Friday, March 21, 2008

Responsible Firearm Ownership

Today's entry is brought to you by this horrible story on CNN. Executive summary: a woman called 911 because someone was breaking into her house, and as the 911 operator listened, the intruders got in and murdered the caller.

This reminds me of two bumper-sticker-type slogans. Yes, bumper sticker slogans are simplistic, but sometimes there's a lot of wisdom to be found at the end of a late-model sedan. I'm guessing that this poor woman's family are feeling the truth of these ideas today.

First up: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

Second: Saying you don't need a gun because you have the police is like saying that you don't need a toothbrush because you have a dentist.

I used to be a good liberal on the issue of guns, back before I learned what "critical thinking" meant. In my squandered youth, I even subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine, and happily lapped up whatever leftist drivel they doled out.

Of course I thought guns were bad. Rolling Stone, and most other media, told me they were. A gun killed John Lennon, so all guns must be evil. (There are at least two major logical errors in that last sentence - one in the premise, one in the conclusion. Identifying them is left as an exercise for the reader.)

Of course, my self-inflicted socialist media diet also taught me that anyone who claimed membership in, or even any sympathy with, the NRA was automatically a homicidal lunatic. I made plenty of fun of their "guns don't kill people - people kill people" rhetoric, usually by replying, "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will accidentally shoot their own children."

I can't say when or why I changed my view. I attribute it to simply growing up. John Hawkins from Right Wing News has defined liberalism as "childlike emotionalism applied to adult issues". That pretty much sums up my youthful position on firearms, and hopefully explains the change.

I hadn't even realized it happened until one day I was visiting someone in his office in a police station. He had a couple of firearms out, and several rounds of ammunition were openly visible in the room. He was working with the firearms as we chatted. As he handled one of the guns, he looked at me and, indicating the firearm in his hand, asked, "This doesn't bother you, does it?"

I replied, "Nope. The only time somebody having a gun makes me nervous is if the same person would make me nervous even without the gun."

I all but felt the light coming on as I realized that what I had just said was pretty much the same idea as the aforementioned NRA slogan.

These days I quite like firearms. I'm a big proponent of self-defense and responsible firearms ownership, and fully agree with the "bumper stickers" at the top of this article. I want the good guys to be armed, and preferably given carry permits (open and/or concealed). If the lady in the linked article at the top had spent her time steadying her aim of a large-calibre handgun (you don't want a small one for home defense - not enough stopping power) instead of dialing 911 (and probably waiting on hold), the story might have had a much happier ending.

Oddly enough, I don't actually have any firearms in my home at this time. This is because I don't feel that small children and firearms are a particularly good mix, and right now I'd much rather have the small children around. My four-year-old son can find ways to be dangerous with Silly String, so even a remote possibility that he might get his hands on an honest-to-goodness firearm is out of the question.

I've also become very familiar with Canada's firearms laws, and (here's where I lose the NRA and its Canadian fans again) I don't think they're that bad. Sure, they're inefficiently administered, but the actual ideas of firearms licensing and registration are sound. (Canada's firearms laws also have a nasty racist streak in them that I may address some other time.)

I used to agree with the standard Canadian firearm enthusiast's belief that licensing was acceptable but registration was unnecessary and needlessly intrusive. A friend argued it with me and changed my mind (see, it is possible). If we had licensing but no registration, there would be nothing preventing (well, maybe we should say "discouraging" - laws never prevent any action, they only provide for penalties that will hopefully be deterrents) me, as a licensed individual, from going to the gun shop, picking out something nice and nasty, then handing it off to Joe Gangbanger down the road who would never in a million years be approved for a licence. Remember, no registration means no record of the sale to me and no record of me giving the gun to ol' Killy Joe, and so no way for me to wind up sharing a cell with Joe like I should in this scenario.

There. Now that I've probably alienated everyone on any side of the firearms control debate, my driveway needs shovelling again. Oh, for a cannon large enough to just blow the snowdrifts away....

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of two of the Beatles dolls my wife crocheted for me (John's back, George's front).

1 comment:

HomeSchooler said...

Makes me think back to the time when one of my neighbours told me as we chatted about our mutual enjoyment of the woods, "Well, I'll start hunting when they start issuing guns to deer."

I did NOT hit him over the head with my gun, even though tempted.

It really, really, REALLY bugs me when people make foolish statements like that, especially if the person making the statement is wearing leather shoes and belt, and happens to NOT be a vegetarian.

Where do they think their meat and leather goods come from anyway? Furthermore, the harvesting of a deer/moose/bear/other game, if done correctly: a) Has allowed the animal, up until death, to have lived a normal, free-range life. b) Has butchered the animal MUCH more humanely than almost any/all butcher shops (with the exception of kosher butcher shops - but they're nonexistant around here). And c) Has provided a family with a good deal of extremely low-fat meat that is virtually untainted by hormones and who knows what else at a price that even the poorest can afford!

As for registration, boy have they ever mucked that up!!! And there is the danger that it could lead to a "slippery slope," but it doesn't have to lead there, unlike some other laws that inevitably will...

Zirbert said,
"Canada's firearms laws also have a nasty racist streak in them that I may address some other time."

Please do! I'm very curious about this (and what you would have to say about this - which is another matter entirely). Although I'm pretty aware of the ins-and-outs of gun laws as they pertain to hunting, that is about the extent of my knowledge.

Also, the obvious question popped into my head when reading about your gun-related encounter at the police station - how would you feel if I was the one holding the gun? (I don't ask, "Hey, want to come hunting sometime?" because I already know the answer - plus, either you couldn't hack hunting with me, or you wouldn't want to hack it, which may be about the same thing... "Tea made with water that already looked like tea before the bag was put in, anyone???")