Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A History of Guns: Part Eight

This is the eighth in a personal history of guns in my life. Previous entries: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six and Part Seven.

Crime Fighting
When people defend their need for guns, invariably they mention two things: protection from government tyranny (although private gun ownership in Iraq didn't stop Saddam Hussein) and self-defense (although studies show a gun in the home increases the chances of homicide and suicide). Of course, why believe statistics?

I'm not going to spend much time on protection from government tyranny. It seems that's what the Founding Fathers intended the Second Amendment to be (although some disagree). I'm a little amused by the thought of rednecks with shotguns leading resistance from the forest a la Red Dawn. But to me, if people were really serious about protecting themselves from government tyranny, why would they be so quick to throw away other basic civil liberties like habeas corpus and unreasonable searches? But I digress.

Self-defense would seem to be a more compelling argument for gun ownership. Do guns help protect people from crime? Yes, they do. In fact, I have a scare-the-pants-off-of-you story about that.

My friend, Sharon, lives in Munger Place, a lovely little turn-of-the-last-century neighborhood in Dallas. It's a great neighborhood if you want an old Craftsman-style house, but it's bordered by some rather rough neighborhoods. People have been murdered in the street very close to Sharon's house. Nonetheless, she takes her dogs for a walk at night. When dogs gotta go, they gotta go.

One night, Sharon was out with her teen-age son walking the dogs when two guys in a car drove by really slow, asking if they wanted a "ride." Sharon says nothing, turns in the opposite direction and sends her son running home to get her husband. The guys go down the street, turn around and come back. By the time Sharon's husband shows up with his pistol, these guys are trying to drag her into the car. The guys see the gun and take off.

If Sharon's husband doesn't show up with a gun at the right moment, she's probably a crime statistic. Did guns protect life and limb in this instance? You bet.

For another example of this, look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As basic government services like police protection absolutely disintergrated in the wake of the storm, people depended on guns to protect themselves, their family and their property. I never thought I would see the day when the rule of law would so completely and utterly break down like it did then. And if it could happen then and there, who's to say it couldn't happen again?

So maybe I'm just getting in touch with my inner Archie Bunker, but my attitudes have shifted some regarding guns. I know responsible gun owners and I believe that some people need the protection that guns offer. Is this just me getting older and more fearful of this crazy, fucked-up world? Maybe. But I'm not going to draw any conclusions just yet. I'll save that for the next, last installment. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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