready to get behind effective measures to address people harming other people. I am not so ready to armor up for a campaign against people being assholes.”

    I read the Williamson post, but haven’t had a chance to dig too deeply into the links he provided. I will say I posted upthread to another peer reviewed study that showed,in a review by five judges of cases where gun owners said having a gun stopped a crime, many of the events were actually illegal or unjustifiable.

    I thought many of Williamson’s points were spot on, but my biggest takeaway was that it codified a feeling I think your quote reflects about how we end up talking past each other. I hate to resort to a lazy turn of phrase that makes it seem like this is about sides, but, on the one hand, yourself, Williamson, and others are talking about what a person should do in the specific instance they’re being threatened with attack. Those are important points to cover, particularly in Williamson’s post, where he goes out of his way to also emphasize a victim is never responsible for being victimized. Unfortunately to get to that nitty-gritty, it’s taken as given it’s necessary because some people will always be assholes, or evil, or whatever, and sometimes giving specific advise comes across as blaming victims, even when unintended.

    On the other hand you have people who want to focus on how we can use larger scale deterrents, education, stricter regulation, and other big picture tools to handle making society a safer place so everyone doesn’t have to arm themselves. Not perfectly safe, because perfection is illusory, but safer. Unfortunately we sometimes come across as handwaving ourselves, taking as given the understanding people who are attacked can certainly do everything to defend themselves, leaving the unfortunate impression we expect victims to not fight back.

    No one is mounting a campaign to stop people from being assholes. What bothers me, at least, is that class of assholes you identified above often overlaps strongly with the class of people who are unsafe with their guns. They also argue for an absolute freedom under the Second Amendment that ends up hamstringing people who might want a handgun for personal protection, while leaving gaping loopholes so they can get their AR-15 AND the parts needed to convert it (for sport shooting and hobby purposes only, of course) at their local gun show. And as long as the assholes get to be the vocal face of gun ownership, the effective measures to address people harming other people (including themselves) get lost beneath their clamor.

  280. the number of guns has roughly doubled, and the number of murders and gun murders has dropped by half.

    This is true by the numbers, but it doesn’t tell the whole tale. Although fewer homicides are being committed, and fewer gun homicides are being committed, a greater proportion of total homicides are being committed with guns now compared to 20 years ago.

    In 1993 the overall homicide rate was 9.93 per 100,000 citizens and the gun homicide rate was 7 per 100K — the gap between those rates was 2.93. Of those 9.93 people per 100K killed, nearly 3 weren’t killed by guns. In 2011 the rate was 5.1 by all methods and 3.6 by guns. The gap is smaller — of the 5.1 per 100K killed, only 1.5 were not killed by guns. The last time the proportion was higher was 1998 (with a .98 gap). The gap maxed out at 3.13 in 2001, and since then the proportion of gun homicides has steadily risen as that gap has narrowed.

    Here’s the info I’m basing this on, organized as [Year: All-method homicide rate (Firearm homicide rate) Difference]

    2011: 5.1 (3.6) 1.5
    2010: 5.27 (3.6) 1.67
    2009: 5.48 (3.8) 1.68
    2008: 5.86 (4.0) 1.86
    2007: 6.10 (4.2) 1.9
    2006: 6.22 (4.3) 1.92
    2005: 6.13 (4.2) 1.93
    2004: 5.93 (4.0) 1.93
    2003: 6.11 (4.1) 2.01
    2002: 6.13 (4.1) 2.03
    2001: 7.13 (4.0) 3.13
    2000: 5.96 (3.8) 2.16
    1999: 6.05 (3.9) 2.15
    1998: 5.19 (4.3) .89
    1997: 6.7 (4.9) 1.8
    1996: 7.3 (5.8) 1.5
    1995: 8.1 (6.7) 1.4
    1993: 9.93 (7) 2.93

    Taken from these sources: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fv9311.pdf, http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states

  281. Tenar Darrel

    Thank you for donning your librarian’s hat; those two papers are extremely interesting and underline the wisdom of looking carefully at claims about gun use. I was surprised to discover that the figures for so called self defence gun use include criminals who claimed to have used their weapons in self defence whilst committing crimes.

    Xopher

    The point you make about your likely actions as a teenager if you had access to a gun is very important, and it is one which is glossed over time and time again when people discuss access to guns. Killing someone with your bare hands is difficult, even for those with advanced martial art skills. Killing more than one person with your bare hands is even trickier; guns make killing people a great deal easier.

    As we have both noted violent crime in general and murder in particular has greatly diminished in the US; you are back to the levels last seen in 1960. However, suicide rates have increased and for many women, and men of all ages, the gun is the method of choice; statistically men are far more likely to shoot themselves deliberately than shoot someone else in self-defence. They are, of course, also more likely to shoot people accidentally.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/health/suicide-rate-rises-sharply-in-us.html?_r=0

    The CDC has reams of stuff on this, should anyone wish to dig deeper:

    http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/statistics/index.html

  282. @DocRocketScience

    ‘You’re going to try and argue that deterrence is not a factor? That’s awfully revisionist, don’t you think? In fact, I’ll just straight up call bullshit on that. That’s the primary purpose of open carrying. It’s the foundational logic, tortured though it may be, behind “An armed society is a polite society”.

    Here you called me out on not mentioning deterrence, and, in fact, called bullshit on that (even though I didn’t actually argue that deterrence is not a factor, you inferred it) and proceeded to announce that the primary purpose of open carry is to ‘intimidate’ others into behaving.

    ‘And as I said, the logic behind “An armed society…” is to make all the “bad guys” (and can’t we all just grow up beyond this kind of pre-pubescent phraseology) change their behavior, so they don’t act in criminal ways for fear of being shot.’

    Here in one of your rebuttals to me (and I never did commend you on your clever little snipe demeaning my simplified differentiation between law abiding citizens and criminals, please let me know your idea of a more ‘mature’ way in which to refer to criminals henceforth, and I’ll use it) you very clearly reiterated that ‘an armed society’ is designed to force criminals to change their behavior in order to avoid being shot – in other words, submission through intimidation.

    ‘that’s not actually my “method” at all, I assure you. And I am academically and professionally comfortable with my understanding of behaviorism, thank you.’

    And yet in this latest rebuttal, you inform me that YOUR ‘method’ of behavioral modification has nothing at all to do with physical intimidation. Okay, fine. Then why, pray tell, are you preaching to me, and informing me that because I don’t see physical intimidation or dominance as a viable way of changing someone’s behavior I am wrong and lack any true understanding of ‘behaviorism’. Please, expound. Because if you, yourself, do not believe in physical intimidation to force criminals into altering their behavior, I really don’t see why you’re going to such extensive lengths to try and to impress upon me that it IS a viable option.

    As for this:

    ‘I’m happy to stipulate that you didn’t mean to dismiss that argument in advance, but you still did.’

    I’ve got nothing else to say on that front. You, quite obviously, perceive some sort of dramatic underlying plot to destroy the option for anyone to argue me on my opinion (despite that you continue to argue my opinion) and no amount of me stating, and restating myself is going to change your perception. So you go ahead and pat yourself on the back and enjoy winning your perceived argument.

  283. No liberal militias? I’m guessing that whoever thinks that has never lived in Oakland. :)

    Of course militias formed by PoC are going to be pretty quiet these days, since the whole concept makes a lot of people with a lot of money and power really nervous. As was pointed out earlier, the chance of death by cop goes up drastically if you’re a non-white trying to exercise your open-carry rights. (Though honestly, it’s something I’d love to see more of. I think a lot of pro-open-carry folks would start going crazy trying explain why it’s ok for *them*, but not for blacks, jews, asians, gays, or other groups they hate.)

    And yes, sometimes it can be hard to distinguish urban militias from criminal gangs–the Black Panthers left a pretty unfortunate legacy–but that’s true on all sides of the political spectrum. Unless you think that right-wing white guys with guns are never just trying to protect their meth labs, in which case, I have a bridge you may be interested in. :)

    But yeah, I’m with John. Gun geeks don’t scare me–crazy people scare me. And crazy people with guns really really scare me.

    I’m all in favor of education. The fact that the schools don’t have money for gun education is a symptom of a bigger problem I’d also like to fix. Namely, the fact that schools don’t have enough money for education! Period. But that doesn’t mean that gun education in schools isn’t one of the best ideas I’ve heard in the thread. It just means it ain’t going to be easy to get from here to there.

    However, education still doesn’t address the issue of crazy people. Can we regulate crazy people instead of guns? It sounds tempting, but it could easily be a slippery slope.

  284. @Jerome O’Neil “The number of ‘zero tolerance’ expulsions and suspensions goes to my point, though.”

    Using zero tolerance as an excuse is a red herring. Those are rules put in place by school district administrators who believe it looks much better to hide behind a rule rather than stand up for a position, only to have it spectacularly backfire when their rule ensnares someone it was never intended to.

  285. Artemisgrey, DocRocketscience:

    Let’s keep the discussion focused on things other than attempting to model each other’s mental state, please.

  286. @Xtifr “Though honestly, [militias formed by PoC is] something I’d love to see more of. I think a lot of pro-open-carry folks would start going crazy trying explain why it’s ok for *them*, but not for blacks, jews, asians, gays, or other groups they hate.”

    Seconded. Oh, how I would love that. I can hear the stuttering now.

  287. We actually have had not one but two late night intruders to our home (at 2 different times) in both cases they scared the living bejesus out of me but were also ultimately non-violent (one of them was a little messy).

    One was a woman who appeared to be having something like a psychotic break (she was convinced that people were after her) and one was male, drunk,grumpy, very blood stained and almost certainly concussed.

    In both cases the police collected them with very little trouble (and gave us some useful hints on safe blood removal).

    Neither, us, the intruders or the police were carrying firearms and if any of us had been then the situation could have turned out much worse for all concerned.

    I value living in a country where guns are primarily seen as tools rather than a means of self defense and where the police don’t have instant access to fire-arms, to my mind it makes for a much more polite and reasoned society.

  288. @Joe Hass

    It’s not a red herring. The question being begged is “Why zero tolerance of Guns today, when 25 years ago, you had gun clubs and gun ranges on school grounds, doing their thing under the auspices of the educational program?” Why is it could I tote my .22 to school, while my kids would get kicked out for making a finger gun out at recess?

    There is no reference to insurance at all in any article I’ve read. In fact, most clubs of any sort require a waiver of liability and your own proof of insurance for your children to participate.

  289. @Annamal

    ‘We actually have had not one but two late night intruders to our home (at 2 different times) in both cases they scared the living bejesus out of me but were also ultimately non-violent (one of them was a little messy).

    One was a woman who appeared to be having something like a psychotic break (she was convinced that people were after her) and one was male, drunk,grumpy, very blood stained and almost certainly concussed.’

    THIS. I own a gun. I believe in using guns for personal defense. But I DO NOT believe that every strange occurrence/sound/event that takes place at unexpected times of the night is reason to open fire (and I’m in no way suggesting that others in this thread have in any way supported irrational firing of guns. They have not, even if they might choose to react more aggressively than I would, but no one has advocated undue violence) and this is the reason that while I own a gun, I would hesitate to open fire merely because someone was inside my house when they shouldn’t be.

    We’ve had several incidences wherein people were trying to gain entry into our house as well. In our cases, one was a woman whose car had run out of gas during the horrendous blizzard several years ago. It was 2 am, she was freezing and desperate. While she had no intention of ‘breaking in’ we were asleep and she was aggressively pounding on the door. In the other situation, it was a victim of a wreck. Again, late at night and merely trying to wake us up.

  290. Xtifr

    In theory schools could be asked to teach children how to behave responsibly with guns. In reality some of those children aren’t going to live long enough to make it to school because their parents didn’t know how to behave responsibly with guns in the first place.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/us/children-and-guns-the-hidden-toll.html?_r=4&amp;

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/06/gun_deaths_in_children_statistics_show_firearms_endanger_kids_despite_nra.html

  291. Doc Rocket, etal –

    At the risk of repeating myself, I’m going to restate what I saw as the three main topics our host hit on, which he asked that we stick to. Again, please if anyone has a different concept of what “the topic” is, please speak up.

    Point one: the benefit of using a firearm as protection against rape or other attack. I believe this has been answered – yes, actually, it is. Women who fight back with weapons (or fight back at all) don’t get raped as often as those who don’t fight back or who don’t use a firearm or knife.

    Point two: the best method for reducing negligent firearm discharges and accidental injury deaths due to fire arms. I suggested universal gun handling education. Note: I was not complaining about “people not supporting my plan” – I was pointing out that the plan didn’t have a great deal of support. I also pointed out the small number of competing plans, and the lack of detailed structure to those plans. (I can go into more detail on my ‘shooter ed’ plan in a mo.) Unless someone else has a different/better plan to address poor weapons handling skills, I’m going to assume that ‘universal shooters ed’ is the one that fewest people object to.

    Point three: People who fetishize guns are abhorent to people who don’t. Okay, fine. I still do not see the point here. If a guy wears a lot of gun bling, it does not pick your pocket nor break your leg. Live and let live. Tolerance, man, tolerance.

    Some people find those who drive trucks annoying and scary. Unless the truck is actually causing injuries or accidents, let it go. Some people find same-sex couples kissing abhorent and repugnant. (Some same sex couples get a kick out of sticking their thumbs in the eyes of religious conservatives.) Unless the couple is insisting that you join in, let it go. Pray for their souls and eat your own food. Some people don’t like goth, or cowboy hats, or eating meat, or homebrewing beer.

    I feel we can draw clear distinctions between “I don’t like the looks of this” and “this is harmful”. I think that discussions about how firearms make people feel, or what people who carry fire arms must be thinking or whether people who love firearms are mentally damaged are distinctly unhelpful and more or less a waste of time. At best talking about how people who carry firearms make one feel is a distraction, at worst is a highly subjective and imprecise measure of, well, *anything*.

    So. If people want to hear my plan on how to educate the general population on how to safely handle, store and use firearms, I have ideas. I really would like to reduce the number of people accidently hurt and killed by firearms.

    If people would rather talk about how gun freaks have cooties and remind them of the sort of SF fan who dresses up in cosplay to stalk kiddies, count me out. I’m fresh out of ideas on how to protect people from scary thoughts.

  292. @Joe Haas and @Xftir

    I don’t think we should suggest that anyone risk his/her life to prove how incapable of logic the Open Carry movement appears to the non-carrying public. Besides, we don’t need any more proof that white people freak out about POC carrying weapons: we have Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jonathan Ferrell who were shot carrying no guns at all because they were lost or looking for help while black by law abiding gun owners (I include the police officer because he also was carrying a legal gun).

  293. @Jerome O’Neil: Getting to a specific number on incidents would take more time, but in one month (Jan 2013) before the pop-tart case there were 48 separate incidents of guns discovered in student lockers or bags. Two days before that boy was suspended there was a school shooting in a Georgia K-12 school with injuries but thankfully no fatalities.

    Zero tolerance policies happen as an attempt to reduce the number of guns brought to school by minors when licensed gun owners fail to properly secure their weapons. They probably have a higher instance of being enforced in the period after a school shooting or gun incident, as teachers are on high alert to not end up in the next Newtown or Columbine.

    They only seem ridiculous because their enforcement in those cases, stripped of whatever else is actually going on around them, becomes easy to laugh at. It’s like mocking the “hot coffee” label on coffee cups, without knowing the lawsuit that prompted them was following a coffee served 40-50 degrees above it’s proper temperature, causing severe burns.

  294. Keranih

    Well, at the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, you haven’t demonstrated that the possession of guns reduces the risk of being attacked. There is no research to support that claim, and a lot of research which demonstrates the complete opposite, see, for example:

    ‘During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.’

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9715182

  295. Drat, I should have said “people” rather than white people. Most of the social science studies show that “all” of us are guilty of this hidden bias.

  296. @mikes75

    That doesn’t answer the question, but credit, that was a good try. Do you think the 2nd grader with the pop-tart was a hazard to his classmates? Do you suppose that the kid playing cowboys and Indians on the playground was really gonna be at risk of putting an imaginary arrow through his classmate’s chest? Do you honestly believe that kicking an 8 year old out of school for imaginative play is an appropriate response or deterrent to gun violence? Do you not see these things as picture perfect examples of shifting attitudes about guns, which is what I am talking about?

    Look at the words you’re using here… “48 separate incidents of guns discovered in student lockers or bags.” I’ve had guns in my locker at school, *because my school had a gun club* and no one lost their mind over it. Generations of people had the same experience. Now, just the very suggestion of a gun at school sends 2nd graders home with a suspension notice.

    What could possibly drive that, if not fear?

  297. And also….

    “Zero tolerance policies happen as an attempt to reduce the number of guns brought to school by minors when licensed gun owners fail to properly secure their weapons.”

    I’m in complete agreement with you here. In fact, it was my very first post was on the subject. In my mind, if your kids do get your guns, you should be in serious trouble. I am very much in favor of safe storage laws.

  298. In fact, there are indeed examples of open carry by black men.

    I remember one of them, actually. I was at the Republican state convention in Houston in 2000. That year, the local chapter of the Black Panthers had decided to stage a protest, and had also noted that open carry of long guns is legal in Texas, and had decided to combine the two – they would carry rifles in their protest.

    So I stepped outside of the convention center to get some lunch, and realized that I was in a crowd of hundreds of armed, unhappy black men. And it occurred to me… that I was completely safe; in fact, considerably better than if it had just been a regular crowd, because they were armed, unhappy black men who were there to make a political point that was not “hey, let’s put holes in people we don’t like,” and if you were a run-of-the-mill criminal you’re certainly not going to work in a crowd of angry men with guns. You could phrase it like it was a scary situation, but in fact it was no big deal. They completed their protest, I got myself a sammich, Bush got elected… well.

    Maybe if I had an issue with black people, I would have thought differently. Meh? Maybe that’s a privilege thing and a black guy would find a crowd of white guys with guns a lot scarier, but I hope not.

    I generally prefer concealed carry over open carry. You’re less likely to have an accident, you’re less likely to make people uncomfortable, you’re a lot less likely to distract a cop from keeping an eye out for actual bad people, and herd immunity works a lot better that way (I don’t want the mugger thinking “well, he doesn’t have iron on his hip so he must be unarmed”, I want him thinking “gee, what if he’s got a gun, maybe I shouldn’t be a mugger after all.”)

    It’s also fair to note that the state of the law is moving very much against discretionary restrictions, precisely because those who administer those restrictions have abused their discretion to prevent honest people from owning guns (and to trade gun permits for political favors or donations…)

  299. Stevie – I linked to MZW’s post above. Please review.

    That study does not dispute the assertion that I made, that a person who has a firearm is less likely to be raped than one who does not. I await other documentation if you want to pursue this line of argument.

    OTOH, perhaps we could address teaching people how to be safe with firearms, as something that is actually productive.

  300. I wanted to comment on the persecution comment (way) above. Often times the way gun geeks are talked about does feel like persecution, and done is such a way that pretty much perfectly fits the definition of bigotry, often from people who scream bloody murder if any group that wasn’t perceived as being full of conservative white males would scream bloody murder about.

    Here is a perfect example:http://blog.joehuffman.org/2014/06/20/quote-of-the-daytiffany-miller/

    I will admit that isn’t the kind of persecution as racism or sexism but that doesn’t mean the way the left often speaks of gun owners isn’t a textbook example of bigotry. The fanatics on both sides are equally scary and just as fearful as their counterparts. I have seen all kinds of over the top rhetoric directed against gun owners and rights activist, including death threats, hoping their family members get murder and/or raped and so on.

    Outside of the fanatics, the feeling is also brought on by a never ending stream of gun control bills that are NOT based on any kind of rational thought or examination of the data. Hickenlooper, the colorado governor who signed the gun control bills their said as much:
    http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/18/hickenlooper-admits-background-check-law-passed-without-basic-facts/

    Here is a great article on this issue and why assault weapon bans are really nonsensical and at best a feel good measure (I firmly believe they are viewed as a foot in the door to a complete gun ban and Josh Sugarman of the VPC is on record as saying exactly that).
    http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/fact-sheets/2013/ten-reasons-why-states-should-reject-assault-weapon-and-large-magazine-bans.aspx
    In NO CASE has any assault weapon ban proven to have any effect on crime at all.

    As for open carrying military style rifles, they are indeed assholes. Rifles are an inherently offensive weapon (not as in “i am offended” but rather as in the opposite of defensive). Pistols are a defensive weapon (mostly) and do NOT pose the realistic threat a rifle does. Carrying them into a restaurant with families and such is just a way to turn people off the gun rights viewpoint and probably demonstrates a serious enough lack of judgement to get your guns taken away until you grow up a little bit.

  301. That study does not dispute the assertion that I made, that a person who has a firearm is less likely to be raped than one who does not.

    If you go dig into the sources provided in MZW’s article, you’ll see that the numbers of victims who had firearms was so tiny as to not be statistically significant. Like, 5 victims out of 776 rapes used a knife or gun, and 2 of them were raped anyway, including the sole gun usage. I don’t have free access to the Kleck and Sayers article which is the linked source of the 1% statistic, but based on some of the other NVCS data, I likewise doubt the denominator of gun-possessing victims was large enough to draw quality inferences.

    I live in an open-carry state, but it’s still enough of a headache that very few people of either gender really do CCW with the effectiveness needed to prevent rape. I’m not, for a variety of valid logistical reasons. It’s unsafe to keep a pistol in my purse or vehicle where my young kids could potentially get it, plus it’s difficult to draw if you’re grabbed from behind. Wearing it fully concealed is physically very uncomfortable and incompatible with most women’s clothing. Wearing it open (or poorly concealed) is not an option given that I’d be violating federal law on a daily basis at school drop-off, and that guns are prohibited at both my workplace and nearly all of the businesses/stores/sports establishments I frequent.

    It requires a real commitment to safely and legally CCW 24/7, whereas it’s a very low chance that I will be attacked by a stranger in a situation where I’m actually carrying the gun and in a position to draw and protect myself effectively. Most people don’t have that commitment, which is why there aren’t tons of articles written exhorting gender-neutral CCW as the universal solution for muggings and carjackings. Rape isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, any different from other kind of physical assault.

  302. Keranih

    I did indeed read MZW; the problem is that he is relying on stuff written a long time ago which most certainly does not displace new and better formulated scientific research. For that matter, the NIJ report you claim supports your position makes no references to guns and knives as an advantage: what they actually said was this:

    Certain Self-Defense Actions Can Decrease Risk

    In a 2005 report commissioned by NIJ, researchers examined a variety of sexual assaults and other physical assaults against women. The study did not focus specifically on college students. The researchers found that potential rape victims who resisted their attackers physically and verbally significantly reduced the probability that a rape would be completed and did not significantly increase the risk of serious injury.
    Most self-protective actions significantly reduce the risk that a rape will be completed. In particular, certain actions reduce the risk of rape more than 80 percent compared to nonresistance. The most effective actions, according to victims, are attacking or struggling against their attacker, running away, and verbally warning the attacker.
    In assaults against women, most self-protective tactics reduced the risk of injury compared to nonresistance. According to the researchers, the only self-protective tactics that appear to increase the risk of injury significantly were those that are ambiguous and not forceful. These included stalling, cooperating and screaming from pain or fear.
    Learn more about victim self-protection (pdf, 77 pages).
    A separate study found that even when a rape was completed, women who used some form of resistance had better mental health outcomes than those who did not resist.[1]
    Law enforcement officials, however, counsel caution against automatically using violence or other forms of resistance. People who are assaulted are advised to assess the situation and trust their own judgment about the best way to respond.’

    Had you or MZW had actually bothered to read the 77 page PDF file which is attached to the report you would have realised that guns did not confer a statistically significant advantage to women who were attacked.

    Indeed, they came at the bottom of the list. The things which really made a significant difference to the women involved were, in order of success,’ ran away/hid, called the police, attacked without a weapon, attacked with a non-gun weapon, and threatened with a non-gun weapon.

    These actions reduced by around a half the number of injuries suffered by the women who were attacked but offered no physical resistance. There is no statistically significant reduction in injuries where the woman used a gun, either as a threat or by shooting it.

    So, no, there’s no research to support your claim; it does help to actually read the research, since that way you probably would have realised that ‘woman with gun defending herself does just as badly as a woman who doesn’t defend herself at all’ doesn’t really help your argument along..

  303. EAB

    We cross posted: I think I may have caught a glimpse of you as I was plodding through the 77 page PDF; sometimes it feels as if I’m in Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Library, bumping into people similarly bound in search of something which might be relevant…

  304. I’ve read the entire thread and one thing that is clear to me, is that there are calm and measured folks on both sides as well as freaks that are so far out there they would make furries blush. It is far too easy for each of us to excuse the excesses of those whom we may agree with at some level. I’ve come to two conclusions after reading this discussion.

    Firstly, it is long past time for people of good conscience to start calling out extremists in our own camp. So I am starting by saying that the quote that @Barton Long linked to is nothing but foaming at the mouth bigotry. That wasn’t my first reaction when I read it. My reaction was to excuse it, to temper it, to explain her vehemence away, but no, that’s wrong. She’s wrong. No ifs, ands or buts.

    And here’s another extreme position on my side I need to point out: no matter how good the rationale for zero tolerance gun policies at schools may have been, they are sometimes being implemented in an asinine fashion and that is not acceptable and it needs to stop.

    Secondly, I think we should all start spending our efforts on working to change the things we all agree on. Rather than arguing over whether open carry laws should be changed or not, how about we all agree that people who use or store guns negligently should face harsh consequences and we all start working on getting those kind of laws implemented and strictly enforced? If you drop your gun at Walmart and it goes off, you don’t have the right to own any gun at all for at least five years and you have to go through an extensive period of training before those rights are restored. If it actually injures someone, you do jail time. If it kills someone, you go away for murder, not involuntary manslaughter, you do time for pre-meditated murder. Are these the sort of proposals that the responsible gun owners posting here would support? And if so, how do we go about implementing them?

  305. @Stevie, yeah, what bugs me about the “carry a gun so you won’t be raped” is less the concealed-carry philosophical issue than the failure to acknowledge how women’s lives actually work and how rape generally happens.

    I’m married, so acquaintance/intoxicated rape is not such an issue for me. If I’m raped, it’s likely to be something like getting attacked in a parking lot, in which case he will either have a weapon pointed at me or do something like grab me from behind. He’ll probably watch for me to be preoccupied and have my hands full. Even if I’m armed, I’m going to have a hard time drawing, and I’m likely to do just about as well by trying to hit back, scratch, bite, scream, etc.

    Here’s the story of someone I know who was abducted out of a parking lot, raped, and shot twice. She’s the only person I know IRL who has actually been the victim of a violent stranger rape. She had her hands full of laundry when the attacker came from behind and put a gun to her neck. Even if she’d been carrying a gun, she wouldn’t have been able to use it. I’m not under any delusions that I would be able to do better in a similar situation. My friend gets pretty angry with people who blather about CCW and rape, and I can’t say I blame her.

  306. If you don’t believe an armed society is a polite society look up the crime statistics for Kennesaw, Georgia and compare that to the rest of Atlanta. (Every head of household – barring the mentally ill and felons – in Kennesaw is mandated by law to own a firearm)

  307. If you don’t believe an unarmed society is a polite society look up the crime statistics for Japan and compare them to those for America. (Every person in Japan must demonstrate a genuine reason and pass a thorough test before being permitted to own a firearm).

  308. “The argument I always hate is “an armed society is a polite society”, not really” – I strongly disagree based on my behavior and that of the people that I know that carry a gun everyday.
    A big part of every tactical class is the part that stresses that you need to be aware of what is happening around you and that you go out of your way to not start or contribute to any disagreement. Any disagreement can evolve very fast to be a life altering event.
    So, I find my self making a pint to say “please”, “thank you” etc to people I come in contact with. I find that being in line ahead of someone else is all of a sudden not important. etc.
    I have lots of things in my life that I value, many could be lost with even a justified shooting.
    So, for me and my associates, an armed society is indeed a polite society.
    Just as I think the mental attitude of a person that carries is as important as their ability to shoot a bulls eye on a paper target. Criminals are not going to stand still and when they are a threat, you can not stand still either.
    Training and practice are an on-going exercise for everyone that depends on a weapon for protection.

  309. In reference as to carrying a gun to keep from being raped.
    “He’ll probably watch for me to be preoccupied and have my hands full.” – well being “preoccupied” is something that tactical gun training will help you to avoid. You should always be aware of what is happing around you, even if you are not armed. That is a rather large part of being protected.

  310. There are several reasons to want to have a licensed concealed carry weapon. The author’s comments about the damn big gun are pretty spot on. Personally, I’ve owned 4 S&W .44 magnums, 3 Model 29s in the original barrel lengths (4, 6-1/2, & 8-3/8 inches) and a 6 inch 629. Owned them at different times, never any two at once. Shooting them was fun; gaining proficiency with such a powerful piece was highly satisfying. I’ve gotten rid of them over the years. I’m not interested in having another because I no longer live where such a powerful brute is necessary. I can hunt with my .44 Special S&W model 624, .30-06 model 98 large ring Mauser that I custom built myself, and .22s and take any animal in my area. I enjoy shooting my .45ACP, and if I handload for it, I can hunt with it also.

    If I were to get a CCW license, I would carry my .44 Special Charter Arms Bulldog Pug. It’s a damn small gun in a caliber that is still powerful enough to be a reliable manstopper, even though it was invented over a century ago.

    I also agree that engaging in armed combat requires a mindset that goes beyond any training a civilian is likely to pay to get. Let’s be real here; pulling a gun in “self defense” is just that: engaging in armed combat.

  311. John, you’re entitled (as are we all) to your opinion, however fundamental rights are not subject to opinions.

    We have them, period.

    Behavior, however, IS subject to opinions.

    Behavior is properly regulated pursuant to the state’s just police powers, so long as such regulation doesn’t interfere with the free exercise of fundamental rights.

    The Doctrine of Prior Restraint covers it – your rights are sacrosanct up until the instant that you use them to commit criminal acts. Before you DO commit any criminal act, your rights cannot be attenuated, unless you have been convicted of prior criminal acts that pose a danger to your fellows.

    That is the way the law in this country is supposed to function.

  312. “If you drop your gun at Walmart and it goes off, you don’t have the right to own any gun at all for at least five years and you have to go through an extensive period of training before those rights are restored”
    If this should happen there are at lease two mistakes that were made.
    1) Administrative handling of a gun when not necessary is never a good idea. I see untrained and new gun owners do this much too often. Having to touch it to make sure it is still there, etc. Get a good holster and put the gun in when you get dressed, leave it alone until you undress for bed.
    2) Any person carrying a gun that is not “drop safe” is stupid. Know your equipment, part of purchase of a gun is to determine it basic features. Fortunately, there are very few modern guns that are not drop safe, but there are some of the cheaper, smaller guns, especially revolvers.
    I think that there probably some laws that would be violated in your example, but lets not get too extreme. There are lots of circumstances that might make a big difference in what the punishment should be.

  313. “I am not at all worried that the government is going to take them from me” – well maybe you have your head in the sand. You go on to indicate being aware of what is happening is a big part of self defense, so practice what you suggest.

    There are gun confiscations happening in CT, NJ, NY and CA as we read this column. And yes maybe the guns that are being confiscated today in these places are not the same ones that you own, But the very powerful and rich gun control groups have proven that after every gun that is banned in a short time, there will be a demand to add another gun to the ban.

    Just one example. Shannon Watts as Everytown leader, has indicated that it is necessary to ban assault weapons in the hands of civilians. Then in the same press release she defines “assault weapons” as any gun that is capable of firing 10 rounds in 1 minute (or every gun made in the last 100 years).

  314. “As for open carrying military style rifles, they are indeed assholes” – well open carry of rifles is certainly not something that should be encouraged. However, in the case that everyone is talking about the OCT group is doing such to exactly make that point. Texas needs to pass an open carry law for handguns. The idea of taking a rifle everywhere you go is silly and is not something anyone wants, especially the OCT people that are demonstrating to that effect.

  315. TexTopCat: you say “If this should happen”, apparently unaware that yes, last month it did happen. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2014/may/27/gunshot-wounds-woman-inside-indiana-wal-mart/

    What do YOU think the penalty should be for the man who dropped his gun in the WalMart, which then went off injuring a woman who was with an infant at the time? Had the bullet’s path been only a few inches further over, the woman, the infant, or both could well be dead. Clearly you think that he’s stupid; is he too stupid to continue to hold that permit? Was he too stupid to be issued it in the first place?

  316. TexTopCat:

    Please do me a favor and aggregate your posts in the future, please. Multiple sequential posts from the same person is one of my personal annoyances. Thanks!

  317. “well being “preoccupied” is something that tactical gun training will help you to avoid”

    Did you read my friend’s story that I linked? She was getting a laundry basket out of her car in a parking lot. I don’t care how much training you’ve got, you’ve still got do to things like load groceries into your trunk, juggle hands full of shopping bags and packages, haul children around, and so forth. Good luck not being preoccupied while you’re trying to buckle a flailing toddler into a carseat, or wrestle the 50-lb bag of dog food, or be on the phone — yes! sometimes I have the audacity to be on the phone while I’m walking around in public! — or root around in your purse trying to figure out where the darn keys are hiding, or jog that last mile where you’re just trying not to die of exhaustion, or whatever.

    It’s very difficult to live your entire life with the same intensity of vigilance that you’d use if, say, you were walking alone at night in a dangerous neighborhood. It requires more than an hour or two of basic classes to do it consistently, and even trained people get preoccupied when trying to do more than one thing at once, which most of us call “living our lives”. All it takes is the one time when you’re more worried about fighting with the laundry basket to become a crime victim, and we all have those moments.

    Here again, tactical training, like concealed carry, is something of a no-true-Scotsman fallacy. “Well, if you would just commit to CCW 24/7, go through intensive tactical gun training, and possibly learn krav maga and get a black belt in jujitsu, you might not get raped!” Yes, possibly I would be somewhat safer if I spent a significant chunk of my life doing those things, but I don’t WANT to do that. Most human beings of either gender don’t, which is why society at large tends to think that the answer to carjackings and muggings is increased police presence, prosecution, and imprisonment, rather than asking potential victims to carry guns and get tactical gun training.

    Overall, it’s actually more likely that my husband will be the victim of a violent crime by a stranger than that I will. Yet I’ve taken more self-defense classes than my husband has, and I’m sure I’ve been told that I ought to be armed more than he has (and in fact I have been armed more than he has, since he’s never kept a gun in the car and I have in the past). I’m willing to grant that you, TexTopCat, may be scrupulously neutral in giving advice on personal protection, but let’s be real that most self-defense talk is directed at women and rape avoidance. We treat rape as this unique category of crime with special rules for how not to be a victim, and it’s just not. I don’t want to read another big discussion about “ladies, here’s how not to get raped!” like the one Scalzi and Larry Correia and MZW have been having. Write it so that it’s “people, here’s how not to be a crime victim”; if it sounds patronizing or like you’re missing the point, maybe rethink your advice and/or your tone.

  318. EAB

    It gets even more outrageous when the competent scientic research which has been done demonstrates that women who try to defend themselves against rape by using a gun are likely to suffer just as severe injuries as women who do not attempt to resist at all. People are being deliberately misled about the methods which really do help women to resist attack because the gun nuts are not actually looking for ways to help; they’re looking for ways to enable them to keep on cuddling their weapons.

    The claim that a women, whose ‘preoccupation’ is caused by someone having a gun at her throat, can be solved by women taking tactical gun training is so far off this planet that TexTopCat may well be phoning it in from the Andromeda galaxy. I am tired of people blaming the victims, and I am tired of people who have no problem with deliberately using those victims as pawns in the gun nut game….

  319. I hope that John will forgive 3 posts in a row but it’s pretty late on this side of the Pond, and my bed is calling my voicemail rather insistently.

    I’d simply like to make full disclosure of the way I respond on these sorts of issues: both of my parents were career military. I got my first ever edged weapons training from a Ghurka serving with my father; I’m prepared to admit that possibly 8 years old may be a little early for these things, but it worked for me.

    The first lesson, and all the other lessons, were aimed at deterring me from thinking that I could draw a blade as easily as drawing breath.

    The Ghurkas are immensely practical, and they believe that if you draw a weapon you must know what the consequences are. It can only be drawn to take life immediately; nothing else works. Of course, sometimes the life taken is that of a carrot; kukris are very useful for cookery and just about everything else, but the principle is the same.

    I grew up with people whose jobs were to kill other people efficiently; I fully accept the need for that in our world. On the other hand, I also grew up knowing that civilians are useless at killing people efficiently because they don’t have the skill set, which probably explains why I have no difficulty in understanding the concerns of a former Marine weapons trainer…

  320. Stevie, your dismissal of MZW’s evidence was more than a little premature. To start with, you’re chopping and pasting what MZW said pretty badly. His claim regarding the NIJ study was that active resistance is better than passive defenses or compliance. This is borne out in the study.

    Your claim, that the study found “no statistically significant advantage” to gun use for self-defense, is supported nowhere in the study. Probably because the sample size included exactly 2 DGUs, too small a sample to be used to draw statistically significant conclusions. Just as well for you since the %-age of completed rapes for that sample size of 2 was exactly zero. This sample size problem is referenced explicitly.

    I hope I do not have to explain to you the difference between “Sample size including variable is too small for statistical significance” and “variable is statistically insignificant”?

    Which is precisely why MZW followed up by linking references in the next paragraphs that DID include conclusions about armed resistance. I quote the relevant passage from that piece:

    “Women who used knives or guns in self-defence were raped less than 1% of the time. Defensive use of edged or projectile weapons reduced the rate of injury to statistical insignificance.”

    To be fair, the same material DOES indicate that UNARMED resistance is only very slightly more effective than running away (again, assuming that is an option) and has a higher risk of injury than running away, which should surprise no one.

    But I -am- glad to see that you accept the validity of the authors of the NIJ study, since the primary author was the same one who found that the most effective means of self defense was armed resistance in their other study.

  321. Turning off the comments for the evening. I’m going to bed early! Because I’m old!

    Update: Comments back on.

    2nd Update: Whoops! Now they’re back on for serious.

  322. Wrote this yesterday, just around when comments closed. Still applies, I think.

    I’ve read about something called the weapons effect where seeing a gun has been known to increase aggressive behavior. I haven’t found a reliable citation for that. However, there are more than a few studies out there that show that the presence of a gun alters our behaviors, and not in productive ways.

    *librarian hat on*
    Briefly, here’s a couple citations from pubmed and links to their abstracts.

    Carrying a gun changes the person who carries it. There’s an article of a recent study that looked at this effect. Action alters object identification: wielding a gun increases the bias to see guns .

    In a much smaller study, testosterone levels go up simply from holding a gun. Guns, testosterone, and aggression: an experimental test of a mediational hypothesis.

    Pro-tip: Many libraries now share access to certain journal databases. Your local library may be part of such a network. You might even access the encyclopedia online if your kid forgot to tell you she had a paper due and it’s Saturday night!
    *librarian hat off*

  323. @Brian, I think you’re misreading the NIJ study and looking at the wrong table.

    Table 1 on page 23 of the PDF says that out of 733 incidents of attempted or completed rape, a single victim threatened the offender with a gun and was raped anyway. No victims actually used a gun. 8 victims either threatened or used other weapons, and 25% of those were raped. Overall, 33% of victims who used a weapon were raped. In all of those cases, the SP action stopped the rape from continuing further (i.e. 0% raped after SP usage, third column), which is a positive, but a tempered one given that being a little bit raped is still, y’know, being raped.

    I think your error is that you are looking at the table on the next page, which shows sexual assaults other than rape. That’s the only chart that shows 2 DGUs, but that table only shows how often those victims were injured in ways *other than being raped*. It does NOT suggest in any way that 100% of the two DGUs prevented those victims from being raped. Per the NCVS definition of sexual assault, those stats specifically do not include rape or attempted rape, but rather things like being groped or verbally threatened. You can’t draw any valid conclusions from the non-rape sexual assault data about whether the DGUs might have stopped those assaults from later progressing to rape, because the definition is too broad.

    So, one person out of 773 attempted rapes had a gun, got raped, but was able to use the gun to make the rapist stop. Nobody was able to use a gun to fend the attacker off prior to the rape. 2 more were able to use a knife or other weapon to make the rapist stop, and 6 were able to scare him away with a knife before he hurt them. Strictly from those stats, we could actually argue that non-gun weapons are MORE effective at preventing rape than guns are — but of course the numbers are so tiny that we can’t validly conclude anything at all one way or the other.

    I am deeply suspicious of whether Kleck’s “Rape and Resistance” paper actually does say that 1% of DGUs/knives are raped. The source MZW gives for that isn’t the Kleck paper itself — it’s a link to an article in an Indian journal reporting a case where a victim prevented rape by biting off the attacker’s tongue. The article repeats the 1% statistic and attributes it to Kleck, but without actually reading the Kleck paper, there’s no way to know if that’s a correct citation. The article doesn’t exactly appear to be high-quality statistical work, and I cannot find any other more solid research which repeats thus 1% statistic.

    The abstract of the Kleck paper does not give actual numbers either, and I haven’t paid for the paper to read it. However, Kleck’s own book “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America” mentions his 1990 study, but does NOT say that only 1% of armed victims were raped, just that they were less likely. He does say that “less than 1% of NCS rape victims report resistance with a gun”, which of course is not the same thing at all. Absent any better data, I’m going to guess that the Indian authors misread this passage. That’s not a knock on Kleck or on MZW, just that I’m going to need some better sources to take that 1% statistic as truth.

  324. EAB, look at the table again, and then read the text. Note that the columns include both “% raped” and “% raped after SP”? That is because, as Kleck and Yark take pains to point out, prior studies have failed to determine whether rape or other injury took place before or after self-protection (SP) actions were taken.

    In other words, your narrative “victim threatened offender with a gun and was raped anyway” does not comport with the information in the table. That would only fit with “% raped after SP.”.

    I’ll leave aside the problems with the “If you didn’t pull the trigger it doesn’t count” stance on what constitutes a defensive gun use for later, and move on to the next part.

    Of the four who -used- another weapon, three stopped the assailant short of attempted while the fourth did not use the weapon until the rape was already in progress, and use of the weapon was able to prevent completion. Again, where the “SP action” falls in the timeline is actually pretty important.

    Of the four who -threatened- with another weapon, three stopped the assailant short of attempted rape, while the fourth did not threaten with the weapon until the rape was underway, and threatening with the weapon was able to prevent completion. Injury-wise, same deal, thratening with an “other weapon” after being injured prevented further injury in the one case where there was injury.

    So, guns: sample-size too small, as I said in my first comment, but I’ll follow up on that in a moment.

    In general: Using a weapon > threatening with it. This should come as no surprise to anyone.

    That’s about as far as I’d go from that study. Thankfully we have others on self-defense in general for civilians, law enforcement, and military that can get to weapon effectiveness (since we know that using a weapon, assuming you can do so without going to jail) is better than threatening with it.

    I don’t have the access I used to have when I was in college to get past paywalls (nor library access these days, sadly, though it’s true that you can get some good stuff at good public libraries assuming you have one available), so I see no point in arguing over the 1% statistic. You are certainly free to be suspicious, and to guess (in other words, to assume without supporting evidence) that it is a misreading.

    A syllogism for you to consider before moving on, though:

    1)Forceful resistance in general and armed resistance in particular is the most effective means of stopping violent crimes against the person to include rape, robbery, assault, sexual assault, and murder.

    2)In the vast majority of circumstances, a firearm is the most effective hand-held weapon against point targets and is therefore the single most potent form of “forceful resistance”

    3) Therefore, in the vast majority of circumstances, a firearm is the most effective tool for armed resistance, and thus the most effective means towards stopping violent crimes against ones person.

    I’m sure plenty of people reading this are ITCHING to argue with 1, and probably some actually want to debate 2. This is where it ties back into sample size, and other studies on self defense, and all that good stuff.

    But since I’ve seen several claims to the effect that there’s “Newer, better evidence” that armed resistance is ineffective or makes things worse, I’m curious to see it. So far, the only cites I’ve seen against armed self-defensive are the ones like Stevie’s up-thread, and more recently the poorly thought-out aggression studies that have exactly the same proxy problem as the ones on media effects.

    You know, the “epidemiological” studies that continue to make the rounds and attempt to conflate the lifestyle risks of gang members, drug dealers, and other repeat-offending career criminals with those of men and women who are…you know…NOT gang members, drug dealers, or career criminals. Or even more generally, fail to distinguish between cause and effect.

  325. @Brian: So being skeptical of bad epidemiological studies that say “guns are bad” is a good thing, but being skeptical of unsourced statistics that say “guns prevent rape” is merely being suspicious and is probably just stubbornness, if not outright bad faith?

    @TexTopCat, don’t worry; here in CA, as long as you’re a Respectable White Dude, you can bring a loaded gun to an airport because you were careless with your firearm, and not only will you be able to walk away without being arrested, if you later very publicly violate the terms of the plea agreement or parole, you still won’t be arrested or suffer any consequences.

  326. (Very very blunt to the point of trigger-ness)

    @Brian, as I noted in my third paragraph, the sole DGU was raped but stopped the rape from continuing further by drawing a gun. Either way you construct the narrative, it’s not positive for DGU, because possession of the gun did not stop her(him) from getting raped. The victim was apparently unable to actually use the gun until the rape was already in progress, and it’s indisputable that s/he was raped, since that’s the 100% in the second column of Table 1.

    I’m going to be blunt to the point of crudeness, and I feel the need to apologize for it, but once he’s stuck it in you, it’s a little bit of a moot point. At that point, you’ve been raped, and it’s rather less material whether he actually comes in you or not. You’re a bit less likely to get pregnant and suffer other injuries, but YOU HAVE STILL BEEN RAPED. Please ask any of the rape victims you know (and I guarantee you know some, and that you are talking to some of them in this thread) how much it really matters whether the rapist had an orgasm before he stopped.

    I’m sorry for putting not-too-fine-a-point on it, but that really is what you are attempting to argue here: that everyone should carry guns because *one single person*, out of almost 800 victims, got raped, couldn’t get to her gun in time to stop that from happening, but eventually managed to pull it out and prevent the rapist from finishing. Do you see how utterly sick an argument it is, when you put it that way? Do you see what kind of hairs you’re attempting to split, that it’s somehow substantially better if your rapist doesn’t finish coming in you?

    I don’t know how to say that with any bigger or better capital letters, but IT’S STILL RAPE. It still counts, and it still matters, and it still screws up your life and traumatizes you. That one DGU was just as much a victim as anyone else, as were 25% of the people with other weapons. You don’t get to somehow exclude her(him) and claim that as a victory for the CCW side because s/he wasn’t raped quuuite enough for you to decide that it’s rape-rape.

    Please keep in mind that I’m not anti-gun by any stretch of the imagination. I own several guns, belong to a gun club, and go shooting several times a year. I’ve just concluded that the “evidence” that guns protect from rape is utterly insufficient for my particular circumstances and does not outweigh the hassles and risks of CCW for my particular lifestyle. If I do get attacked, I’m likely to do pretty well by biting/kicking/scratching/screaming in any case. I don’t wish to carry a gun on a regular basis or undergo significant self-defense training, and the evidence cited here utterly fails to prove that I would do substantially better against a stranger-rapist by being armed.

  327. I find it ironic that those who fetishize guns for protection from the government also support the political side of the fence that has built our armed services into one of the most cutting-edge militaries on the planet. If anyone is going to take the guns one day…it’s going to be folks more organized and better equipped by the same folks the gun owners put into office. It’s an interesting irony.

  328. “Point one: the benefit of using a firearm as protection against rape or other attack. I believe this has been answered – yes, actually, it is. Women who fight back with weapons (or fight back at all) don’t get raped as often as those who don’t fight back or who don’t use a firearm or knife.”

    This is going to derail, so, though I feel compelled to answer this point, I will leave the link and stop. Most rapes aren’t stranger rapes. MOST rapes are aquaintance rapes, and the predators carefully  pick victims who are likely to not be able to defend themselves, or believed after the fact by the police, prosecutors or even friends or family, because they want to keep on raping. 
    Link:  
    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/

    End derail. I’m not checking back for replies here even. 

  329. @Jerome

    Look at the words you’re using here… “48 separate incidents of guns discovered in student lockers or bags.” I’ve had guns in my locker at school, *because my school had a gun club* and no one lost their mind over it. Generations of people had the same experience. Now, just the very suggestion of a gun at school sends 2nd graders home with a suspension notice.

    What could possibly drive that, if not fear?

    48 incidents of guns in lockers in a school that doesn’t have a gun club and where students aren’t supposed to have guns is considerably more disturbing than guns turning up in lockers at a school with a gun club.

    I still find it very disturbing that school officials are willing to treat the pop-tart as if it were actually capable of causing harm. No matter how many guns might turn up, the pop-tart is still not dangerous.

    One driver of this behavior isn’t fear in the school official rather than school officials trying to stay on the good side of fearful parents by demonstrating that everything even remotely possible is being done.

    Another possible driver isn’t so much fear, as a deliberate attempt to instill fear in kids about the very idea of guns. Rather than teach children that guns are tools which should be treated with care and respect, teach them to consider them mystical objects of pure evil in hopes that they never grow up to learn about firearms and their safe handling.

  330. For a slightly different view on the gun as fetish object/dude with big gun issue, I can provide observations on the Canadian situation.*
    Dudes do exist north of the border. Interesting firearms with strong “ah, shiny!” qualities are available for sale both publicly and privately to licensed individuals. And people, mostly young men, do buy them and enjoy showing them off to friends, family, casual acquaintances, anyone with eyes, etc.
    There is a big difference, however, in terms of justification.
    No one in Canada, young or old, can claim a basic civil right to support their hobby/fetish. Ownership of a firearm is a privilege requiring a license, not a right enshrined in our charter of rights and freedoms.
    The self-defense justification is nowhere near as well-supported legally either. Shoot someone, under whatever circumstances, and you will be very, very lucky not to wind up in gaol.
    As for carrying a firearm in public? Not a legal right at all. Open carry – nope. Concealed carry – no way.
    So, where does that leave the dudes with big guns? Mostly on the rifle/pistol ranges, shooting and showing off their gear to people who share their interests.
    There are tragic exceptions. Recently a young man shot and killed three RCMP officers in a small city in Canada. His use of firearms to carry out the killings will cause some reconsideration of licensing/ownership laws. For myself, and many other Canadians, this reconsideration is the right thing to do.

    *Disclosure: I shoot. Not at all common amongst my Canadian/UK peers.

  331. winter67UK, but it is enshrined in our law and tradition. I respect that your laws and traditions vary. I’ve fought alongside and had a fair bit of social interaction with both Brit and Canadian soldiers, and I’ve done a bit of traveling in Canada (drove the ALCAN twice), all of which has given me a deep respect for commonwealth countries, but we ARE different countries.

  332. @Mike

    Regarding zero tolerance policies, they do seem to lead to asinine results. However, I’m more worried about the way those zero tolerance policies play out by creating a school to prison pipeline, or by discouraging budding rocket scientists from experiments with mentos and soda, rather than the unfortunate foolishness of sending a kid home for a gun shaped pop tart.

    Perhaps teachers and administrators are overreacting, but the big trend is in the reduction of school support for extracurriculars, combined with reduced popularity of some activities. Any number of studies show that household gun ownership has gone down, but football popularity is at almost an all time high. With all the things that educators have to concern themselves with, I’d start with the money on this one.

    And I think that attitudes follow the money. A quick search can pull up information on how much gun club memberships and/or shooting ranges cost in various places. Very few city or even heavily suburbanized schools will be able to afford a safe range where multiple teens can shoot at the same time. (If it’s a rural place, I’d guess the parents already teach the kids out in their woods or fields and/or that even the schools have no near neighbors so they can shoot outside, but most of us don’t live in those rural places). And if it’s a choice between a football program vs. a safe gun range, I’m guessing football wins everytime. In the battle among extracurriculars for money, anything that takes up more space and costs more money will lose priority, especially when it’s not something a majority of parents wants.

    Add on top of that that there are often strict laws that restrict gun handling by minors, that even realistic b.b.-guns have had tragic consequences, and there is no reason to assume that educators are intentionally indoctrinating kids to be afraid, as you seem to state here:

    Another possible driver isn’t so much fear, as a deliberate attempt to instill fear in kids about the very idea of guns. Rather than teach children that guns are tools which should be treated with care and respect, teach them to consider them mystical objects of pure evil in hopes that they never grow up to learn about firearms and their safe handling.

    .

  333. I do apologize. That really wasn’t the thing I meant to focus my objection and argument on, but I see that didn’t come through. I hope to do better next time.

  334. Re the self-defence angle.
    I live in a country (Denmark) where gun control is extremely restrictive.
    Well a couple of years ago a Jewellery store owner who had been held up a number of times decided he’d had enough, and acquired a hand gun for self/store defence.
    And, sure enough one day two hoods came in, drew their guns, but then so did he and one of the hoods were wounded and the other took to his heels and was later captured.
    The upshoot was that the two were convicted and sentenced, but so was the store owner, for illegal possession of a fire arm and felony endangerment. He got off with a slap on the wrist.
    He later is reported to have said as he was closing up shop, that he felt that if society couldn’t protect him and his, then he was morally correct in taking the action he did.
    Must say I tend to agree with him.

  335. “There are many incremental steps which are very helpful and responsible and don’t take anyone’s gun” – well that is not true in that none of these proposals will reduce criminal violence and may well increase criminal violence.
    Even the head of MAIG group has recently come out and said all of the proposals that they supported would not have prevented any of the mass killings.

    There is not legal reason for gun registration, it can only lead to confiscation.
    Tracing of firearms when recovered at a crime scene is already accomplished by the current NICS method. So, the government having a database of all gun owners and what guns they own is absolutely unacceptable.

  336. @Justin Watson
    Point taken, thank you. I intended to make the point that the dude with big gun mentality exists outside the US as well. I wound up emphasizing the differences in our respective systems. My bad.

  337. @mythago I’m not talking about “That caaaan’t be right” suspicions or feelings of unease. I’m talking about specific, glaring methodological failures built into the studies. The one comparing “lives saved vs. lives taken” above, like every other one of its kind I’ve read, ignores defensive uses where the trigger was not pulled (the vast majority), and then further throws out all the ones where the trigger was pulled and no injury resulted (the majority of the remainder, given real world constraints on even trained firearms users).

    So, no, not comparable.

    @EAB

    I think you’re going way out on a conjectural limb. For one thing, it’s certainly NOT a moot point unless you think that pregnancy is not an increased trauma or health risk. To say nothing of whatever else a rapist may have planned after the initial assault. If you remember, I actually pointed out in the initial post that that data point is too small a sample size to say much about gun use specifically in the context of this study.

    Thankfully, this study DOES provide us with some information regarding armed resistance in general, as does Kleck and Tark’s more general work on resistance to crime in general and other studies on defensive gun use. Add to that approximately 550 years (depending on when you want to start counting) of empirical data as to the advantages of firearms over other types of armed resistance in the vast majority of circumstances, and I feel pretty dang confident in my assertion that most of the time, armed resistance is the best course of action when faced with unavoidable violence. You’ll note that I say “unavoidable violence”. As any reputable self-defense or CCW instructor (like, say, Larry Correia, just to pick a name off the top of my head) will most likely tell you, you try to avoid trouble when you can, but at the same time you prepare yourself for the possibility that you will fail.

    I’m not minimizing or ignoring the victim who resisted and was raped anyway. I don’t have to, because last time I checked defensive measures do not need to be 100% effective to be a good idea. This is why we still use (pickable) locks on our doors, still live in (flammable) houses, and still use (hackable) information systems.

    You’re right that the argument sounds “pretty sick” when you frame it that way. However, since that framing bears pretty much zero relevance to anything I’ve said, I’m not too terribly concerned about that. And where did you get the absolutist “everyone should carry guns” from? I said that in the vast majority of circumstances, a firearm is the most effective means of armed resistance. It does not follow that as a matter of either public policy or culture that I believe everyone should make the choice to arm themselves at all times. I just expect knowledge of that rather important fact to weigh when they make the individual decision whether to carry. I expect other things on a broader societal and legislative level, but that gets into broader and off-topic political arguments.

    Now, that you have determined that carrying a firearm is not right for your particular lifestyle is fine. I have no idea what that lifestyle is. However, it would be a mistake for you to extrapolate from that bit of calculated risk on YOUR part to the part of everyone, everywhere. And please, re-read the study again with an eye towards self-defense strategies, and then go and read a few more on specific defense strategies regarding not just rape but crimes against persons in general.

    “biting/kicking/scratching/screaming” and ESPECIALLY the screaming part does NOT do as well as armed resistance. If you don’t want to carry a gun and take “significant” self-defense training, fine, but please consider finding a tool you ARE comfortable carrying consonant with local law and get SOME training in it, if you have reason to believe that you are actually at risk of stranger or casual acquaintance rape.

    More generally, I would actually agree with the people who point out that concealed carry isn’t AS effective against spousal or date rape, since in those situations you’ve already let someone inside seven yards with the weapon holstered or tucked into a container. That said not as effective is not the same thing as totally ineffective, and I do think that having a weapon (especially a firearm) available is an important part of an “overall security regimen” against that risk, to steal a phrase from John. For example, with spousal abuse/rape, Firearm ownership and training is step 2. GTFO is step 1. Seek court-ordered and police protection is step 3. Firearm ownership and training become prior because of the cases when going for step 3 has made the abuser decide to get even nastier and made step 2 a very good idea. Heck, where possible I would rank it as step one, because I’d want anyone I cared about to be armed and ready if they had to face an abuser and/or rapist and say the words “I’m leaving and I’m taking the kids”, or even risk being caught while packing and leaving.

    Finally, Emeraldcite? You might be surprised,by the diversity of opinion within the “Pro-gun” or “pro-self defense” or “pro-2nd Amendment” umbrella. I’m not one of the ones concerned about -military- build-up personally, but plenty of others are, and even more object to what’s usually bandied about as “militarization of the police”. But as far as idolizing the ones most likely to be the vanguards of the anti-gun revolution? Not so much.

    A strong majority (low of about 2/3rds, high of 80-85%) of rank and file police officers in the US are pretty strongly for civilian firearm ownership AND concealed carry. Senior management within Law enforcement, not so much outside of political posts in pro-gun areas of the country, but there are already cases of rather deliberate non-enforcement brought on by the old adage “never give an order you know won’t be obeyed” (or in at least one case by the attempt to quietly back down from one such order that WASN’T obeyed), and that’s without even going into the military’s attitudes on the matter and little things like Posse Commitatus. We’re talking about large groups here, mind you, so there’s still diversity of opinion (witness the link in john’s original post), and I can think of specific cultures that are very different (NOPD comes forcibly to mind) but on the whole, a lot would have to change pretty damn dramatically in both American or military culture before you’d get cheerful and enthusiastic obediance to THOSE orders out of most PDs, much less the US military as a whole.

  338. “That being said, do you think it is absolutely impossible that a truly oppressive government might ever come to power in the United States? The founding fathers were worried about it enough that the 2nd amendment got in there in the first place”

    Actually, there’s a good argument that they were worried about slave revolts; the “well-regulated militia” was a slave patrol, and the reason it says “necessary to the security of a free State” rather than, in the original draft, “free country” is that the militias were to remain under State control, rather than being federalised and thus unavailable to keep the slaves down, or even used by an abolitionist federal government to free the slaves.
    The founders weren’t daft; they’d seen what happens when a disorganised militia goes up against regular troops, and they knew it wasn’t pretty. That’s why there’s provision for a full-time navy and a full-time army (albeit limited to two years at a stretch, for fear of a Cromwell-type coup). That’s what is supposed to defend the country. The militia is for internal security.

  339. Ajay, there is indeed a good argument that slave revolt was amongst the founders’ concerns and that they understood a militia was inadequate, by itself, to secure the country from foreign threat. That doesn’t invalidate their obvious desire to keep the federal government checked both legally and practically.

    Furthermore, a militia doesn’t have to be equal in discipline and training to a regular force to be useful.

  340. @Arne Olsen

    He later is reported to have said as he was closing up shop, that he felt that if society couldn’t protect him and his, then he was morally correct in taking the action he did.

    That’s an interesting way of putting it. Is he saying that his actions would have been necessary if only society had protected him?

    It’s hard to see how police response could have helped, short of keeping a cop in the broom closet. Since we don’t have Trek transporters to instantly deliver police when you push the panic button, there will be cases where self defense is the best option.

  341. Late to the party, and most things have been covered, however . . . Marines train in the use of guns for self defense because – you guessed it – they will have need of them. They will be shot at, and want to shoot back.

    Now, before I go on, I should say I do won guns, and shoot them, and yes, I carry one.

    Before anyone passes judgment, I should also mention I’ve had threats on my life before, and until that time I did not own or think about carrying a gun. Now it’s second nature.

    I happen to also live in a relatively crime-free and affluent area (even more so in our previous place of residence, Franklin Michigan). Guess what? While in Franklin, not a mile from where I lived, a home invasion resulted in the murder of the two people who lived there (they offered no resistance). Other home invasions resulted ‘only’ in serious injuries.

    Contrast this anecdote with the one about idiots who shoot their spouse or kids by accident.

    I hope to never be in the former set, and know I will never be in the latter.

    The point here, though, is that gun ownership is as much a responsibility as having kids, driving a car, using knives, preparing meals, owning a pool, eating at Taco Bell, etc. etc.

    The grievance I have is that while the former weapons instructor bemoans gun ownership by people who fancy themselves able to fend off multiple armed attackers, he would, in fact be able to do that because he is trained in the use of guns, and because he owns them.

    He could not do it without either of those conditions, and even then, having guns and knowing how to use them in stressful situations is not a guarantee for success – but it sure as hell increases the odds of success.

    I have no objection to someone not wanting a gun in their home, or not wanting to carry one. I have no objection to requiring training and responsibility if one chooses to own and carry a gun.

    I do have a huge objection to people wanting to say that me owning a gun is irresponsible, and that I should not be allowed to do so.

    HOWEVER . . . I will accept their argument when they accept my arguments people should not have access to alcohol (especially if they have kids), should not so drugs – recreational or not (especially if they have kids), should not have kids until proven responsible and financially stable, should not drive until properly trained in the use of vehicles (real training, not driver’s ed), etc. etc.

    But most of all, I will accept their arguments when it is proven to me that my safety and that of my family is guaranteed by anyone other than me (fyi – response time for police where I live is about 20 minutes; I do have an alarm system for my house, and am judicious and anal about using it).

    I will also expect any bad guys who randomly or specifically target me to be handicapped so that any physical confrontation is on equal footing (no bad guys over 175 pounds, no bad guys taller than 5′ 8″, and no bad guys younger than 61, and most of all, no multiple bad guys at once – I want the “let’s attack Bruce Lee one at the time” scenario as the only allowable one for bad guys.

    Bottom line, I have no major objection with the piece as written, but it’s just a manual for not doing stupid things, and to stress that if one owns a gun they should be responsible and knowledgeable about the weapon and its uses. Inferring anything else from the piece goes beyond what is states.

  342. @Mike
    That’s an interesting way of putting it. Is he saying that his actions wouldn’t have been necessary if only society had protected him?
    Probably felt that more policing would have helped, but also, and the more important point; that he was morally correct in taking the action he took in self defense, even if it meant using an unregisterede firearm.

  343. Arne

    In England the mandatory minimum prison sentence for possessing an unregistered handgun is 5 years in jail; of course if you used it to injure or kill someone the penalties are much higher.

    Our society is determined to keep it that way; there was a petition to the Prime Minister demanding that the mere possession of a handgun should not result in a 5 year sentence.

    The petition acquired the princely total of 10 people supporting it…

  344. @Chris Carter, I read your blog entry and although I won’t argue with you, I remain unconvinced that firearms are especially useful for civilian self-defense.

    I don’t know if you read my post of June 19 and won’t repeat myself. I’ll only add that anyone who has actually used a firearm to take another life, has been wounded by one, or has seen friends killed or wounded with firearms (and I fit all these categories), develops a somewhat different perspective from those who somehow “feel safer” by having a personal defense weapon.

    Certainly there are responsible, justified uses of firearms for self defense but they are relatively rare when compared with the risks of accidental or unjustified shootings. I don’t advocate taking away the right to owning weapons for self-defense but believe that most gun owners aren’t adequately trained and don’t have good enough judgment as to their use to make me “feel safe” around those who carry them.

    @Justin Martin, many thanks for your kind remarks as to my Vietnam service and you’re correct that I don’t advocate limiting firearm ownership to military and law enforcement.

    My point is that firearms are inherently dangerous, by design, and I think many civilians who own self defense weapons don’t take their responsibility seriously enough, aren’t adequately trained, don’t adequately realize the risks involved in their ownership and use and, most of all, I question whether they have good enough judgment as to their use that I “feel safe” in trusting them to carry self defense firearms at all.

  345. With all due respect to both your service and being wounded in combat, Jim, and coming from another combat vet who was fortunate enough to be mortared and shot -at- without being shot I mean that, how do you square that rather broad generalization about the veterans of real-world violence with the host of law enforcement, military, and civilian survivors of violence who do not share your views?

    Because a very brief survey of both the political and gun culture landscape will find plenty of men and women who’ve been wounded, or had to use a firearm to take a life, or had friends or loved ones killed by firearms, or combinations of all three who are strong supporters of both the utility and wisdom of armed civilians.

    I have no problem with you using your experiences as the basis for your arguments. I do have a problem with attempting to claim that your views are representative of -all- combat vets, purple heart recipients, or those who’ve had to take a life.

  346. Jim, Brian’s right. I am a purple heart recipient, and I have fired an M4 in anger, although, like most men who have been in combat, I don’t really know if I hit anything. Firefights are chaotic things and most guys don’t get the hollywood shot. Some do, certainly, but most don’t. Personally, I don’t feel, but KNOW I’m better off fending off an attack armed than unarmed. It jives with both my experience and common sense. Now if someone thinks a firearm is a goddamn toy, then yes, they’re probably more dangerous to themselves than others.

  347. Jon is a big ol marine, healthy and highly trained, and he could probably take on a hardened gangbanger mono a mono, maybe even two of them, and come out on top.
    My competitive martial arts days are way behind me and I’m struggling with weight and my cardio is terrible. Am I going to be able to fight off a 6′ tall 17 year old athlete who thinks it’s funny to punch people? Not unless I cheat I won’t. The best cheat is a gun.

    Jon’s scenarios fly in the face of thousands of examples of successful defensive gun use outside the home, so I’m just going to throw that out the same way I do when Batman calls people who use guns cowards but never to Jim Gordon’s face because he knows how stupid it really sounds.

Comments are closed.