Tuesday, February 25, 2020

On the Risks of Gun Ownership

Virtually no gun owner protects themselves with their guns; roughly 2% of violent crime is stopped by a gun-toting private citizen being present. Shootings have happened, and people with guns have been present and still been unable, or unprepared, to stop them. In the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, the shooter killed nine people and injured 27 others in thirty seconds... even with "good guys with guns" (police) present.

In fact, it's much more likely that a gun-owning American citizen will terrorize, injure, or kill an innocent person under the pretense or misunderstanding of "needing to defend themselves". Having a gun in the house also increases the chance of domestic disputes becoming fatal, and increases the chance of illicit activity by family members and friends being fatal, as an available gun can be lent, borrowed, or stolen.

All of this is because the mere presence of a gun in the house increases both the risk of dispute escalation AND how far it can escalate; angry partners know the ultimate threat is within arm's reach. Violent partners can go from physical assault to gun-waving to shooting. Witnesses of an "ultimate crime" (all-to-often children witnessing one partner shoot another) can be controlled the "ultimate way" (this is why children are a higher portion of domestic shooting fatalities than women... a family will often have more than one child, so (usually) the man kills the woman (one woman dead), and then all the kids (multiple child deaths)), and it can all happen in the heat of the moment... because a gun was in reach.

I'm a violent child abuse survivor. I discuss this in "The Experience Behind My Authority, Pt. 1". It's why I'm extremely cautious (one might say "gun-shy") around ALL men, and have no patience for the mutual reinforcement they engage in to maintain a fraternity of supremacy, and why I'm perpetually hyper-vigilant and easily startled. I'm pointing this out because that post paints an absolutely vivid picture of a working-class white man in America (Dale) from another perspective, one that may be outside what you identify with or understand, but a valid one nonetheless. I have first-hand experience that such men exist.

Now, consider that post, and that scenario, for a moment... and then imagine a gun in the mix.

Mom being unable to leave, so we have to live in this new level of fear, with Dale flying off the handle even more often. Beatings become more common, the gun gets waved about to reinforce the fear. Mom breaks and Dale gets his gun to "teach her a lesson"; of course, we kids are going to be taught too, right? Do we get beat, or beat up? Belt? Fists? Pistol-whipped? Shot? Or we get back to Grandma and Grandpa's house and he shows up to "teach everybody a lesson" there, which wouldn't go quietly because Grandma was a firecracker. Or he catches Mom at work and 'teaches her a lesson". Or some well-meaning nitwit with a gun goes and "takes care of" Dale for us (does he shoot Dale? Does he get shot?), or calls the police and Dale either lies to them and talks them off (let's be real, the police of northwest Indiana weren't given to investigating domestic disturbances much), or all Hell breaks lose and we get executed. Hell, my Grandma had a .22... she kept it in her room, and handfuls of blanks in drawers around the house, but she also had a case of live rounds in her room, and I knew where they were (in the closet)... how about she confronts Dale when he comes by. Does he have his gun? Does he provoke her? How do you think that would have played out? What if I knew he was coming and I had gone to get her gun... and the live rounds?

... there is nowhere you can put a gun into that formula that doesn't destroy lives, and nowhere you can put a gun in that formula that would have de-escalated things. If he didn't have a gun and was faced with one, you can bet he would have gone and gotten one, then come back to reclaim his image as King of the Hill. At the least, a constant state of terror for the rest of our lives (at least til 2004, I guess), wondering when he'll show up to make a point. At worst, a dead three-generational family and a white, male, egomaniacal, sociopathic NIPSCo employee probably convincing the court to give him a light sentence, because I guarantee he was too full of himself to commit suicide.

I brought Grandma's gun and some ammo to school twice in that big ol' Army pack of mine, but my immersion into fantasy fiction had me thinking that, no matter how bad things seemed, this wasn't what the "good guys" would do, so I never did anything. Imagine the arguably "best-case" scenario of me getting her gun and using it to "deal with" Dale... and then me having that experience in my head when I brought that .22 to school.

... there is nowhere you could put a gun into that formula without destroying lives. Not just killing people... destroying the lives of all involved.

Your intent is all well and good, and I'm sure you "believe" nothing bad could ever come from you, specifically, owning these weapons, but no amount of intent overcomes fact: you have a gun available. Your family has a gun available. So do your friends. You think you have it absolutely secure, but you don't. If a robber pulls a gun and you pull one back, a robbery covered by insurance becomes a fatality, and you gamble on it being them and not you. What if you have a gun and they don't? What if, in a moment of distraction, you think an innocent person near you is pulling a weapon? You hope an apology is enough, you bask inwardly about how word will get around that you are not to be toyed with (which tells people desperate enough to try to be SURE to come armed)... and maybe you put somebody's innocent kid in the ground.

Everyone thinks they're the exception. Nobody is. You generate just as much fear and risk as the next gun owner, and more if you're a white, male gun owner. Ultimately, in America, whether you intend to or not, white people maintain gun ownership to maintain superiority, backed by heavily white, male military, police and court systems that want to maintain a precedence that allows them to be violent at-will, a conflict of interest between justice and white superiority, and you're just a self-justifying "I mean well" part of that. Maybe nothing will happen in your case, ever, but between "preventing crime" or "causing unnecessary levels of fear, violence and death", the odds are heavily in favor of your gun ownership promoting the latter.

And my position is being one of the innocent people you strike fear into with all this. You are not okay, you are not right, you're just surrounded with a bubble of people... friends, family, co-workers, police, judges... who tell you that you are because they want to be cool and have the opportunity to terrorize and kill people at-will, too. And, outside that bubble, everybody else can't afford to not be afraid, can't afford to ever completely let their guard down.

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