I’ve been thinking a lot about guns lately…again. I want to own one. Or more. But why, I ask myself.
It’s no secret, I think, that I really love guns, the objects themselves, but despise and hate and dread the use of guns and what they do. Kind of a weird contradiction, I suppose.
Maybe it’s the Y-chromosome I carry, but I think guns are “cool.” I love the feel of a gun in the hand, the impression it’s weight gives indicating its powerful potential. This seemingly benign piece of machinery that’s capable with a small movement of a finger of creating death and destruction at a distance. There’s something very testosterone about that, if I may use that word as an adjective. I love gun-movies: “The Matrix,” John Woo movies (mostly his Hong Kong ones), and gun video games: “Soldier of Fortune,” “Battlefield: 1942”, etc. But I hate the real-life result of using guns. I loved “The Matrix,” but I think seeing “Elephant” (which is a realistic depiction of a Columbine-like event) would disturb the hell out of me for weeks. One is an obvious glorification and flashy, unreal fiction of gun use with obvious fictional characters, while the other is realistic and possible and reminds you of how guns are used in real life and what they really do.
So why do I want one. Is simply the desire to have one enough? What about self or family protection? No, I don’t go for that stance…at least I 95% don’t. There’s a very small part of me that actually believes one can defend themselves by being armed…and sometimes it works. But I can imagine a million ways being armed would lead to greater death and destruction, while any successful self/other defense using a gun would work only in a perfect situation…and how often does that happen? Let’s say you’re out at the bank or a store, and it/you gets robbed. If you comply and don’t have a gun, chances are excellent no one will get hurt and you’ll lose your wallet. If you pull a gun, suddenly the criminal is in a situation where they feel their life is threatened and their inclination to escalate the situation increases tremendously. Remember, someone who is capable and willing to rob people with a weapon is not going to see your pulling a gun as a fair and just leveling of the playing field and let it go–they’re going to return the threat with greater threat. Especially once you increased their own chance of getting shot or getting arrested. Don’t pull a gun, 90% chance no one gets hurt. Pull a gun, 90% someone’s getting shot. In my opinion.
Going back to my love of movies, I keep thinking of the scene in “Boogie Nights” in the donut shop. Guy robbing the place holding the clerk at gunpoint, customer draws a gun and shoots the robber, robber pulls the last pound-per-square-inch and shoots the clerk in the head before shooting the customer. End result: three dead or dying people including one innocent, blood and brain matter everywhere. Is that worth it?
Another interesting question I ask myself, would I now carry concealed? It’s legal in my state. No, I wouldn’t. However, if I wasn’t married and had a kid? Perhaps, but still doubtful. So my having a family changes my opinion. If I had a gun, would I keep it in a bedside drawer? With family, no way in hell! If I didn’t, perhaps. Which brings me to another topic: home defense.
There’s no twisting the data around, research shows without spin that more household members are killed in the home with legally owned guns than are intruders. By a far margin. That’s kids who get into their parents guns, family members shot by mistake during a real burglary or false alarm, and in the heat of an argument. With a child in the house, there’s no way I would ever have a real handgun not in locked box with a trigger lock and the ammo stored in a separately locked box. That’d be three different locks one would have to get past to use the gun, which make home protection kind of out of the question. At one time I was kind of a depressed person, I wouldn’t have trusted even myself with a gun in the house, but now I’m a pretty happy person so that’s not an issue. But children in the house is.
OK, coolness factor way up there, self-protection no, and home protection no. 2nd Amendment right expression? yes, to some degree.
The 2nd Amendment in our Bill of Rights states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Now to take that statement as saying everyone has the right to own whatever guns they want is ridiculous. First of all, the only guns that were around during the late 18th century were muskets and early versions of rifles. Pistols were still muzzle loaded flintlocks. They, our Founding Fathers, never conceived of a gun that was capable of firing 10 rounds or armor piercing bullets a second over half a mile with pinpoint accuracy. Guns back then were used for war, protection, and food. People depended on their guns to live, and taking away the right to own a firearm was a terrible and dictatorial way of keeping a people subservient to your rule, and prevented them from forcing you out of power. Nowadays, a bare fraction of the guns made are used for self-sustaining hunting, and we have the best armed military in the world to protect us. The only legitimate reason for someone to own a gun nowadays, to rise up against a corrupt government, is pointless. The Founding Fathers gave the people the right to change their government by voting, and baring that, allowed us the tools to revolt as they themselves did against King George. Back then, it was a LOT easier for a populace to out a government. Nowadays, try to imagine a civil revolt against the government in the US? Impossible. Even is enough people could be made to care enough to do anything, you couldn’t get enough people to actually DO anything to risk their comfortable television watching and latte drinking by taking up arms against the government. A few hundred untrained civilians with basic rifles and firearms against several thousand trained military with amazing weaponry. And we no longer need a militia to protect our land. No other military is a threat to us that the regular military can’t handle. And as for terrorism, regular armed citizens can’t protect themselves from a secretly released biochemical or a hijacked airplane made into a missile. So, there really is no practical reason these days for the 2nd Amendment.
However, there is a huge symbolic need to support the 2nd Amendment, and I would never want to see it repealed from the Bill of Rights. The idea of the citizenry given the right to keep firearms is as symbolic to the existence of this country as is the flag. It’s a symbol of democracy, to some extent. Countries ruled by dictators, ownership of weapons is one of the first things to be severely restricted. One might say that since we see examples of dictatorships that refuse its citizens to keep guns all around us, it can still happen to us. I contend that the US has evolved WELL past the barbaric political environments we see in the Middle East and African nations. We’ll be controlled by megacorps before we’re controlled by the government. Unless two-thirds of the population had the same M-16’s and CAR-15’s and SAW’s grenades and Abrahm’s tanks as the government has, there’s no way we can use guns to protect ourselves from our government. Unless the military fights for us in a quop.
Perhaps on day several thousand years in the future, the human species will have evolved beyond the need to use guns for anything and the 2nd Amendment will be seen by all as ridiculous and completely unnecessary in either a practical or symbolic sense. But not in the near future.
Do I see my own ownership of a gun as a patriotic issue? Well, not so much as my keeping one of my rights alive. I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the work of our Founding Fathers and the effort that was made to make us an independent country, a democratic republic. I have no hope of rebelling against corrupt politicians through force, but so long as I own a gun and can fight politically to keep it, then I know we’re still living in the free country. And the day that I, as a non-felony committing citizen, am forced to turn over my gun, I’ll know America is dead.
Back to the coolness factor. =) Aside from the sensationalistic coolness given guns by movies, their history, to me, is also fascinating. I love watching History Channel shows on the history of guns, and how a particular new weapon helped turn the tide of a battle, affecting the war, changing the course of nations. I would love to be able to collect things like an 8mm German Lugar used in WWII, an original 1873 Peacemaker revolver, a 1911 US Army semi-auto, etc. “Coolness” is kind of a crass word for this. In honesty, I admit to thinking guns are cool, but that feeling is mainly reserved to movie gun-play. In real-life, I have respect for guns. I have an appreciation for them both in appearance and their power.
For example, take a look at this Taurus PT911 9mm http://www.taurususa.com/products/product-details.cfm?model=911BGR&category=Pistol and tell me this isn’t a beautiful gun! The rosewood grips, the gold against the black, this is something I’d have in the middle of my display case. Probably would never fire it.
I have a couple of Airsoft replicas, they look almost exactly like the real pistols even down to the trade marks, but they shoot plastic BB’s at around 200 feet per second. These are things are put my “coolness” factor into. I can hold one in my hand and say with childlike glee “COOL!” and have fun with it, because it’s nothing more than a glorified toy. I’ve been shot in the forehead with one from 20 feet and it left a bruise. It didn’t even break the skin. Oh, they can take out an eye, no doubt! So I have a respect for them as well (ask my brother, who I constantly annoy by getting on his case for treating his Airsoft with less than respect.) But a real gun, having a history on the development of Western civilization as well as being able to end a life with a thoughtless action, I would hold in my hand with respectful awe. One day, when my daughter is older than say 16, I hope to have a few pistols, and at that time I think I could safely lock them in a glass front cabinet. I’d have pieces that I knew the history of, I’d know if they were used in a war, if they had original parts. I’d enjoy their deadly beauty.
Kids and guns. The fewer kids with guns the better. =) Seriously, though, because of the “coolness factor” movies and video games have given guns, we have developed a very dangerous gun culture. Until the 1960’s kids were brought up with a healthy respect for guns. But the fact that kids were playing with toy guns since the 1st Hopalong Cassidy movie shows that it’s very easy to play on the Y-chromosome’s love for guns. And it’s gotten worse since then. At least in the 30’s through 60’s those same kids who played gangster and cowboys-n-indians were taught by their fathers how to respect the real thing. How to treat the real thing carefully and as a tool. Kids knew the difference between the toy and the real thing. Nowadays the only contact kids have with guns are movies and video games. They think a gun safety course is the tutorial in the videogame. I really do believe the inundation with violent media IN GENERAL creates people who are a little disattached from reality, when the violence is not tempered with respect and knowledge. At least the bleeding-heart liberal parents of the 60’s and 70’s who were anti-guns discussed them at all! Nowadays parents would rather just ignore the issue altogether and forget they saw that adult rating on the videogame they bought for their kid. I say in general, because I realize there are exceptions, and I believe I’m one of them. I can drool over and get giddy watching “The Matrix” and absolutely fall in love with the battle scene at the bottom of the office building, and envision myself in all black wielding dual Scorpion machine pistols. I love shooting at my brother and friends with my replica SIG Sauer P228 Airsoft gun. But I’m sincere that I will never let a gun in my house while my daughter is under about 16 without it being trigger locked, locked in a box, and the ammo separate. And all of it hidden away. If I’m on a range with someone with real guns, and that muzzle were to point anywhere than downrange, I know I’d get pissed off big time at that person for jeopardizing my life. I’m not stupid enough to think that carrying a gun around will keep me safer, and would in fact increase my chances of being killed 10-fold. I didn’t have a dad to raise me with that respect for real guns and knowledge of safety, I partly learned it from being smart enough to know it takes a ridiculously small amount of effort to pull a trigger that will cause a piece of lead with enough force to explode a skull to take someone I care about away from me forever. I take that somewhat back: I had a stepdad you bought me my first BB gun, and took me out shooting once. But Boy Scouts taught me more about respect for guns than he did.
What I would like to do, and I think is the smart thing to do, is teach my daughter respect for guns. Fortunately she doesn’t have the Y-chromosome which makes the job that much easier. Chances are good she’d have no interest in guns anyway, and would never go looking in my or a friend’s parents’ possessions for one. But, she may have a friend who does, and might be in a situation where someone has a gun around her. I want her to be able to know what’s unsafe and irresponsible behavior and avoid it. Also, who knows, having a dad who loves violent computer and role-playing games, movies, and has dreams of being in the FBI/CIA/NSA, she might grow up with an interest in guns. I want her to be smart about it. Fear isn’t smart. Fear causes poor judgement and confusion. If you can intelligently handle a gun, know what they can and can’t do, and what they’re capable of, you can be in more control than if you were simply afraid.
If you’re afraid and not knowledgeable, you can be deceived and manipulated! That’s a good rule for life!
Anyway, I’d like to be able to own a gun, take my wife and daughter to the range, teach them how to handle, load, unload, and clean a gun. Know how to check if one is in a safe condition, and know why you can’t trust any gun 100%. And how to fire one.
So, here are a few of my favorites. =)
SIG Pro SP2009 9mm:
Taurus 938B .380 ACP:
Taurus 138B .380 ACP “Millennium”: (I have an Airsoft replica of this one)
and of course
Taurus PT911 9mm: