The logic of gun control

In terms of Guns and Democracy, I also want to address the issues raised by another commenter, Justin.

Justin wrote: “The huge majority of gun owners keep to themselves and carry concealed unless they are hunting… there is no reason to open conceal off grounds while in Montpelier especially now with these rallys going on. This man is being ridiculed all over the internet by gun owners for doing what he did even though it is legal to carry off grounds…”
and:
“What if that man had been there with bad intentions and pulled his gun on you? How would you have protected your family? If you were carrying a gun you would have been able to protect them. I’m not saying everyone should carry a gun but I am saying that those that choose to should be able to.”

In my thinking, these statements really lay out the problem of guns. Justin suggests that there is a norm that gun owners should carry concealed and keep to themselves. Because this person violated that norm, folks are ridiculing him. But, the truth is that he is within his rights to engage in a behavior that reasonable gun advocates find inappropriate. Why can’t this norm (that it isn’t a good idea to walk around visibly armed) be established as a rule (law, regulation, policy) so we don’t have to worry about the bad judgement of unreasonable people bucking the norms? The second amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms exists because a “well-regulated militia” maintains security in a free state. This person was not acting as part of a wel-regulated militia.

But, based on Justin’s further discussion, regulation requiring concealed guns isn’t enough because it is possible that this person could have had bad intentions and pulled the gun on me. It is also possible, by the way, that he might have pulled his gun on me with only misguided intentions. Being armed myself would not have changed the scenario (I wouldn’t take the time for dropping bags and letting go of the hands of 2 kids, to unholster a weapon when my quickest option would be to throw myself at him to shield the kids). So when it comes to the question of whether or not I get shot, we have the same situation of relying upon that (not part of a well-regulated militia) armed person to do the right thing. I needed to depend on him being a good guy with an accurate grasp on reality so he didn’t perceive of me as a threat worth shooting. Instead of being so dependent on my own quick reflexes and the good intentions and mental clarity of strangers, I believe a more reasonable, more effective option would be to take the guns out of the hands of random John Q. Publics strolling around downtown and rely for my safety on well-regulated law enforcement charged with the task of maintaining order and protecting us all – the very peacekeeping force that the constitution intended to provide for me.

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4 Responses to The logic of gun control

  1. Chris says:

    Andrea –
    I begin this note with the thought that we might both agree that there are evil people in this world, that there are people with severe mental problems, and that there are people who can no longer think properly because of drugs.
    After seeing horrific events like what happened to the Curriers, or at Columbine, Aurora or Sandy Hook; we must logically conclude that there are people in this world who want to kill people simply to watch them die. That is the reality of the world we live in, that is the reality that I see, yet you make it plain to all, even your own children, that you do not apparently have any idea why someone might wish to carry a concealed firearm (little Jie-Jie asks “Why do they do that?” and mommy replies “I really don’t know”).
    In response to a threat of a fire, we buy fire extinguishers. In response to the possibility of physical harm by way of a car accident, we wear seat belts. In response to the threat of drowning, we have flotation devices in our boats; we wear helmets when skiing or biking, and to cover ourselves from property damage we buy property insurance. In response to a threat of rape, or robbery, or child abduction or random death by criminal or deranged person – you espouse doing nothing?
    The beauty of our Bill of Rights and our Constitution is that we have freedom and liberty. If you wish to rely solely on the Police for your protection, please know that I fully support your decision and that the laws of this country support your decision. From the crime statistics I see, you are not alone with that approach as it is clear that a large number of law-abiding citizens prefer to put their own lives and the lives of their loved ones completely into the hands of others.
    I personally prefer to exercise my right to take some responsibility over my life and the lives of my loved ones, and just as I support your stance to take no such responsibility, all I ask is that you respect my right to take responsibility.
    Unless of course you do not believe that firearms have no use for self-defense, or that they are never used in self-defense?

  2. Pingback: Villains or heroes? | Vermont 2 China

  3. Meghan says:

    It’s refreshing to see a reasonable and respectful conversation on this subject.

    While I appreciate the earnest conviction and civic concern of gun owners who believe that carrying a weapon might allow them to prevent or mitigate tragedy in the public square, there are too many variables at play for that to be the case.

    The gun owner at the rally, for instance, was behaving in a way that is now being ridiculed by responsible gun owners, but isn’t substantively different (from a distance) than the way many people who’ve opened fire in public places behaved prior to their crime. While a gun owner knows his/her intentions, others do not. Andrea approached the man in good faith assuming (correctly, in this case) that he was carrying a weapon to make a point rather than do damage. Had that not been the case, she wouldn’t have had a chance to ascertain what his intentions were in time to defend herself and her children, regardless of whether she herself was armed.

    And on the other side of that coin, he might easily have been the victim of gun violence himself, had a concerned citizen read his intentions differently.

    I was recently the victim of a violent and prolonged assault by a stranger. I recognize that I am lucky that the assailant had no weapon, and it’s been suggested more than once that I ought to consider carrying a weapon myself, or that I might have prevented the violence I suffered if I’d been armed at the time.

    It’s extremely easy to make these judgments in theory, but the truth is that until he ran at me and sacked me, he was a regular guy walking in a non-threatening way down the street. There was no time to reach for a weapon even if I’d had one. I fought, and prevented more serious injuries than I would otherwise have sustained, but he had the upper hand for the bulk of the encounter. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had been carrying a weapon, the man who tried to bash my head against a rock would have been delighted to find himself armed and I would be dead.

    The argument that criminals will always find a way to get guns isn’t without merit, but making guns as ubiquitous as snow shovels in a Vermont winter makes it more, not less, likely that they’ll succeed. And unless the good guy with the concealed carry permit is psychic or willing to preemptively shoot someone who may or may not be innocent on the suspicion of bad intentions, he’s not going to get the jump on the criminal.

    • Chris says:

      Meghan –
      Let me begin by saying how very sorry I am to know that you were assaulted; I cannot imagine having to go through that.
      It would appear from what you wrote that you agree to the point that criminals will always be able to get their hands on firearms, so we have common ground.
      In your note, you indicated that there are “too many variables at play” to allow an honest and law-abiding citizen to possibly prevent or mitigate a public tragedy if they were carrying a concealed firearm. Would that stance change at all if the citizen who was carrying was, say, an off-duty police officer, or had military training, or was NOT just an average John Q Public but was instead a citizen who had sought out and received specific training as to how to react in such situations? Such people do exist, I happen to be one of them and Ihave no Superman complex as Andrea has intimated. I prefer to think of myself as a Boy Scout who took his motto of “Be Prepared” to heart.
      Just so you are aware, the NRA sponsors classes called “Women On Target” that are specifically designed to give women the orientation and hands-on instruction needed to safely handle and shoot a pistol, the basic training needed to be more aware of possible threats, and the ability to react to such threats in a prudent manner. The old addage of “God made man but Sam Colt made them equal” is especially true when it comes to a firearm being a great equalizer between a man who has evil intentintions towards a women and a women who is simply not built to be able to physically unable to meet that attack. If providing for that level of protection for yourself is not your cup of tea – than that is your choice – and I support and understand that.
      Over and over again however, doing nothing more than showing your firearm, or putting a shot into the ground will give any person pause about whether or not they wish to continue their untoward behavior.
      Looking for common ground again, I think we might both agree that it would be most desirable to stop a criminal before he does something heinous. BUT – we have already agreed that despite any laws we pass – criminals will always have access to firearms so we will never be able to stop them completely.
      Given that stopping such criminals is not always possible before they start their evil acts – then perhaps we might also agree that stopping a criminal after he has started his criminal mis-deeds would be the next best thing.
      You have stated that your assault started out of the blue – he was just a guy walking down the street. Across the subsequent lengthy assault, you apparently never had any opportunity to retrieve a firearm out of your purse, backpack or pocket. You further indicate that even if you had had a firearm, he would have taken it from you, and instead of just assaulting you by bashing your head into a rock – he would have shot you with your own gun.
      Are you not even open to the idea that you have options for your personal protection, even after eduring what you went through? As opposed to having no protection in the face of a attacker who is intent on bashing your head in with a rock – do you truly prefer to not even consider an option available to you should the curcumstances have been any different?
      Had a good semaritan heard you fighting back and been carrying, would you truly have prefered to have him/her not do anything due to “to many variables”?

      Sincerely,
      Chris

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