Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Boy Scout Motto
After the recent atrocity at Virginia Tech -- and in case you have been living in a cave on Mars of late, this was where a madman ran amok, shooting and killing fellow students and professors -- I got into an online discussion about the incident.
I've had variations of this discussion before, and it usually sorts out into something like this: On the far left side of the debate, people are appalled, and blame the problem entirely on guns. They want to make all guns illegal, possession of ammuntion worth ten years in the federal pen, and they say that will solve the problem -- without guns, nobody will kill anybody else, or at least it will be much harder to do so.
On the far right, people are appalled, and think that everybody should be armed, all the time, and that when some loon steps up and commences to commit assassination, he should be filled with enough lead to sink the Bismark, and, by the way keep your commie pansy liberal hands off the Second Amendment.
Like most people I know, I fall somewhere in between. As a hillbilly/Oakie/coonass redneck, I grew up as a shooter. Both my parents could outshoot me with a rifle until I was eighteen. They came from an age when a lot of folks still put much of their food on the table by hunting.
My own perspective as a martial artist shades toward the be-prepared side of the argument. (And it quickly stops being a "debate," with name-calling and much frothing after the first couple of exchanges. Gun-control is like abortion, politics, and beer -- reason goes out the window with the first sally.)
I'm am of the mind that there are wolves, sheep, and German Shepherd Dogs, and that the protectors of the sheep ought to have sharp teeth. This doesn't just mean police officers, because we all have our own little flocks and some of us don't believe the police will always arrive just in the nick of time.
No, I don't think Americans should be allowed to carry bazookas, hand grenades, or pocket nukes. Yes, I do think that people who are willing to be trained, fingerprinted, photographed, checked out by the FBI, and who aren't 1) felons or 2) children or 3) crazy should be allowed to own and possess firearms, and that includes handguns.
Would it have made a difference if there had been students or professors in that gun-free zone who'd been armed with a sidearm when Cho started shooting? I don't know. But the first rule of a gunfight is: Bring a gun. Otherwise, it isn't a fight, it's a one-sided slaughter.
One of the least compelling arguments to me is the issue of control. It goes like this: You can't control everything in your environment, that's an illusion. What if the Chinese Army comes thundering over the ridge? Your handgun won't do you much good, will it?
My answer to this is, Yep, you are right. You can't be prepared for everything. You could get hit in the head by a meteor, blap, you are dead. But -- because you can't control everything, does that mean you shouldn't try to control anything?
When was the last time the Chinese Army come over the ridge in your neighborhood? And when was the last time somebody got mugged or shot or robbed in your town?
I have insurance on my house, car, life, and health, with the hope I won't have to use any of them, but just in case. Mugger insurance makes perfect sense to me -- getting your head staved in or your throat cut just the one time is apt to ruin your whole day.
I mean, as a martial artist, I obviously have control issues. With my Virgo nature, I like to put my ducks in a row. I sometimes find myself straightening magazines on the rack at the bookstore. But I have a principle I use here: It is generally better to have more options than fewer. If I have a hawg-leg strapped and I don't need to pull it, then no harm, no foul. The non-violence of the strong is better than the non-violence of the weak, because I have a choice, to fight back or not.
So, I'm curious about this. Yes, we need better ways of keeping lethal hardware out of the hands of children, the demented, violent criminals, and lying Presidents, if that's not multiply redundant, and I'd be interested in hearing reasonable -- that's reasonable -- suggestions to this end.
But until the Messiah comes, how do you line up on this one?