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BBC Mystified: America Awash in Guns, Yet Brit Visitors Feel Unusually Safe

Sunday, April 27, 2008 • 12:05 am


Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life.
...
Why is it then that so many Americans - and foreigners who come here - feel that the place is so, well, safe?

A British man I met in Colorado recently told me he used to live in Kent but he moved to the American state of New Jersey and will not go home because it is, as he put it, “a gentler environment for bringing the kids up.”

This is New Jersey. Home of the Sopranos.

Brits arriving in New York, hoping to avoid being slaughtered on day one of their shopping mission to Manhattan are, by day two, beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. By day three they have had had the scales lifted from their eyes.

I have met incredulous British tourists who have been shocked to the core by the peacefulness of the place, the lack of the violent undercurrent so ubiquitous in British cities, even British market towns.

“It seems so nice here,” they quaver.

Well, it is!

Ten or 20 years ago, it was a different story, but things have changed.

And this is Manhattan.

Wait till you get to London Texas, or Glasgow Montana, or Oxford Mississippi or Virgin Utah, for that matter, where every household is required by local ordinance to possess a gun.

Folks will have guns in all of these places and if you break into their homes they will probably kill you.

They will occasionally kill each other in anger or by mistake, but you never feel as unsafe as you can feel in south London.

It is a paradox. Along with the guns there is a tranquillity and civility about American life of which most British people can only dream.

Actually, there is no paradox at all. The answer is very simple, and makes all the sense in the world without having to impose on anyone’s sense of irony: An armed society is a polite society.

What has happened to the Brits that they no longer understand this?


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Comments:

Ah yes, let’s discuss this over some nice tea & biscuits while I clean my gun.

I find this quite incredible that Brits have this impression of the US, esp for New Jersey. As for England, I lived in the Midlands 30 years ago and never had any problems with crime but now there seem to be drunken, murderous yobs (punks) everywhere and the government seems quite helpless to deal with it. I read something recently that the Brits are leaving Britain in greater numbers than ever before. Pity. It used to be such a lovely country and the people were very nice.

[1] Posted by Watcher On The Wall on 04-27-2008 at 01:28 AM • top

“An armed society is a polite society.”

Lazarus Long, in Methuselah’s Children, by Robert Heinlein?

[2] Posted by AnglicanXn on 04-27-2008 at 04:29 AM • top

My own theory is that the difference in crime and violence between the US and Britain has little to do with actual ownership of guns (I am a target shooter and a gun owner as well as an attorney).

We have a very large inmate population that has grown vast by the almost universal implementation of ‘get tough’ laws. The Brits are where we were thirty years ago, with an inadequately small prison facility and a consequent reluctance to impose strict sentences for legitimate crimes.

The nutshell version of that is that if you sentence career criminals to hard time for their crimes, sooner or later, the criminal population on the streets drops. When that happens, the police spend less time being reactive (responding to calls) and can start being proactive again (patrolling the streets). That causes crime to drop even further.

The streets are safe because the prisons are full and we have a lot of prisons. The hope is that the cycle of criminality is broken and eventually the prison population will start dropping. That seems to be the case.

As far as guns go, the one crime that is really popular in Britain that enjoys much less popularity here is home invasion. But in addition to our much higher percentage of gun ownership, we also have the right to self defense. The Brits, generally speaking, do not.

/treatise. At long last something I know something about!

I have finally reached my plateau

[3] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 04-27-2008 at 05:04 AM • top

Yes I believe the violent crime rate went down significantly in Texas when the concealed carry permit law was passed. And, if I remember correctly, the liberals were equally mystified.

[4] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-27-2008 at 05:13 AM • top

I lived in Britain for four years and was surprised by the number of murders by crossbow which I kept hearing about on the news and reading about in the paper.  Something about the deadly bolt silently winging its way to my heart was always a bit unsettling to me.  Shoot me with a gun if shoot me you must!

People will find a way to hurt others if they are so inclined.  Best to insure everybody’s “politeness” by armed readiness.  Concealed carry is the way to go.

Bill+
Fort Worth

[5] Posted by Bill+ on 04-27-2008 at 06:23 AM • top

I had a teacher in my medical residency who suffered from what I call “aggressive empathy”. You know, the people who care SO MUCH MORE ABOUT OTHERS THAN YOU DO. She was an advocate of all things liberal of course and was concerned about the fact that I believed an armed citizenry was on balance a good thing. She believed in total gun confiscation as not only the cure for violence, but in fact the right thing to do.

One day I suggested that since personal disarmament was for her a morally obligatory thing, she should publicly stand up for her beliefs by putting a yard sign out that said something to the effect of: This house is a gun free zone.

Somehow she never saw the humor in it.

[6] Posted by Capn Jack Sparrow on 04-27-2008 at 07:17 AM • top

Matt+
The personal concealed carry laws are now in over 30 states. There is a compact between those states recognizing each other’s statutes. I can leave Louisiana and drive through Texas and New Mexico and into Colorado with a personal defence weapon concealed on my person.
Florida tried it first I believe, then all of the other Southern states. University of Chicago published a study and demonstrated a 15% drop in violent crime shortly after each state enacted it. U. of Chi is a hot bed of leftists so their report can be considered accurate. They didn’t like it, but reported the facts. Also, New Orleans was having a lot of trouble with car jacking, got a statute passed that if you attempted to car jack some one, the victim can use deadly force. National media went berserk about that, but it worked just fine. No more car jacking to speak of.
I don’t have a key to my house. Don’t need one. Don’t make the mistake of coming in uninvited however.
The UK is a catastrophe of stupid laws. You will be prosecuted if you fight back when being physically assaulted. They are getting what they deserve for such craven nonsense.
Peace comes from the security of individual lawful defense of person and property. There can’t be a cop on every block. It’s up to each of us to stand with his neighbors in defence of the community.

[7] Posted by teddy mak on 04-27-2008 at 07:23 AM • top

John Lott has written some excellent books on the subject of guns and crime.  (His first was called “More guns, Less crime” I think.)  One thing you saw in Britain and Australia after passing knee-jerk gun bans after a nut case goes postal, the number of “hot break-ins” (break-ins where the owner is still in the residence) goes up massively.  By taking away a citizen’s tools of self-defense, you change the equation in favor of the criminal.

[8] Posted by Bill2 on 04-27-2008 at 07:40 AM • top

Take two relatively similar Societies (English speaking, similar wealth, market economies):
Australia:  a homicide rate of 1.9 per 100,000 persons in 1996, rising to 2.0 in 1999, then dropping to 1.5 in 2004, of which 0.24 per 100,000 involved guns.

United States: homicide rate of 5.7 per 100,000 in 1999, of which 3.72 per 100,000 involved guns.

There remains a vast difference in scale between Australia, with 20.6 million people, and the United States, with a population 14 times greater at 295 million people.

There are about 30,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. every year, with about 56 percent (almost 17,000 in 2003) classed as suicide and about 40 percent homicide (almost 12,000 deaths in 2003). The remainder were attributed to accidents or other causes, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In Australia in 2004, there were just 169 gun-related suicides and 256 gun homicides.

I know where I feel safer.

[9] Posted by obadiahslope on 04-27-2008 at 07:46 AM • top
[10] Posted by Unsubscribe on 04-27-2008 at 07:50 AM • top

I suspect that part of the reason that visitors from England feel safe in the US is that they only spend time in those areas that are friendly to the upper and middle class.  Now, if they were to hang out in Anacostia for any lengthy period of time…

Whoops, my bad.  I forgot that DC’s Gun Ban has made the District the model of safety.  Nevermind…

[11] Posted by AndrewA on 04-27-2008 at 09:10 AM • top

OK, I know I should stay out of this.  Never come between a ....well, let’s say a gun lover and his gun.  But somebody has to insert a note of reason here.

The reason that people don’t feel safe in England is that there is a huge population of what used to be called unpolitically correctly “white trash”—unemployed, drunken, violent trash that goes around terrorizing people.  We were at a McDonald’s in London a couple years ago (which was dirty and scary looking) and the police were there because some gang of toughs had just been in shaking down the counter people.  Frankly I couldn’t wait to get out of there.  Every single person in London could be packing and it wouldn’t eliminate this scum.  I’m not going to go into what I consider the sociological reasons for the existence of these people, but it isn’t because of a lack of concealed weapons.


Here’s one of quite a few reasons why I would never become an evangelical Protestant.  Because (it seems, please feel free to correct me) that a huge number of those that are theologically conservative hold what I can only describe as looney right-wing views. 

I live in NJ.  We don’t have concealed weapons.  We don’t have ANY weapons.  I have literally never seen a gun in my life. None of my neighbors has a gun.  I don’t lock my doors.  UPS delivers thousand dollar computers and leaves them, unsigned for, right in plain sight on my porch.  Drugs too, I might add.  One of my kids receives $300 per month of a drug which is left out on the porch by UPS.  And why?  Because nobody but “nice” middle class folks live here and nobody can GET here except by driving through a lot of other nice middle-class neighborhoods.  Forget “the Sopranos.”  You think the Mafia lives in neighborhoods with crime??  We have a lot of successful middle-class folks with good values and work ethics who have a strong sense of community.  Everybody knows everybody.

I don’t lock my car when I park at my kids’ schools or at the shopping center or the skating rink, or the pool.  And I’ve got an expensive, removable, GPS sitting in it.  Sometimes I leave my cell phone lying on the seat too.  You know why?  Because it’s too much of a pain to lock it and because I’ve never had so much as a nickel stolen from me in all the years I’ve lived here.

So please—don’t start telling me that “civility grows out of the barrel of a gun.”  This is particularly grotesque coming from the mouths of Christians who should know better.

[12] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 10:17 AM • top

Catholic Mom:

Not everyone is so blessed.

[13] Posted by James Manley on 04-27-2008 at 10:29 AM • top

Correction—I have never seen a gun not in the hands of the police or military.  We do have police here.  And they do have guns, although I don’t know if a shot has ever been fired in my township.  But while we sleep, the police patrol our streets.  One time we went to sleep with the garage door standing open, and at 3 am the police called and said “we’re sitting outside your house.  Did you mean to have left your garage door open?”  And we said “Ooops!  Our mistake!” And went down and shut it. 

If I have to wait until somebody breaks into my house in the middle of the night while I’m sleeping, and in the dark I have to wake up, find my gun and get off a shot, all before I get attacked (hoping, of course, that it isn’t my husband who forget his key and decided to come in a window) then I’m a goner.  I leave police protection to the police.  That’s why we pay them for and they’re good.

[14] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 10:32 AM • top

#13 Move to NJ.  We’d love to have you.  And don’t bring your gun. smile

[15] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 10:48 AM • top

#14, Catholic Mom That’s pretty much my experience with crime as well.

I do have to add a few things though to what you said. You said you do not know anyone who owns a gun. Without knowing you or your situation, I suspect that rather you do not know of anyone who owns a gun. Most of us gun owners do not discuss our ownership of firearms. They are something we have for certain specific purposes. In my case, unless you were a target shooter or expressed an interest in target shooting, I would never discuss guns in your presence.

That’s the way most of us are.

The only other thing I’d add (and this is directed at no one in particular), is that before commenting on how dangerous/unsafe/unnecessary/stupid it is to own a gun, whoever wishes to comment on the issue ought take an hour of instruction in firearms, including range time. It’s not very expensive and it will eliminate a great deal of ignorance. It will also not turn you into a gun-nut.

My family did not own firearms when I was growing up. Both my mother and father are dead set against them. All four of us children had rifle instruction at summer camp (It was through the YMCA/YWCA). As they are speaking from experience, my siblings make sense on the subject.

I have a theory!

[16] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 04-27-2008 at 10:58 AM • top

#9: I took a course in college called “How to lie with statistics.”  For real.
For example:
Take the statitsics on American gun violence, remove the numbers generated by the aberrant underclass drug culture that preys on its unarmed neighbors, and 99 % of America is vastly safer than Australia. Not PC, but that’s just the way it is.

I am unaware of a single instance of any concealed carry permit holder committing a gun crime, not one. I know who is really more safe, and it is the armed citizen. That’s why the authors of this great experiment in self governance made gun ownership the second most important part of the Bill of Rights. You couldn’t fool them with the idea that we should have an armed government agent for every 30 citizens (a cop per block.) We all know how that would end—-Courageous Protectors of The Citizens turning quickly into Cousin Vinny’s Uniformed Knee Cap Squad, and to hell with your Constitution. I’ll take my chances protecting myself. I’ve seen plenty of examples of out of control “law enforcement” thank you very much.

Kinda like your church being infiltrated by people who pretended to be Christians until they got control of the Trust Funds.

[17] Posted by teddy mak on 04-27-2008 at 11:07 AM • top

The only other thing I’d add (and this is directed at no one in particular), is that before commenting on how dangerous/unsafe/unnecessary/stupid it is to own a gun, whoever wishes to comment on the issue ought take an hour of instruction in firearms, including range time. It’s not very expensive and it will eliminate a great deal of ignorance. It will also not turn you into a gun-nut.

I don’t think it’s dangerous, unsafe, or stupid to own a gun provided you know how to use it and follow all rules and safety measures.  And I agree with you—there may be folks who own guns that I don’t know about.  But it certainly undercuts the theory that we have a “polite society” because every body knows that everybody else is carrying a concealed weapon.

In my case, I live in a polite community because everybody is polite.  And if I thought that the only thing standing between me and being attacked in my sleep was a gun I had to wake up, get to, and use, I’d never close my eyes again. 

As it happens, I have (and have always had) a Belgian Shepherd.  If a racoon rattles a screen on my downstairs (open) window at night in the summer, I’m going to know about it.  And so is the racoon and anybody else who might be out there.  And I think they’re going to be deterred a lot faster and a lot more effectively than they would by the fear that I *might* be awake and I *might* have a gun and I *might* get it out and use it before they kill me.  Personally, I think a good dog tops a shoot-out in my bedroom any day of the week.  Also, the dog will not accidentally kill my kids sneaking in late at night unless I tell it to. smile

[18] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 11:08 AM • top

“Brits arriving in New York, hoping to avoid being slaughtered on day one of their shopping mission to Manhattan are, by day two, beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. By day three they have had had the scales lifted from their eyes”

And perhaps by day five they are among the hundreds upon hundreds of law-abiding people jogging, strolling, and cuddling in Central Park AT NIGHT—-Central Park, where people used to get mugged in broad daylight.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

For better or worse, the cleaning up of New York City occurred without legalizing private ownership of firearms, which remains tightly restricted.

The murder rate is much lower in NYC (7.3 per year per 100,000 people) than in more gun-friendly places like New Orleans, St. Louis (37.2), Kansas City (25.0), Atlanta and Jackson (22.6), Memphis (21.6), Miami (19.6), Houston (18.2), Phoenix (15.4), Dallas (15.0), Nashville (14.3), Jacksonville (13.8), Mobile (13.6), Charlotte (11.9), Las Vegas (11.6), and Oklahoma City (10.3). NYC also has lower rape and robbery rates than almost all of those cities. BTW, Mississippi statewide has about the same murder rate (7.7) as NYC.

I’m NOT arguing for gun control or against gun ownership. I believe the relationship between crime and gun availability is much more complicated that either side of the gun debate acknowledges. I suspect that widespread availability of guns tends, on balance, to deter opportunistic crime against strangers and to make assaults on people one knows more deadly.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Note that the homicide rate remains much higher in the United States (5.9 per year per 100,000 people) than in Norway and Denmark (0.7), Ireland (0.9), Germany (1.0), Italy (1.2), Australia and New Zealand (1.3), England, Wales, and France (1.6), Canada (1.9), and Israel and Scotland (2.6).
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Crime rates can vary enormously within a city. At a time when Washington, DC, had a very high murder rate, the western half of the city was safe but some eastern neighborhoods had drug-war carnage [cf. #17].

By the same token, quite a few Sunbelt cities get a boost (more precisely, a sort of “discount” in their reported crime rates) because they’ve been able to annex their suburbs, which older Northern and Midwestern cities have not.

[19] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 11:35 AM • top

“As for England, I lived in the Midlands 30 years ago and never had any problems with crime but now there seem to be drunken, murderous yobs (punks) everywhere and the government seems quite helpless to deal with it”
—-Watcher on the Wall [#1]

One reason the United States doesn’t have English-style sports “hooliganism” is that we wouldn’t tolerate it. We don’t think it’s cool; we don’t say, “boys will be boys.” People who made a habit of it would do hard time.

[20] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 11:49 AM • top

#18, CatholicMom. I like dogs too. smile
I blame my wife for our four cats. wink

310, Irenaeus As I said above, I think the reduction in crime we’ve seen here in the US is mostly due to a willingness to lock up recidivists which has translated into a willingness to spend money on more prisons, more police patrolmen and steeply harsher sentences for repeat offending. There are also other factors at work as well.

That is not to say things are perfect here in the Land of the Free.

I’d rather my church did not require suits.

[21] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 04-27-2008 at 12:13 PM • top

mousestalker (strange name for a person making anti-feline remarks smile )—Cats can be effective crime fighters too. No one can get past the first floor at night because if they try to get upstairs, the cat will suddenly dash in front of their feet causing them to fall to their death in the dark.

[22] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 12:20 PM • top

Irenaeus #20,

One reason the United States doesn’t have English-style sports “hooliganism” is that we wouldn’t tolerate it. We don’t think it’s cool; we don’t say, “boys will be boys.” People who made a habit of it would do hard time.

Do you live in a college town? They’ve had pretty serious sports hooliganism at Ohio State: cars burned, furniture burned, windows smashed, etc.

But you’re right, the cops go after them and they’re prosecuted when caught.

[23] Posted by NWOhio Anglican on 04-27-2008 at 12:38 PM • top

We don’t tolerate hooligans in the US?  Maybe, but we do make heros out of gansters, which to me is even worse.

[24] Posted by AndrewA on 04-27-2008 at 12:54 PM • top

#15 Catholic Mom, I appreciate the invite, but I couldn’t possibly afford to live there.

[25] Posted by James Manley on 04-27-2008 at 01:02 PM • top

This Dumb Sheep lives alone in the (quite large, 22 rooms, and gas bill to match) family mansion. This city was and still is, in part, very safe but I don’t walk on the streets at night any more.  Like everywhere in America, change has come here too.  Every night, almost on schedule, several police cars speed past on their way to a “changing neighborhood” across the river.  I have friends who live there.  They have scanners and they call me up to tell me what’s going on.  The last major event there was a mother at a playground with her child in the afternoon being stabbed by a 17-year old because he wanted to ride the swing her child was using.  He was a school dropout.  Today I was talking to a relative and was asked if I have a security system in the house.  I’m thinking of putting one in, though until now we’ve never felt the need of one.  this city has been an economic disaster area for the last twenty five years, but guns weren’t a problem until drug dealers from the east set up shop.  When I was a child we had guns in the house (hunting pieces and antique firearms,) but they were all shipped to my cousin in Fla.  There’s still a box of clay pigeons in the cellar.  My sister has an NRA marksmanship certificate that she earned in the Rifle Club in junior high school fifty years ago.
Dumb Sheep.

[26] Posted by dumb sheep on 04-27-2008 at 01:14 PM • top

Catholic Mom,

That is a sad, sad way to think about your personal protection. If you want to protect yourself from home invaders in the middle of the night, you can do so without having to jump through all the hoops you’ve invented. As to whether or not one is capable of distinguishing between a home invader and a late-arriving husband… well… anyone whose ability to do so is that questionable probably isn’t qualified to own and handle a firearm. They’re probably not qualified to drive a motor vehicle or vote, either, but that’s a discussion for another time.

If you want to gamble, with an invader in your home, that police will be able respond quicker and more effectively than you, with a firearm, can… that’s your business, but that’s neither the wise bet, nor one that you should presume to encourage others to take.

[27] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-27-2008 at 01:35 PM • top

I highly resent Greg’s casting aspersions on the security abilities of cats.  My own cat has demonstrated numerous times that he would be capable of tripping up burglars on stairs and other perilous areas of the house.

In fact, my cat—who is orange and has requested a name change to “Aslan”—has discovered that his orange cat is quite similar to the refinished golden floors of the house.  Often he drapes himself on a specific stair, blending in beautifully with the steps, in order to lure the unwary into treading upon him.  Then he gets to spring up and squawl as if he’s been deliberately tortured and killed, while standing over your tumbled and broken body at the bottom of those same stairs.

[28] Posted by Sarah on 04-27-2008 at 01:42 PM • top

I love cats and I enjoy guns, but at this point in my life I just am not willing or able to spend the time and money to required to own either and do it the right way.

[29] Posted by AndrewA on 04-27-2008 at 02:01 PM • top

That is a sad, sad way to think about your personal protection. If you want to protect yourself from home invaders in the middle of the night, you can do so without having to jump through all the hoops you’ve invented.

Two sads? Hoops?  You mean like living in a safe neighborhood?  Like being surrounded by peace-loving people?  Like having an effective police department?  Owning a dog?  Yeah—those sure are some extreme hoops I’ve jumped through.  You’re right—I’d be much better off to sleep with a gun under my pillow.  BTW —- I asssume that your gun IS under your pillow? Or at least at arms length?  But then—you are a man and you probably think you’re going to get a good shot at wrestling with your attacker.  Whereas most women who are attacked in their beds aren’t going to have a chance to do ANYTHING once someone has grabbed them.  Of course, neither would you unless you were awake.  So, I assume you have some system (other than a dog, which you seem to think is a “hoop”) that lets you know when the burglar/attacker enters your house so you can get up and get your gun and be sitting there (with sufficient lighting to aim) with your gun pointed when the guy walks into your room.  Yeah…that’s a very realistic method of defending yourself.

 

As to whether or not one is capable of distinguishing between a home invader and a late-arriving husband… well… anyone whose ability to do so is that questionable probably isn’t qualified to own and handle a firearm.

True…but unfortunately that characterizes most gun owners.  Statistics show that if you have a gun in your home and you kill somebody with it, it is overwhelmingly likely to be a family member, not an intruder.

Unfortunately, there have been MANY accidents where a kid decided to sneak in an upstairs bedroom window at 2 am to avoid telling his parents that he didn’t get in at midnight when promised, only to be hit with a fusillade from mom or dad.

I don’t have the stats (but I’m willing to do the work to get them) but I’ll bet anything you like that the probability of being killed in your home by an intruder when you own a large (or any) dog vs the probability when you have a gun (but no dog)is much much lower.

[30] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 02:08 PM • top

I notice that there has been a tiotal avoidance of the one factor that cats add to home safety. It is true that they excel at tripping the unwary, they also provide another line of defense. Hairballs. Absolutely the slippriest, slimiest substance any animal has ever spewed forth. Any burglar entering our home in the dark of night has an excellent chance of encountering one of these and crashing to their doom.

Did I mention my wife has four cats? wink

The Episcopal Church: all of the ritual, none of the theology

[31] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 04-27-2008 at 02:17 PM • top

“Peace through more firepower.”

[32] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 04-27-2008 at 02:23 PM • top

“Do you live in a college town? They’ve had pretty serious sports hooliganism at Ohio State: cars burned, furniture burned, windows smashed, etc.”
—-NW Ohio Anglican [#23]

You’re right: that’s a real problem, and not just at Ohio State. Every case of intentional car-burning should be prosecuted as the serious crime that it is. Every case of intentional window-smashing should at least be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

But British football-hooliganism involves organized gangs who travel around brawling and committing vandalism game after game after game. Just think how U.S. police, prosecutors, judges, and juries would deal with that sort of hooligan.

PS: How does one get furniture to burn?

[33] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 02:34 PM • top

Looking back over this thread, from New Orleans’ reputation as a mecca for drugs, prostitution, and general self-gratification, one might think that, considering the well-proven trend of gun ownership reducing the crime rates,  a general gun ban there might well be a general disaster.  I’ve been to N.O., and to NYC as well:  each one is its own kind of town, with more surprises than anybody wants to know about.  Enough of that, though.

Mousestalker, for once I disagree with you.  The need in the US is no more building more prisons than it is to put the population on Ritalin.  We’ve got over 1% of the population behind bars as it is, with the inner cities being over-represented in huge number.  The main factor in this tragedy, and the only real solution, is found in the Church.  For the last two (or so) generations we’ve been preaching a simplistic “gospel” that says no more, or less, than “Pray ‘The Prayer’ and Heaven is all yours!” with no notice that most of the Bible is about specifics of a New Life and what it looks like.  As long as the Church is telling people that we’re all slaves to sin (see Romans 6:1) and there is no every-day difference between a sinner and a saint, then we have stopped being His witnesses (as being evidence to the world of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit) and are no longer saying anything different from what Sigmund Freud in his own sworn hatred against Christianity, wrote in his works.  If we will rediscover what historic Christianity really is (No, 20th Century doesn’t count!), then we will see this country saved.  Otherwise, the Great Experiment is global carrion.

[34] Posted by Robert Easter on 04-27-2008 at 02:35 PM • top

“We don’t tolerate hooligans in the US?  Maybe, but we do make heroes out of gangsters, which to me is even worse”—-AndrewA [#24]

They’re bad in different ways, as I suspect you’ll agree. Hooliganism assaults public order. The glorification of gangsterism (notably including Gangsta Rap) subverts culture. We should work to make it unremunerative and socially unacceptable. Unremunerative is key: this stuff wouldn’t be so widespread if it weren’t so profitable.

[35] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 02:49 PM • top

Mousestalker [#31]: What about the risk that your cats’ vile hairballs will do in the family rather than the intruders?

[36] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 02:58 PM • top

#34 Robert Easter. I don’t know that we need more prisons today either. I was describing what has happened in the US. I do know that if someone is sentenced to a term in prison, then there needs to be room in prison for that person to serve their term. In most states in the US, there is room. In Britain there is not.

I was just praying in a Kairos prayer vigil very early this morning. I agree with you about evangelism and spiritual formation. But they are not the proper work of the State.

#36 Iranaeus. I can assure you I spoke from experience when I mentioned the threat hairballs pose. We’ve learned to be wary in our house. Intruders may be equally wary, but I doubt they will be expecting the threat from below.

I have a theory!

[37] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 04-27-2008 at 03:12 PM • top

The reasons that NYC is so much safer than NO don’t have much to do with the Sullivan Laws; they have to do with Rudolph Giuliani and Ray Nagin.

[38] Posted by Ed the Roman on 04-27-2008 at 03:14 PM • top

#2 AnglicanXn,
Close: “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”
Heinlein, <u>Beyond This Horizon</u>

Bob

[39] Posted by Bob Livingston on 04-27-2008 at 03:20 PM • top

I think their problem w/roaming bands of yobbos is due to their socialism.  I used to be married to a Brit and lived there for a time.  His youngest brother dropped out of school at 16 and went immediately on the dole.  Now, could someone explain to me why an able-bodied young man who lives at home needs a welfare check?  Money in the pocket and time on the hands.  Not to mention that these lifelong hand-outs creates and “I’m entitled” mentality that makes these young thugs believe they can do whatever they want.  And as mousetalker suggested, they don’t get punished for it.  Sad.  I used to work with older WWII era Brits over there and they were completely different.  Proudly independent.  Patriotic and hard-working.

[40] Posted by Carol R on 04-27-2008 at 03:25 PM • top

Not that there is the room in the States, either, unless you count adding more bunks to the exercise yards.

Kairos is great, but Kairos also needs to get hold of the fact that Jesus did not die to condone our sin, but to cleanse us from it.  The fantasy that forgiveness is all that He offers us in this life has given us a bordello televangelist, paedophilic priests, a homosexualised head of the NAE, and millions of sheep struggling to follow such “shepherds.”  The Church has lost touch with the idea of real, transforming, fellowship with God and as a result has chosen to settle for the lowest common denominator, which is un-renounced sin.  If the New Testament is to be taken seriously, there are apt to be some real surprises at the White Throne.  The US, UK, RofI, etc. need to get saved, but maybe the Church does, first?

[41] Posted by Robert Easter on 04-27-2008 at 03:34 PM • top

Thanks AnglicanXn (#2) & Bob Livingston (39).  Between the two of you, you’ve helped me track down that “polite society” quote.

Where else can I get theology, gun nuts, cat AND dog lovers, etc. all in one place?  SF!  My kinda people!  :>)

Anyway, just go to any kinda well-regulated militia, I mean gun range!, and you’ll see extra-ordinary politeness.  No fear, no threats, just very polite people helping each other or even minding their own business.

God bless ya’ll !

Aggie, Class of ‘70
An Anglican Firearms “Enthusiast”

[42] Posted by aggie on 04-27-2008 at 04:10 PM • top

Really, the safest, most thrilling option, and one practiced on the mission station whereupon I grew up, is to give the job of guarding said station to the well respected and beloved village blind man. He carries his large and impressive looking rifle, knows very well how to use it, can hear very very well, but is, well, blind. And the only people who know he is blind live there, so if anyone is foolish enough to visit the mission at night, they ought not to be there, probably, and deserve what they get.

[43] Posted by Anne Kennedy on 04-27-2008 at 04:43 PM • top

I read once that a high ranking Japanese admiral was asked after WWII was over why Japan did not invade California, since they had submarines off the coast line.  His response was something like: It would be utterly foolish to invade a country where most of the people own guns.  Served us well that time!

[44] Posted by ann r on 04-27-2008 at 05:40 PM • top

#33 Irenaeus

“PS: How does one get furniture to burn?”

At Kent State the normal procedure is to throw it on a burning car. One traditional day for this behavior is May Day. Gotta remember to stay out of Kent that day.

Jeff

[45] Posted by Jeff in Ohio on 04-27-2008 at 06:30 PM • top

Since we have had a number of Pit Bull atrocities and even deaths, then we must ban all animals from homes.

[46] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 04-27-2008 at 06:38 PM • top

PM, Hush!  Canada’s already doing that!  Some countries in Europe as well, so I’m told.  Any canine pet in Canada with a square nose or other evidence of being even part “pit bull” (whatever that is!) has to have been owned before the law passed, be neutered, and, I think, not be sold or traded.  Also, back on topic, self defense is not acceptable there as a plea or a reason for a firearms permit.  It’s just not polite, eh?

[47] Posted by Robert Easter on 04-27-2008 at 06:44 PM • top

ann r Please show me a quote from any reputable scholar who says the Japanese were in a serious position to invade the U.S.

Conversely, the Japanese were armed to the teeth and ready to fight a U.S. invasion to the death.  Didn’t seem to have helped them much when the nuclear bombs started dropping from the sky.  When you get to depending on civilians with guns to defend yourself against an invasion, you’ve already lost the war.

[48] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 07:00 PM • top

Catholic Mom,

The hoops I refer to are:

- You won’t be able to get to your gun in time (not necessarily true; solution: keep it at arm’s length when you go to bed)

- You won’t be able to chamber a round in time (not necessarily true; solution: practice)

- You won’t be able to get off a shot in time (not necessarily true; solution: practice

- You won’t be able to tell the difference between an attacker and a late-arriving spouse or child (not necessarily true; solution: “Honey/Junior, is that you?)

- You won’t be able to hit your target (not necessarily true; solution: practice)

The fact is, you might be able to get to your gun in time. You might be able to chamber a round in time. You might be able to get off a shot in time. You might be able to hit your target. And you might be able to tell the difference between hubby/junior and a bad guy. Actually, the odds are pretty good that you’ll be able to do all of those, if you rely on common sense combined with just a little practice. An hour at the range, every few months, will do wonders for both.

You’re making no allowance for the likelihood that your invader will make some noise that alerts you to his presence as he enters your home. You’re assuming that he will appear, as if by magic, standing over your bed, already in possession of your loaded firearm. certainly this does happen, but if you keep up with home invasion reports, as I do, you find that in a majority of cases, home invaders are repelled or killed by the use of force. Only a small minority are the worst-case scenario you paint, where a secured home is broken into by an invader who then appears standing over the homeowner’s bedside.

Obviously I am not calling your decision to live in a safe town with a good police force a bad one, but as someone upstream wrote: Not everyone can afford to live in places like that. Does that mean they should cede their safety to the tender mercies of people who would break into their home in the middle of the night to rob, rape and kill?

Besides, even if you can afford the good neighborhood with peace-loving neighbors and an effective police force, they’re by no means a guarantee of your safety, because by definition, peace-lovong neighbors aren’t the ones who break into your home in the middle of the night, and if you’re like most Americans, you don’t know more than about three families in your neighborhood, and you likely have an inaccurate or incomplete picture of what kind of folks make up at least one of those families. The truth is more likely that you have no idea what kind of evil and mayhem 80% of your neighbors are capable of.

But forget the neighbors, because you could know 100% of them, and they could all be angels in human form, and it wouldn’t mean a thing. Here’s a perfect example:

Joshua Komisarjevsky, 26, of Cheshire, and Steven Hayes, 44, of Winsted, were arraigned Tuesday on charges of assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, arson, larceny and risk of injury to children. More charges are pending, state police said Tuesday night. The two men could face the death penalty.

Prosecutor Michael Dearington said he had not yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty.

“I know the public consensus is they should be fried tomorrow,” he said.

The state medical examiner confirmed that Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, was strangled and that her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, died of smoke inhalation. The deaths were ruled homicides.

The girls’ father, Dr. William Petit Jr., a prominent endocrinologist, remained hospitalized with head injuries.

All three women were raped, sources familiar with the investigation told both the Waterbury Republican-American and Hartford Courant. Petit was beaten with a baseball bat, thrown down the basement stairs, and then tied up in the cellar.

The girls, sources told the Courant, were tied to their beds and raped repeatedly, then left to burn after gasoline was poured around their beds and ignited.

The suspects entered the Petits’ Cheshire home at about 3 a.m. Monday, planning to burglarize it, state police said.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell the Republican-American that Hawke-Petit and Michaela were followed home from a supermarket Sunday by the suspects. The men then went to a Wal-Mart to buy an air rifle and a rope, and then waited about a mile-and-a-half away.

Is the Cheshire, CT police force an “effective” one? Not in this case, they weren’t. Where were they while Dr. Petit was beating beaten with a baseball bat? Where were they when his wife and daughters - including his 11-year old - were being beaten, raped, and doused with gasoline? Did he call them? If so, where were they? If not, then what good does having an “effective” police force do, if you can’t reach them? Why didn’t his “peace-loving neighbors” call the police? Could it be that in teh case of a home invasion, having peace-loving neighbors is… perfectly useless?

Now… I’m willing to bet you my next ten house payments that Dr. Petit didn’t own a gun, that Mrs. Petit had probably the same view of guns that you do, that the couple lived in a nice community with peace-loving neighbors, yadda yadda yadda.

I’m also willing to bet that, as Dr. Petit was listening to the cries of his wife and daughters being raped and beaten; as he dragged himself out into his yard under the flames of his burning home and shouted into the dark for help; that he was not thinking to himself, “Thank God I didn’t have a gun in the house, lest I not be able to get to it in time, not chamber a round in time, not get off a shot in time, and not hit my target! Thank God I relied for my family’s safety on a nice home in a good neighborhood with peace-loving neighbors! And thank God for that effective police force! What a great series of decisions I have made!”

[49] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-27-2008 at 07:10 PM • top

Jeff [#45]: Serves me right.

Let me rephrase my question: How do these enemies of public order OBTAIN the furniture they burn?

[50] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 07:10 PM • top

No gun, but since I am a sailor I have a flare gun and flares which I keep handy in case I need to incinerate an intruder.  Just kidding, but the thought has entered my mind and leaves in flash since I’d probably burn down my house.

[51] Posted by Bill C on 04-27-2008 at 07:23 PM • top

Bill C [#51]: You might try a sonic canon, preferably while the malefactors were still outside.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_range_acoustic_device

[52] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 07:32 PM • top

Catholic Mom,
Please know that I thank God for your good fortune, but feel a tinge of je ne sais quoi - perhaps snobbery? - in your response.  I have lived in rough (very rough) neighborhoods - not through lack of hard work and trying, but through the circumstances of life.  The flavor of your response (perhaps I’m being overly sensitive) leads me to believe that you think that economic security and knowing one’s neighbors will keep you safe.  As I said, if that is your lot in life, you are blessed.  You must know that MOST people in this country are not so blessed, and many feel that they must protect themselves from the lawless elements that surround them.  Having slept with a baseball bat next to my bed(and next to my front AND back doors), having been attacked across the street from my own home, having had children to protect from the very REAL dangers of this society, I feel dismissed by your attitude - that somehow if I just lived in a nicer neighborhood, all this would be unnecessary.

[53] Posted by GillianC on 04-27-2008 at 07:56 PM • top

The Petit case made a HUGE impact in the news here.  Precisely because it was so rare.

Let me make a few points.

1.  The Petit’s didn’t need a gun in the house.  All they needed was a freakin CELL PHONE!!  Which I keep by my bedside every night.  If you wake up in time to “get your gun” you can also lean over and press ONE KEY on your cell phone to call 911 and ask for help.  There are no “maybes” to that.  You don’t have to “maybe” chamber a round, “maybe” hit your target etc.  It’s a one second sure thing. 

2.  The Petit’s were a not uncommon example of very rich people living as if they were middle class.  The whole reason they were followed home in the first place was that they were driving a $60,000 white Mercedes that caught these men’s eyes at the mall.  They thought it might be worth following them home to see where they lived.  Which they did and it turned out to be a multi-million dollar house with either NO security system or else NOT turned on.  Now, if you live in Fort Knox and you drive around in a car that advertises you live in Fort Knox, you better have the security of Fort Knox.  I’m believe you’re right that they had no guns.  They also had no dog and either didn’t have a phone at bedside or else didn’t have time to get to it.  (In which case they wouldn’t have had time to get to their gun either.)

But…I understand the basic (false) feeling of security your gun gives you because…like the Beatles said:

When I feel my finger on your trigger
I know nobody can do me no harm
Because….happiness is a warm gun

To each his own.

[54] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 08:02 PM • top

Gillian C.  I apologize if I came off as “blaming the victim.”  I was making a simple point.  The reason life in NJ is safer than life in London is not because we carry concealed weapons or have guns in our houses.  We don’t.  I then suggested other reasons for the phenomenon.

[55] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-27-2008 at 08:05 PM • top

Catholic Mom,
Apology accepted - perhaps I was being overly sensitive. 
My point is that perhaps if the riff-raff wandering the streets of London knew that someone in that McDonald’s might have had a gun in her purse, they might not have been so eager to harass folks.  Just a thought.

[56] Posted by GillianC on 04-27-2008 at 08:27 PM • top

Catholic Mom,

As much as I hate to say it, your position seems best summarised by a famous line from Tennessee Williams:  “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers!”

In reading the news account, it seems that the police had received a distress call, and were waiting with roadblocks to catch the perpetrators after the fact.  The one thing a police officer hates worse than a domestic disturbance has got to be a home invasion.  Very messy.  Much more expedient to step back and make the appropriate arrests. 

One very significant point to the story is that both of the assailants had done time for property offenses.  American prisons, with their present policies, have become the colleges and graduate schools for all kinds of crime and perversion, with advanced studies offered on a continual, revolving, basis.  Seven eighths of inmates released on a given day will be back inside for new offenses within the year, only done with a zeal and recklessness learned from long association with the “masters,” and an equally long lesson that prison is a lot more “survivable” than they thought before their first conviction.  These men were probably emasculated on the inside, and were desperate to prove some kind of perverted “manhood” as a result.  Long hours removed from the realities of what “real life” is about, long hours to dwell on the most bizarre imaginations, until they saw their chance.  In a few years, they’ll have another.  After all, a few years locked away, and they’ll be rehabilitated, won’t they?

[57] Posted by Robert Easter on 04-27-2008 at 08:29 PM • top

Catholic Mom,

I realize you want to believe that a cell phone, with the police dept. on speed dial, is a sufficient last resort for protecting yourself and your family, but no matter how much you want to believe it, it just isn’t so, and no amount of saying so will make it so.

The Petit case may be rare, but what’s your point in noting that? Is it that you’re gambling it won’t happen to you, due to the law of probability? I imagine Dr. Petit thought the exact same thing, but how much good did that do him as the invaders were beating him and raping his wife and daughters? Saying ‘The law of averages says it won’t happen to me, therefore I need not make provisions for defending myself with deadly force,’ is simply ridiculous. That’s not an argument against firearms for personal defense; that’s an argument for protecting yourself with the whims of fate.

Has your cell phone network ever gone down, even if only for a few minutes? Of course it has. Has your individual cel phone ever lost its signal, or been unable to complete a call? Of course it has. Has it ever powered down during the night because you forgot to keep it charged? I’m betting the answer is yes. Have you ever left it overnight in your car, or at someone else’s house, or at a restaurant, or simply lost it somewhere, only to recover it later? I’m guessing the answer is yes to at least one of those.

So much for the “sure thing” of the cel phone.

Speaking of - and I may have missed it in all the coverage I’ve read of the Petit case - but was it ever determined that the Petits did not have a cel phone? Given their income and lifestyle, I find it hard to believe that every member of the family didn’t own at least one, meaning that there were at minimum 4 cel phones in the home at the time of the invasion.

And do I really have to go into lazy, sloppy, and error-prone 911 dispatchers? Do I really have to go into patrol units who take half an hour to respond to emergencies? I’m guessing I don’t. So… so much for the “sure thing” of the police.

You’re trying to answer a question I haven’t even asked, and which is beside the point anyway, and that is: “Which method of defense against home invaders should you choose - alarm/phone/police on the one hand, or guns on the other?”

That’s not the question I’m asking. Rather, what I’m asking is: “Is it wise to limit your defense against home invaders solely to alarm/phone/police, and not to include in your methods of defense, ownership and training in the use of firearms?”

There is only one correct answer to that question, and it is “No.” I’m frankly not going to the trouble of making all these posts to consider the possibility that I may be wrong; I’m doing this to explain to you and anyone else who thinks like you, that you’re wrong.

It’s very simple:

Should you choose to live in a nice neighborhood, with good neighbors and an effective police force? Yes, if you can afford it.

Should you equip your home with an alarm system? Yes, if you can afford it.

Should you have a cel phone nearby at all times, so you can call the police if there’s trouble? Yes, and fortunately almost everyone can afford a cel phone these days.

Should you let an alarm system, a cel phone, and a police force the distance of whose units away from you is unknown, be the last lines of defense between you and a home invader? Obviously, the answer is ‘NO.’

The reason the answer is obviously ‘NO’ is:

1. IF it makes sense to equip oneself with an alarm system because it is a tool that may neutralize a home invasion; and

2. IF it makes sense to equip oneself with a cel phone because it is a tool with which one cal call police, and therefore perhaps neutralize a home invasion; then

3. It ALSO makes sense to arm oneself with one or more firearms, which are, after all, simply another form of tool that may be used to neutralize a home invasion.

There is simply no reasoning that answers “yes” to 1 and 2, and answers “no” to 3.

I’m interested in hearing your reasoning, though, because I’m trying to understand what it is about some people that they a) develop an irrational view of guns that b) leads them to cede completely the defense of themselves and their loved ones to telephone networks and police officers, rather than putting in their own hands the one tool that may make the final difference.

Again I ask you - do you think Dr. Petit, tied to his chair with his wife and children tied to their beds and burning to death inside their home, congratulated himself on his decision not to keep a gun at arm’s reach beside his bed?

[58] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-27-2008 at 08:53 PM • top

I’m generally in favor of giving a homeowner or renter the option to have a gun for protection.  Moreover, I generally support the right / duty of a homeowner to use lethal force on an aggressive attacker. 

With that said, I find that I presently cannot bring myself to purchase a gun for my own household.  The two main reasons (which could presumably be overcome, if I were to become uncomfortable with my neighborhood) would be inquisitive children, and grown-up melancholy.  I will at some point however, institute measures that fall somewhere in-between a handgun and a cat (...you gotta be kidding me). 

Er, I’m really not sure how to respond to the discussion re the morality involved in living in a “nice safe neighborhood.”  Frankly, there are facets of that discussion that reek of excessive privilege.  We choose our present home because it was more affordable, not within a DMZ, and because it had extra space that could be used for an aging parent.  Even without those considerations, I could think of a half-dozen valid moral reasons why a family would opt to live in a worse neighborhood.

[59] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-27-2008 at 09:11 PM • top

Aww, there ya go, Greg!
Now Jacko-Stops-the-Bus is gonna be running bits & bites outta this thread to show we’re all a buncha reactionary gun nuts, & good thing that poor Mr. R. wore his body armor under his choir dress!

(Moot, have you thought about carrying it on you, away from idle hands, or educating the wee ones on a Saturday at the range or with a Shooter Safety course?)

I wonder.  If somebody can’t bear the idea of firing on an attacker (a near miss, or a low hit would likely suffice…), then is it consistent for them to call somebody else to do it for them?  Pacifism for pacifism’s sake would say that calling the police is just passing the buck.  If there is a need to defend oneself or one’s loved ones, then I’d offer that if you want it done right, (Wait for a truly selfless and dedicated police officer, assuming one exists and is the one who took the call, to get to where you already are?)  Do it yourself?  I’d think the latter would be the quicker, and in this scenario there aren’t just winners and losers,  It’s the quick, and the dead, and that’s coming from somebody that the Draft Board gave Conscientious Objector status, for what it’s worth.

[60] Posted by Robert Easter on 04-27-2008 at 09:23 PM • top

Greg [#58]: No one in Dr. Petit’s hellish position would be congratulating himself for anything. Nor would a homeowner who shot a loved one by mistake or whose child somehow got hold of the family gun. In the end, the “would you congratulate yourself” question can’t resolve a debate over whether (on balance) suburbanites are better off having bedside guns.

[61] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 09:30 PM • top

(Moot, have you thought about carrying it on you, away from idle hands, or educating the wee ones on a Saturday at the range or with a Shooter Safety course?)

Keeping it on me, sort of defeats the purpose of protection for the household;  so it would be have to be kept within the household, and in at least two handy locations.  That combination, household and handy, I can’t reconcile with myself.

[62] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-27-2008 at 09:55 PM • top

“child somehow got hold of the family gun”

While I have no personal direct experience with family gun ownership, when I was in the reserves the mantra was that your weapons were always either within arms length (preferably in your hands, or in the case of a hand gun in a strapped holster on your hip), stacked unloaded and under guard, or stored unloaded in a locked case.  There is no reason to leave a weapon laying about unsecured.

[63] Posted by AndrewA on 04-27-2008 at 09:59 PM • top

Irenaeus,

I suspect you’re talking apples and oranges. If what you’re saying is that the tragedy surrounding an accidental discharge that results in the death of a loved one, or a child getting his hands on a loaded gun and killing himself or another innocent bystander, compared to that of a man’s wife and daughters being beaten, raped, and burned alive, is for all intents and purposes the same, then you’re not going to get any argument out of me.

Where I think you’re talking apples and oranges is in the use of the disincentives implied by the former, as a justification for not keeping a gun for protection against the latter.

The typical home is full of things that can easily kill a child is not stored properly or used correctly: Bleach and ammonia, for example, or a set of Wusthoff knives. Or baseball bats, or screwdrivers. But we never hear talk of banning those things, or people drawing the line at keeping them in their homes because of the dangers they present to children.

Properly stored, and properly used, a gun of sufficient caliber will put and end to most home invasions, period. I am under no illusions that there aren’t cases where intruders gain the element of surprise such that their victims don’t have the time to get to, or fire, their gun. Of the cases where an intruder doesn’t enjoy the advantage of surprise, though, and the intended victim is armed and knowledgeable about his weapon, the outcome tilts heavily in his favor.

That is my point: On what grounds does anyone reason that they’ll happily use an alarm tool, and a cel phone tool, but they won’t use a gun tool? That they’ll keep the ingredients for chlorine gas stored side-by-side in unsecured containers, or knives sharp enough to easily decapitate someone or slice their wrists open, but won’t keep a firearm for protection?

I know the answer… I’m just waiting to see how long it will be before someone reveals it, and what form it will take.

[64] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-27-2008 at 10:04 PM • top

While agreeing with Greg’s stance in defense of the advantages of gun ownership, he almost seems to be saying that someone should feel OBLIGED to own a firearm.  I happen to think that if someone does not trust themselves with a firearm, who am I to disagree, just as long as they don’t choose to infring on might rights should I choose to exercise them. 

As for 64, I’ll take a few pot shots, if you will, as to some of the things that Greg might be getting at.

1)  Many people consider any use of lethal force to be morally wrong, even in self defense.  Some are Christians that fail to put “Thou shalt not murder” in the broader context of the entirely of the Law about what does and does not consitute murder. 

2)  Some people demonize guns, for any number of reasons.

[65] Posted by AndrewA on 04-27-2008 at 10:15 PM • top

Greg [#64]: Shooting a loved one by mistake (not an accident, a mistake) is a very different tragedy from Dr. Petit’s ordeal. So is the tragedy of the child who gets hold of a gun and kills herself or someone else by accident. What all three have in common is that in that horrible moment the homeowner will not be congratulating himself for anything.

Let us assume that Catholic Mom has good firearms training, is cool under fire and an excellent shot, and would be willing to use a gun against an intruder. She could still reasonably conclude that a bedside gun would not, on balance, make her family safer.

[66] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 10:21 PM • top

PS to #66: When referring to a homeowner shooting a loved one “by mistake,” I’m referring not to accidental discharge but to mistaking a loved one (or other innocent person) for an intruder.

[67] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 10:30 PM • top

On what grounds does anyone reason that they’ll happily use an alarm tool, and a cel phone tool, but they won’t use a gun tool? That they’ll keep the ingredients for chlorine gas stored side-by-side in unsecured containers, or knives sharp enough to easily decapitate someone or slice their wrists open, but won’t keep a firearm for protection?

I guess I don’t understand the question - in one section, you seem to refer to security measures, in another, you’re referring to household hazards. 

I guess I would turn the question around a bit:  Suppose your two-year-old comes to you with several household items, say:
a) A rifle
b) A knife
c) A baseball bat
d) A guitar
e) A hammer
f) A handgun
g) Bathroom cleansers

... how would you explain the uses of each of these items, to your two-year-old? 

We explain the particular uses of each item.  E.g., the purpose of the knife is to cut food.  That is after all, what it was designed to do, and why people purchase table-knives.  All of the items on the above list however, can be used to kill a human being.  And yet, I would not consider explaining that particular use for any of the items on the list, to my two-year-old, with the exception of (f). 

This is not to argue against security measures, but to simply say that each tool has an intended purpose. 

Now, we might argue that a handgun that harms a member of one’s own household, is not being used appropriately.  I would argue that it has been used in a manner consistent with its design and purchase;  just as much as a knife used for gluttony has been used in a manner consistent with its design and purchase. 

Again, I don’t wish to dispense with the right of a head of household to have various means of security at his or her disposal;  just take to task the notion that a knife is comparable to a handgun.

[68] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-27-2008 at 10:54 PM • top

Irenaeus [#66],

She could still reasonably conclude that a bedside gun would not, on balance, make her family safer.

No, she cannot, and that’s been the whole point of my exchange with her.

Also, let’s define what we mean by “safe.” I’m not saying for a moment that simply possessing a gun, or being able/willing to use it, will necessarily make one less likely to be a victim of a home invasion.

What I am saying is that, should you find yourself facing down one or more home invaders, it is incorrect to think, given the choice between an alarm system or a cel phone with the cops on speed dial on the one hand, or a gun on the other, that the alarm and cel phone are more likely to save you and your family. It is incorrect to think that having a firearm at hand will not increase your odds of killing or otherwise neutralizing your attacker.

Let’s look at some simple facts: As far as I can tell, the national average for police response times is 10 minutes. I’ve found data that indicates exceptional response times are in the 6.5 minute range.

If you’ve ever been in a simple fistfight, you know that 30 seconds is a long, long time. 60 seconds is an eternity. Much blood can be spilled and many things can be broken in 60 seconds of throwing punches.

Now multiply that period of time by ten, and put a knife or a crowbar in your attacker’s hands.

In ten minutes, an attacker armed with a knife or a crowbar, against you armed with your cel phone, can kill you and your entire family, and still have plenty of time left to go through most or all of your drawers and closets, grabbing the most obvious valuables, and getting away before the police ever get near your house.

It is simply not reasonable to conclude that, given that reality, being armed will not increase your chances of killing or otherwise neutralizing your attacker.

Again: If Catholic Mom or anyone else wants to say, “I prefer not to have a gun in my home,” that’s one thing. It’s quite another to say, “I choose not to have a gun in my home because an alarm system and a cel phone are equally effective at keeping me and my family safe.” The former is worthy of further discussion; the latter is so preposterous as to make further discussion pointless.

[69] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-27-2008 at 11:19 PM • top

Moot,

Not sure I see the point behind [68], and I don’t say that to be snarky, so bear with me if I miss your point:

You say: a knife used for gluttony has been used in a manner consistent with its design and purchase.

No, and that’s an important part of my point: A knife is intended to cut food into pieces suitable for eating, and sometimes for cooking before eating. Gluttony has nothing to do with knives or their intended purpose. Gluttony is misbehavior on the part of the individual, and can be indulged in without being within miles of a knife (Ring-Dings and root beers will do just fine).

Likewise, it’s not true to say that a gun used to harm a member of one’s own household has been used in a manner consistent with its design and purchase. You are conflating the design and purpose of a gun - an inanimate object - with the intent of a human to behave in a certain way.

Just as the purpose of a knife is to cut food into smaller pieces manageable to eat or cook, the purpose of a gun is to send a projectile downrange accurately at a very high velocity. It’s false to say that the purpose of all knives is to kill humans, and it’s equally false to say that all guns are designed to kill humans. Some are designed specifically for target practice. Some are designed specifically for game hunting. Some are designed specifically for personal defense.

However, it is a mistake to say that that last subset of guns is designed to kill innocent people, or designed to be conducive to accidental deaths, the same as it is a mistake to say that some knives are designed to kill innocent people, or to be conducive to accidental stabbings.

As to what I say to my two-year old who brought me that list of items, we have to back up a bit. You present this list almost as though they are all things a child ought to find casually lying around the house, and that’s not true. It’s reasonable to expect a two-year-old both to be curious about a guitar or a baseball bat, and for those items to be within easy reach. It is not reasonable for rifles and handguns to be within easy reach of a child. So my answer to your question about what to say to the two-year-old in the case of the firearms isn’t quite right - I am not concerned about whether or not it should be explained to him what the handgun is for. He’s two. There are plenty of things - lethal AND non-lethal - which should never fall into a two-year-old’s hands. My only concern is: How the hell did he get his hands on my gun?

[70] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-27-2008 at 11:45 PM • top

Greg [#69]: I’ve evidently not made my point clearly enough.

Let’s go back to the assumptions in my comment #66: i.e., that “Catholic Mom has good firearms training, is cool under fire and an excellent shot, and would be willing to use a gun against an intruder.”

Faced with an intruder, she would be better off with a gun than without one. We agree about that.

But intruders are not the only risk here. Catholic Mom’s gun might get into the wrong hands. Catholic Mom or her husband might, despite their training and coolness under pressure, mistake an innocent person for a dangerous intruder. You believe that with proper training and precautions, the risk is minimal. Catholic Mom disagrees [#30]: “Statistics show that if you have a gun in your home and you kill somebody with it, it is overwhelmingly likely to be a family member, not an intruder.” One thing we know: the risk is greater than zero.

That’s way I’ve Catholic Mom—-having considered the range of possible risks—-could “reasonably conclude that a bedside gun would not, on balance, make her family safer.”

[71] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-27-2008 at 11:54 PM • top

Irenaeus,

You write:

I’m referring not to accidental discharge but to mistaking a loved one (or other innocent person) for an intruder.

There are four basic rules of firearm safety; they are very well known, and are taught in the first 15 minutes of virtually every firearm safety course. They are:

1. Always treat all guns as if they are loaded, no exceptions.

2. Never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to kill.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you have verified and acquired your target.

4. Be sure of your target (this has been amended in recent years with “and what’s behind it.”)

Your example above points to a violation of rules 2, 3 and 4: If you have mistaken a loved one for an intruder, you have broken these rules. You have, by definition, made a mistake; you have not used the gun for its intended purpose.

If what you’re saying is that the risk of mistaking a loved one for an intruder is reason enough not to arm yourself against a home invasion, then I say that’s using an exception to make a rule (kind of a “bad cases make bad laws” variation), and therefore not sound reasoning. For one, intruders come in two varieties, for the most part:

1. They are loud and violent, and clearly intend you harm. Loved ones generally do not.

2. They are stealthy and unwilling to identify themselves when called to. Loved ones generally are not.

By definition, all cases of people mistaking loved ones for intruders are a result of not identifying your target - of breaking 3 of the 4 basic rules of gun safety. It is a mistake that can be avoided with common sense and a minimum amount of training; and by “training” I mean the most basic firearms training course of one or two hours.

Most of these “mistaken identity” shootings result from people who buy a gun and never learn to use it, but keep it loaded and grab it at the first sound of trouble, and immediately put their finger on the trigger and walk around their home, pointing it at anything that moves. And revolvers - which most novice gun owners are more likely to purchase - generally have far more delicate triggers than pistols, and can be pulled with much less pressure, making them unsafe in the hands of nervous users, or those who haven’t taken the time to familiarize themselves with their weapon.

To be blunt, with very few exceptions it is stupid behavior, and is not a sound argument against proper education and use of a firearm for personal defense. It would be like saying that because a few knuckleheads here and there insist on using knives as screwdrivers, and slice their fingers off in the process, spoons are therefore perfectly valid alternatives for slicing meat into cubes. This is what people are saying when they assert that because some knuckleheads wander around in the dark firing at targets they haven’t identified, alarm systems and cel phones are therefore perfectly valid alternatives to firearms as means of self-defense in the case of a home invasion.

[72] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-28-2008 at 12:11 AM • top

Its still worth asking: why do americans kill each other more than Australians. Especially with guns? Teddy Mak your statement would be more impressive with statistics. The Australian homicide rate would be lower if our drug related deaths were taken out too. Both countires would have safer and less safe areas.

[73] Posted by obadiahslope on 04-28-2008 at 12:18 AM • top

Irenaeus [71],

“Statistics show that if you have a gun in your home and you kill somebody with it, it is overwhelmingly likely to be a family member, not an intruder.” One thing we know: the risk is greater than zero.

That’s way I’ve Catholic Mom—-having considered the range of possible risks—-could “reasonably conclude that a bedside gun would not, on balance, make her family safer.”

Catholic Mom is applying the statistic incorrectly. What she means to imply is that, ‘in home invasions where a gun is fired, loved ones are killed far more often than intruders,’ and that’s simply not correct.

The statistic she cites reflects the fact that “loved ones” are more likely to be killed in shootings inside homes, because domestic disputes which escalate into murder are far more common than home invasions. It has nothing to do with the ratio of intruders vs. loved ones who are killed during home invasions.

[74] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-28-2008 at 12:23 AM • top

Its still worth asking: why do americans kill each other more than Australians.

The first reason is that Australia has nothing that compares to the nature and scope of America’s inner cities and gang-related cultures, where a hugely disproportionate percentage of gun-related murders occur.

[75] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-28-2008 at 12:31 AM • top

Australia has gangs. It has drug traffickers. It has ethnic groups which harbour gangs. It has terrorists within its Islamic community. The interaction between our gun laws and gangs will be complex. It is not as simple as saying there are “no gangs in Australia”. In Australia the inner cities have not been blighted as in the US, true. This means our areas of deprivation are on the fringes of our cities. Our social safety nets are better, and this will have an influence. Perhaps we are less racist - no “redlines” for homeloans. 
There are plenty of guns in Australia, some 2.5 million in a population of 20 million. They are far from rare. Making them just a little bit harder to get is part of the social mix that makes me less likely to be a victim of homicide than you.

[76] Posted by obadiahslope on 04-28-2008 at 01:01 AM • top

As a New Zealander I think that Australia and New Zealand populations think of guns for hunting rather than personal protection. I know New Zealand has a huge amount of guns, but it’s always rifles rather than handguns. Australia certainly has gangs and inner-city problems with crime and violence, likewise Auckland does as well, but I think our attitude overall is different to Americans in regard to guns as a personal right to protection.

[77] Posted by kailash on 04-28-2008 at 01:27 AM • top

Hi Greg,

I don’t perceive any snarkiness in your post (no worries).  smile

No, and that’s an important part of my point: A knife is intended to cut food into pieces suitable for eating, and sometimes for cooking before eating. Gluttony has nothing to do with knives or their intended purpose…

And a glutton would agree with you on all points, even while cutting their food up into bits suitable for eating.  My household would agree with you too, as that is the reason we have purchased our kitchen knives. 

Likewise, it’s not true to say that a gun used to harm a member of one’s own household has been used in a manner consistent with its design and purchase. You are conflating the design and purpose of a gun - an inanimate object - with the intent of a human to behave in a certain way.

Not at all.  The knife cannot distinguish between the point during dinner when the cutting of bits of food for consumption becomes gluttony, and would be less apt to act on that information, precisely because it is an inanimate object. 

The gun is the same.  It’s designed to be a hazard against human beings (Note:  I grant that it can be used to hunt animals - if it were purchased for that, then I would store it in a location inconvenient for retrieval);  presumably human beings who are malevolent intruders inside my household.  That presumption would have to assumed by the purchaser, even before the gun was purchased.  I am not at all conflating the design of an object with the intent of the person who wields it. 

So dropping a burglar, or the suicide, can all use the gun for its intended purpose - that of being a hazard to a human being.  The game of cowboys and Indians temporarily sidesteps the original purpose of the gun, but quickly comes back in line

Just as the purpose of a knife is to cut food into smaller pieces manageable to eat or cook, the purpose of a gun is to send a projectile downrange accurately at a very high velocity.


That’s the purpose of potato guns, not of actual guns.  I guarantee you that if that were the purpose of guns, that the gun industry would disappear overnight.  At best, it would be a cottage industry. 

It’s false to say that the purpose of all knives is to kill humans, and it’s equally false to say that all guns are designed to kill humans.


Agreed.  Fortunately, I didn’t say that.  wink

Some are designed specifically for target practice. Some are designed specifically for game hunting. Some are designed specifically for personal defense.

Ahh.  I’m aware of the target-practice and game-hunting guns.  Those guns would be very inconvenient to access, were I to have any of those sorts of guns.  But the security measure gun, that would have to be very convenient to access. 

And that’s that combination I can’t seem to overcome - intended as a hazard against humans and accessible.  Other people do not have the same emotional aversion to that combination, and I laud them for it (Seriously, I do). 

As to what I say to my two-year old who brought me that list of items, we have to back up a bit. You present this list almost as though they are all things a child ought to find casually lying around the house, and that’s not true.

Fortunately, they are not items that are simply laying around.  As a kid, I could always find where my parents hid my Christmas presents and Easter baskets.  I do not expect anything in my household to remain inaccessible or even hidden to my little-one, for very long.

[78] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-28-2008 at 06:59 AM • top

A few, you know, facts:

Thirty odd years ago, a former head of Scotland Yard was asked (I think on David Frost) what he thought of trying to end US gun ownership.  His reply was to the effect that it was off the table completely, because you cannot undertake to disarm a nation with 140,000,000 arms.  This was a long time ago: the number has gone up.

A hundred something years ago the German Naval staff began a planning effort for an invasion of the United States.  When the General Staff found out, they had the Naval Staff Baker Acted (metaphorically), citing in the commitment papers:

“Do you lunatics know how BIG that place is?”

and

“You do realize that they all have guns and shoot as well as regular troops, don’t you?”

Replying specifically to the Japanese invasion scenario, Japan was in a very different case.  Japan is not a large country, and it was about to be invaded by an enemy with a larger population.  And while it’s true that an armed citizenry has little to do with nuclear defense, not all threats are nuclear; someone who wants to take you over for his own profit will not use nukes.

Lastly, I think that in most cases the time for the police to arrive when called is significantly greater than the time for someone already in the house to reach any given bedroom. And imagine being told, after you call the police, “when they get here tell them I’ve left and give a false description or the little guy [fill in the blank].”  I like cops: I’ve called them on several occasions.  I have friends who are cops.  They are not a panacea.

[79] Posted by Ed the Roman on 04-28-2008 at 07:01 AM • top

The design of the projectile itself (including the materials used) says a lot about the purpose of a gun.  I know of no elk hunter who rises at 3:30am and braves the cold, only to use blanks.  Similarly, if I purchased a gun for a security measure, I would not use blanks, either.  I’d also not purchase a paintball gun for home security.

[80] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-28-2008 at 07:05 AM • top

Small side note to this discussion - we have people living on the main street of our town, in an historic home which they have spent time and money restoring, who have repeatedly been victims of break-ins and attempted break-ins. They added more and more security features to their home, none of them helped. Early in this chronology, a burglar broke in while they were in the house, upstairs with their baby. The husband took his gun and fired it downstairs at the burglar, who fled. The city fined the husband $500 for firing a gun inside the city limit’s without the mayor’s permission (an old statute, apparently). People in the neighborhood also believe that it was the husband’s aggression that caused an escalation in burglary attempts at their home and place of business. I don’t know about that, but the family ultimately surrendered - their house is on the market (and it will be hard to sell because of the widely publicized break-ins) and they have moved their business out of the city. Taking up a gun and firing it, even in self defense, can have all sorts of unintended consequences. That said, I can’t blame someone for reaching for a gun in such a situation.

[81] Posted by oscewicee on 04-28-2008 at 07:09 AM • top

Moot,

I stand by my original response to your characterization of the purpose of guns. You re-phrase it this way:

intended as a hazard against humans and accessible

...is inaccurate. For one, “intended as a hazard against those threatening innocent people” is an accurate description of the purpose of a gun. If it were true that the purpose of a gun is to harm all people, deserving or not, then you’d have something; you could then say (accurately) that when a child or loved one got killed or injured by one, it was being used for the purpose for which it was designed.

As to being “accessible,” a gun should be accessible to an adult competent to use it against a threat. It should be inaccessible to children or anyone else not competent to use it safely.

As in my post to Irenaeus, about shooting a loved one for an intruder being almost always a result of breaking most of the 4 basic laws of gun safety, allowing a child access to a gun such that they harm themselves or others is a violation of basic safety rules too.

We can mix bleach and ammonia to make deadly chlorine gas, and the result can be a child or loved one just as dead as by a bullet from a gun; but we don’t talk about whether or not it’s safe to use bleach and ammonia (separately) for cleaning our homes. Instead we talk about knowing how to use them properly, and not giving children access to them. Why, then, when it comes to guns, is there so much talk not about using them properly and restricting children’s access to them, but of not having them in the home at all?

Here’s why:

Some people want to impose onto inanimate objects all manner of political and/or moral philosophies. There are different objects that become fetishes for different philosophies. For lefty urbanites, it’s guns and SUV’s, along other things. For hard-right rural types, it’s often alcohol. What they have in common is that they don’t know where the dividing line is between common sense and fanaticism. For whatever reason, they’re unable to recognize the point at which freedom turns their good intentions into pavers on the road to hell. They both miss the point of personal responsibility: The lefty urbanite figures people shouldn’t be allowed to keep a gun in their homes because all manner of wild mishaps might result; the fanatical teetotaler figures he can’t have a bottle of whisky in his house because the wife or the teenage son might lose control and go on a bender. In both cases, they miss the point that their imagined scenarios would be the result of irresponsible behavior on the part of people, and instead place the blame a priori on the inanimate object, never mind the fact that guns can’t stand themselves up, aim, and fire themselves at innocent people, and bottles of booze don’t attack people and pour their content down people’s throats.

[82] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-28-2008 at 09:13 AM • top

*aMong other things…

[83] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-28-2008 at 09:14 AM • top

Good thread. Reasoned arguements.
Real story: Old Cajun farmer and his wife live south of me. He bought a floor safe, not trusting banks. Safe manufacturer had crooks working there who set up a robbery knowing the old man was bed ridden and the old lady couldn’t hardly walk. They break in, the old lady grabs a club and knocks one down. While this is going on the sick old man leapt from bed, got his 12 guage, dispatched the goon on the floor and wounded the other as he ran out the door. The hired man hearing the shots called the deputies who arrived lights out, sneaking in. The hired man thinks they are the crooks returning, and opens fire. Brief gun battle ensued but no further injuries.
In the UK the old lady gets prosecuted for using the club and the old man would do time for murder.

[84] Posted by teddy mak on 04-28-2008 at 10:00 AM • top

Just feeling sorry for the old couple’s ears!  Figure unloading a 12 inside the house can make ‘em bleed! 

Ironic thing, to this topic, is that the deputies sneaked in like they did.  Apparently thought the only folks left alive in there would be the intruders!

[85] Posted by Robert Easter on 04-28-2008 at 10:15 AM • top

Sorry, I had to be up all night with a sick son, then take bodily specimens of said son to the lab, then attend a book fair for another son, stop at the pharmacy for items for sick son, and then get home where I’m supposed to have a work product finished by 3:00.  But far more importantly, I’m back to discuss guns.

The question is not:  if you were highly trained and skilled in the use of guns, and if an intruder were entering your bedroom and you had a loaded gun in your hand and were awake, alert, ready to use it, and had sufficient light to do so, would it be a better idea to call the police or shoot the intruder? (After you said to the darkened figure in the doorway—“Honey is that you getting up to pee or are you a murderer/rapist/robber? and the person had responsed suitably.)  Under all those conditions I think it would be a great idea to shoot the gun.

The question is—do you NEED a gun to keep yourself safe in your home, and is it possible to quantify the degree to which you are SAFER or LESS SAFE in your home if you have a gun.?

So…some of the question to be asked in order to answer that question are:

1.  What is the rate of home invasion in your area in which the home invader awakens and interacts with the homeowner? In my actual township, I don’t know of one in living memory.  The original article launching this thread posed (among other things) the following question—why are you safer in NJ than in London?  And seemed to give the answer “because we have concealed weapons.”  But we DON’T have concealed weapons in NJ but we DO have safer neighborhoods.

2.  What is the rate of such an event in your area if you have a working home security system?  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Get a couple of motion detectors from Home Depot that let off a screaming sound when set off and put them near the bottom of your stairs.  How many people are going to hear the sound and still keep on coming?

3.  What is the rate of such an event in your area if you have a dog? 

Greg at NO point responded to the dog issue, which is non-trivial.  I happened to be a true crime buff (OK, now everybody knows my biggest vice) and I can’t think of a SINGLE famous case (JonBenet, the Manson murders, Elizabeth Smart kidnapped in Utah, etc.) where somebody attacked/kidnapped somebody in their own home with their dog at their side.  In fact, in the case of JonBenet and Elizabeth Smart a gun would have been totally pointless since the parents slept through the entire event.  (But a dog would have effectively detered an invader and alerted the parents.)

I have, and have had since I was 20 years old and living alone, a Belgian Shepherd (Malinois).  UNLIKE a gun and UNLIKE a security sytem and UNLIKE the police, the dog is RIGHT there next to me at night and UNLIKE ME who is fast asleep, has tremendous hearing and is very alert and BARKS if it hears a noise in the night.  Furthermore, it would attack anybody other than a family member who entered my bedroom.

Please check out this link to a police training demo to see what Malinois can do.  (Forget the bogus “pulling the guy out of the car” short first scene, check out the second “flying over the car to attack” scene)  My husband is frequently away.  I would tell ANY woman living alone to have a dog.  But you don’t need a Malinois.  There are MANY cases of small friendly house-pet type dogs deterring and/or attacking invaders.

If any of the answers to the questions above is “zero” then feel free to get a gun, but it is hard to make the case that you NEED one.

4.  What is the probability that someone OTHER than an invader will be killed by your gun?  Forget “little kids.”  How about your 15 year old idiot son getting hold of it?  Or his idiot and/or mentally unbalanced friend? You know, the people that the ads in the paper tell you to make sure don’t get ahold of your prescription drugs that have to be securely locked up??  Remember, to be effective, this thing has to be within ARMS length of your bed EVERY night, along with ammo.

Actually, to be effective you should have the thing on a holster on your belt.  In a recent Ann Rule book she tells the story of an escaped convict who gets into this family’s house (no dog, no security system) and hides out in the basement for a couple days.  (If anybody were in my basement, my dog would tell me.)  On the third day the wife goes down to the basement to do the laundry and this guy grabs her and kidnapps her.  How exactly would a gun have helped her unless she had it strapped to her waist (and was a VERY quick draw)?

Just to finish the Petit story—these two psychopathic but also incredibly stupid men, once they got in the house, had no actual idea how to get any money from these people.  So, in the morning, one of them drove the wife to the bank and told her to go in (alone) and get a pile of money and bring it out (the rest of her family being held hostage at home.)  She, of course, immediately alerted the teller to what was going on.  The man took her back home, then they decided to burn down the house to cover their tracks (brilliant.)  Raped the wife and daughters, poured kerosene over everything, lit it, and ran out to their car (parked in the driveway).  Only the police were at that point blocking the driveway.  But the house burned so fast the wife and daughers were killed.

Since these home invaders were planning on holding the whole family hostage, what was to prevent them from entering one of the daughter’s rooms first, grabbing her, then entering the parents room saying “don’t move, I have your daughter.” How would a gun have helped then?  (By contrast, take a look at the Malinois handling the hostage taker at the end of the video.)  Of course, with a dog in the house, the men would never have gotten to the top of the stairs in the first place without the whole house being alerted.

[86] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-28-2008 at 10:58 AM • top

I am so proud of Greg & Andrew & all.  No punches thrown.  No hitting below the belt.  No busted noses or teeth.  hehe

I knew there was a reason I liked the SF group!

“An armed society <i>IS<i> a polite society.” - RA Heinlein

Aggie, Class of ‘70
An Anglican Firearms “Enthusiast”

[87] Posted by aggie on 04-28-2008 at 11:19 AM • top

Greg,

Let’s pretend that we’re having this discussion late at night, over beers and a campfire.  We can then leave the NRA / Lefty Suburbanite debate behind, and talk like real men talk. 

We can do that because as I’ve stated repeatedly, I am not seeking to curtail your freedom to carry, conceal, or store a handgun for purposes of home security.  I encourage you to re-read that last sentence, because it does have bearing on the “guns don’t kill people,” line of argument.  It pretty much goes away. 

Now, we can talk…

I’m not approaching the problem as a lefty or a NRA member, I’m approaching it as an engineer.  The objects I help design are intended to have a function.  I help design the form of the object (form follows function).  The function is aimed at a market, and hopefully the market will respond favorably to my products.  Since I am working at my job, I am perfectly comfortable with the morality of my product’s function, even though they may be misused by the customer (in which case, shame on the customer). 

It’s the same with guns and table-knives.  The purpose of the handgun that isn’t used for hunting is for one person to shoot another person.  The various protocols that are used to safeguard the gun being used on people other than an attacker, betray the true function of the gun. 

Seriously.  If we remove the protocols - we’ve effectively modified the function of the gun to be an object used by one human against another human.  Period. 

This is the point when the NRA argument is going to raise it’s back, pointing out that inanimate objects aren’t intrisically moral.  And it’s perfectly irrelevant to me, because I haven’t assigned a moral weight to the act of a gun being used by one human against another.  Use the gun to take out an attacker - good.  Use the gun to commit suicide - bad.  Implement protocols to preserve the good intent of the weapon - morally commendable. 

Again ... I find that the protocols don’t fit Yours-Truly.  They fit you, and that’s fantastic.  But not me.  Therefore, I exercise my moral right to not have a gun in my household (which would morally require protocols that don’t suite me), as the law of the land also guarantees.

[88] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-28-2008 at 11:26 AM • top

#86, CatholicMom. Dogs are all very well and all, but I would rather have one of these.

Get Bach to where you once belonged.

[89] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 04-28-2008 at 12:21 PM • top

OK, THAT was hilarious. I just sent it to a bunch of people.  But, of course, Greg would want his to have a gun.  (“The razor in the monkey’s hand”?)  And it’s a chimp, not a monkey. smile

[90] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-28-2008 at 12:33 PM • top

[32] PROPHET MICAIAH,

You wrote

“Peace through more firepower.”

Actually, the correct citation is

Peace through superior firepower.

The error is that the use of the word more in the former tends to imply a greater volume of fire, whereas the latter, more properly, does not. Superiority in firepower is not inherently a question of the volume of same, but rather is very heavily influenced by a number of other factors, including, but not limited to, the accuracy and terminal ballistics of the fire, all of which ultimately determine its effectiveness. grin

Blessings and regards,
Martial<sup>†</sup> Artist
“Si vis pacem, para bellum.”, [classical adage, believed based on a quotation from Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus]

———————-
<sup>†</sup> Please note the explicit absence of the adjective Oriental which, if present, would modify the reference to martial arts in my pseudonym. That absence is intentional.

[91] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-28-2008 at 12:43 PM • top

Interesting read.  1) NYC is mostly unarmed but they have an army of cops so that they are able to maintain order in areas frequented by tourists (British cops are mostly unarmed and hence less frightening to hooligans). 2) Guns do appear to be a detterent to home invasion as evidenced by the rise of home invasions in Britain and in Australia post disarmament - it especially is a detterent to the criminal class to go into middle class neighborhoods.  3) Of course an armed citizenry is the ultimate safeguard of liberty - see the American Revolution.  I believe all Swiss Males are required to keep a military rifle - they have a very low crime rate.
4) Guns also are useful during civil unrest - during the LA riots the rioting was largely contained to the rioters’ neighborhoods - one commentator (a professor) at the time stated that the rioters knew that if they left their neighborhoods they would likely be shot.
I for one would be horrified at the idea of a state monopoly on deadly force.

[92] Posted by chips on 04-28-2008 at 12:47 PM • top

There is a white sign in one window on all four sides of our home.  It has a picture of a hand aiming a pistol at you, and the sign says “These premises are insured by Sam Colt.”  Very effective!

[93] Posted by Cennydd on 04-28-2008 at 01:00 PM • top

[59] Moot,

In addition to the suggestions of Robert Easter @ [60], there is always the option of a trigger lock or a very small “under bed” safe affixed to the bed frame via hidden bolts and accessed via a built-in combination lock, that can readily solve the inquisitive child problem. As to adult melancholy, I am not well enough informed to offer an opinion unless the adult in question would not require access to the trigger lock/gun safe. In the latter instance, one might also acquire a pistol that requires the person firing to wear a specific ring in order to enable the trigger. This renders the firearm useless to anyone not wearing the ring. The intended user would simply wear the ring at all times.

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

[94] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-28-2008 at 01:02 PM • top

[64] Greg Griffith,

You wrote

…we never hear talk of banning those things, or people drawing the line at keeping them in their homes because of the dangers they present to children.

Just you wait, it is only matter of time. Being only somewhat cynically pessimistic, I may not be too old, even at 62 years of age, to live to see that day.

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

[95] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-28-2008 at 01:07 PM • top

For a discussion of gun ownership, this thread has been commendably civil.

[96] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-28-2008 at 01:08 PM • top

At the risk of veering off topic ( this thread was about feeling “safe”, not concealed-carry ), I believe the purpose of the second amendment was to allow citizens to protect themselves from an out-of-control government, not out-of-control neighbors. That’s just a fringe benefit. On the other hand, having enough armed police around to actually be able to provide timely protection from miscreants would constitute an out-of-control government. At least in my humble opinion.
  Now, as to the question of whether our government is already out-of-control….....

[97] Posted by Creedal Episcopalian on 04-28-2008 at 01:09 PM • top

“A hundred something years ago the German Naval staff began a planning effort for an invasion of the United States”—-Ed the Roman [#79]

Ed: This seems improbable. Can you give me a source for it?

Imperial Germany did not begin its naval build-up until 1898. By then the United States already had a respectable-sized navy, which the Germans did not surpass for another decade or so. Even at its peak, the German navy was never more than three-fifths the size of its British rival. That’s crucial because it’s inconceivable that the Germans would have had a war with the United States alone. France and Russia allied themselves against Germany in 1892 and Britain joined the alliance in 1907. The United States could have had powerful allies for the asking.

Fast forward to World War II. The Royal Navy no longer had the same degree of superiority over its German counterpart. Germany had conquered France. The British Army had escaped capture at Dunkirk but left its equipment behind. Even then, the top German admirals had grave doubts about whether they could manage to get the army safely across the English Channel. (They concluded that they could do it only if the Luftwaffe achieved air supremacy.) Still less would their predecessors have hankered to stage an invasion 3000 miles across the Atlantic.

[98] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-28-2008 at 01:49 PM • top

I live in Canada where legal private handgun possession is virtually impossible and I’m amazed at the sheer arrogance of Catholic Mom.

Catholic Mom seems to assume that everyone in the world lives in rich suburbs like her. And has the audacity and gall to attack evangelical Protestants for “loony right-wing views”.

Catholic Mom: the feeling is mutual. Part of the reason I would never join the Roman Catholic Church is because I had heard there are people like you in it.

Dumb Evangelical Protestant Toral

[99] Posted by Toral1 on 04-28-2008 at 02:13 PM • top

Toral1 [#99]: Catholic Mom is well known to many of us from other threads. She has consistency shown thoughtfulness and decency. Whatever you may think of her comments here, you do her an injustice.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

When Catholic Mom referred to her own circumstances (e.g., safe neighborhood), she seemed to be responding to an implication that she and her husband were both acting foolishly and breaching their moral duty to protect each other and their children. Her circumstances are relevant to what sort of precautions are appropriate.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Note that in North America, elitism has historically been more prevalent among Anglicans than among Roman Catholics. For much of its history, the American RCC was a church of the poor; in some significant ways, it still is.

[100] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-28-2008 at 02:58 PM • top

Irenaeus,

The immediate source is my father, who spent forty years as a land warfare analyst.  I don’t recall what his source was, but I could ask him.

For most practical purposes in this field, though, he IS a source.

Regarding a USA-DEU war without GBR, well, the Kriegsmarine was going off the reservation with this PLANEX, and the Generalstabs jerked them up short immediately on discovering it.

Toral1,

Ubi caritas…

[101] Posted by Ed the Roman on 04-28-2008 at 03:19 PM • top

Catholic Mom is well known to many of us from other threads.

I’m well aware of that.

She has consistency shown thoughtfulness and decency.

Well I guess that record’s broken now, with her comment about looney right-wing views of evangelicals.

I had many further comments, but on balance I’ll leave them out. The classism of her comments was flat out ugly. I feel it would be irresponsible of me not to point this out. I am sure she is a fine person, and probably doesn’t need you to be her lawyer, any more than I need you to be my sociological/history teacher.

For my part, I’ll leave it at that.

God bless,

Toral

[102] Posted by Toral1 on 04-28-2008 at 03:27 PM • top

Ed [#101]: Very interesting. Sounds like a conversation with your father would be fascinating. As for the German naval planning, Tirpitz wasn’t shy, and Kaiser Wilhelm II might conceivably have derived his 1895 “yellow peril” scenario (Japan invading the USA via Mexico) from some such brainstorming.

[103] Posted by Irenaeus on 04-28-2008 at 03:59 PM • top

i don’t think the original article ought to be about guns.  it’s not amazing that we’re so safe when we have so many guns.  It’s amazing that we’re so safe—and really, most of us are really quite safe—and yet we talk like we’re on the verge of violent death at all times.  We really do.  Just the idea that sleeping with a gun at arms length is in any way necessary is absolutely unbelievable to me.  Ridiculous.

[104] Posted by AnnieV on 04-28-2008 at 04:08 PM • top

It’s so sad that the Brits have forgotten their own history of what used to be called ordered liberty.  From roughly 1700 until 1900, gun ownership and even carrying by any sort of Protestant, Anglican or not, rich or poor, aristocrat or commoner, was almost entirely unregulated.  You just couldn’t use your gun in public to terrify others, or be part of an armed mob.  And crime kept dropping.  Amazing.  See Joyce Lee Malcolm, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard 2002).  It’s no accident that the Second Amendment was adopted in the middle of this.  Maybe the radical change in the UK gun laws in the last century, and especially the last few decades (including a handgun ban and the effective abolition of the right of self defense, whether with a gun or anything else), isn’t the main cause of the dramatic increase in crime, but it’s hard to think it hasn’t made a difference.

[105] Posted by Aidan on 04-28-2008 at 04:08 PM • top

Catholic Mom seems to assume that everyone in the world lives in rich suburbs like her.

I do live in a rich suburb, but I don’t live in a rich neighborhood of that suburb.  I live in a modest but safe middle-class neighborhood.  Actually, the distance from the rich neighborhoods is one of the sources of our safety.  (Nobody follows us home in our Mercedes to see whether or not they can break into our huge houses.) 

However, I repeatedly said that I’m not suggesting that people who, for whatever reasons, do NOT live in safe neighborhoods are thereby somehow responsible for their own plight.  And I’m sorry if I came off that way.  I was (multiple times) giving a sociological reason for the differences between the safety of a (presumably middle class Brit) living in NJ versus the same Brit living back in Britain.  And that was that the neighborhood he lives in here in NJ is probably safer than the one he lived in in Britain (rather than the argument that Greg was making, which was that the Brit was safer here because we’re all packing (we’re not.))

However, you are not the first person who mistook my meaning and assumed I was being arrogant.  I apologize.  When you communicate, it doesn’t really matter what you meant (unless you are 12 years old) it only matters what you communicated and clearly what I communicated was open for misinterpretation.

And has the audacity and gall to attack evangelical Protestants for “loony right-wing views”.

If I had a dollar for every time “looney left-wing views” which I happen to agree with in whole or in part have been labeled as such here on SF, I’d be able to buy a nice dinner out.  I’ve also said before that I think conservative Christians who are trying to promote/defend their theological views should not at the same time give such prominance to what might be considered “looney right wing” political views, lest those who reject the latter also reject the former.  (Or just that they give bad press to the former.  On the other side, Jeremiah Wright, who seems to have diahrhea of the mouth, might also take note.)  What I should have said was that, as a Catholic, I can be BOTH theologically conservative AND politically liberal (at least with respect to certain issues, such as gun control) and not find myself to be a strange anomoly in my own church, which I think I would be were I an Evangelical.

Catholic Mom: the feeling is mutual. Part of the reason I would never join the Roman Catholic Church is because I had heard there are people like you in it.

OK, I admit that my remark was uncalled for.  I will not use the “they started it” defense with respect to the many disparaging remarks made here in the past about folks who believe in gun control. (Oops, I might have just done it.  Apologies again.)

  I am sure she is a fine person, and probably doesn’t need you to be her lawyer, any more than I need you to be my sociological/history teacher.

Right and right. 

And God Bless you too.

[106] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-28-2008 at 04:18 PM • top

Hi Martial Artist [#94],

Again, I think the protocols really dance on a razor’s edge… at least they do, for me.  I’m sure that there either is (or will be) technology out there that will satisfy both my requirements for speed and safety, just as sure as I am that I can’t afford it.  But again, I might reconsider the standard ownership protocols if crime were a critical concern in my neighborhood. 

Re:  Adult melancholy.  I’m fairly certain that this cannot be remedied by the fastidious gun owner.

[107] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-28-2008 at 04:32 PM • top

My state has a, “Make my day law”. You invade my house or attempt to rob it and I have the right to use deadly force. As my drill instructor told me when you point your weapon at someone you are not aiming to wound you are intending to kill. We have extremly few house invasions!!!

[108] Posted by Baruch on 04-28-2008 at 04:37 PM • top

Catholic Mom:

Thank you for you gracious reply.  I don’t think I am easily offended or often so (as I now realize) rude, but you managed to push 3 or 4 of my buttons at the same time, which rarely happens, (and probably takes rhetorical skill;).)

Let’s forget the rich suburb part, which leads nowhere.

I agree with you 100% that one can be theologically conservative and politically liberal (or even, in Canada, socialist); I am politically conservative myself, but I also agree with you that we conservatives often conflate conservative political and theological views wrongly—wrongly especially because it might lead those with liberal political views to not hear the Gospel, because it seems to be just a component of a conservative agenda. That is bad, and potentially dangerous to souls.  The great evangelical preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones refused to sign, during the height of the Cold War, an anti-Communist petition that all other ministers (including Roman Catholic priests) were signing. He said that political acts such as this were for show and that their only real effect was to make it more difficult to preach the Gospel to Communists.

I think political liberalism is more common among Evangelicals than you might believe. Let us not rely only on appearances based on the mass media. It would depend upon the evangelical church in question, I guess.  I won’t quote poll data at you, but many evangelicals—even in very ‘conservative’ churches, have liberal views on some issues. Just one example: there are only 2 demographic groups who, in detailed polls, support raising taxes *on their own income group* to help the disadvantaged: Jews, and Evangelical Christians.

God bless…and think about packing some heat just to be on the safe side. wink
Toral

[109] Posted by Toral1 on 04-28-2008 at 05:16 PM • top

Toral1:  You have gotten my point re: the theological/political conservative thing perfectly!  And I have argued that point on numerous threads in the past and nobody ever seemed to get what I was trying to say. I’ve even argued that putting unnecessary political stuff (like about guns) that could be lifted out of context here on SF wasn’t such a good idea when you all were in the midst of a very real war and everything you said could and would be used against you.

Sorry about the button pushing.  By funny coincidence my youngest son just learned that expression in school today and tonight at the dinner table he said to his older brother “Neil, you are pushing Mom’s buttons.” So I will resolve to be more careful of button pushing myself. smile

I will have to stop now or I will probably break out in a chorus of “Kumbaya” which I think is banned here as the theme song of the anti-gun looney left wing. smile

[110] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-28-2008 at 06:36 PM • top

About twenty years ago a just-elderly Brit from a literary family published his memoir.  In addition to his time in the RAF, it also covered a stretch when he had bought a pistol from the local hardware store (legal then, even at an age of less than ten) and carried it on walks in the woods, occasionally firing at tree stumps and whatnot.  Eventually his father gently convinced him to get rid of it.  Without even mentioning the boy’s bear.

The boy was C. R. Milne, son of A. A. Milne.  He is better known as Christopher Robin.

[111] Posted by Ed the Roman on 04-28-2008 at 09:16 PM • top

Catholic Mom,

I didn’t address the issue of dogs because dogs fall into the same category as alarms and cel phones: Anyone who says, “I don’t need a gun to protect myself in the event of a home invasion because I [have an alarm system/have a cel phone with the cops on speed dial/have a dog]” is ceding their defense and the defense of their family to an inanimate object, or an animal. Same goes for a fence, a gated community, burglar bars… whatever.

I’m still waiting for anyone to explain how it is that, once you’ve acknowledged the possibility that something like the Petit case could happen to you, it makes sense to install an alarm, install motion detectors, get a dog, and program the cops into your speed dial, but won’t close the circle of obtaining a gun, learning how to use it, and keeping it handy in the event the alarm system doesn’t go off (intruders cut your power? happens all the time - every itinerant odd-job handyman in America knows exactly how to do it), or your cel phone won’t connect (or is dead as a doornail because you forgot to charge it), or your dog is either absent or ineffective (at the vet? ran out the back door when the intruders opened it? shot or clubbed to death by the intruders?)

I just never cease to be amazed at the rhetorical hoops people will jump through to deny the obvious. I never cease to be amazed that people will acknowledge the possibility of a horrific crime like the Petit invasion happening to them, and then, after spending thousands on alarm systems, motion detectors, cel phones and dogs, end up putting the responsibility of their safety and the safety of their family into passive technology and a police force for whom arriving 7 or 8 minutes after your call is considered superior performance. Why are you happy to distribute the responsibility for your family’s defense to everyone but yourself?

It’s not because you’re unable; it has to be because you’re unwilling. I’m just trying to figure out why some people are willing to pursue, plan, and pay for all the parts of the job that other people can do, but they’re unwilling to do the part that only they can do - the part that requires them to step up and, if necessary, be the last line of defense between their attackers and themselves.

AnnieV, you write:

It’s amazing that we’re so safe—and really, most of us are really quite safe—and yet we talk like we’re on the verge of violent death at all times.  We really do.

No, we don’t talk like we’re on the verge of violent death all the time. Nobody here does that. I don’t know anybody who does that. What we’re talking about is preparedness for an extreme circumstance, not the delusion that we continually live in one. My question is:  You install an alarm and motion sensors. Fine. You should. Because that may frighten away some percentage of potential intruders. But are you willing to stake your life on the chance that the kind of intruders who will choose your home to invade, will be the type that are frightened by alarms? You program the cops into your cel phone speed dial. Fine. You should. But are you really willing to stake your life on the chance that when an intruder breaks into your home, and can traverse the length of it from one end of it to another in 60 seconds or less, your life will be saved by cops who won’t be there for another 10 minutes?

Just the idea that sleeping with a gun at arms length is in any way necessary is absolutely unbelievable to me.  Ridiculous.

If you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you will not be awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of shattering glass or overturning of furniture… If you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the moving van guy who was working in your neighborhood this morning won’t return at 3 am and put his shoulder through the flimsy downstairs door (happened to the folks 3 doors down from me a few years ago)... If you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that your home will not be the random target of the next two Petit intruders… then yes, it is probably not necessary. It may even be ridiculous.

Fact is, though… you don’t know that any of those things won’t happen, and should you find yourself in one of those situations, and unable to defend against an intruder because you decided long ago, for whatever reason, that arming yourself for just such an occasion was “ridiculous,” then what? What will be going through your head? Will you be thinking to yourself how proud you are that you stuck to your principles, all the way to the end?

[112] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-28-2008 at 09:48 PM • top

Poor Christopher Robin! He was horribly teased at school, and in later life refused all interviews on the subject of a Certain Bear. I believe he was scarred for life.

As a UK citizen I find much of the above perplexing, particularly in relation to UK legislation. UK citizens are allowed to keep murderous weapons at home, and with a licence may carry them abroad. For some perhaps arbitrary classes of murderous weapons, it is necessary to hold a licence. I remember a friend of mine once showing me a most terrible thing: a machine shotgun, capable of firing (I think it was) four rounds per second. He had won it in a competition. He was able to obtain a licence for it, on the ground that his competition success showed him to be one of the foremost national exponents of the art of the shotgun, but I’m glad to relate that it was not easy to obtain said licence. After the Dunblane massacre, the licence for this weapon - and those for many, many others - were revoked in response to what was perceived as an upsurge in public emotion against those weird, perverted people who liked guns. (It’s probably not an important point in the grand scheme of things, but I think that the widespread victimization of previously legal gun owners after Dunblane was in principle an offence against social justice.)

Personally, I see no clear reason against strict firearm licensing regimes.

Clearly, emotions on this subject run much too high and the arguments are very confused, as we might expect. In particular, there are (and ought to be) clear boundaries between the right of ownership of murderous weapons, the putative right to carry them in public, the putative right to carry concealed weapons, and the right of each sovereign state to regulate these things as it sees fit.

On a distantly related topic, I have been told that the reason why yew trees were commonly planted in English churchyards was that at one time they were vital to national defences and, by planting them on sacred ground, they were afforded extra protection because the penalty for damaging them was the capital offence of sacrilege.

[113] Posted by Unsubscribe on 04-28-2008 at 09:51 PM • top

If you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you will not be awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of shattering glass or overturning of furniture… then yes, it is probably not necessary. It may even be ridiculous.

Nobody knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that their house is not about to be struck by a meteorite that will kill all its inhabitants. Do I need to construct a subterranean bunker? Is it really reasonable to defend oneself against any threat that cannot be excluded “beyond the shadow of a doubt?”

What if the putative intruders are wearing body armour? - I would, if I were a homicidal intruder sensibly plying my trade in a gun-toting society! - and using exactly the same calculus of risk and reward. It’s really just a prudential question in which each side ups the ante until the cost/benefit analysis starts to look absurd. And it’s easy to show how absurd this kind of argument can get if it is pushed to its logical limits.

Sorry, another anecdote: I was conducting an archery lesson, many years ago. One of my pupils was using a (for those days) highly advanced bow with stabilizers and competition sight. A passing Benedictine monk (a theologian in his late eighties) paused to look at this young man for a while, and then asked me why, if he was so desperate to hit the target, he didn’t simply throw a bomb at it. (In Benedictine circles, angels cannot dance on the infinitesimal dividing line between humour and theological insight.)

[114] Posted by Unsubscribe on 04-28-2008 at 10:26 PM • top

There are other uses not mentioned so far.  In my neighborhood folks like to be able to get the rabid skunk before it gets the livestock, get the rattlesnake in the barn before it gets the kids, get the bear trying to get into the house (yes, it does happen!) or the cougar stalking the sheep.  By the time Fish and Game shows up, the bear will be too far in, the sheep will be cougar dinner, etc.  Ah yes, not all of us live in the ‘burbs.

[115] Posted by ann r on 04-29-2008 at 12:49 AM • top

I’m still waiting for anyone to explain how it is that, once you’ve acknowledged the possibility that something like the Petit case could happen to you,

That’s funny, because I’m still waiting for you to acknowledge the design-intent of a household handgun.  Maybe we can wait, together. 

With regards to statistical improbabilities that get turned into reality… There is lots of stuff that could happen to us, Greg.  Heck, we might institute all of those security precautions, only to have a loved one come down with cancer.  I suppose then, that the local cancer-prevention society would sit around and cluck their tongues at how stupid we were, installing burglar counter-measures when we should have been eating turnips and going in more frequently for colonoscopies.  I suppose they might even use us as a cautionary tale - you know - the family who took too much comfort in statistical improbabilities, or something like that. 

Then too, we might run the gamut from the dog to the handgun, and use all of the protocols, only to have harm come to the household through one of those counter-measures, instead of a burglar.  Then what..  We’d be the cautionary tale for gun owners who weren’t careful enough, I suppose?  Good grief. 

It’s called a curse.  And it will hang on us like b.o. until the Lord comes again.  The question for me, and indeed the only relevant question is, how much of it will I invite into my household, in order to keep the rest of it, out.

[116] Posted by J Eppinga on 04-29-2008 at 06:02 AM • top

Still a good thread. Making headway in understanding.
The issue is basically Statist on the one side, Liberty on the other. Statists have what seems to me a frequently irrational confidence in the State and its agents, that most of the time the State may be relied upon for safety and security. The Liberty (note, not “Libertarian”) folks tend to be unwilling to cede control over their lives to the State and its coercive agents. The nation in all of its history has been on the side of Liberty. The notion that we can no longer be trusted with weapons strikes at the absolute core of the American Experiment. What we are all about is freedom, impinged upon only in the most extreme of circumstances. A defective understanding of this essential nature of our national soul has led to frequent, egregious abuses of power by Statist enforcers. Irrational fear of weapons has allowed violation of the safety and security of all of us and our children. Had the senior officials at Columbine High School been properly armed that catastrophe would have never played out like it did. The anti freedom radicals so demonized weapons of defence that the concept of armed teachers was, and still is, anethema.  Don’t tell me that an armed rent a cop in every school is the answer. Impossible to impliment, and ridiculous in its concept. What we need is concealed carry permits for willing teachers and administrators. For one thing, the freaks of nature that perpetrate these kinds of horrors wouldn’t know who to avoid.

Just how irrational the anti personal defence weapon bunch is can be demonstrated by their dismay over the arming of pilots. So, you have no problems with a pilot taking a 20 ton poorly maintained aluminum tube full of jet fuel up to 35000 feet, with you in it, but won’t trust him to carry of pistol?

Greg: is it off topic to open a discussion of Statist Coercive Agents descending on a group of stange dressing people of one race because 35% of their teen age female children are or have been pregnant? Did they assault other communities of one race, who wear peculiar clothing, who have similar rates of teen pregnancy?

I am becoming uncomfortable, in retrospect, with that circus in Texas. Is it just me, or is anyone else becoming disturbed by it?

It’s not about guns, but it is about Liberty and the American experience.

[117] Posted by teddy mak on 04-29-2008 at 06:10 AM • top

Teddy mak,

I think in this case it’s the sexual battery on a minor thing.

And while I have no issue going after 23 year olds who knock up 14 year olds either, I have a particular urgency when I see an ongoing conspiracy to have 50 year olds knock up 12 year olds.

[118] Posted by Ed the Roman on 04-29-2008 at 08:23 AM • top

#118 Ed:
I agree. The time is long past when such behavior was normative. I await the evidence that this was in fact what happened, and that the response to this aberrant activity is equally applied to all Texas communities. These people are a particularly unattractive cult, descending from a larger and equally problematic cult, and as such make a tempting target to State agents. Hence, I suggest that the hard light of public scrutiny continue to be focused on this as it plays out. For instance, 450 children are now basically imprisoned in “foster” care. I have some professional experience with that modality, and it is generally awful in its consequence to the children. Are all of them victims or participants in the alleged perverse activities? I don’t know, but I will tell you that for them to ever escape from the State is unlikely, even if they were not involved.  There will be years of litigation, afflicting the innocent as well as the guilty. It will be years before any of them see their mothers.

[119] Posted by teddy mak on 04-29-2008 at 08:56 AM • top

I’m still waiting for anyone to explain how it is that, once you’ve acknowledged the possibility that something like the Petit case could happen to you, it makes sense to install an alarm, install motion detectors, get a dog, and program the cops into your speed dial, but won’t close the circle of obtaining a gun, learning how to use it, and keeping it handy

OK, I’ll take one more shot at it.

A gun is only useful in an INCREDIBLY LIMITED set of circumstances unless you are wearing it on a holster at your side at all times. 

a) It only helps you in the room you keep it in (the guy who knocks on the door then forces the woman back into her house isn’t deterred, the guy hiding in the garage/basement isn’t deterred, etc.)

b) It only helps you when you’re awake (if the intruder is quietly kidnapping your kid in the other room and you’re asleep, it’s useless) 

c) When/if it DOES act as a deterrent it only works when you are face to face with the invader - at which point the invader (if you’re a woman) has an excellent chance of taking it away from you and using it on you.

d) It only works when you have time to load it, which means that if the first I know of an invader is that he is standing over me (which is EXACTLY the situation in virtually ALL the rapes of women in their beds at night), my chance of using it is ZERO.

Having a gun in the house is NOT “cost free.”  I have to get the gun, learn how to use it, maintain it, remember every night to keep it next to my bed (oops—is it down in the basement where I was cleaning it?) remember every morning to get it and lock it up safely during the day, hope that I never accidentally leave it around and somebody gets killed with it and I get the *^&* sued out of me, etc. etc.

So the question is:

1. What is the chance that the gun would ever be of the slightest use to me (multiply the chance in my neighborhood of home invasion that involves being confronted by the invader X the probability that any of the above circumstances would be true in the case of such a home invasion)

vs

2. What is the cost of gun ownership?

I reckon the first to be as close to zero as you can get and the second to be susbstantially more than non-zero.

Now—a dog has NONE, not ONE of the limitations I listed for a gun.  Even if you’re stupid enough to lock the dog up at night, it will still bark.  And if you let the dog roam your house at night, the chance that anybody that has not SPECIFICALLY targeted your house (because they know you have the Hope diamond in there, or whatever) will choose to enter the house of a barking dog, is already virtually zero. It just doesn’t happen!  If they do get in, the dog is going to alert you LONG before anybody gets to your bedroom, and finally, if all else fails, the dog is going to attack the invader. 

So, let me throw your question back at you—do you have a dog?  If not - WHY would you have anything as INEFFECTIVE as a gun and refuse to get anything as EFFECTIVE as a dog?

[120] Posted by Catholic Mom on 04-29-2008 at 11:14 AM • top

Dear Catholic Mom:
If you are opposed to using deadly force on moral grounds then you should defintiely not have a gun in the house because it increases the danger to you of an intruder using it against you.  So the arguments that you should have a gun are non-persuasive.
Although I have a gun in my sock drawer, I do not know if in the dark I would have a chance to use it against an intruder - the black lab at the foot of the bed would probably give me ample warning and would likely ward off the intruder.  I do not think one should necessarily choose one or the other becasue my lab is quit a coward and would get behind me should the intruder not retreat.
On a macro level, the fact that many Texans are armed does limit home intrusions and car jackings and that is a good thing.
On a larger macro level I see large scale gun ownership as a guarantee of freedom for the people against the state - governments prefer dealing with unarmed peasants.
Guns are also useful in periods of unrest like Katrina or large scale rioting when there should be sufficient time to prepare.

[121] Posted by chips on 04-29-2008 at 03:00 PM • top

Teddy Mak,

I am a current foster parent.  Have been for eleven years.  Sometimes you wonder why a kid was removed at all, sometimes you wonder why they haven’t already TPRed.

Unless the news reports are false, not ‘incomplete’ or lacking context, but false, I think it’s quite reasonable to believe that this ‘church’ is a criminal conspiracy.  YMMV.

[122] Posted by Ed the Roman on 04-29-2008 at 04:32 PM • top

re: nobody gets it [110]
catholicmom, I get it too. I was just too sleepy last night to write in and say so. So many people of all varieties seem to assume that if one is theologically conservative, one is also politically conservative. Well, it ain’t necessarily so.

[123] Posted by kyounge1956 on 04-30-2008 at 12:30 AM • top

Thanks Ed for your service as a foster parent. I am sure most of the removals are justified, given what I have seen as a health care provider to helpless kids. Some of the family situations are just nauseating.

My problem here is that these LDS folks are just too tempting a target for Regulators. They dress funny, and have you seen those hair do’s? I was not surprised to watch the triumphal glee of the Texas woman prosecutor and her noisy TV pals gabbeling over the assault and locking up of these freaks. Odd that the complaint filed turns out to have been from someone who’s never been in Texas, is not LDS, and has a history of filing false accusations of child abuse. The cascade of patently biased news reporting orchestrated by these same prosecutors has further raised my discomfort level. It’s not necessary if the accusations are true, and highly prejudicial if not.

I await the outcome of more responsible folks looking over the evidence. Due process for child molesters in Texas usually ends with a trip to Huntsville, a place with notably short survival times for kid abusers. That’s fine with me. Just make sure that ambitious harridan of a politician/prosecutor really proves her case, and without the Dallas Morning News at her side.

You may reasonably deduce I am suspicious of authority figures. Comes from 70 years of dealing with Episcopal Bishops and priests.

[124] Posted by teddy mak on 05-01-2008 at 07:29 AM • top

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