? ?

Previous Entry | Next Entry

GUNS: My view

I don't follow the news very carefully. I listen and read just enough to get the flavor, but not the details. I know that after the last few mass killings (the batman movie killer with psych problems, and the elementary school murderer who swiped the gun from his mother), there has been a lot of noise about banning assault rifles. Just this morning I read something about Obama claiming that 40% of gun acquisitions occur without a background check happening. Who knows if that is true, or how relevant it is. I can't possibly cover everything about guns but I'm going to list a few of the things that I've been thinking and talking with my friends about.

One thing I learned recently is that 2/3 of gun deaths are suicides. Not murders. Suicides. I personally do not own a gun, not because I think gun ownership is a bad idea, but because I have been very depressed in my life, and I know that my life might have been lost already if I'd had a gun handy. So better to not have it handy. This does not mean that I think I am likely to murder another person. And it certainly does not mean that I would not be willing or able to use a gun in a confrontation to protect my family and community. (I'm a decent shot with rifles and handguns and practice when opportunities arise.) It just seems to me that keeping guns out of the hands of civilians might prevent a lot of suicides, and that seems like a good idea to me. Not everybody needs to, or should have a gun. Those who are able to use a gun responsibly in defense of their home can be trained at any time, and armed at a later date.

I read in the paper this morning that some are talking about training school teachers to shoot, and providing them with guns. That seems like a terrible idea to me. I imagine a whole lot of nurturing females being taught how to keep and use a gun, and then being too submissive or passive to actually use it when the moment came and it was needed. Not everybody needs to, or should have a gun. Some schoolteachers may have the aptitude and ability to shoot a dangerous human, but I'm betting that the majority do not. It is not fair to ask anyone to kill if they are not already willing. Even if it is to save their own lives. An armed society may be a polite society, but an armed schoolteacher might be pushed toward madness if they are not suited to the project of being a lethally-capable defender. Defenders in this case should volunteer, not be recruited. Nonprofit groups that provide guns to people living in dangerous neighborhoods are likely to fuel the problem by not carefully vetting each individual who receives a gun. It is not the gun that is dangerous, it is the people.

The second amendment of the constitution is the basis for our widespread gun possession in America. People go around spouting about how our "right to bare arms shall not be infringed". First, if you're going to be a gun advocate, do yourself a favor and get the language right. It's BEAR, not bare. Going sleeveless is not in debate here. Here's the text of the second amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The capitalizations are original. Militia is capitalized, that is to say, it is emphasized.

What did they mean by that? Do you think that they meant that every single paranoid person has a right to guns? Isn't it interesting that the Militia bit is conveniently left out of modern gun advocates' arguments? Why does it need to be left out?

I see two possible interpretations. One is that everybody should have guns so that if invaders come, or the government gets out of hand, we can form a militia and defend our communities. The other is that guns should be kept but within the context of a well-regulated militia. Not every paranoid person ready to blast every other paranoid person, but rather that there is some Structure to gun possession and use. That structure is a well regulated Militia. The first interpretation is what is currently being employed in our land, so let's explore the second.

What if, and I'm just dreaming here, what if you had to be a member of a militia in order to have the right to lethal firepower? What if that militia was one of your choosing? What if there were some requirements of you before you were permitted to keep and bear arms, and those requirements were specified within your militia? Seems to me it would be better than a background check done by strangers. Your personal character, responsibility and ability to use a firearm could evaluated and confirmed by people that you know and see often. If you started to lose contact with reality, those people would be the first to know, and might even be able to keep you from doing unnecessary harm. What if the militia had an armory, and most weapons were stored there instead of in the home? It might prevent the theft of arms, and a great deal of the crime that is executed with stolen (or "borrowed") guns. Yet we the people would still have the ability to arm ourselves in response to a threat.

Of course, the militias could not be regulated by the government, because one of their express purposes is as a check on government power. How they might be regulated, and how one might determine who is a suitable militia member, is a subject for a great deal of discussion. For example: What if white supremacists, or some nutso cult, forms a militia? How can we be assured that is well regulated? I am not at all sure. Ideas welcome.

An armed and paranoid commenter informed me that according to current law, he IS part of the militia. According to him (and he got his info from Wikipedia) the US 1903 Militia act specifies that every able-bodied man aged 17-45 years who is not a member of the National Guard or Naval Militia is a member. Former members of the armed forces up to age 65 are also considered part of the "unorganized militia". When I looked it up (on Wikipedia), I found that this act created the National Reserve, aka the Organized Militia. It was passed after the US military was proven deficient in the Spanish-American war. The law made all state military forces into dual reservists under the authority of the Army Reserve. It was intended to prevent state governors from using National Guard forces as "private armies", and to ensure that the President could not mobilize state military forces into the federal armed forces.

So basically anyone who could be drafted (men of age), and all former military men not yet 65 years old, are legally part of this unorganized militia. This does not appear to refer to the "well regulated Militia" of the second amendment which was ratified in 1761...significantly preceding the 1903 law. What is clear to me is that the 1903 law is way behind the times. We have a lot of women and elders who are pretty good shots and of steely enough character to be of use if needed. Probably a bunch of feisty sharpshooting gays, too.

Personally, I like Obama's suggestion that we penalize those who lie on background checks. I mean, what's the point of doing them if people can just lie and get away with it? Make the background checks real, somehow. I know it won't prevent the theft of guns. My idea for solving that is below.

In my view, gun owners are responsible for keeping their guns secure. By secure, I mean that gun owners ought to be keeping those guns out of the hands of those who would shoot innocents. Guns should not be accessible to your children unless you consider those children to be assets to your militia. Guns should not be stolen. If your guns get stolen, you fucked up. Same with your ammo. If anybody else gets it, you made a big mistake. YOU are responsible for keeping your guns out of the wrong hands. The only way that your gun should be taken from you is out of your cold, dead hands. No other way.

Which brings me to the point. There should be legal repercussions to gun owners whose guns get away from them. If your gun is used to shoot 20 first graders, you are at least partly responsible. No, not completely responsible. But partly responsible. Perhaps if there were a legal cost to gun owners whose guns are used for evil, all gun owners might take a little more care in storing their weapons. If there were a militia armory where you could store your guns securely, but not hand them over the the government, that could be a solution. Perhaps even a government armory might be of use for some weapons, for those who do not distrust government as much. There are a variety of options that might be explored for increasing the security of privately owned guns without actually removing them from the ownership and control of the people. I think we should explore these options.

Keeping guns secure at home is not easy. A locked gun cabinet can be unlocked if the key is found, and bashed open if the key is not found. A hidden gun can be found. About the only way you can really be sure that your gun won't be taken is if nobody knows it is there, and nobody looking for anything in your possessions is likely to find it. That is to say, secrecy is the best protection you can have for a firearm.

Another very useful way to keep guns secure is to have people around, a family or a community, to prevent strangers from taking things from your home. Isolation is part of the problem: it makes us paranoid, and it invites criminals. Having a tribe, perchance a militia, could be part of the solution.

Lately there's been a rash of people openly carrying weapons. It happened in Gresham, Oregon not long ago. A couple of young men walked around a shopping district with assault rifles slung over their shoulders. Lots of shop owners locked their doors. Lots of people called 911. It is legal to openly carry a gun for which you have a permit. But it is not legal to disturb the peace. I think that openly carrying guns in peaceful places is a disturbance of the peace. If you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and you are sane and responsible in your use of that gun, then by all means carry it. I ask only that you conceal it, so that you are not upsetting all those people who would prefer not to know that you have lethal firepower on your person.

Defined, hoplophobia is the irrational fear of weapons, from the Greek "hoplon" for weapon or arms. It is considered pejorative, and it is a newly coined word not yet in common circulation. It is true, there are people who are afraid of guns even when they are just sitting there, doing nothing. This is because they have experienced, or have internalized the experience of others, that guns can do serious damage to bodies. This is not rational, rather, it is emotional. Being irrational does mean that it should not be the sole basis for any decision. But being compassionate humans, perhaps we might consider the feelings of others in our actions.

If you are a person who is willing and able to kill to defend the innocent, trained and expert in the use of your weapon, and mentally stable enough not to use it inappropriately, then you are a part of that population who would ideally, in hard times, be a part of a militia for our defense. We need you. Not everyone has these capabilities. Hard times might come sooner, or later, but they will come. Don't let your gun get stolen. Don't go around frightening people needlessly. And if you start feeling angry or unstable, please give your gun to someone else to secure so that you don't accidentally ruin your life and those of others. It isn't worth it. We all have our weak times, which is why lethal firepower is not to be taken lightly.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
This was a refreshing read-- very insightful and well-reasoned, unlike most of the polemic opinion pieces out there.

The main reason I don't own a gun yet is my history of having panic attacks. They are indescribably horrible, and the midst of one it is difficult to think, reason, or imagine it will ever end. I am certain that if I'd had access to a gun during some previous panic attacks, I wouldn't be here now.

At the same time, the threats of home invasion, rape, etc. do exist, and a lethal weapon may be the only effective deterrent against those who would otherwise initiate force again us. So I definitely support the idea of people getting trained in handling a gun for self-defense.

I agree that teachers shouldn't be required to have guns. An unconfident, untrained person with a gun is more dangerous than someone without one. The trouble is that it is illegal for regular citizens to carry guns on schoolgrounds and college campuses. This leaves teachers and their students defenseless against attacks, such as those we have seen in the mass murders. At the college where I teach, the police chief gave a presentation to the faculty last fall and basically said we are just supposed to lock the classroom doors, hide, and wait for the police to save us in an emergency. There are two officers on campus at a time... at a school with 15,000+ students.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 11:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I like to think that my positions are reasonable, and that I could bring around both a gun rights advocate and a gun control activist to some middle position. I'm working on that position.

Do you have a favored idea for how we might better protect our schools, specifically?

Edited at 2013-04-03 11:53 pm (UTC)
Apr. 4th, 2013 04:19 am (UTC)
Thing is... The "reasonable compromise" between the hoplophobes and the advocates of an armed populace of free people is pretty much where we are now. A lot of people talk about "a reasonable compromise", but they ignore the encroachments and restrictions that already exist. It's already illegal to kill people, already illegal for a felon to on a firearm (or even be in a room with one actually), already illegal for me to own a fully automatic weapon of recent manufacture, already illegal for me to own a weapon above a certain calibre, already involves a background check, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

So, yeah. My initial position is that I want to purchase a mains battle tank and ammunition. My right to do so is stated quite clearly in the bill of rights. I am, however, prepared to compromise. I am willing to leave the current unconstitutional laws in place. But no farther.

As for how we should protect our schools, simply replacing the "gun free school zones" with a policy whereby any volunteer teacher that passes a background check, psych eval, and training program permitted to carry concealed would end school shootings. The killers would go to a different location. A different location would become more appealing to them.

That's t he thing. A "gun free zone" is a neon sign to active shooters saying "defenseless targets here". Replace it with a sign saying "trained opposition here" and they will go elsewhere.
Apr. 4th, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
trained opposition here!
"a policy whereby any volunteer teacher that passes a background check, psych eval, and training program permitted to carry concealed"

YES! Absolutely. Gun free zones are clearly ineffective.
Apr. 4th, 2013 10:39 am (UTC)
I'd agree with Ford above. Stop making schools "gun-free zones." Teachers (and adult college students) who meet the standards for concealed carry would be allowed to carry at school. Those who were not comfortable carrying would not be forced to do so.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 11:45 pm (UTC)

I'm not going to break your rule of silence ;)

Feel free to be surprised.

The NRA's school security idea is bullshit.

I'd kick an invader's ass before I'd even think to use a gun.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
That'sa girl. Please don't hurt me. =-]

Do YOU have any ideas about how to protect the little kiddos while at school?

Edited at 2013-04-03 11:53 pm (UTC)
Apr. 4th, 2013 12:55 am (UTC)
It is vanishingly unlikely to happen. If it does, lock the door. Hide. Shut up until the police call you out.

I think firearms make much better offensive weapons than defensive weapons. There are times when you really can't win.
Apr. 4th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
That's exactly the wrong thing to do.

The police have response times on the order of 10 minutes. By that time, any active shooter is out of ammo anyway. If there's someone on scene with a firearm, then it stops right there 90+% of the time.

Here are a few examples you never heard of
Apr. 4th, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree that evading notice is a good course of action for those who are not prepared to confront and disable an attacker. But if you were prepared, why not disable? "Can't win" seems sort of fatalistic. Maybe you could win, almost certainly you could win if you were wily and quick enough.
Apr. 4th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)
Militia: The reserve militia or unorganized militia, which is presently defined by the Militia Act of 1903 to consist of every able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age who is not a member of the National Guard or Naval Militia.(That is, anyone who would be eligible for a draft.) Former members of the armed forces up to age 65 are also considered part of the "unorganized militia" per Sec 313 Title 32 of the US Code.

So, I, as a paranoid citizen *am* a member of the militia.

Why is carrying a legal device in a public area "disturbing the peace"? Would it not be equally if not more valid to claim that the person locking out a person peaceably carrying a legal device is the one "disturbing the peace"?

90% of spree killers suicide or surrender the first time someone offers *any* form of resistance. Spree killings average 15 minutes in duration. That means that a person *on the scene* with a firearm prevents 90+% of all the deaths, even if they are *not* trained. In fact, even if their gun is not loaded.

Mostly though, the question is, who is it exactly that you trust to decide whether or not you or I should have a gun? I suspect that you trust Obama. Would you be equally content about Bush having that power? Because there is a virtual certainty that a president that you like will be followed by one that you loathe. That's the nature of the Republic. If you wouldn't give the power to Bush, then you *cannot* give it to Obama.
Apr. 4th, 2013 03:19 am (UTC)
Thanks, this is useful.
Apr. 4th, 2013 08:32 pm (UTC)
The necessity or benefit of open carry is debatable. I haven't looked up the law about disturbing the peace, so feel free to educate me. Clearly this law has not been used to stop people from open carrying. Maybe we need another law, or a revision of the open carry law. Going for strolls in peaceful public places with visible heavy firepower is more likely to do harm than good, and should be discouraged. Just the stress of having guns around is harmful for some people. Stress kills. More direct harm might well be done by someone else who is upset or afraid, and not the open carrier. I'm interested in harm reduction and public health.
Apr. 4th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)
But the question is: Why is it stressful? That's usually an issue of training. If people get used to seeing a thing, unless it's intrinsically horrific, they aren't stressed by it. Most people are not significantly stressed by the presence of armed guards. So, many people may see the AR slung over the shoulder of the peaceable citizen as a warm comforting presence. "Nothing will harm you, not on my watch, and I am a formidable presence". Whereas those of a rational bent may look at a "gun free zone" and see a sign saying "fresh meat served here".

Social conditioning is important, and it's important to not let erroneous social conditioning steer policy in counterproductive directions.
Apr. 5th, 2013 01:15 am (UTC)
I am not sure that this conditioning is erroneous. Armed guards are one thing; they are at work. Twenty-something men wandering about shopping districts with ARs for the sport of frightening people is another thing. Their goal is deconditioning but I do not think they succeeded. Frightening people increases their conditioning.
Apr. 5th, 2013 02:48 am (UTC)
You're making some assumptions about what the goals of those open carrying are.

It may be the case that the open carriers failed to reverse the conditioning that has been instilled by hordes of Diane Feinsteins funded by billions of dollars, but they *did* demonstrate that ARs openly carried do not necessarily result in casualties.

Social perceptions do not always change immediately. It may in fact, take hundreds of "incidents" before public perception of an individual openly carrying in a mall is viewed as a binky, as compared to a potential threat. Does that make the perception correct? Were the flat-earthers right? The geo-centrics? A thing is what it is. Public opinion, and public stress about the revaluation of the incorrectness of their view on that thing is not the problem of the thing.

By your logic, gays should remain in the closet, because it discomforts straight people.
Apr. 5th, 2013 03:38 am (UTC)
There's a big difference between being disgusted by other people's sexuality, and being terrified that somebody is about to kill you.

You are correct that it will take more than one non-lethal exposure to lethal firepower to gain people's complacence. More than ten, more than 100. How many? We shall see if the exposures lead us in the direction you propose. The odds of lethal behavior are dangerously high.
Apr. 5th, 2013 03:47 am (UTC)
I personally have been in the presence of firearms hundreds of times, with no ill effects. Why should this be different? Why should people peaceably carrying the means to defend those around them be viewed as anything other than a good thing? What makes you think that the presence of openly displayed means of peace enforcement increases the odds of hostilities?
Apr. 5th, 2013 03:57 am (UTC)
There are no shootings without guns. That is the very simple reason that the presence of guns increases the odds of shootings.

Oh, and the other difference is that it is YOU who has personally been in the presence of firearms enough times to not have fear. Myself, I have trained with guns in situations that felt safe, and I have seen guns waved in situations that felt unsafe. On balance, my personal experience is equivocal.
Apr. 5th, 2013 04:10 am (UTC)
I've seen guns waved unsafely. I have seen knives, chainsaws, cars, tractors, heavy equipment, ho coals, and beer bottles brandished in unsafe manners. Guess which of those kills the most people. Quick hint, it ain't the guns.

Granted, there are no shootings without guns, but the statistics show that there very clearly ARE killings without guns. Furthermore, the relationship between the presence of guns and the prevalence of illegal murders is unclear at best.
Apr. 4th, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC)
1903 Military act
Alrighty then, the legal criteria are pretty lax. Now that women serve in the military, are women draftable? And would women be considered part of this reserve militia? Or not, based on the wording of the law, I presume. That law is clearly not good enough. And my dad wouldn't like it either, being past age 65 and still fully able to responsibly use a firearm. ... Hmmm.
Apr. 4th, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC)
Re: 1903 Military act
I am pretty certain that no gun rights advocate would be opposed to making the definition of "militia" MORE inclusive. On that basis, yes, I would suspect that including women would be fine, as would including the able bodied experienced citizen!
Apr. 5th, 2013 01:17 am (UTC)
Re: 1903 Military act: able-minded
I would change the law to make it able-minded, instead of able-bodied. A wheelchair-bound individual could be formidable with the right weapon, whereas a person plagued with panic attacks, paranoia, depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc, might lose perspective at the wrong time.
Apr. 4th, 2013 11:13 pm (UTC)
The idea that applying "tactical pressure" to an active shooter will dissuade 90% of them is plausible. Having been indoctrinated in Apache ways young in my life, I know that tactical pressure can be applied through a vast array of means, only a few of which require a firearm.
Apr. 4th, 2013 11:48 pm (UTC)
Yes. But the thing is, the shooter must *recognize* it as tactical pressure. Most of these people are not trained, not experienced, and not particularly stable. So pointing a gun at them realy is a pretty convenient way.
Apr. 5th, 2013 01:05 am (UTC)
Oh, he'll recognize it all right. =-]
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )



Latest Month

April 2024



Powered by
Designed by chasethestars