Tuesday, November 23, 2004

"Call for a cop, call for an ambulance, and call for a pizza. See who shows up first."

When I "blog," I do so for my own gratification. Quite simply, I love to write. Believe it or not, previous to this experience, I would have insisted I could never write about anything but fiction: essays, personal opinions, editorials - there is no way I could do such a thing. For school, perhaps, but certainly not for my own personal gratification. And not because I didn't think I could write - I just had no idea how to go about it. I preface this post with that because I want you to realize, as the reader of this site, that I rarely have an "agenda" per se when I write. It is just a response that I publish that people seem to like to read. I'm not out to convince anyone of anything, nor do I think my words are particularly eloquent. Usually, I'm surprised by the responses, especially on certain posts. My post regarding my experience with firearms is one of those posts. I've received a great response to it, both in quality and quantity, (much of the blame/appreciation belongs to Kim Du Toit, who mentioned me on his site and linked my site under his "Token Chick Blogs") which thrills me to no end. I do love getting e-mail from readers, about as much as I love sending e-mail to those whose writing I have enjoyed. It is so encouraging, and most of my readers also respond with their own thoughts, which is awesome! Here is just such a situation: I received the recommendation of two excellent essays from a reader. Both relate to firearms, and I hope those who might be a bit uncomfortable with the thought of weapons will read them. I say this not to convince you that you are wrong or to change your viewpoint: we all have opinions and experiences that we base our life ethics on - I merely would like you to see why the some of us own firearms. The first I am going to comment on is titled, "A Nation of Cowards."
Is your life worth protecting? If so, whose responsibility is it to protect it? If you believe that it is the police's, not only are you wrong -- since the courts universally rule that they have no legal obligation to do so -- but you face some difficult moral quandaries. How can you rightfully ask another human being to risk his life to protect yours, when you will assume no responsibility yourself? Because that is his job and we pay him to do it? Because your life is of incalculable value, but his is only worth the $30,000 salary we pay him? If you believe it reprehensible to possess the means and will to use lethal force to repel a criminal assault, how can you call upon another to do so for you? Do you believe that you are forbidden to protect yourself because the police are better qualified to protect you, because they know what they are doing but you're a rank amateur? Put aside that this is equivalent to believing that only concert pianists may play the piano and only professional athletes may play sports. What exactly are these special qualities possessed only by the police and beyond the rest of us mere mortals? One who values his life and takes seriously his responsibilities to his family and community will possess and cultivate the means of fighting back, and will retaliate when threatened with death or grievous injury to himself or a loved one. He will never be content to rely solely on others for his safety, or to think he has done all that is possible by being aware of his surroundings and taking measures of avoidance. Let's not mince words: He will be armed, will be trained in the use of his weapon, and will defend himself when faced with lethal violence.
If there is one thing we have learned in our society, especially in recent years, is that our court system is not always just, our security is not always impenetrable, and those that should defend us may not be able to. I learned self-defense a few years ago, and am very glad that I did. It gave me a bit more confidence, a bit more knowledge, as I walk down the street. When I leave my state (or travel to Philadelphia, where they are a bunch of gun-scared weenies) I have to leave my weapons behind. In that situation especially (though I do this at all times), I make sure my areas are safe, I scan for danger, and I'm ready to take action if I have to. Honestly, I doubt I know enough to disarm anyone, but I hope I can at least defend myself and those I am with enough to gain escape. I generally carry a knife (small Spider blade for those interested) and pack a gun. No, I'm not running around armed all the time. But I do make sure they are at hand. I'm not a survivalist, a gun-mad wacko, nor am I convinced there is a bad guy around every corner. I wear normal clothing, behave like a normal person, and shop at Wal-Mart. I still avoid walking alone at night, get nervous if my front door is ajar, and carry myself with confidence. Why carry a weapon of any kind? What I do know is that police do not always come when called, or in time - they are only human, with a fallible emergency system. When all else fails, I am responsible to protect my own life. And if your attacker has a weapon, no cell phone, whistle, mace, etc. is going to do much good. And if you get into a grappling situation with an attacker, what will you do if you gain his weapon? Threaten him with it? What if you do not know how to use it?
Fortunately, there is a weapon for preserving life and liberty that can be wielded effectively by almost anyone -- the handgun. Small and light enough to be carried habitually, lethal, but unlike the knife or sword, not demanding great skill or strength, it truly is the "great equalizer." Requiring only hand-eye coordination and a modicum of ability to remain cool under pressure, it can be used effectively by the old and the weak against the young and the strong, by the one against the many. The handgun is the only weapon that would give a lone female jogger a chance of prevailing against a gang of thugs intent on rape, a teacher a chance of protecting children at recess from a madman intent on massacring them, a family of tourists waiting at a mid-town subway station the means to protect themselves from a gang of teens armed with razors and knives.
I highly recommend reading the rest of this essay. He makes several excellent arguments for gun ownership, rights, and responsibilities. The next piece is, "Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun: What Bearing Weapons Teaches About the Good Life." I can't say much about it that it does not say perfectly well on its own. I will share this: the first time I went to a public shooting range, I was surrounded by men and women firing a variety of different weapons. Anything from rifles, 357's, 9mm's, and 22's were making a racket. It was overwhelming - and quite honestly, I was terrified. Here were all these weapons which could easily end my life if pointed in my direction, even if by accident. Suddenly the noise stopped, and I looked around as people laid down their loaded weapons, and many started walking towards the targets. What?! There are loaded weapons behind them, laying on the tables with the muzzles pointed towards them, and they are just taking a jaunt into the firing area! What they were doing was changing their target papers. What it showed me is that there is no fear of weapons among those who respect them. No one worried about being shot accidentally (or on purpose, for that matter). We were all using proper NRA guidelines for gun-handling. We were also talking, many were laughing and comparing results. There was a seriousness involved in the handling the weaponry, but there was also a camaraderie and general fun present. So there you have it. Enough gun talk for me. There are plenty of sites out there that have me way beat on the firearms discussion. Back to my social and relationship issues.