Sunday, February 27, 2011

Regarding guns and self-defense

(Inspired by this conversation)

Many people who harp on self-defense talk about needing to carry guns to protect themselves, their family, their property, etc. Just in case they find themselves in a situation where force (or the threat thereof) is required, and the authorities either aren't around or can't be bothered.

It's a deep, deep burden, no doubt.

This reminds me of something I've written about before, contemplating how many fringe religious leaders and political extremists adhere to principles that just happen to jibe perfectly with they want to do (manifest destiny, command their wife and family, assault children in the name of God, etc.). Same thing with civilian gun enthusiasts. I've never heard anyone say, "I hate guns and think that America has too much gun lust. Violence is not the answer. Nevertheless, I pack a piece." Almost to a person, the people I know who talk the most about the need to "defend" are the ones who elevate guns to God and family status. And it's specifically a firearm fetish; they aren't exactly Debbie Downer when it comes to other theoretical dangers, like car accidents or natural disasters. Or, for that matter, what harm unsecured guns could do in the house. After all, guns don't kill people. People kill people. Hence the need for more heat!

I can't help but feel like those who harp on self-defense the most are the ones who want to prove that they can. Because more than with other defense scenarios, brandishing firearms is a sexy American fantasy. There's a reason you see it so much in movies and on TV.

If that's just an incorrect observation on my part, then I'll be happy to be wrong. But somehow I doubt it.

3 comments:

Stephanie said...

I'm a little confused and might need a little more explanation here:

"I can't help but feel like those who harp on self-defense the most are the ones who want to prove that they can." What?

"Because more than with other defense scenarios, brandishing firearms is a sexy American fantasy. There's a reason you see it so much in movies and on TV."
I don't see it in the movies I watch, nor the TV shows I'm watching.

I disagree with your statement that most people carry a firearm out of a fantasy ideal. Then again, I know several people and am related by blood to two people who have concealed carry permits -- one of whom you have met. I would dare say she carries to accomplish a fantasy stereotype.

Ian McGibboney said...

Stef, it is entirely possible that there are plenty of people who carry hidden firearms and have a legit reason to do so. The ones I have known not only introduced guns into questionable environs (schools, malls, etc.), but bragged about the fact. And yes, those people fit a specific personality profile and ideology — the kind that feels they need to do so. I don't feel the need to do so, so what am I missing? I know this - I've been in some dangerous places in my life, but never have I been anywhere where a civilian carrying a gun protected anyone. Or where it even would have been a good idea.

And yes, plenty of movies and TV shows glorify vigilante violence.

NOLA Progressive said...

I think it would be contrary to the cultural history of this country to say that the media en masse doesn't glorify the carrying and using of guns. I would assume that there is data kept on occurences and such, but I'm frankly too lazy to look it up today.

That being said, from a purely observational perspective guns are pervasive in the majority of television shows, movies, book, etcetera.

It is certainly an ideal and stereotyped figure who carries a gun in this country and then foils the bad guy or some nefarious scheme. It's the Old West legacy carried on.

This is not a rant against guns or even concealed carry. I myself was once a police officer and have had a concealed carry permit following leaving the profession. I am a responsible gun owner, but tend to agree with Ian here. I have never been in a situation where a civilian using a gun has made a difference. I am sure it has happened, and it may yet happen to me personally. However, I think the odds are more powerball-like than not.