Armed and Gregarious

31 12 2007

On Saturday, one of my friends came up from North Kackalackie with his kids and we all went to the local Gun Show. A wonderful time was had by all. My friend was looking for a hunting rifle, and I was planning on just looking around at the neat stuff- unless something caught my eye, of course.

Being a guy, lots of stuff caught my eye. I firmly resisted temptation, however, and virtuously spent my time searching for a rifle for my friend. Somewhat to my surprise, I found one, and turned aside to call my friend over to take a look. In the time it took to turn around, call his name, and wave him over, someone else popped up and bought the rifle first.

At this point, I was in a bit of trouble. My primary excuse for not lingering at any given table and possibly buying something was gone. Nonetheless, I squared my shoulders, girded my loins, and … capitulated to the siren song of a very nice weapon whose existence had been completely unknown to me prior to that moment. Drat and other comments!

Those few of you reading may relax- I am not going to wax rhapsodic about the virtues of my new pistol, nor will  I post pictures. That would result in anti-gun whackjobs to start screaming about “gun porn” and pro-gun wingnuts deriding me for my choice and advocating the benefits of their favorite boom-stick.

Instead, I’m going to talk about responsibility.

A weapon is merely a specialized tool. Tools have their uses. There is a time and place for using any tool. Using a tool for something other than its intended purpose risks damaging the tool and possibly the user. A firearm is a very specialized tool, designed to put holes in things at a distance. Period. Full stop.

Like all specialized tools, a weapon by itself is useless. Someone has to make the weapon operate. If the person operating the firearm does not know what he/she is doing, they risk putting holes where they did not intend to put holes. All too often, those holes end up in the operator or people who just happen to be close by. It is therefore the responsibility of the operator to make sure the firearm only puts holes where he/she wants them- and nowhere else.

Fortunately, this is not terribly difficult. A modest amount of basic firearms training- with emphasis on safety- is generally sufficient to give most people enough familiarity with a given firearm to prevent the more egregious mistakes. Regular practice with a firearm should be used to hone these skills and reflexes to where safe operation becomes automatic. It is the responsibility of the gun owner/operator to know how to properly (and safely) use the weapon.

Part of this responsibility involves un-learning everything you have learned from the movies and TV. A firearm is not a magic wand. Simply waving a gun around does not make you a Man, nor will it automatically gain you respect or authority over others. Anyone who thinks this way- or acts as if they think this way- is not a responsible gun owner. People who act this way are merely fools.

Another responsibility for gun ownership is to avoid frightening others unnecessarily. If your state allows this, get a concealed weapons permit. Even if “Open Carry” is legal where you live, think twice before doing so. My Grandfather once told me, “Never carry a gun if it could get you into more trouble than it can get you out of.” This is sound advice. Think about your reasons for wanting to carry a firearm before choosing to do so. I will not provide a list of “good” or “bad” reasons to carry- that is an individual choice. Just think about it.

And finally, let us discuss the responsibility of using the weapon. Carrying a weapon means that you have accepted the responsibility of making the right choice under intense pressure and with lives in the balance. If this responsibility is too much for you, don’t carry a weapon. If the possibility bothers you, think about it seriously before deciding whether or not to carry. If you carry a weapon and don’t use it when you really need to, all you’ve done is given a Bad Guy another weapon. On the other hand, if you are blithely certain that you will react properly at the Point of Decision and are not a combat veteran, you probably shouldn’t carry a weapon. Knowing when not to use a weapon is just as important as knowing when to use it.

Current status: Armed and Gregarious

Current music: Kashmir by Led Zeppelin

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6 responses

31 12 2007
Layman Pong

1. The most sublime wisdom I’ve heard from a police officer:
“If there’s a gun in the room, the strongest man possesses it.”

2. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmgunpooooooorn…

1 01 2008
prairieflounder

Well said.
Recently I watched an episode of “BS” by Penn and Teller about gun control. One of the best arguments for concealed carry of firearms was brought up by a woman from Texas. She suggested that everyone benefits from people who carry firearms simply due to the fact that criminals will have more doubt as to who, among their victims, are armed. This benefits everyone, including people who do not choose to own a firearm. This comes with out a shot being fired, and with out anyone being hurt. I just wanted to say thanks, from those of us who will benefit. You won’t hear it often. I also hope you never need to use your pistol for anything but practice.
-pf

1 01 2008
archvillain

There are a couple of pitfalls inherent in that woman’s statement. First, it probably applies to Texas, but is unlikely to be true for other states. In order for a general deterrent effect on criminals to exist, the fact that a significant portion of the population might be armed would need to be widely known and continually repeated (my opinion).

Something that is rarely discussed is the aftermath of a shooting. In many states, the shooter is very likely to be prosecuted even if the shooting is justified. Even if the authorities determine that the shooting was justified, the person who got shot (or his family) can successfully sue the shooter. Texas has passed legislation preventing this, but I’m not sure if this has passed judicial review.

In jurisdictions where the shooter (however justified) is dealt with harshly by the judicial system, the possible deterrent effect of an armed citizenry would be significantly diluted (in my opinion).

Another major pitfall in the possible deterrent effect of armed citizens is the fact that most criminals are stupid. You cannot count on any given criminal being smart enough to weigh the odds. A case in point: an old Darwin Awards™ nominee who decided to try and rob a gun store in Washington State … after walking around the marked police car parked in front of the store. This sort of Weapons Grade Stupid is immune to any possible deterrent factor.

2 01 2008
Layman Pong

Hold up y’all.
Listen.
Your money is my money. As soon as I make that decision, that’s the way it is, and if you get yourself hurt because you’re trying to hold on to my money, that’s your f–ing fault.

I’m going to come up behind you at the ATM, and put my gun into your neck. A little snubnose I bought outta someone’s trunk after he ripped it off from your house while you were at work.
I’m going to tell you to keep your hands where I can see ’em, and withdraw as much as you can.

I’m going to tell you not to turn around for a thirty count.

I’m not even a criminal.
Where did I learn this?

Tactical analysis of news photos and stories.
Where do the criminals learn this? The University that is the prison system, with its 70% recidivism rate.

I know one of you has gone through the Shoot/No Shoot scenarios.
Come on.

We’ve got to get these guys earlier.
See now what I’m trying to do down here?

3 01 2008
prairieflounder

I was waiting for this comment. Kings, you are right about what your doing down there. I am sure that you have made a difference in a number of lives and potentially prevented many criminal acts, even saved lives. Thank you. There is a great need, and it seems that there are not enough good teachers and parents to go around.

I have to disagree about criminals learning to be better criminals in prison. Criminals learn, when they do, from people who get away with crime not from those who get caught. Unfortunately it’s probably a wash. When prisoners learn from people too stupid to get away with their crime; what they learn probably makes them more dangerous.

Being armed is a mater of choosing how you wish to prepare to respond to your perceived risk in the environment where you live. This is different for each individual. It comes down to choice. Circumstances and scenarios differ but they all have one thing in common, with out a weapon there is no choice. Archvillain chooses to own a gun and carry it. I own guns and choose not to carry. You choose not to own a gun.

I believe that the majority of people are good and that the minority, either through circumstances or environment can do bad things for wrong reasons. Humans are also a calculating animal that weighs risk vs. benefits in almost all activities.

A criminal may choose to take my money because it is more important to him than my life. This is a choice. He also chooses to take the risk of robbing an armed person, or one who is trained in martial arts, or someone with no money. This is a choice he makes when he risks committing a crime. When the benefits exceed the risk crimes increase. Increase the risk, or reduce the benefits and crime may go down.

Everyone makes choices. I am glad to live in a country where we still have the choice to carry a weapon. I am also grateful that you are choosing to combat crime and violence from underneath where it does the most good.

-pf

Too bad there are gun owners out there who do not lock up their weapons, I am however not one of them.

3 01 2008
archvillain

Layman PongSee now what I’m trying to do down here?

I’ve always understood what you’re trying to do out there in the Land of Backwards Time. IMO, you’re a voice in the wilderness. Far too many so-called “teachers” are just going through the motions (if even that), and school administrators are worse. That said, even if every single teacher and administrator in the US had your level of dedication, it would still have the effect of pissing on a forest fire because the parents are the ones failing their children.

You’ll get a pack of semi-domesticated creatures for a few hours each day, five days a week, nine months a year. Afterwards, they get to go home to whatever predicament exists there- and they can’t escape. Whether the family is too poor to afford good nutrition and health care or too wealthy to permit their crotch-goblins to suffer the consequences of their actions, the result is a generation of mouth-breathers with few prospects and diminished abilities. Far too many of them end up as criminals for that reason.

And if those you can’t reach choose to make me or mine a target, I choose to be prepared.

I appreciate what you choose to do. Another finger in the dike is always helpful. I am also worried about the long-term effect on you. Not just the stress of your work, but the place you live- combined with your personal philosophy- has to be a source of strain.

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