Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In Which Auntie Jo Weighs In On A Controversial Subject. . .

I used to own a gun.

It was a gun specifically designed to kill people with as much efficiency and as little subtlety as possible: a twenty-gauge shotgun with a barrel so short it skirted the legal limits, bought without a background check on the grey market, loaded with shells full of buckshot. I didn't buy a twelve-gauge because I'm a lady, and larger shotguns kick like hell.

If I had fired it, it would've put a huge, bloody hole in my target, the wall behind and on either side of him, and anything else within about twenty feet.

I bought it about six weeks before I had surgery, from a guy at work. I paid in cash and felt better, because I knew that in my weakened, post-surgical state, as a woman living alone, I would not be able to fight off any intruder who had gotten past shatterproof windows, steel doors, and Max.

(I still miss Max terribly. I never felt safer than when he was lying in the exact spot where he could see both the front and back doors at the same time. He was a Good Boy.)

Still: I was looking at several weeks, if not several months, of recovery from a nasty surgery. I felt small and alone and afraid, and so I bought a vaguely illegal gun that required no skill to shoot. I'm such a newbie that a friend of mine cleaned and loaded it for me and showed me how the safety worked.

Once I got better, I sold it back to the guy who'd sold it to me, for the same price, as it had not been fired. Now I have a can of wasp spray, which is both blinding and neurotoxic. In the words of my hippie massage therapist, it'll fuck a body up.

Beloved Boy owns a number of guns. He hunts, so he has guns, QED. He has one self-defense weapon, a semi-automatic Czechoslovakian pistol with a reminder to "Owner's Manual: Read Before Using" etched on the barrel. Its clip holds 18 rounds of ammunition which, if it hit you in the right spot, would be instantly lethal. If it were to hit you in the not-right spot, it'd be very messy and damaging. If you hold the trigger down, it shoots, then pauses, then shoots, which (as I understand) is what makes it semi-automatic. It's a gorgeous piece of technology and not one I'd ever want to use.

That said: I support the right of the individual to bear arms. I support the idea and practice of a well-armed local defense force, as exemplified by the National Guard. The Second Amendment and I are buddies from way back.

I do not like semi-automatic weapons with large-capacity magazines. Nobody needs them, and nobody should have them, including Beloved Boy.

Because, frankly, all it takes to kill a human is a single-shot, pump-action shotgun with the correct sort of ammo. Load that sumbitch with the right stuff, and you're pretty much done with the discussion. More than that is way too much icing on the cake.

Guns aren't meant to paint pretty watercolors. You wouldn't use one to wash your car or change a baby's diaper. Guns are meant to kill, whether it's ducks or deer (oh God oh God I know I'll have to roast a duck at some point please don't make me clean it ew) or people. There has to be a limit, a boundary, to the amount of killing any one person can do at any one time.

So yeah, I'm all for renewing the ban on assault weapons. I want limits on high-capacity magazines, because for God's sake, who's going to hunt a fucking deer with a 36-shot clip? If the Tyrants of the Twenty-First Century come after us, they'll be armed with nervines and poison gas and nonlethal weapons that'll make Star Wars look like a children's cartoon. No assault weapon is worth its weight if you're vomiting and having uncontrolled diarrhea from sub-sonic vibrations.

I wish, at the end of the day, that I'd trusted Max more, that I hadn't felt the need to spend money and brain-time on something lethal. I had shatterproof glass and fireproof and kickproof doors and a big, handsome boy with huge teeth; what more did I need? I bought a gun because I felt weak and small and afraid.

And I wonder how many other people feel weak and small and afraid in the face of what life sends them, and compensate by getting an AR-15.


Shotgunner said...

Sorry Jo. Second amendment and weapon ownership ain't about need. I dont need a car or a credit card. I am quite sure you have things that you do not need. The point is we are free to have them if we want. The point is freedom and this particular freedom, gun ownership, is very special because it is guaranteed by our constitution.

Why does anyone feel it is ok to force their opinion upon others? Kinda perverse really. Dont we treat others as we want to be treated? If you think i shouldn't have a particular magazine in my gun do I then get to proscribe what tires you have on your bicycle?

Please folks, let's all agree to allow everyone else their iwn freedoms. Each of our own choosing.

Bardiac said...

Aw, the pictures you put up of Max, he was such a beautiful, wonderful dog. I miss seeing his pictures, even.

And guns, yep. I agree with you.

(And re ducks: what one hunts, that one should also gut, clean, and defeather. 'nuf said.)

yrsis said...

Shotgunner, I'm chronically undecided so I can't debate anything about the Second Amendment. However, my career is built on logic and communication so I had to point out a problem with the argument you use -- maybe you can get a better one and actually change minds? I dunno. Anyway.

When you compare gun magazines to bicycle tires, that's a false equivalency. It's false because it's very difficult to make a bicycle be deadly, whereas the whole purpose of a gun is to be deadly. Therefore, your argument is like saying "You can't regulate the color of my shirt, so you also can't regulate X." To make a point, you have to compare two similar things.

I've been thinking about what to compare a gun magazine to, given the purpose of a gun, and I can't think of anything else except another component of another kind of weapon. And I don't know what other kinds of weapons are portable and deadly to a crowd the way a gun is. Yeah, a trebuchet that flings cars is deadly to a crowd, but it's not portable, so ... any ideas?

We could compare a gun magazine to a component of something else that is a significant public-safety or public-health issue if misused. Say, a 747. Try this: "If you think I shouldn't have a particular magazine in my gun then do I get to proscribe what tires you have on your 747?" Well, yes. There are lots of regulations about what components go into a 747. It's a public safety thing, you know?

So I don't have an alternative argument for you. Since you're more familiar with weapons than I am, maybe you could come up with something. What else is for sale that has the potential hazards of a gun but is also not regulated? I'm stuck.

traumadrama said...

As a trauma nurse who as seen my fair share of GSWs, I don't think that as many people would be as pro-gun if they had to look at the damage that they cause everyday. I know that people want their rights to bear whatever they think will save them in the zombie apocalypse, but maybe sometimes we have to sacrifice the things that we want for the greater good. I was as 'right to bear arms' gung-ho as anyone else until I started taking care of 18 year old with legs blown off by AK47s and emaciated patients with short gut from multiple GSWs to the belly. Nobody who wants an assault rifle to do anything good. Nobody needs a semi-automatic or a machine gun for anything legal.

Silliyak said...

Of course you and everybody else is afraid, we are being sold fear by the media. As for clip capacity, it needs to be reduced so there can be a pause where the shooter may be disarmed as in Tucson. He would have been stopped sooner with a smaller clip.
Shotgunner, if you have a good reason to proscribe the tires on my bike, I'll go along.

Anonymous said...

I hardly think bike tyres are the same as being allowed to own military grade weapons that have the one and only purpose of taking a life. This isn't a live and let live issue, you want to be able to own something that gives you power over the life of another living thing, and I'm sure no matter what opinions are offered to you're going to stand by your "right to bear arms" response, but there are many people out here who would sleep more soundly at night knowing that we were more protected from perfect strangers walking around with lethal weapons.

Laina said...

This is the most cogent argument for some gun control that I have heard. I have a son in law that hunts, and a daughter that goes with him. I am positive they have been able to successfully kill ducks with only a couple of rounds.
thank you for being able to tread the middle of the road so eloquently.

Penny Mitchell said...

I'm a vegetarian. People who choose to eat meat and are also willing to harvest and process their own meat have my admiration. Part of why I don't eat animals is because I know I would never be able to kill and process one. People who choose to eat meat and hunt and process it themselves are, frankly, pretty damn cool. The people I've met who are willing to hunt ethically and process their own meat have huge respect for the animals they stalk. They seriously do. People who do so armed only with a bow have way MORE of my admiration, but that's for another discussion.

If you want to hunt, I'm perfectly okay with you possessing a gun.

For hunting.

For hunting ANIMALS.

I live in the Denver area. I was here for Columbine, and I was here for the Aurora theater shooting, and I've fucking had ENOUGH.

Right now I have a brother-in-law who listens to Glenn Beck with the kind of devotion Jesus of Nazareth WISHES He had. I have pretty much a front row seat to the idiocy that is creeping over this country, and it's terrifying. I have people in my family who are arming themselves with the kinds of weapons that were never meant to be used for hunting animals, and it sickens me more than I can articulate. I have a sister who ATTENDED Columbine High School, and she's willingly arming herself with guns that were never meant to do anything other than kill human beings.

The lack of logic that is becoming absolutely accepted in the United States is staggering, and it sickens me completely.

Anonymous said...

You guys are right. Guns and bikes are different. Guns were guaranteed by our constitution. Bike? Not so much.

They do have something in common though and that is people, individuals really, want then. That is they desire the freedom to own them.

I wont argue with you if you want a baseball bat or bowie knife. You dont take my possessions away. We both win. You selectively take certain magazines or whatevers away then we are not all getting equal protection under the law. This arbitrarily makes some folks less free for no reason other than you decided it so. How will you feel when its your freedoms others are poaching?

Yesterday 200,000,000 million guns owned legally by 80,000,000 people did not commit a crime. To punish a large percentage of 80,000,000 people in a knee jerk reaction to the actions of one is quite simply specious.

The argument a smaller mag would have caused Lanza to pause allowing a defensive shooter opportunity is off base for two reasons. First there were no defensive shooters and secondly Lanza planned to break dozens of laws but somehow because of a ban on large cap mags he'll follow that one??? The second is a crazy notion perpetuated by people whose goals are other than stated.

Banning all guns sales will not stop the prevalence of gsw in emergency rooms. Banning certains types of magazines wont either.

Shotgunner said...

At Penny Mitchell. It doesnt matter what opinion you have regarding my desires and ourposes for gun ownership. The constitution guarantees that right.

I do btw kill, dress, cook and eat my meat.

Guns are here to stay.

Defending Myself said...

"" I have a sister who ATTENDED Columbine High School, and she's willingly arming herself with guns that were never meant to do anything other than kill human beings. ""

Seems like a reasonable response to me. Self defense is certainly a god given right. Why do you deny her that right? Do you feel you are a greater authority?

Jo said...

Where the hell did all these NRA members come from, and how come they've never commented on my blog before? I've had abortion trolls and cancer tourists, but this is a new one on me.

Silliyak said...

I'm all for letting these individuals have UNLIMITED numbers of muskets and the ammo for them. That's what is guaranteed. On a related subject, let's TAX THE SNOT out of gun/ammo purchases to help pay for the damage done and environmental enhancement.

Anonymous said...

Regular reader delurking here to say that I think the argument is not about the second amendment but what kind of society/community do we want to have?

Statistically, it's pretty easy to prove that more guns = more deaths. Are we as a society ready to sacrifice our friends, family and community members so we can have assault weapons? Because that's essentially what we are doing.


Shotgunner said...

Jo that anonymous at 9:01 is me. I am a regular reader who normally has nothing to add. My bad for anonymous in name.

Defending myself seems reasonable. I hope you welcome our thoughts.

@sillyak I believe the concept was for the people to possess the same weaponry as government. That in order for the people to be able to defend thenselves from government.

@Anonymous 1:57pm 98% of all statistics are made up.

RehabRN said...

I'm not opposed to the guns. I'm opposed to the violent nature that this country has taken.

Have a problem? Go shoot up something.

Believe violence will solve every problem.

It won't.

Force is no longer a last resort. It's a first resort and we're seeing streets littered with bodies, even if it's only one a day. They're in good neighborhoods, they're in bad neighborhoods.

One GSW victim per day, is too darned many. We do need to stop the violence.

Anonymous said...

Regulating bike tires and guns is different because of how they affect others. One persons rights end at the other persons' nose. Your bike tires don't affect me- carry on. Your assault rifle very well might. (generic you/your...). There are some awesome pesticides out there that i cant use because they can hurt the environment. I can't ignore my backyard because letting it run wild will attract rodents which will affect my neighbors. Self defense, hunting- all good. Assault rifles have nothing to do with those pursuits, and their being in the community affects the safety of others.

Penny Mitchell said...

Shotgunner, "It doesnt matter what opinion you have regarding my desires and ourposes for gun ownership. The constitution guarantees that right." Barack Obama possesses a Juris Doctorate in Constitutional Law from Harvard. I'm pretty sure he knows the Constitution just a LITTLE better than you do. I trust him to stick to the Constitution way more than the average NRA member ever considered.

Defending Myself: "Self defense is certainly a god given right. Why do you deny her that right? Do you feel you are a greater authority?" I know it's a fancy Latin phrase and all so you might have to look it up, but see "ad hominem".

Anonymous said...

A gun that fires multiple rounds sequentially, with a single trigger pull, is known as a fully-automatic firearm.

A semi-automatic firearm fires one bullet for each pull of the trigger.

High School Dropout said...

Hi Penny Marshall;

ur cute. Please reread your comment. It seems ad hominem is your style too.

I do notice that instead of addressing the comment, you attack the commenter personally. This is nearly always a sign that the comment is en pointe and is not arguable. In this I have to agree. Self defense is a god given right and if the defender chooses to use firearms in the USA they have that right.

felixkasza said...

I would just like to add a European point of view (I am Austrian). We have had severe gun control for ages, except in Britain, where it only began afetr the WWI vets came back armed and trained.

The reason for gun control used to be publicly stated as little as a hundred years ago: So that the peasants would not revolt against their betters. Even beating a scythe into an improvised pike carried the death penalty; the nobility still remembered and remembers the peasant wars.

That is why your second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms -- not for hunting, but so that the people as the ultimate sovereign may enforce this status, as opposed to a king enforcing his god-given right.

As for more guns == more deaths, Britain and Australia have tried that (since 1991 and 1987). The result is that gun crime has increased four-fold in the UK and three-fold in Australia. Think about it: If one were to commit a crime with a penalty of 20 to life, would one really care about an exta three years for a gun-law offence? Nope -- all that gun control and "gun-free zones" do is to mark the targets as risk-free ones.

Oh, and since the "let them have muskets" argument popped up: Sure, if you give up the internet that you seem to be using. After all, the printing press back then used no electrons.

To summarise: The right to bear arms serves to prevent the government, nominally your employee, from becoming more powerful than the people, nominally the employer. From that point of view, a citizen should be allowed at least anything that law enforcement is using. I mean, your Department of Education (!) has employees armed with repeating combat shotguns!


P.S.: I am posting this under my Goog account, as opposed to my normal unverified "Name/email" posting. Nothing to hide here.

Zupp said...

Clearly the 2nd amendment guarantees that everyone must be able to own all weapons of every kind. That's why it is perfectly legal to buy bazookas, nuclear bombs, and weaponized smallpox, right? Right?

No, of course not. Those things are not permitted. And I think even most gun rights activists would agree that's reasonable, because they're not personal weaponry; they are "weapons of mass destruction."

The real argument isn't whether weapons should be regulated. If we could at least agree on the obvious, that there are some weapons that should be regulated, maybe we could avoid turning every discussion about it into a shouting match.

clairesmum said...

Every right comes with responsibilities, especially in exercising a right that includes launching a projectile with the power (and usually the intention) of killing another living being (biped or quadruped.) So, licensing, regulations related to training, storage, and sale of devices (both weapons and ammunition and whatever else is needed to accomplish the use of arms) is reasonable. Of course, we have wide and vociferous disagreement about what IS reasonable. Fair - well, life is not fair and if you are over 8 years old you should know that already. Plenty of studies show that guns in the home increase the risk of injury/death to an occupant of the home - if it happens to you it's 100%, so some regulation helps balance rights, risks, and responsibilities.

I don't hunt or fish, I do eat meat and fish. Hubby fishes if it is to eat, but won't do catch and release - there is no proof that fish will not be harmed, so that kind of fishing is for man's pleasure only - and you only take what you need and will use. A gun in the house for self defense - fine, but keep it locked up and truly away from kids, teens, and elders with dementia! guns don't mix well with booze and drugs either, so you might want to have some idea what goes on in a house if your family member spends a lot of time there. Guns don't belong in school, and if you have a permit for concealed carry, then go ahead and do it. You don't have to broadcast that you have a weapon on your person, or in your home, that's just asking for trouble.
Jo, your last sentence ...people who feel weak and small and afraid in the face of what life sends them....i think that is the emotional pain that fuels much of this controversy. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Geosomin said...

I get that's why weaker people want a weapon- to defend themselves. I agree with having the right to defend yourself. But more importantly, if we need a gun and want to use one, are we able to store it safely and use it effectively?
In my mind, to own a gun you should be responsibly trained to use one, like driving a car or using any other mechanical tool that can kill something else. Licensing and registration should be necessary to ensure it. The paranoia and imbalance in the hand of a gun owner terrifies me, not the average person.

Anonymous said...

It's great that some of the comments point out two ideas that seem to me to be key to all of this: 1) the second amendment says:"A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Not exactly a clear promise that anyone can have any weapon he/she wants for personal use. Much of what we think of as an original right stems from very recent Supreme Court decisions. There's a good, thoughtful article in Wikipedia giving lots of history, staying carefully distant from suggesting there is a simple, or single answer to all of our questions.

And not even those most extremely commited to allowing gun ownership really believe we need to take this to its logical extreme, which would permit anyone to have nuclear bombs, missiles, tanks...anything that could be reasonably thought of as "arms."

I just wish that here, and in so many other political contexts today, we didn't have to think of these as all-or-nothing issues.

Really, all of us (other than actual terrorists) accept some limits. Shifting them around does not have to be seen as a threat to the Constitution.

On a lighter note, I just might think my right to the pursuit of happiness was being threatened if you got too fussy about my beloved bicycle...

Aesop said...

No sale, cupcake.

ER Nurse here for 20 years in the big city, and combat arms Marine for 4+ before that.

When you're listening to the news, and watching the cops run and hide because TWO guys are robbing a nearby bank and running through your neighborhood, call me up and ask me how many bullets I need, and what guns I should be allowed to own.

When you're listening to the news, and the cops run and hide because the entire city has decided to run riot over a jury verdict, and start burning down homes and stores on your street, call me up and ask me how many bullets I should have, and what guns I should be allowed to own.

When the hurricane hits, the lights go out, and the cops can't be found or contacted, but 100,000 criminals can, and you're sitting there in the dark, listening to them coming down the hall as they kick in the neighbors' door, call me up and ask me how many bullets I should have, and which guns I should be allowed to own.

D'ya think I'll maybe point out to you that clicking your ruby slippers and wishing for imaginary gun bans (which don't work against criminals by definition, just against honest citizens) while disarming me and people like me is maybe just a tad simplistic, infantile, and perhaps borderline insane?

Or do you think I'll just send you a Nerf baseball bat, and wish you good luck against reality after you've forced your silliness on people far more sensible and practical than you.

Everyone's entitled to an opinion. Those that are formed using facts, logic, and experience with the real world carry a lot more weight with people than the ones based on wishes, blind emotion, and fantasy.

Having actually pointed an actual loaded shotgun at an actual rapist beside my doorstep, and stopped an actual rape from occuring upon an actual neighbor, I tend to think that people at home are the best judge of what they should be allowed to use to take care of the business of self defense, and I'm glad I didn't need anyone's permission to have it, get it, or wield it. But I was mightily ticked off that I didn't have one of those nasty, evil, semiautomatic weapons that you so unthinkingly revile, because then I'd have been able to plug Mr. rapist with a new ostomy without endangering his victim or innocent bystanders behind him with the extra pellets. And when the police arrived half an hour later, and refused to even get out of the car, and had to have their arms twisted almost literally to bother to even take a report, I was reminded that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. Thirty, in this case.

So whatsay maybe stick to what you know, or at least do a little bit more thinking and research, before stepping into this particular fray.

Pretty please?

Anonymous said...


Aesop, you're not changing anyone's mind by sneering "cupcake" and "pretty please." You're pretty much boxing yourself in by being sarcastic, and guaranteeing that nobody will agree with you except those who are already on your side.

But then, you're not posting in that tone to actually contribute to the debate, are you? No, you're posting in that tone because sounding tough on the internet is easy. Unlike actually speaking to the real bad guys in that tone, face to face, which apparently having guns isn't making it any easier for you to do.

Jo said...

Oh, I dunno, Anon, I'm kinda flattered by being called "Cupcake"--especially by somebody who assumes that I don't have the experience of dealing with multiple gunshot wounds (both multiple people with single wounds and single people with multiple wounds).

"Cupcake." It sounds sort of cute and fluffy.

What I really want to know is how Aesop ended up with both a rapist and an audience (whom he didn't want to plug with extra pellets) on his doorstep. That's a hell of a party, right there.

And now, since this whole discussion has descended to the ridiculous with the inclusion of "Guns & Ammo" porn ("Dear G&A: I never thought it could happen to me, but today there was a rapist--with an entourage--on my porch!"), I'm closing the comments. The dedicated trolls can try to steer future comment threads off-topic.