It’s not about the gun, it’s about the person

You’ve heard it before…. “guns kill”, and the retort that no guns don’t kill people, people do. And the fingers are stuck in the ears, and the back and forth yelling drags on.

I would say that, some years ago, I would have more closely aligned myself with the “guns kill” camp. But some events happened in my life, and I also started listening to reason and logic, which made me realize that line of thinking — that guns kill — doesn’t make sense.

If guns kill, then pencils cause typos and forks cause obesity. When someone gets drunk and drives a car, we don’t try to ban alcohol or cars, we blame the person for their behavior and sanction that behavior. For most things in the world we look past the objects and implements and look at the person using them — the person is the cause of the behavior. Yet for some reason when it comes to gun, the object is focused upon.

Too many believe that guns mean violence. That guns mean death. That guns only bring about evil.

I cannot deny that many times when violence occurs, guns are involved. I cannot deny that people die every day due in a manner involving firearms. I cannot deny that men bent on doing evil like to use guns to impose their evil will.

But if we only look at that one side of the coin, then we’re only seeing part of the story.

For every story of “bad things” happening that involve a gun, there are stories of “good things” happening that involve a gun. Trouble is, we don’t often hear about those things. Sure, some of it comes from media bias because showing how guns can be used for good doesn’t further an anti-gun agenda, and a large majority of the mass media holds anti-gun stances. But a lot of it comes from the fact that a gun may be used for good purposes, to stop evil being done, but there’s nothing to trigger a “news event” because the situation may not get reported to the police, it may not have enough drama to earn ratings, or what have you. But rest assured, these events happen.

For example, Sarah Connor at BrainBang retells her story:

I’ve carried my piece countless times, and have used it to prevent things from going bad to worse. I’ve never shot my pistol at a perpetrator. I only used a gun to reinforce my words.

“Leave. Her. Alone.”

Words I said to a male stranger, who kept touching a woman at the laundry mat, against her will. She was visibly nervous, shaking, terrified.

Other customers in the laundry mat didn’t know what to do. All I had to do was give the verbal command for him to leave her alone. Most folks won’t intervene in a situation like that, even if it’s the simple act of saying, “Stop.” Too risky. Too unsafe. I wouldn’t have ordered the man to leave, unless I had the backup of a gun in my pocket.

See? Crime prevented. No gun violence. Just peace. And I didn’t even show my piece.

Some might say that it was a bad thing she only gained her courage because she had a gun. Well, I would say that wasn’t all bad because without it, who knows what evil could have happened to the woman at the laundry mat… because no one else was speaking up. Some might say she shouldn’t have gotten involved, but I’m sure the woman is thankful someone did get involved. Sarah’s gun was her force equalizer. I’ve written on the notion of “force equalizer” many times in the past. We must accept that while we may have been created equal, a moment later we became different. A 5′ 100# woman vs. a 6’6′ 300# man? A frail elderly gentleman vs. a pack of teenage hoodlums? These are very real situations with massive force disparity. Think about the reality of the situation for a moment and tell me how yelling “NO! STOP!” is going to be effective. Tell me how calling the police, if you can even do that, is going to stop the immediate threat of harm? But put a tool in the hand of the disadvantaged one, and the disparity is lessened.

Case in point:

[89-year-old] Fannie Mae Brown says she saw the burglar’s flashlight inside the house and realized the intruder was headed toward her bedroom. She fired one shot toward the light, police said, which sent the suspect running off into the night.

We don’t know who broke into her house, but you can bet elderly Ms. Brown wouldn’t be much of a physical match for them. Oh sure, there are other things one could use, like a loud voice, a baseball bat, pepper spray, taser, golf club, and the list goes on. But these require coming in close contact with the individual. Do you think Ms. Brown would want to get within arms reach of this person? Do you really think a physical confrontation would be to her advantage? But for this good woman, having a gun allowed her to ward off evil.

Then there’s Holly Adams, mother of Leslie Sherman who was killed in the Virginia Tech massacre. Some people took the VaTech tragedy and claimed to speak for all the victims, that they all want more gun control because that’s the only way to stop these things from happening. Of course, even in countries with the tightest firearms restrictions, massacres still occur. Despite mountains of data and evidence that gun control does not reduce violence, some still call for it. But then, Holly Adams calls it otherwise:

Speaking for myself, I would give anything if someone on campus; a professor, one of the trained military or guardsman taking classes or another student could have saved my daughter by shooting Cho before he killed our loved ones. Because professors, staff and students are precluded from protecting themselves on campus, Cho, a student at Virginia Tech himself, was able to simply walk on campus and go on a killing rampage with no worry that anyone would stop him.

I ask a simple question: Would the other parents of victims be forever thankful if a professor or student was allowed to carry a firearm and could have stopped Seung-Hui Cho before their loved one was injured or killed? I would be. I also suspect that the tragedy may not have occurred at all if Cho knew that either faculty members or students were permitted to carry their own weapons on campus. Cho took his own life before campus police were able to reach him and put a stop to his killing spree.

When you use the force of law (or other regulation) to put good people at the losing end of force disparity, evil people will know this and take advantage of it. Look at Nidal Hasan. He was able to go on a rampage at Fort Hood because, despite what you’d think about a military base, all our soliders are disarmed on base in the USA. They were forced into a disadvantageous state, and an evil man took advantage of it. Look at all the school shootings. Schools are another place where good people are forced to a disadvantageous state. If you examine all of these horrible events, a common thread is their location and how the victims were forced to the losing side of force disparity. Does that not speak to what might be playing a role in these events?

Some think that the way to overcome this disparity would be to ban guns. I can understand that approach, because it works to overcome the  disparity — no one has guns, no one can have the advantage there. True enough, but it doesn’t work out. When guns are banned, evil people still find ways to do evil. Countries that ban firearms have huge problems with knives. Are we going to ban knives? They can’t… because no one would be able to cut their food or open boxes. Besides, try as you might, evil people will always find a way. If say they banned knives, good people would have to live without cutting their food, and bad people would just find a piece of metal, sharpen it against a rock, and hide it on their person. If you think rules and laws stop bad people, go to any prison and look at their collection of makeshift weapons. And besides, guns still turn up in places that ban guns. Criminals aren’t stopped by laws — that’s why they’re criminals.

Abridging good people from taking care of themselves serves no useful end, unless your end is to control and dominate those good people (and then, who is the wicked one?). Yes sanction evil people. Yes make it difficult or impossible for bad people to continue to do bad things.  But realize that bad people exist, and will always exist, and good people need a way to deal with that reality. We accept that forks don’t make people fat, so don’t think that guns make people bad. Sarah Connor was able to do good, because she had a gun. Fannie Mae Brown was able to chase of an evil-doer, because she had a gun. The capacity to do good or to do evil lies within the person, not with what implement they hold in their hands.

4 thoughts on “It’s not about the gun, it’s about the person

  1. I’m insomnic tonight, and this is my final post for the night, promise.

    During the handful of times I get into the discussion of gun control, I’m always stern in differentiating between law abiding citizens and criminals.

    Criminals will do as their namesake: not follow laws. So, whatever gun-control laws get passed, it’ll only hinder law abiding citizens.

    In addition to the CDC and FBI’s death/homicide database, I’ve frequently linked to your “What does it say about a person” post to explain to people it is not the armed law abiding citizen people should be worried about.

    I think this post is another good link to share with the uninitiated.

    One of my pet-peeves is people who speak against guns, but have never themselves taken any education about responsible gun ownership. That’d be like me speaking out about CSS in web-development when I’ve only a cursory knowledge on the topic. *gripe gripe grip*

    Ok, bud, g’nite!

    • Violence is an emotional issue. We all want to live in peace, myself included. Thing is, civilzation has come so far that people are so removed from violence and may go through most, if not all, of their lives and never experience any. I mean, even look at our food… people seem to forget that animals die to feed us. Tho for some, to kill an animal to eat it is an abomination, but that’s how nature works… look around at the rest of the animal kingdom. But point is either way people are detached from violence.

      And implied here is that violence is… what it is. It’s inherantly neither good nor bad. But what the intent of the violence is, and perhaps the outcome, determine the goodness or badness of the violence. Violence to slaughter the cow to feed a family? That’s good. Violence to slaughter a family, to settle some grudge? That’s bad. Violence by the family to defend themselves from that slaughter? That’s good. But alas, some think the latter is bad… they won’t actually say that it is, but they try to deny folks adequate means of defending themselves. And that I no longer understand… I used to somewhat fall into that camp, but then I took my fingers out of my ears and listened to logic and I just can’t see how that makes sense.

      But it tends to be due to some emotional reason. Rarely logic.

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