June 26, 2003

A Time to Kill?

Brian Linse has recently written an interesting post on the whole issue of guns and their proper storage at home. It's especially interesting since Mr Linse reveals that he himself owns a weapon, when his past commentary might lead one to erroneously believe that he was among the unarmed citizenry.

Some readers may also find my own views on guns pretty interesting: namely, that I can't stand the things and have no intention of ever owning one. Yes, that's probably a surprise, and yes, that is very un-macho. But I have my own reasons for this.

You see, if I can help it in this life, I don't want to be responsible for the taking of another human life, whether that's via a direct action on my part or an indirect one. It would be a truly awful thing were I forced to take another person's life, even if that was to protect my own person; and I would never, ever forgive myself if a weapon I owned somehow fell into a child's hands.

Now, let's say that I came home after a long day at the office, and I found myself in the unwanted company of a burglar in the spare room I don't use.

Knowing me, this burglar would be of the erudite sort, and he would be pawing through the Bookshelf of Good and Evil which I maintain in that part of the apartment. "You there!" I would say in my most imperious voice, "Put down that copy of 'The Nightmare Years' and back away towards the window!" Said burglar, naturally fearing his own capture, would then either bolt towards the window -- or towards me.

Now let's also say that in the bureau at which I write The Rant that I kept a loaded .45 calibre Magnum pistol, which'll blow your head clean off. By the time I went and retrieved this veritable hand-cannon, the burglar would have pounced upon me and a mighty struggle would have ensued. Because I have some basic self-defense skills, it is entirely possible that I could free myself from the wretch's grasp and ordered him to stand down. But let's hypothesize further and say that he made the mistake of lunging for me.

Well, he'd be dead -- because when you use a gun, you don't use it with the intent to wing people like in the movies. You use it to kill.

That is not something I want to carry with me for the rest of my days -- I just don't. I'd rather he stole my copy of The Nightmare Years and the really nice Gibbon set and even my cheap television which I've refused to upgrade on general principle.

Still, there are worse outcomes than merely the spiritual pain of having to justifiably end someone's life. What about the horror of finding out my son or daughter found a gun I kept and, God forbid, used it?

A long time ago, I remember seeing Alfred Hitchcock's "Bang! Bang! You're Dead." (It was one of the old Alfred Hitchcock's Theatre episodes).

Basically, the plot involves a Suit-Wearing Relative who visits a Nice Clean-Cut Fifties Family living in the suburbs. Said relative has just come back from an exotic trip, and the dope has a handgun in his suitcase and leaves it on the bed. Meanwhile, little Billy or whomever absconds with the handgun and runs around Pleasantville pointing it at people. Pulling the trigger. Did we mention there's one bullet in the revolver?

Now, adding to the tension there is that Billy -- he's about six -- is pointing it at the girl who won't let him on the penny merry-go-round, the Mr. Hooper type down at the grocery, and so forth. There are great visuals in which you have a first-person-shooter view, and they make you just sick with suspense and worry.

It's an especially cautionary tale in this day and age, when you don't have happy endings. The bullet doesn't happen to miss when the weapon is fired. The consequences are all too real, and all too tragic.

So if my neighbor wants to own a rifle or a .38 Special, that's his business. But it's not a tradition in which I plan to take part.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 26, 2003 12:55 AM | TrackBack
Comments

'You see, if I can help it in this life, I don't want to be responsible for the taking of another human life, whether that's via a direct action on my part or an indirect one.'

Not even to save an innocent, like your child for instance, from some subhuman monster?

For the record, I don't own a gun, nor do I plan to own one anytime soon, and as loathe as I am to kill anything living - I wouldn't have to give a second thought to taking the life of some worthless piece of scum who was willingly out to hurt me or mine.

Posted by: Sam at June 26, 2003 01:29 AM

I don't own a gun either, though I grew up with a stout understanding of gun safety and I enjoy going out to my step-brother's father's ranch and target shooting sometimes.

I've contemplated buying a gun a couple of times, as I've lived in a couple rough areas and also had a risky job. But I've decided I won't own a gun until I have a family. And I will carry. At that point, I become responsible for the immediate personal safety of not only my wife and children, but a husband and father. I'm with Sam on that.

You're right, petty theft is not a reason to take a life. And if you're willing to threaten with a gun, you'd better be willing to fire, and if you're willing to fire, you'd better be willing to kill.

What about my kids? Well, they'll be taught proper gun respect and safety from the very beginning. The Million Mom March's "Ask Day" folks wouldn't like the way I do things.

Posted by: Kevin White at June 26, 2003 04:39 AM

Ben, I notice that you respect this right even though you prefer not to make use of it yourself.

Being an armed citizen myself, I would hope that other armed citizens will show you the same respect in return...

Posted by: McGehee at June 26, 2003 09:11 AM

You said:
==============
So if my neighbor wants to own a rifle or a .38 Special, that's his business. But it's not a tradition in which I plan to take part.
==============

I have a lot of respect for that stance, even though I personally disagree.

For many people, it goes "I couldn't imagine shooting someone, and therefore I want to make sure that none of my neighbors can either!"


But you have no interest in taking a right away from others, merely because you choose not to exercise it. That's Unfortunately a rare attitude in this day and age.

Posted by: Tony Hooker at June 26, 2003 03:53 PM

For many people, it goes "I couldn't imagine shooting someone, and therefore I want to make sure that none of my neighbors can either!"

I guess some of the neighbors are worried that little Billy would have shot them.

Posted by: PG at June 26, 2003 04:58 PM

Mr. Kepple, your logic is terrible.

I'm not speaking of your rather strained hypothesis about the burglar, but your concern about children finding the gun. The answer is very simple: teach them gun safety.

This is something that the NRA has been pushing for years, and I can't see why even the most fervent anti-gun nut (of which I am not accusing you :) ) should object to such training. Certainly any child who has been trained to:
1-never pick up a gun.
2-NEVER point a gun at someone else!
2-if you find a gun, go tell an adult IMMEDIATELY.
will be safer than one who has no such training.

Your objection, sir, is no good objection.

Respectfully,
Me

Posted by: Casey Tompkins at June 26, 2003 05:16 PM

I wish all children were as obedient as the children of NRA members.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: PG at June 26, 2003 06:19 PM

Oops, here's the link that was supposed to go on "wait"
http://www.townhall.com/news/politics/200212/CUL20021206d.shtml

Posted by: PG at June 26, 2003 06:19 PM

Ben-

I am tempted to wonder if you would feel the same way if

1) you or a loved one had already been the victim of a violent crime?

2) you were a woman. I am not being sexist, but it is a truth that women are physically weaker than men. Furthremore, they are more likely to be victims of violent and sexual attacks.

I understand that you don't look down upon those who do own guns, but perhaps in some situations it is more justified than others, that the possible benefits outweigh the possible costs.

Posted by: SS at June 26, 2003 09:14 PM

We own-or I should say my husband owns- several guns. I can't stand them and never wanted one in the house. We also have children. Girls. I would not hesitate to use a gun on someone threatening one of my children. A robbery is one thing, and usually burglars are not willing to risk their lives to steal your "cheap television set." But a rapist or murderer is less likely to stop till they get what they're after. It was only after my husband showed me the safe he had bought and we chose a code together, that only we could use to open it, that I felt a little more at ease. We have the means to protect ourselves and my children will never be able to get their hands on these weapons.
I also think it's very admirable of you to not want to take the Constitutional Right to Bear Arms from your neighbors. Personally I think all parents should teach their children about guns and how to be safe around them. Just because your house is gun-free, your neighbor's may not be and you don't know what they are teaching their children. Not everybody who owns a gun does so because they want to be prepared just in case. My neighbors are both police officers and are required to carry a weapon. I had to ask them about their gun safety rules after the daughter of a cop in Houston shot herself with her Dad's gun. Frankly I was a little less reassured after hearing my neighbor say they don't lock their guns up, but "The kids are never out of my sight." Like I said you never know what is going on next door.

Posted by: Holli Young at June 26, 2003 09:38 PM

I didn't realize the folks at The Rant had been Dean's Worlded. :o)

I surely support the right of people not to want to own a gun. After all, most of the people I know fall into the "don't want to own a gun and don't want to take guns away from those who do" category.

I just draw my own line at the point where I start being responsible for other people.

But Holli wrote: It was only after my husband showed me the safe he had bought and we chose a code together, that only we could use to open it, that I felt a little more at ease.

Hmm, well that ensures the kids or their friends will never get at the guns. But should the unthinkable happen while the family is out somewhere or at the house some night, is the safe where you want your protection? 3M would like that, but so might some predator.

Posted by: Kevin White at June 26, 2003 10:27 PM

I own them, I like them, I carry them. Guns are tools, good in the hands of a responsible person, bad in the hands of fools. I don't even consider using them to settle a dispute but GOD help someone that tries to bring harm to me or my family. For the most part though, it is just enjoyable to spend an afternoon poking little holes in paper targets far away. Thank you for respecting the rights of others to do so.

Posted by: Mike Neal at June 28, 2003 02:23 AM