February 01, 2011

A Reply To A Reader

INTRODUCTION: At Confederate Yankee, we hope that our musings will be entertaining, educational, and that they will encourage thoughtful, civil debate. To those ends, we remove only those reader comments that are advertising, or are simply rude and abusive. All others are read, appreciated and thoughtfully considered.

In response to my recent post on the consequences of magazine capacity restrictions, reader “Doug,” wrote an interesting comment that seems to encompass the thinking of the anti-gun side of the issue. I thought it worthwhile to reprint that comment here, and to add my responses, all in the furtherance of thoughtful, civil debate. Doug’s comments will be in quotation marks and mine in brackets.

“I'm often very disheartened by the tenor of these arguments simply because they seem to only engage in peripheral details rather than dealing with very basic questions. It's presented here as if there are people out here with the sole intention of addressing gun violence as a means of restricting your freedom, or liberty, or your idea of both of these. This seems to be the only real argument on offer. Guns are exemplars of freedom.”

[Doug, may I suggest that for a much more in-depth treatment of these and related issues, you see my recent series of articles relating to gun ownership? In those articles, I explore not only history, human nature, philosophy and theology, but practical, legal and moral issues relating to gun ownership and use. The first two articles are available here and here, and the third will be up on the CY site no later than 02-02-11. I hope you’ll find them to be less peripheral.

Please also know that as a veteran of nearly two decades of police service, I am among the first to oppose violence, however, I’ve never found a gun control measure that had the slightest effect on criminals or the violence they commit, except to occasionally enhance their sentences after the fact. Also, may I suggest that a fair reading of the historical record will reveal that every oppressive, murderous government has deprived its citizens of arms. Understanding that fact, it’s quite clear that gun ownership is emblematic of a free people, and is so important that unlike any other nation, America has a Second Amendment that secures--not establishes--the effective exercise of what has always been a natural right of men, the right to self-defense.]

“I think it really is far more simple than angry at what you think are false arguments or at best "restrictive" arguments (as I'm not sure you think the arguments are false regarding killing capacities--you just seem to want to employ ways to negate their import), but it would be best to acknowledge the basics here.”

[There is no anger here, Doug. In analyzing these issues, either I am historically and factually correct, or I am not. My arguments are either logical and well reasoned, or they are not. My opinions are fact based and logical and reasonable, or they are not. You are free to address my arguments on the merits, as I have tried to do here. Anger avails nothing.]

“1. Guns are a weapon with a single purpose: to kill or at least incapacitate another creature.”

[Doug, I’m afraid you’re factually inaccurate here. Firearms do not have a single purpose. Indeed, almost any firearm can be employed to kill or incapacitate, and some are specifically designed to be particularly effective in military applications. Those weapons might be accurately described as designed to kill, though they may certainly be used--and many are used--in target shooting practice and competitions. In fact, a great many firearms are designed specifically for sporting purposes and as such, are particularly unsuitable for killing or incapacitating other creatures. A small, but important point, I hope you’ll agree.]

“2. You want to be able to be a potential "killer" using this weapon.”

[Doug, you’re imputing a great deal of ill will to people who do not have it. No rational person--and the facts indicate that the overwhelming majority of gun owners are law abiding, rational people, particularly those with concealed weapons licenses--wants to harm or kill anyone, quite the opposite. Your comment implies that you are also speaking of hunters, so please excuse me if I have read into it that which is not there. Hunters do indeed kill animals, but they do so humanely and for food. Human beings have always been predators. That part of human nature has always existed. That we have advanced to our current state of firearm technology does not brand us evil or demonize our tools. Those who hunt do not do so for the thrill of killing, but to experience a closer connection with their inherent, fundamental nature, to experience and develop unique skills, and to feed their families.]

“3. Others do not want to kill and do not want to be killed.”

[I must refer you again to my articles on these issues. The problem is that evil exists. I have fought it virtually all of my life. Evil can confront each of us at any time and any place. There is no question that some people--thankfully a small portion of the population--do want to kill and are more than willing to kill any one of us if we happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Others want to rob, burn and rape and take great delight in so doing. Again, no rational person wants to kill another, but no rational person should harbor the delusion that it may never be necessary, and should be prepared should that awful day arrive. Particularly for women, those of small stature, and the elderly, the sole tool that may preserve their lives and the lives of those they love is the firearm.]

“4. They do not want a gun in order to kill or incapacitate.”

[Doug, I know it may sound trite, but criminals don’t obey any law. They want firearms and they’ll always get them regardless of how illegal it may be. Some people do indeed want guns and other weapons to harm others. I must assume that you do not want to disarm reasonable, rational, kind people who are actually concerned for the safety and feelings of others, that you don’t want them to become the helpless victims of evil. I suspect that you mean that you don’t want to harm others. I certainly do not, but I’m prepared to do so if it is absolutely necessary. With whom would you make common cause? Those who would harm others, or those responsible gun owners who would not, but are prepared if there is no other choice?]

“I would make no arguments for even the existence of guns. I don't fear the "criminal". I fear the gun in anyone's hands. A gun fired creates culpability that I find unjustifiable.”

[Doug, you’ve hit on an important issue and one that all responsible gun owners take very seriously. It is, in fact, an integral part of basic gun safety and is constantly reinforced: Bullets fired cannot be recalled and we are responsible--culpable--for each round fired. Therefore do we train carefully, and therefore do we do our best to avoid confrontation. Carrying a firearm makes responsible people more, rather than less, likely to be involved in a confrontation. Believe me, you should fear the criminal, because given the chance, he will harm or kill you. Every day you are surrounded by gun owners who would, if presented the opportunity, protect your life against criminal assault. I can’t say it enough: Evil exists. It takes on human form and is all around us. If you have yet to meet it face to face, thank your lucky stars and pray that your luck holds, particularly if you have no means of defeating it.]

“I don't care to be called names for this stance. I do want to talk about some of your positions and their basic motivations. To talk about these things might open up some understanding. Talking instead about how "they" want to "regulate" your "capacities" is only a template for the argument that simply calls "up" "down" and "down" "up"--an argument designed for argument's sake.”

[Doug, I hope you’ll agree that there has been no name calling. My motivations for owning firearms are relatively simple. I have an appreciation for fine mechanisms and craftsmanship, whether firearms, musical instruments, timepieces or electronics. I enjoy the discipline and concentration required to attain accuracy with firearms in much the same way that I enjoy the discipline and concentration necessary to function as a classically trained professional musician. I have been fortunate never to have had to shoot a fellow human being, but I have perforated reams of paper. I appreciate the historical foundation of the right to self defense and the role of firearms in securing it, and in defending liberty. Shooting is also simply great fun (done responsibly and safely, of course), and as a shooting instructor, teaching others the necessary skills is likewise fun and rewarding.

There is no question that some want to gain any and every possible restriction on the way to eventual bans and confiscation of firearms, and I have named some of them and their intentions specifically in the article to which you responded. It would take little additional research to discover that what I’ve said is true: Many anti-gun people do want to ban all guns, incrementally or all at once, whatever they can get, and this is their primary motivation. Surely, some who are proposing magazine capacity limitations and other measures are well-intentioned, if mis-informed, but there is sufficient data and experience to understand that their measures will have no effect on crime and will not prevent what they hope to prevent. This is not argument for argument’s sake, but recitation of fact.]

“My basic position is that people without guns...people with no inculcated zealous drive to engage in "oppositional" aggression...will not maim and murder readily.”

[Doug, I agree that most people are not criminals and most are not violent. Competent research, and my experience as a human being and a police officer bears out that most people will obey the law most of the time and wish no ill will to others. But there is no linkage here with gun ownership. A very significant portion of the American public owns firearms, yet our shared conviction holds true: it is their nature, not the tools they do or don’t own, that determines their actions. Firearms have no power to compel their criminal misuse, nor are firearm owners more likely to use them violently than non-owners. Valid social science research is more than clear on that point. The Arizona and Virginia Tech shooters are good examples. They were not, in fact, gun owners, and purchased their guns only after formulating their murderous plans as tools necessary to carry them out.]

“I would not argue that there are no bad actors out there who would no doubt kill without compunction; rather I can only state that I am not one of these and it is always my hope that you too are not one.”

[Doug, if you carefully consider some of what you’ve written, you might concede that you are arguing just that, as when you wrote “Others do not want to kill and do not want to be killed.” Surely you can see how one might reasonably believe that you are are at least reluctant to acknowledge the existence of evil?

I’m pleased that you aren’t a criminal, nor am I, nor are the overwhelming majority of gun owners (again, it would take little research to confirm this), particularly those who hold concealed carry permits. But Doug, your comments seem to place you in the company of some on the anti-gun side who cannot admit that firearms have served good purposes throughout history and continue to do so today, that those who own them are equally thoughtful and well-intentioned, and like you, wish no harm to others. Do you truly believe that the mere ownership of a firearm reflects negatively on the intellect, education and/or intentions of its owner? I certainly make no such assumptions about those who choose not to own firearms, or any other mechanism. You can rest assured that those who own firearms are no more threat to you--and indeed, almost certainly less threat--than anyone else.

Thanks for the opportunity to address these issues, and thanks for reading and commenting!]



Posted by MikeM at February 1, 2011 10:49 PM

Typical anti - projecting HIS personal traits onto others.

Posted by: emdfl at February 2, 2011 10:35 AM

Good response. Doug is like so many anti-gunners with misperception about the folks carrying guns doing so because they supposedly WANT to get into a deadly confrontation. So by that thinking, any preparation for a negative event indicates a desire for it to occur:

- If I buy a car with safety features like air-bags, anti-lock brakes, traction control I want to get in an accident.
- If I have life insurance, I want to get killed.
- If I have fire insurance, (or smoke detectors, or rope ladder, or fire extinguishers) I want to have my house burn
- If I have auto insurance (I want to get in an accident)
- If I wear safety equipment (motorcycling, snowmobiling, etc. etc.) I want to have an accident
- If I have theft insurance, I want to be robbed.

So, for the Dougs of the world. No, normally when you take precautions it's because you recognize the serious negative consequences of an event and are taking prudent steps to mitigate the risk. (Now, you and I can discuss whether you believe the risk warrants the precautions- personal choice in a free country) If you carry a weapon, the first step in mitigation as outlined above is - avoidance. Most carrying guns understand any fight you enter risks getting you killed if you lose, and live by the rule that you never lose the fight you avoid.

Posted by: styrgwillidar at February 2, 2011 11:59 AM

Good article Mike. And Styrg said my thoughts better than I could have.

Posted by: Gus Bailey at February 2, 2011 01:47 PM

Can't see the forest for the trees thing.

Posted by: lazrtx at February 2, 2011 02:09 PM

Yes. The position I found most off-putting was:

"Others do not want to kill and do not want to be killed.”

Implying that if you are a gun owner, you want to be killed. What a disgusting concept. I also disliked the part where he has no concern for actual criminals, but has a deep-rooted terror of a good citizen having a gun in their hands.

Up is down indeed.

Posted by: Brando at February 2, 2011 02:39 PM

Don't forget about the Zombies.

Everyone makes fun of the gun hoarding survivalist until the zombie apocalypse starts, then you want him as your new best friend.

Posted by: Professor Hale at February 2, 2011 04:27 PM

Well, the gun hoarding survivalist and the guy smart enough to have hoarded twinkies. Best of both worlds if they're the same guy.

Posted by: styrgwillidar at February 2, 2011 06:37 PM

Mike, I am curious as to what his replys were to the comments you made. i will have to admit that I am a bit torn here. It seems like Doug wants to have a conversation about guns, but while reading through his comments without reading your response to him I was getting an undercurrent of something I just couldn't put my finger on. Almost like he was baiting a trap. Good luck with the rest of you conversation with Doug

Posted by: Rob at February 2, 2011 07:23 PM

The libstards ARE the Zombies Dude.

Twinkies, LMAO, Rule #3. Doubletap.

Posted by: lazrtx at February 2, 2011 08:08 PM

Sounds to me as though Doug is trying to rationalize why HE doesn't want to own a gun, and thereby no one else should, either. It's kind of like the person who doesn't want porn in theaters but buys a ticket to every event available.
All I casn say to Doug is, "If you don't want to own a gun, don't buy one (or steal it or whatever). But don't presume because you don't want one, I don't as well."
Too, Doug sounds like someone who doesn't do anything the least bit harmful to his body- like drink city water, eat meat (others have killed for him) or go outside without a jacket. He probably lives in a bubble, too.
Your response to him is sure a lot more civil than mine'd 've been. Especially when he says he isn't afraid of the criminal with a gun as much as the honest citizen with one. And how can he "find culpability unjustifiable"?

Posted by: -1JimShyWolf at February 3, 2011 12:17 AM

“My basic position is that people without guns...people with no inculcated zealous drive to engage in "oppositional" aggression...will not maim and murder readily.”

If you're going to be a lefty it helps to be completely ignorant of human history, which tells us categorically that people had no problem at all in maiming and murdering one another for thousands of years before guns came on the scene.

Posted by: flenser at February 3, 2011 01:53 AM

CHA CHING!!! Anti psyche exposed for the win!!! I am so glad you posted this and that I caught it given how crazy things have been lately. I wrote a post a few days back that surmised EXACTLY what Doug expressed here. You can read it if you like at:

It's something I've been trying to understand for years and finally do. It boils down to this; if you are willing to carry or own firearms you are one step away from the loony bin and thus to be feared. Assumed would be that you are willing to use them also. Only THEY can be truly rational because THEY are right in hating guns.

Now if I can just figure out how they mechanically shell sunflower seeds my life will be complete. Oops, nuts reference there, sorry.

Posted by: Groundhog at February 4, 2011 04:56 PM