Every so often, when I tell people I am very much in favor of people having and carrying guns, I am asked, "What is it about guns? Why do you have to have them? Do you like the idea of killing people? Aren't you just trying to be John Wayne/ Rambo/ Bruce Willis/ Martin Riggs/ Neo/ Arnold Schwartznegger?"
I'll take the questions in reverse order. I'm not trying to emulate any action movie hero. I don't like the idea of killing people, and if I'm fortunate, I never will have to. I don't have to have guns, and neither do you. But everyone has to be able to have them.
The whole "thing" about guns comes down to one thing: I trust and depend upon myself more than anyone else in the world. Everybody else in the world is less trustworthy and less dependable than me in looking out after my interests. And nobody is going to look out for your interests better than you, either.
The thing I am most interested in, and the thing I value most highly, is my life. As the attacks of 9/11 and the police blotters of every community in the world show, it can be threatened at any time. To whom should I entrust its safety -- me, or somebody else?
Me, obviously. In the end, it is going to be up to me and only me to protect my life if or when somebody else decides to take it. The police almost certainly will not be there. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy will not be there. Reps. John Conyers, Maxine Waters, and Barney Frank will not be there. Gov. Gray Davis of California will not be there. Nor will their gun-toting bodyguards, nor anybody else from the government. Even if they are, they are not required and often not able to protect me.
And frankly, this is as it should be. People should all rely upon themselves. I should not count on others to care for me or take care of me. Neither the world, nor society, nor any one person owes me or you or anyone else anything unless you or I or whoever it is has earned it, including protection from others. They only owe it to me to leave my life, liberty, and property alone.
By taking charge of my own safety, I make sure that I am much less likely to become a victim. By guarding my own life, I know that I do not steal the resources of others for my own safety, and thus make victims out of them. It is right that I defend myself, and my right to defend myself.
And like all rights, the right to defend myself as I see fit comes with a responsibility -- to make sure that I do so safely. And firearm safety is based upon total obedience to four rules.
Every gun is always loaded. You never ever assume a gun isn't loaded. You check every time you pick it up. It doesn't matter if you just watched six people check it. It doesn't matter if you just put it down, or just put it together. You assume every gun is always loaded, all the time.
Never allow the muzzle to point in an unsafe direction. Unsafe directions are at yourself (even as you draw -- a shocking number of people neglect that), at anyone who isn't threatening you, and at any barrier that you can't see through, but that the bullet can penetrate. And don't whine about how the gun is unloaded -- see rule number one. This gets rid of over 95% of stupid macho horsing around with guns. I just watched Training Day with Denzel Washington, and his Alonzo character violates this rule almost perpetually.
Never put your finger on the trigger unless you have your sights lined up on a valid target. This one gets rid of 90% or more of negligent discharges. Only the most neglected and malfunctioning of modern guns will ever discharge without the trigger being depressed. And the safety increase is well worth the extra 0.10 to 0.05 seconds it takes to move your finger from the frame outside the trigger guard to the trigger.
Never fire at an unidentified target, and be aware of anything downrange. Unidentified targets include noises, movement, and muzzle flashes. If you can't see it and identify it, you do not have a valid target, and what are you doing breaking rule Three? That muzzle flash may be a panicky police officer or greenhorn soldier on YOUR side. That sound in the closet may be your daughter playing hooky. That movement in the bushes may be your neighbor's faithful dog. And shooting somebody in a crowded area is just asking for all kinds of trouble. People miss, all the time. People in combat miss a lot. Just ask Massad Ayoob or any IPSC proctor. And when you miss, your bullets go somewhere, so you had better pay attention to where they could end up.
I've debated the issue of liability with people who've worried about my ability to use a gun safely for self-defense. There are those who ask, "What if you get into a gunfight over a parking space?" I tell them, "If you're worried about getting into a gun battle over a parking space, don't carry."
You may ask, "How on earth can you safely shoot a gun on an airplane? Won't you depressurize the cabin?" The answer is, yes, I might, but that depends on the load I use. MagSafe and Glaser both make rounds that have zero blow-through, though they are much more reliable in revolvers than autopistols. And I have been told that a bullet turned from PVC bar stock has an effective range of perhaps three meters. If as few as two people had had guns on each of the doomed flights of Sept 11, and the terrorists had no way of knowing which people, the attacks would have been impossible.
Sometimes they ask, "What if you shoot an innocent bystander or somebody who you only think is threatening you, but really isn't?" I tell them, "You mean, like the police who shot that boy with a BB gun? Well, if you think you might shoot somebody you shouldn't, just don't carry."
After I say that, I always add, "But anyone who would use a gun to take what's yours is much more likely to leave you alone if he thinks you might have one than if he knows you don't."
This is absolutely the truth. And it holds up to common sense, as well.
Imagine that you pick up the paper or turn on the news one day, and the mayor and city council are announcing that they're issuing 2,500 new concealed weapons permits (CCWs) to women. If you are a mugger or a rapist, are you going to say to yourself, "Well, that's not going to affect me"??!? I very seriously doubt it. In fact, I would expect it to take all the fun out of your day.
There are two significant groups of armed thugs that may come after you or your property with guns in hand -- criminals and the government. The difference between taxes and armed robbery is that one involves people threatening you with guns when you don't give them your money, and the other is illegal.
And while allowing people to carry weapons as long as they register the fact that they wish to do so with the government is a step in the right direction, it is nowhere near as good as it being a right to bear arms, that shall not be infringed.
The main reason for this is because if you have to get a permit, it first says that you must have permission to defend yourself, rather than saying it is your right to defend yourself. And also, when you apply for and/or receive a permit, there is a public record, available to both criminals and public officials. It can be found out. It allows them to learn who can fight back and who can't. And those who can't fight back become victims much more readily.
And while I consider reducing neighborhood crime and government trampling of rights to be a good thing, it does not compare with the other great benefit of widespread, unregistered gun ownership, which is preventing the greatest, most heinous crime of the previous century.
This crime left millions dead. It created some of the most famous trials of the previous century, though only one organization was ever held responsible for it. This crime is genocide. And all of the major genocides were perpetrated by governments, and all those governments had disarmed their victims first.
An apparently non-discriminatory law can be used to disarm one group easily, if the people in power can use their discretion in applying it. Let us consider a fictional sheriff, who is charged with deciding whose gun permits are approved and whose are denied. Heís supposed to judge based on skill, criminal record, and need. But he hates Hispanics, and hereís what he does as he goes through the applications.
"Lessee, now ... Forrest - accepted. Davis - accepted. Morales - denied. Dillinger - accepted. Schultz - accepted. Barrow - accepted. Gonzales - denied. Martinez - denied. Moran - accepted. . . . "
By giving this sheriff the power to decide who gets guns and who doesnít, a minority has been entirely disarmed, left vulnerable to anyone. If the gangs in this county know about his preferences when it comes to handing out permits (which isnít hard to find out), who do you think they are going to prefer as targets? This is what happened to the Jews in Germany when the Nazis took power, and Kristallnacht was incited in just that manner.
This is why hardcore civil libertarians like The Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership and The Gun Owners of America want all the laws that limit or record gun ownership gone. It is the only sure way to keep the government from disarming its people, which is the only sure way to keep it from slaying them.
Consider: The United States disarmed the Indians, and slaughtered them. The Ottoman Turks disarmed the Armenians, and slaughtered them. Stalin and Mao both disarmed everybody, and slaughtered anybody. The National Socialist German Workerís Party (better known as the Nazis) disarmed the Jews, and slaughtered them. The Serbs disarmed the Croats, and slaughtered them. And every nation from the dawn of time has disarmed its slaves.
Do you wish to be a slave? Or would you rather be free? If you would be free, then your people must have arms.