Thursday, August 21, 2008

400th Post--Do I need a gun?

I watch this show called Sunday Morning. You learn odd things on Sunday Morning, like why on Space: Above and Beyond the answer to the password *Bulldog* is the name *Chesty.* Watching Sunday Morning is the one adult thing I try to do every week. The rest of the time I'd happily watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer or something like that. It's been a while since I've even watched Nova on a regular basis.

So one of the stories a while back was that it is supposed to be legal for everyone in all fifty states to be able to own a gun, because the second amendment says so, etc.... Now there's going to be a few lawsuits here and there and we'll see what happens.

Someone who writes a blog (someone that I don't link to) wrote a post about it, wondering if it was a good idea for everyone to have a gun. And as part of what he wrote, he mentioned my dad as an example of a good law abiding citizen who thought it was a good idea for everyone to have a gun, even though he didn't actually own a gun himself. I know that at least one of my readers reads this other blog, so I thought I'd write something about it myself.

For one thing, the person writing the other blog post was wrong. My dad did own a gun. I don't know if he kept it or if my mom has it now or what happened to it. I never saw the gun, I can't imagine that my mom was very happy about it, but I do know that he had a gun at least for a little while. He told me many years later that he went out and bought a gun for self protection, after my uncle threatened to murder us all in our beds or some such thing.

I don't doubt that there are such people out there, who think that in principle having that everyone having a gun would be a great idea, even if they don't actually own guns themselves, but my dad just isn't the greatest example since he did have a gun.

Anyway, my dad did like Heinlein and did think that a well armed society was a polite society and all of that. And he did think that just sometimes a person needed a gun, that there were times when a person was in danger and that there was always someone bigger than you or more skilled at martial arts or knife throwing or whatever, but a gun would work on whoever was after you regardless of size or skill or whatever.

I do like that scene in Predator 2, when this no good punk threatens to kill someone on the subway, and every other person in the car pulls out a gun, including some little old ladies. I'm not sure that I would think it was cool in real life, but it was a funny bit on film. I think in real life the no good punks would still be able to get to their guns before the little old ladies.

Anyway, people are supposed to have the right to own a gun now, because someone wrote that on a piece of paper more than two hundred years ago. Two hundred years ago was a lot different than now. Two hundred years ago, we needed guns to fight the British and the Indians, to defend ourselves against wolves and bears, to shoot hen-stealing foxes, and to kill squirels and rabbits for dinner. Some years after the second amendment was written, Americans needed guns to exterminate the buffalo, to fight more Indians, to fight each other, to defend ourselves against wolves and bears, to shoot hen-stealing foxes, and to kill squirels and rabbits for dinner. Two hundred years later, we're not fighting the British or the Indians, the majority of people we are fighting aren't here, there aren't that many of us needing to defend ourselves against wolves and bears on a regular basis, even if you do have problems with hen-stealing foxes you might have better luck with traps than with guns, and very few people go out and kill squirels and rabbits for dinner.

And if you are trying to exterminate anything other than fire ants, I will shoot you.

There are still things that need to be shot -- kidnappers, pedifiles, rapists, homewrecking-sluts, cheating spouses, Enron executives, etc.... Problem is that by the time you know who to shoot, it's probably too late. You can still shoot them afterwards, but not in self-defense. Still, just in case the kidnapper or rapist comes to your house, you might feel better if you had a gun. And while you may not have hen-stealing foxes to deal with, you might want to shoot someone trying to steal your big-screen TV or your grandmother's pearl necklace.

While I'm all for shooting people who try to steal TVs and jewelry, I more often hear of people accidently shooting family members by mistake. Or a kid gets the gun and shoots accidently shoots himself or a friend, or he takes the gun to school and gets expelled or maybe actually shoots a classmate.

Of course, if you do get to use the gun for its intended purpose and shoot someone trying to steal your TV or your jewelry, and he doesn't die right away, he'll sue you.

So owning a gun isn't the simple choice that it was when the second amendment was written. And that's without getting into stuff like there didn't used to be machine guns and armor piercing bullets and idiot kids in gangs, etc... We just have problems with guns that people just couldn't imagine back then.

Maybe they did have some of our problems, but I just can't picture it. I can't picture teenagers getting shot two hundred years ago by parents who thought they were burglers. I can't imagine little kids in the old west accidentally shooting themselves by playing with real guns. I can't picture too many kids taking guns into Laura Ingalls' classroom and shooting classmates. Not that it couldn't have happened once in a while, but I doubt it was the norm.

I would like to hear a little bit more about why a person needs a gun, instead of a person has a right to have a gun because someone wrote it on a piece of paper two hundred years ago. The Bill of Rights was not written in stone, and it was meant to be added to and changed occasionally. So it might actually be time to change that amendment or even throw it out completely. But instead we are trying to figure out how to write laws that fit in with this idea that everyone who wants a gun should be able to have one, unless he can't afford to buy one or he admits to being a mental patient.

According to one study, one in nine college men had forced someone to have sex, had sex with someone who had said no, or had sex with someone who was drunk or unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting to have sex. In the study, more than half of these men seemed to be too stupid to know that they had raped someone. Another study found that it was only 1 in 12 men who forced someone to have sex, but 88% of them were to stupid to figure out that they'd raped someone. The studies were on college men, and in theory, the numbers for people not in college would be similar if not higher. So that's a lot of rapists out there, but I rarely hear that women should be carrying guns because the odds are that they'll eventually have to deal with one, just that everyone should be allowed to have guns because the second amendment says so.

Unfortunately, the majority of rape victims were not attacked by strangers, and having a gun probably wouldn't have helped them. I've only ever heard of one woman shooting a man that was going to rape her. I hear about sexual assault a lot, but only this one lucky woman who shot the bastard. There are probably others that I didn't hear about, and probably there are a lot of guys who didn't need to be shot, just threatened, or maybe a couple of guys that were shot at but got away. But still, here is a legitimate reason that someone might need a gun, but hardly anyone mentions it (except maybe a few of the women when they go to buy the guns), and everybody talks about their second amendment right to own a gun even if they don't need it.

Do you think that the founding fathers wrote all this stuff so that two hundred years later you'd have the right to walk around town with a gun, to own a collection of guns, or to go out in your backyard and pretend to be Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, or Arnold Swarchenegger? They wrote all this stuff to deal with the way life was two hundred years ago, and maybe the way that they guessed life might be later, and two hundred years ago almost all of them needed guns. They needed guns, cause they had to kill something on a regular basis. Except for fishing and the occasional hunting trip, most of us law abiding citizens don't kill anything except mice and roaches. Most of us just don't need guns. I need something (an actual working phaser would be nice), but I probably should not buy a gun.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

I used to be quite anti-gun, but I changed over the years. The problem to me hasn't been the guns, but the people who wield them. That is, the careless and criminals. The strictest gun control laws don't seem to help matters: Washington DC has had strict laws, and has a lot of gun violence, and there are countries and places in the world where everyone has a gun and there is very low violence.

The pro-gun NRA types, and I know quite a few, are the ones who tend to be the safest with them. They'd shoot intruders, but they aren't anxious to go off and shoot people: just targets.

Even so, I don't own a gun, and I know of no-one in my family who has.