Take No Prisoners

Guns, Bigger Guns and the NRA’s Bullshit

Today, I’m posting over on f*cking c*nts and you will find alphabitch’s (that’s her handle, not a pejorative) response here on The War on Bullshit. Here is an excerpt from my piece, Protection from our own Government: The Ridiculous Pretense for Gun Ownership.

As far as I have seen, detractors of gun control advanced to three basic arguments:

1. People need guns to defend themselves and their families against other people
2. People need guns to defend their country during an invasion
3. People need guns to defend themselves against a tyrannical government

Today, I am going to discuss the third argument… [continue reading]

And now for our feature presentation.

So the NRA isn’t going to overthrow the government …

guest post by alphabitch

I’ll say straight up: I’ve been arguing for years that the whole “we need guns to defend ourselves against the government” line the NRA always trots out is utter bullshit. And I really wish they’d quit trotting the damn thing out already … it’s like trying to parade an old cart horse with a sway back and arthritic hips … it hurts. It hurts my brain, because it’s so fucking unbelievably absurd, and it hurts the entire pro-gun ownership cause, because it makes us all look like morons by association.

Any rational human being knows Bubba Joe with his AR-15 and his brother Billy Joe with his shotgun, out patrolling the wildlands of Hicksville, USA in their pride-and-joy Hummer, are not going to protect ANYONE from the government. Not once the government calls up the local military installation, and rolls in the tanks. Remember a little incident in Waco, Texas, anyone? Those wingnuts were armed to the teeth, and a fat lot of good it did them.

Never once have I, nor will I, use such a fucking ridiculous argument to defend my Constitutional right to bear arms.

Now, once you dispense with the ridiculous idea of overthrowing the government with an army carrying nothing but civilian-legal weaponry, home defense may be the #1 reason given for preserving gun ownership rights, but burglary is really the least of my worries. I, speaking as a woman who’s spent half of her adult life living alone, take the self-defense angle, thankyouverymuch. And it’s not just about rapists either …

Alphabitch’s 5 Reasons to Own Firearms (particularly handguns)

  1. Self defense at home. Obviously, firearms can’t help defend your home when you’re not there (and if they’re left out in plain sight, they can get stolen and end up in criminal hands). But if I’m at home and someone breaks in knowing I’m there, I doubt they’re just wanting to grab my jewelry and run. Sure, I could defend myself with a baseball bat or knife, but that means the creep has to get within batting/stabbing/grappling range, and I’d just as soon head him off at the front door, while I’m standing out of his reach. (Once, I actually did use my first handgun to ‘encourage’ a man to leave my apartment. It worked fantastically well.)
  2. Self defense outside the home. Granted, walking around in my neighborhood, I’m not terribly likely to be attacked on the street … but back when I lived near a state University, with all the neighborhood’s attendant drunk and disorderly young men, I was damn glad to have a handgun stashed in the outside pocket of my book bag.
  3. Protection against animals. Yup, up here in Alaska dangerous wild animals are an actual concern when you’re out of major residential areas. Bears, berserk moose, wolves, and other unfriendly critters actually wander around in fairly large numbers. And that’s not just an Alaska thing … anywhere in the US with native wolf, bear or moose populations has the same issue.
  4. Third party defense. In many localities where it’s legal to pack a handgun around, it’s also legal to use it to defend other people from violent assault. Personally, I’d feel a lot more confident that I could actually help the situation by drawing a gun and yelling “HEY! STOP IT!” than I would yelling for the police (hoping there were some nearby), or gambling on whether or not help would arrive quickly enough if I called 911 (not out where I live, they won’t).
  5. Subsistence hunting. Granted, most people don’t need to resort to subsistence hunting to survive, but in low-income rural areas, some still do. Up here, a lot still do. A moose can provide meat to a family for more than a year, a caribou will see you through the winter. Up here, if you live in a rural village, you don’t even have easy access to a well-stocked grocery store (and whatever you can get locally is expensive as hell). Sure, Native Americans found ways to feed themselves without firearms, but a bullet is a lot more reliable than a spear or bow & arrow.

Now, of course guns are used to commit crimes. They’re even used to commit crimes in cities and countries where private gun ownership is partially or completely banned. And there’s nothing the anti-gun camp loves to throw around more than big scary numbers involving firearm deaths and gun-related crime. These raw numbers lead most anti-gun folks to believe if there were fewer firearms in the US, there would be a lot less violent crime to worry about. However, if you look a little further than the raw numbers, and study the per-capita statistics provided by government and law enforcement agencies, the picture starts to change…

Statistically speaking, guns are rarely used in violent crime. During the 1990s (when crime rates were even higher than they are now) 90% of violent crimes in the US were committed by perpetrators who were not carrying a firearm1 (and even when “armed criminals” did commit a crime, 83% of them didn’t fire the weapon, or even threaten to use it2). What that means: If the anti-gun camp found a way to miraculously eliminate every privately-owned firearm in the US, we could expect a whopping ten percent decrease in violent crime, and an even tinier decrease in the number of crime-related shootings.

And what could victims of the remaining 90% of violent crimes expect? A 1995 study looked at a single year’s worth of incidents where a would-be victim successfully defended themselves with a firearm. Out of the approximately 2,500,000 successful self-defense cases, only 8% involved the would-be victim actually shooting at anyone … in the other 92% firing a warning shot, or merely brandishing the weapon, was sufficient4. In another study, over 70% of them time a firearm was used in self-defense, the would-be victim never fired a shot4. So, even though the vast majority of these millions of people didn’t hurt anyone when they used their guns to defend themselves, the anti-gun contingent would rather see you use pepper spray, or handheld weapons who’s use requires you to let your attacker get within arm’s reach.

Now, I’m sure someone will say that even if guns might be useful for defense during an attempted violent crime, eliminating privately-owned guns altogether would still prevent some deaths, and therefore banning them is worth it … but consider this tidbit:

In the US from 1983–2000, less than 15% of burglaries were committed when the victim was in the house, while in the UK, where handguns are illegal and owning a hunting rifle or shotgun is rare, almost 60% of burglaries were committed while the victim was at home5. And before you argue that perhaps the US just has MUCH higher burglary rate (so maybe the raw numbers even out), burglary rates per capita in the US were the same or lower than UK rates during that period, and were consistently much lower in the US from 1990–2000.6 That suggests to me that if burglars know their intended victims are almost certainly UNarmed, they’re a whole lot more willing to come in the house whether you’re home or not … which also makes it a lot more likely that if you get burglarized, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a criminal’s gun in your face, rather than coming home to find your jewelry went missing while you were at work.

Now, I’m not enough of a heartless cunt to suggest that we just call accidental and criminal firearms deaths the “price we gots tuh pay fer ar freedums, ‘cuz you gots ta’ break a feew eggs tuh mayke uhn omelette,” or anything. But there are ways of dealing with gun crime that do not involve taking law abiding citizens’ self-defense options away. Increasing penalties for crimes involving firearms (and publicizing the penalties) is one option. Instituting penalties against adults who’s unlocked guns are used by children is another. Funding currently used to enforce irrelevant anti-“assault weapons” laws could be spent on free firearms safety courses for novice gun owners … and so on.

Banning privately-owned guns because a few rotten or irresponsible people use them badly would be like banning privately-owned cars because a few people drive drunk or recklessly … and banning cars would save a lot more lives, because a fuck of a lot more people die from motor vehicle accidents than gunshot wounds.

1. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 1998
2. National Crime Victimization Survey, 1994, Bureau of Justice Statistics
3. Fall 1995, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology
4. National Crime Victimization Survey, 1979-1985
5. Dr. Gary Kleck, Florida State University (1997) and Kopel (1992 and 1999)
6. British Home Office, National Crime Rates Compared, 2004