1. Old Jarhead, on amateurs and guns
I’m promoting to the front page a comment that Old Jarhead posted in the “I’m right about everything” thread:
… as I mentioned above, I wrote on the topic of armed amateurs last year when some female attorneys who do family law were concerned about some incidents of violence and wondered if they should buy guns just in case. Since I DO know what it is like to face another human being with a gun in my hand, I wrote this. (…)2. From Libby Spencer of Newshogger: Spare me the false bravado:
Subject: Guns in the Office
If you intend to get a carry permit and pack heat for self protection, you should keep several things close to mind:
1. Unless you have invested the time and money to be well trained in the defensive use of a handgun, don’t carry one.
2. Unless you are willing to spend the money and time to go to the range and fire your weapon at least monthly and at least a box of ammo at that time, don’t carry one.
3. Unless you are certain that you have the emotional and psychological ability to shoot another human being dead, don’t carry one. Do not count on “brandishing” the weapon to frighten the other party into submission - it is far more likely to dramatically increase the level of violence. Do not even consider “shooting to injure”. Unless you are willing to put two rounds, center of mass, into the other person and kill him (usually) dead, you are far more likely to end up the dead or grievously injured one.
4. A handgun is not a magic wand. Displaying it will not cast a spell of caution or calmness on the various parties. A loaded weapon makes people crazy - the person at which it is aimed, the persons who are witnesses, and often the person who is holding it.
5. Unless you are willing to purchase and practice with a handgun that is large enough and packs a sufficient punch to put an attacker down and down now, don’t carry one. In the early 70s a female student at [University] was in her apartment with her daughter when an attacker burst through the door. She had a .22 pistol and shot him 4 or 5 times. He had a .45 and shot her once. He was arrested at the hospital. She was dead.
There are lots of sources of good advice on combination of caliber, proper ammo, and frame size for control.
What it comes down to is that there is no way to prepare for the first time you point a loaded weapon at an identifiable human being and have to pull the trigger. The reason the military does repetitive, mind-numbing training is to try and ingrain the muscle memory and develop the reflexes so that brain does NOT interfere, because if you give it a vote it will pause and then it is too late. Soldiers call the enemy by racial or ethnic names to depersonalize them so that they don’t have to think about the fact that they are killing other people with mothers, fathers, kids, wives, and families. Troops assigned to Special Operations forces or Delta Force fire hundreds of rounds a month because in their job they have to be able to make a split second decision on whether the human in their sights is a target or a hostage or innocent.
The passive defensive measures discussed herein are excellent approaches and will be far more effective in providing security than a sign that says “This family law attorney is protected by Smith & Wesson”.
When I was a young Marine we lived in southern Cal, and one night about 2 am my wife said that she had heard a sound in the garage. I scoffed of course (husbandly response #1), but then I heard the sliding door of the VW van. There WAS someone in the garage. I got up and sneaked to the garage door and peeked - the dome light was on. Heart beat at 120, adrenaline everywhere. As I whispered for my wife to call the cops I saw an arm - a little arm. A 5 y/o girl’s arm! I stormed out into the garage to confront my little daughter and as I demanded an explanation she sobbed that she couldn’t find her bunny rabbit and was looking in the car.
I had numerous weapons in the house - all locked up. After that I asked myself - “If I had had a weapon quickly available would I have gotten it and had it ready?” My answer was “yes”. And then I realized that if I had, I would have been confronting my little girl with a .357 in my hand. Accordingly I have never kept a weapon out of the safe in the house.
Given my background I obviously am not an anti-gun crusader. I believe, however, that the decision to carry a weapon in the office or on the street places an enormous responsibility upon the bearer to obtain excellent training, to commit to frequent practice and refresher training, to choose a weapon ideally suited for you and the purpose, and to stare into the mirror and ask yourself if you could really use it - and if you would make its use a truly last resort.
If you shoot and kill someone in the office you are not going to be celebrated as “Annie Oakley” and carried around the Family Law convention on a sedan chair. You are going to go to a private place and vomit until you don’t think you will ever be able to stand up straight again.
It’s so easy to be brave if you’ve never actually faced down a gunman. I have. Twice. So I found this fool Derbyshire and his loyal fan’s insipid posts especially offensive. They should keep their adolescent daydreams of glory to themselves until after they’ve looked down the barrel of a gun wielded by a hostile hand.
I was an eighteen year old college student when it first happened to me in the 60s. I was living with housemates in a house on a lake. It was a snowy night in winter and a woman knocked on the door saying she was stuck down the road and asked to use the phone. Of course I let her in. By the time I closed the door, three other guys had followed her and I staring down the barrel of some kind of shotgun. I didn’t have a clue what kind of gun it was. It was big, that’s all I knew.
I did what they said and so did the other five people in the house at the time. We found out later they were junkies from a big city about 20 miles away who had come after hearing an erroneous rumor that we had a large shipment of marijuana in the house. They were total amateurs. They stayed so long that another roommate showed up in the interim. She joined us in lying on the floor, where we had been for the previous 30 minutes. They took anything we had of value in lieu of the non-existent pot, but at least nobody got shot.
The second time, I was in my early 40s. I was in the parking lot of what was then the Star Community Bar in the very center of Little Five Points in Atlanta, GA. A very tall black man jumped out from behind the dumpster and grabbed me from behind in a bear lock. He held a handgun right behind my left ear and said, “You know you a fuckin’ bitch?”
Time slows down in a situation like that, sort of like when you’re in a bad auto accident but you don’t really have a lot of time to think. My first thought was that my daughter was going to be really pissed at me for getting my brains shot out in a parking lot. She told me to leave Atlanta only hours before it happened. My second thought was - shit, this guy is going to kill me.
You go into another realm of consciousness. There’s no word for that level of adrenaline. It’s pure survival instinct. I didn’t fight him. I leaned into the guy’s chest, like a lover would.
“No I’m not. You got the wrong girl,” I said, remarkably calmly. “Please don’t kill me.”
I don’t know why he didn’t just pull the trigger. Maybe that response threw him off. It felt we just stood there in this kind of standoff for a really long time. It was probably only seconds. He didn’t shoot, so I did the next thing that came to mind. I screamed at the top of my lungs. Huge, high pitched screams of pure terror. My own fury scared me. The gun was still at my ear. I can still feel the cold steel even now, as I recount that night.
Six white guys came running down the sidewalk from the plaza. They were hollering but they were a long way away. He still could have shot me long before they could reach us and they didn’t exactly come running over. They were milling around on the sidewalk. I stopped screaming. We all looked at each other.
The guy let me go and started running the other way, down towards the alley. As he was running, he shot off the gun. It wasn’t as loud as I thought it would be. I looked at the guys on the sidewalk. To this day, one of the few regrets I harbor is that I didn’t walk over and thank them for saving my life. I was too stunned. (…)
Derbyshire and his little usefool tool are only right about one thing. Until you’ve been there, you don’t have a clue what it’s like. Until they have, they might want to think twice before publishing such clueless posts.
3. A warning about bog-standard gun arguments
This was a notice I posted at the end of Guns in New Hampshire, 07 November 2002:
Public Notice: Anybody who comes along and posts stupid gnu-control flaming boilerplate in my Comments section will find out about my magic powers to Edit and Delete. I don’t mind being disagreed with, but I hate being bored. Say something new or suffer the consequences. You have been warned.It may or may not be a coincidence that that was the first Making Light comment thread to break a hundred messages, but the policy stands to this day.