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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Guns


Today I take a class toward my License to Carry. I grew up with guns, so I see them a little differently than many people who haven't. I see them as an opportunity to live, not a chance to die. When it comes to self-protection, they have ultimate stopping power.

No, I'm not some illiterate redneck. I don't have a confederate flag anywhere. (In fact, let me go off on a tangent for a moment here, to tell you that flying one is actually illegal, since it's a defeated enemy flag). I don't have a pickup truck with a gun rack. I don't chew tobacco. But I do believe in survival.

Yes, I am only part of 12% of all women who own guns, and I realize I'm an anomoly. But you knew that anyway, didn't you?

All my life, I've heard the arguments for and against gun ownership. Thankfully, since the criminals still have easy access to guns, the rest of us do, too.

"As long as they're legal, they'll be accessible to criminals"? Yup! Heard that one! And the answer is... the crooks will still have guns, long after they've been made illegal for the rest of us. We live in a country where guns are readily available. Making them illegal will only cripple those of us who try to live legally.

The number of legal gun owners is at an all time high, while crime is at an all-time low. For more on this, go here.

"Americans use firearms to defend themselves from criminals at least 764,000 times a year." For more on this, go here.

"Florida adopted a right-to-carry law in 1987. When the law went into effect, the Dade County Police began a program to record all arrest and non arrest incidents involving concealed carry licensees. Between September of 1987 and August of 1992, Dade County recorded 4 crimes committed by licensees with firearms. None of these crimes resulted in an injury. The record keeping program was abandoned in 1992 because there were not enough incidents to justify tracking them." For more on this, go here.

Of course there is, and will continue to be, controversy. As Steven Levitt writes in Freakonomics (a must-read), "How can intelligent people view the world so differently? Because a gun raises a complex set of issues that change according to one factor: whose hand happens to be holding the gun."

And I'm happy that the government has some restrictions which have been imposed on the gun owner, such as the 3-day waiting period (it's a way to give someone time to cool down and reduces Crimes of Passion committed with guns).

However, as Levitt points out, "On a per capita basis, Switzerland has more firearms than just about any other country, and yet it is one of the safest places in the world. In other words, guns do not cause crime."

36 comments:

Ed Abbey said...

Although I am against having guns such as assalt rifles and machine guns outside of the military or police, I do favor the right to bear arms among citizens, including handguns and shotguns. As the saying goes, guns don't kill people, people kill people. Well spoken.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I should post about this topic. I have a permit to carry, and a bunch of guns. Rifles, handguns, a shotgun, and such. Most of my rifles are old bolt action deals, but I do have some self-loaders.

It is rare that I pack heat. As you will discover in the class, there are too many places you can not carry. The post office. Banks. Places that serve alcohol. Malls. Anyplace that says "no guns past this point". And so on.

And about the "anyplace that serves alcohol" deal. It is not exactly crystal clear what they mean! Say I am at a Flanigans. They serve alcohol. But I am not at the bar and not drinking! Can I pack heat? The answer is.....uhhh...I do not know. Maybe I can and maybe I can't. So I don't.

Most stolen guns are stolen from cars.

So you see the problem here. You will also find that the requirements are low. The class is a joke, and there is NO RANGE REQUIREMENT! Some instructors say there is, but read the law. There is none. You can be 3/4 blind and get a permit. Just like you can be blind and get a drivers license.

Bottom line is I think this place would be less violent if there were no guns. Handguns should have been banned 50 years ago. But they were not. And there is no way to get rid of the guns today.

By the way, what are you going to get? The airweight revolvers like the ones in the picture are light, but they kick hard. And revolvers have a wicked trigger pull. You might want to go with an automatic pistol, like a .380 or something. Even a compact 9mm or .40.

But for the home - NOTHING tops a good 12 guage shotgun! The Mossberg 590 will splatter anything that needs to be splattered.

~Deb said...

On the news, they did this study that 80% of people who have guns in their house will most likely survive a break in. It's safe, as long as you 'make it safe', by hiding it from your kids (if you have them.)

I'm for guns---they protect your home.

Anonymous said...

Bully for you, Saur.

Only in a perfect world would we not need guns.

I believe though that what most people forget about the whole gun issue is that what our founders primarily had in mind was that "We the People" should be allowed to keep and bear arms in order to promote a healthy fear of the people by potential despots in our own government. One only has to look at history to realize that the first thing dictators do after they seize power is to confiscate privately-owned firearms.

There's nothing new under the sun.

green said...

You know, I never really thought about it much, since I don't own a gun and have never fired one. But I'd agree that if guns are made illegal, criminals will still hae them and law abiding citizens would not. Handguns are one thing, military style guns are another animal altogether.

Which reminds me, one of the best t-shirts I ever saw was when I was back in college. The shirt said, "Fight for your right to keep and arm bears" with a picture of a grizzly bear, with an ammo sash holding an M-16.

Classic.

The Lazy Iguana said...

One problem with the "fear of the people" thing.

The government hgas aircraft carriers and F-18 jets. Should the government decide to blow up your house with you inside - do you really think a few handguns will stop them? Even a machine gun?

And what good are guns doing us now? The government recently passed a law that could take away your right to a trial. You could be arrested and detained, in secret, for as long as they want to keep you. All they have to do is utter the word "terrorist" and classify all the "evidence" against you.

Not a single gun owner has taken to the streets over this. Not one. So much for that argument.

Anonymous said...

And here comes the European wading in, in what is utterly alien territory.

Americans obsession with guns and the right to bear arms has always concerned us, frankly, it's plain weird; the logic that having a gun makes you safer is so uttelry alien to us that all we can do is point to the murder rates for the US and say the following:

Guns and the death sentence don't make you safer and never will; being kind to each other and building a social network that supports those in poverty will.

Anonymous said...

Lazy Iguana:

Yes, how could those men (our founding fathers) of high intellectual capacity have even remotely thought firearms would be a deterrent to tyranny, then or now? What were they thinking? Everyone knows it's better to take rocks to a gunfight than guns, right?

Saur♥Kraut said...

Senor, I've got no boyfriend, and I certainly won't let anyone get to my gun before *I* do. Since I live alone, the chances are good. And the possums were given away to a possum shelter over a year ago. ;o)

Everyone else, carry on! I'll wade in later. I'm getting ready to go out to dinner.

Kathleen said...

The gun is fine with me. Good on the training! My main concern is to keep it safe from children and ... as Caiman said ... crack addicted boyfriends. LOL Good post, but the gator remark made me howl.

One more thing. I am sooooo glad that you surrendered the opossums.

The Lazy Iguana said...

At the time the Constitution was written, there was no standing army. So how do you build an army without spending any money (that nobody had by the way)? Arm people. They can then act as an army when needed.

Also, way back then you needed a gun. You had to shoot cougars and wolves when they came after your chickens. You needed to protect "your" land from those pesky savages you kicked off the land. And so on.

And then there is the whole "well regulated" clause. What is a "well regulated militia"? A bunch of guys in camo who once played paintball? Or would the US Marines count more as a "well regulated" militia? The NRA likes to forget about the "well regulated" part and focus on "the right of the people" instead. And they take "the people" to mean anyone - not "the people" as a collective - As in "the people VS John Smith" in court.

But - whatever. These are things that go back and forth without end. Neither side will ever agree with the other.

And the Founding Fathers could not be wrong? Well how about the part of the original constitution that said black people only counted as 3/4 of a white person? Or that only land owners could vote - assuming those land owners were white and male. That was changed.

Scott said...

I do not see how anyone can feel that a gun would make them safer. More people shoot a family member of there are accidents with guns than are ever protected by them. I see absolutely no reason that civilians should have hand gun, saying that it is okay just because the criminals have them is just another way of saying that we as a society have given up on the issue.

I am completely anti-gun and see now need for them in civilized society. I hope that you never have to use your gun... are you ready to shoot someone?

Scott

Bar said...

I am also part of the 12% of female gun owners here in the US and agree with everything you said. I have not considered getting a liscence to carry but would consider it in the future if need be. I don't think I could carry my .45 around! I'd have to downsize :)

daveawayfromhome said...

Whether or not a "civilized" society needs guns is moot, guns are a Pandora's box that's been wide open here for years. Frontier nation, frontier mentality.
I dont own a gun, but I've thought about it. So far, they just havent been a priority. That "despot" thing works for me, too, and the difference between hunting rifles and F-16s doesnt seem to helping much in Iraq, does it? But you're right about the recent "Detainee" bill...

This legislation has been justified as necessary to allow our government to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other dangerous men recently transferred to Guantanamo Bay. Yet if you look at the fine print of this legislation, it becomes clear that it is much, much broader than that. It would permit trial by military commission not just for those accused of serious terrorist crimes, but also individuals, including legal permanent residents of this country, who are alleged to have "purposefully and materially supported hostilities" against the United States or its allies.

If the Bush Administration defines itself as "the United States", much like Victoria declared herself to be England, then what is to stop the "disappearing" of Americans should the Despotic Scenario come to pass.
Tinfoil-hat thinking? Certainly, but even the nuttiest conspiracy theories contain things worth thinking about (okay, maybe not the nuttiest ones).

daveawayfromhome said...

Besides, civilized societies respect habeus corpus and reject torture.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

This is a fascinating post to me. I had no idea that 12 percent of all women own a gun.

You are indeed a multi-talented woman, Saur.

For myself, I would not own one, and have not even held one before.

Have a good week.

Grant said...

I would support treating a gun like a car, i.e. like a dangerous piece of equipment that requires testing and a license to legally own and operate. Otherwise, I agree. I once asked a police officer friend what percentage of guns confiscated by criminals had been obtained illegally. He thought about it and replied "About 85%".

Badoozie said...

(oh, Mr Gold Star has spoken again.......he takes my breath away)

Packin a Piece. if you're responsible, and have the proper permits, etc, fine, do it. i pack a knife, cause no one has started propaganda about knives killing people yet. if you take away guns, then you must take away everything that exists that "kills" and that includes pencils.

R2K said...

See here I dont really agree. I think that if we were able to (and this is an impossible dream of mine) keep handguns out of any civilian hands other than bodyguards, cops, and a few others who really need it during work, we would greatly reduce violent crimes. All the school shootings, all the murders in american cities, they would be much much harder with knives or a baseball bat.

As a woman I would probably want a gun for myself much more, and I dont see why I wouldnt want one if I lived in a more dangerous place (New York is very safe it turns out, despite the jokes), but that doesnt mean I want others to have them.

You are not the problem, but a gun system that makes it possible for you to buy a handgun also makes it easy for kids, criminals, and anyone else to get the same handgun. And handguns are by far the biggest problem. Few criminals can walk around with a hunting rifle in the city and rob people with it...

I dont want to go point by point, but I want to speak on two issues you bring up.

"The number of legal gun owners is at an all time high, while crime is at an all-time low."

But as a scientist I know things like this are often not related as cause and effect. Obviously gun ownership is at an all time high, there are more americans every day than in the past. 300 million people own more than 100 million did 100 years ago, that is obvious and simple to get. But to conclude that guns reduced crime is like saying more cars reduces crime. Car ownership is also at an all time high, isnt it? Frankly, I think economic improvements might have something to do with it. Certainly I know for a fact that in my city, New York, more guns had NOTHING to do with the drastic reduction in crime.

"In other words, guns do not cause crime"

That is your typical, political, sound bite, NRA line. But it really isnt that simple. Nuclear bombs dont blow up cities, crazy leaders do. That is true, but does that mean we want crazy leaders to get nuclear bombs? Does that mean that crazy leaders are not far more dangerous when they do? Guns dont kill people, killers do, fine. But would a killer be even 1/10th as deadly without a gun? Clearly, I suggest that he wont.

Again you are the right person to have a gun, but I feel like for ever good person out there with a handgun, there are two or three who might be anywhere from slightly unstable to criminally insane.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I can link the disapearance of pirates to global warming!!!

1700s - many pirates, low average global tempatures.

2000 - very few if any pirates, it is hot as hell.

All hail FSM and his noodly appendage!

R2K said...

I dont want to be personal, but would you trust your ex with a gun? I personally, based only on how you describe him, would not.

I knew a person who killed himself. He lived in a part of the country that is full of guns, so he had his pick when the day came. In my mind, I would be more likely to kill someone else than myself. In my mind, he was not very far from taking someone with him. And he had legal guns, and had many of them.

No one is saying keeping guns from you will keep them from criminals, but (and again this is a total dream, will never happen) greatly reducing the number of handguns made every year (to 10,000 or whatever is needed to supply cops and the millitary) will eventually allow the numbers of criminals with guns to drop. Maybe it will take 10 years, but as cops get more and more illegal guns, and the supply stops (imagine if the republicans owned by the gun lobby would ever allow this) the problem would get better.

Think England.

Lee Ann said...

I never grew up around guns, but my boyfriend carries. He has helped me in my way of thinking. I now think the same way you think...
I see them as an opportunity to live, not a chance to die. When it comes to self-protection, they have ultimate stopping power.

He tells me I need a gun. I should do that.

I mentioned you in my post. I met someone over the weekend that said I resemble The Mona Lisa. I immediately thought of you, when you had mentioned that.

Have a wonderful week!

Herb said...

As usual, a well-written and thought-provoking piece. The safest thing for kids around guns is training. They need to know what it is and what it does and as much else as possible. The more they know from an early age, the more stupid accidents are prevented. Pg 19 of this document explains the meaning of a "well-regulated militia" which did not refer to a collective organization such as a National Guard type organization since none existed. http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/secondamendment2.pdf
As to guns and the death penalty, that's why we are free from European rule and do what we want.
When I was in the Army I learned that one of the many reasons the commies never came over the hill was that if they could defeat our superior military they thought they would have to fight every man-jack of us in our homes and fields and it wasn't possible.

A crackhead ex-boyfriend is an excellent reason TO own a gun.

Oh, in case the individual's right is still questionable, I found this little gem of a web page, also http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?ID=53

j said...

ATTA GIRL!
Ok i first must confess I am a tobacco chewing, truck driving, hunting redneck and a cracker and uneducated. I cant understand why everyone doesn't have a gun, i really cant. I of course have many 20+ and will have more. My bride was taught to shoot young by her father and my daughter is 7 and is deadly at close range with a pistol. No I dont wish either of them would ever have to use them other than for recreation but they are skilled in shooting ability. I would never ever be without protection in my home. I don't carry, I dont have a license and I probably will never carry short a hostile invasion but then again I probably am not on top of the target list for personal attacks being 6'2 240. My bride has a pistol in her car and always has. I think its great. Anyone who doesnt think that I have an idea for them, if they take the guns away from the criminals first I'll gladly give up mine. And didn't Hitler at the very beginning of his reign take the guns away?
I know I'm late to comment wish i had been here earlier
Excellent post
I'm glad you got your license.
jsull28fl@yaho

Ed Abbey said...

Sort of off the topic but The lazy iguana said something that kind of stuck in my craw a little. He said, "And the Founding Fathers could not be wrong? Well how about the part of the original constitution that said black people only counted as 3/4 of a white person? Or that only land owners could vote - assuming those land owners were white and male."

Although many probably had these thoughts, I have seen no writings of our constitution that suggest what you said was true. In fact, a search of the original constitution doesn't even contain the word black or phrase land owner. Any sources?

Anonymous said...

Scott and Lazy Iguana are right on the money, the gun thing is one issue that always makes the US stand out from the rest of the developed world.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Find a copy of the constitution that has the parts changed by Amendments.

Google "the 3/4 comprimise". You see, Northern states with few slaves but a lot of white people did not want blacks to count at all for the census. Southern states with huge plantations and a much larger black population did want the slaves to count. That way, the less populated (by white people) states like Virginia could get more seats in the House. So, a comprimise was reached. The 3/4 comprimise.

Of course, in the Senate every state has the same number of goons regardless of population.

President Andrew Jackson (the guy on the $20 bill) was the one who led the push for non-land owning whites to be able to vote. You see, before he was a war hero in The Battle Of New Orleans he was a not exactly rich white guy.

Where did you take American History?

The Lazy Iguana said...

I made a slight error. It was not 3/4. It was 3/5! OOPS!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-fifths_compromise

Ed Abbey said...

Found it. I stand corrected TLI.

As far as my education in history, I am mostly self taught on governmental history. Unfortunately when I was in school, the government felt it was better to teach us sex education, Quest, health and other things that my parent's already taught me instead of teaching history and other subjects. Thanks for the history lesson.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I like history. I agree it is terrible that public schools do such a poor job with the subject. I had two years of US History and one year of world history.

If you ask me, US History should be no less than 2 years. One year should cover the colonial period to right before the Civil War. Year two should pick up at the Civil War and cover the rest. Maybe even add a third year.

World History - well there is NO WAY you can cover that in a year. Even in two years.

But who are we? Just some schmos who are not elected to office and probably know nothing about what is and is not important. We should just be quiet and keep waving little flags.

R2K said...

It is absurd to think that the constitution doesnt or should not change regularly. It has, and it still should. It was made a skeleton document for that reason, so that it could be changed in the future as needed.

The idea that guys hundreds of years ago could know what is best for us today is silly. They allowed slavery, they didnt let women vote, and there are many other examples of mistakes that were later changed.

The right to own guns in the 1700s was a matter of personal survival. It was used to hunt for food. Today guns are used for sport or for killing people, or both. I dont feel a law from the 1700s should really be the final word in how we live today. Certainly women and black people should think so.

Guns generally dont hurt the man in the suburbs who buys it legally to protect his house, they hurt the young man shot in a city by the criminal who got the gun from the cousin of the man from the suburbs who stole it to support his drug habit.

What happens if you start to pull the gun on a robber and he grabs it out of your hands? Now the robber armed with a knife has your gun. Will you use a key lock or combination lock to protect the gun? OR will you stimply carry it on saftey in your purse? If locked, I wonder if you can unlock it in time when needed. If not, I wonder if someone couldnt possibly take it from you.

KristieD said...

whats the old cliche? guns dont kill people, people kill people? Now, i personally am petrified of guns and wont own one myself. But i am alone on that in my family. my dad owns a buttload (they are all safely locked up, even more so now that me and my son live here) and my sister owns a gun or two. I am all for gun ownership however. Just because they freak me out doesnt mean you shouldnt be allowed to own one. More power to yoU!

exMI said...

The reason people are able to take guns away from the folks carrying them is becaseu the peopel carrying them are no tprepared to actually USE the gun. they think they can wave it around and peopel will stop, go away , or give up. If you are not prepared to shoot someone, DO NOT get a gun for protection. If you pull a gun, use it. If you aren't willing to use it, don't carry it.

Ed Abbey said...

exmi said, "If you are not prepared to shoot someone, DO NOT get a gun for protection. If you pull a gun, use it. If you aren't willing to use it, don't carry it."

Exactly the reason I don't own a handgun.

I only own a shotgun and I am prepared to use that on the occasional tasty critter.

Kalashnikov Rocks Emma's Socks said...

Dead criminals don't sue nor do they burn up my tax dollars.

Long live the the CWP.

Anonymous said...

Iguana:

Read through the "United States vs. Emerson" case and you'll find that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution does indeed guarantee the private ownership of firearms, and was not intended to mean that only a State Militia had the right to keep arms.

It also goes through the "period" writings of our founders regarding the subject, and from those writings it is clear what they thought with regard to the subject of our individual right to bear arms -- that it shall not be infringed.