Opinion: Firearms

POSTED: 02/23/12 2:36 PM

Firearms remain a hot topic. For some reason an uncanny high number of people think that having a gun is the best way to protect yourself. That they are wrong is obvious to at least some of us; we are not in a position to write something like “most of us” because we are not able to substantiate such a statement. Who knows? Maybe the majority of our citizens do indeed think that having a firearm as a means of self defense is absolutely useless.

The defendant who was in court yesterday morning after he had been caught for the second time in two years with a firearm in his possession does not belong to this group. The father of two young children told the court that he does not feel safe anymore after he had become the victim of a street robbery on the boardwalk. Also, he pointed out, the boyfriend of a woman he maintained a relationship with was rather jealous and he had threatened him as well.

What are his options here? First of all, we don’t know when that robbery on the boardwalk happened, but we’d like to suggest that he does not go there at, say, three o’clock in the morning or some other ungodly hour. That decreases the chances of getting robbed significantly.

And what about the jealous boyfriend? Well, what about staying away from somebody else’s girlfriend? That would significantly decrease the chances of a violent confrontation.

It is easy to see that the perceived threats the defendant says to experience are situations of his own making. In a way, he is playing victim by saying: look at me, I have to buy a gun to protect myself. The truth is of course that he put himself in jeopardy by consistently making the wrong choices.

The firearm-discussion does not stop there. Quite some people seem to think that having a gun at home will protect them against criminals. There are not enough data available to support such a position. We know that there are quite a lot of burglaries committed each year. But in how many of those cases was there somebody at home? In how many cases was there a confrontation between a resident and a burglar? As far as we know, these cases are rare.

Suppose a resident obtains a gun license for self protection purposes. He is obliged to keep this gun in a safe at home. So what is the point of having a weapon when it is locked away in a safe? Is it realistic to expect intruders to accommodate gun owners when they burst into their bedroom? It is not, of course. Once a burglar, especially an armed one, is upon his victim, there is not time to open the gun safe, take out the weapon and start defending yourself.

So in practice, licensed gun owners will most likely put that gun under their pillow, where their wives could get their hands on it during lovemaking with disastrous consequences, or they put it on their bedside table, where their children could grab it and cause horrific accidents.

No matter how you look at it, gun possession as a means of self defense is a bad idea. There are plenty of alternative options to stay out of trouble. But in a country that prides itself in its macho-culture those options are probably considered as too soft and inadequate.

The only effect licensed guns have is that they put more guns in the hands of more people. They will not always handle them carefully, they will not always make sure that they don’t fall in the wrong hands, and at the moment when it matters most – namely, when an armed burglar enters one’s house – that licensed gun is safely tucked away in its mandatory safe.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: Firearms by

Comments are closed.