Would My Time be Better Spent Trying to Force People?

Until you’ve written about 3,300 posts over nearly 10 years now, read every one of over 62,000 comments and replied to thousands of them, you’ll never have my perspective on just how very difficult it is to persuade people. I had a college roommate back in the day who used to tell people that I was very persuasive. Sometimes I wish I’d never heard that.

paleo has been and is a great shot in the arm, because it’s relatively easy to persuade people to give it a shot. There’s real results. As a blogger, I want to have smart people on my side and as such, I take reasonable care to ensure that what I write has some logic & reason behind it, even though I don’t often go out of my way to look up studies. And I’m always willing to change my mind. But even when I do, it’s always more like a correction, not a complete reversal. Some exceptions, but even the potato deal is only a short term hack for me, not a way of life (I have another blog about the relegation of LC to its proper place, in draft).

I had no idea that when I began blogging about this gun debate thing—in response to the Newtown, Connecticut massacre of federally mandated Children as sitting ducks—that my intended single post would turn into two, then three, then four and I dunno, is this my fifth?

paleo is an easy task to interest people. There’s a number of elements stacked in your favor. Going against the tide in terms of self-defense involving armed citizens, even teachers in school? Anarchy? Atheism? These are tough nuts to crack, to even get people to think about.

And yet, here’s a few comments beyond the emails I’ve received.


Richard, I have never commented on your site before, but I wanted to let you know that you convinced me to go buy my first gun. This is the finest arguments I’ve ever seen on either side of the debate.

Leo Desforges:

I’m thinking the same thing. Really.

You can hit those links to see how I and other experienced gun owners jumped in to offer advice in how to do this right. This is a potentially deadly tool. Be good. Be cool. Never be a bad statistic. Ever. That is your ethic. Presence of mind. No excuses. Ever.

Then earlier today…


I’m actually glad you’ve devoted the amount of blog space to this issue that you have. It’s something that needs to be discussed, and positions need to be stated clearly. It’s not enough to feel something here; there has to be a sound argument behind those emotions. Guns are scary/cool doesn’t do shit. And while I can only speak for myself, I can say that you’ve moved me very close to your side on this issue. I’ve never handled a gun myself, and come from a pretty lefty family. So it probably isn’t surprising that I’ve always sympathized with the “ban everything” side of things. I can’t say that I’m going to go out, get the training, and get a gun. But I can say I’m considering it, and that’s something I would not have done previously. I’ve examined my previous position, and found my reasons for holding it wanting.


I’m with you, Alex.

Like I always say, one mind at a time. I’m humbled, because as long as I’ve been at this, it’s my more common experience for people to simply evolve their thinking over time. Rare to have them come out and say “you changed my mind.”

So I’m chalking this up to a modest feather in my cap, knowing in particular that in all the anti-gun rhetoric over the last few days, not one assured, competent and responsible gun owner went and tuned in their guns.

More Guns, in More Places, by More Competent People of Good Will and Character. Please let’s make sure to stay on point: More Guns, not less. More responsible people trained in their use. More uncertainty on the part of predators. More on-scene defense and protection. More man-up.

Less, far less cowering to dinosaurs and whichever King or Court Time Magazine makes Person of the Year, all of whose time is so long past in the space of any truly rational and responsible mind.

Update: Leo, again, in comments below.

Many of the insights on this blog, both written by you and many of the informed commenters have helped to open useful dialogue amongst me and my friends. In the past week, gun violence has been the topic and armed (pun!) with information from this site these dialogues have effectively helped guide 6-8 formerly “ban-assault-weapons” types into some mind expansion. No yelling, no forcing the hand, just good facts and an appeal to logic. Trickle down at its best. Keep it up.

Good job.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Resurgent on December 21, 2012 at 20:25

    Let me ask this.. Why didn’t we simply declare the United States of America a “Terrorism free Zone” after 9/11…??

  2. Alex on December 21, 2012 at 21:36

    When you have a decision put to you, a reasonable person considers the information at hand. For some reason, I had never thought of this debate in those terms before. I was always willing to think that things would be fine enough and the decisions made for me would be good enough. But when you make it clear that no, each person has not only the right but the RESPONSIBILITY to decide for themselves, then it’s harder to deny the basic fact: If it came down to it, if my home were broken in to or my place of business robbed, there’s not a damn thing I could do. I could call the cops and wait. And that level of passivity is rather unpalatable.

    This isn’t to say I WANT that scenario to happen, that I have latent violent tendencies or vigilante fantasies. Hell, I’m the vegan guy who wouldn’t shoot a deer. But if I had to protect myself? It’s a powerless feeling, to know that I couldn’t, that I’m relying simply on the luck of the draw, basically playing the odds.

  3. Mary in FL on December 22, 2012 at 06:35

    I’m wondering about the problem at the other end of the perpetrator’s gun: the perpetrator. Many, if not most or all, of these perps are crazy, with nowhere to go. I’ve heard that “nut houses” (my words) have been shut down left and right over the last few decades. What – if we ignore the problem, it will go away? or it doesn’t exist? The gun conversations are often the reaction to the “crazy” problem.

  4. rob on December 22, 2012 at 07:53
  5. Elenor on December 22, 2012 at 11:16

    “This is a potentially deadly tool. Be good. Be cool. Never be a bad statistic. Ever. That is your ethic. Presence of mind. No excuses. Ever.”

    This! OH, so this!

    This is why I refuse my mom — living in not-exactly-safe L.A. — whenever she mentions in passing that she’d feel better with a gun. I cannot trust her to be ALWAYS 100% aware of where her purse is, at every single second! To never, ever leave it in a shopping cart and step “just” 3-feet away from the cart to pick something up. To never, ever set it down at my sister’s house (teen son). To never, ever leave in on her chair in class to go pick up a book across the room.

    Hell, I LEFT MY DEAD HUSBAND’S SIDE in the ER to go back to the waiting room, because I was so uncomfortable that I had left my (gun-containing) purse with the friend who came with me. I could not stay with his body, without my conscience beating on me that “My gun was not under my immediate complete control! Gun. Gun. Gun!”

    {shrug} (And I am by no means some kind of weirdo. (Well, not entirely. {wink}) I’m your pretty typical (well, for a girl) CCW gun-owner. I take owning, and esp. carrying, a lethal weapon as requiring the HIGHEST responsibility and focus, always. I don’t let the neighbor-kids (9- and10-yr-old girls, all) come in when they visit, because I not to have active control of all the guns in the house. (I know where precisely they are of course, I just don’t have them locked down for a visit by children!)

    Presence of mind.

    (I wonder about all these liberal idiots: they always whine about how we gunnies are going to ‘lose our tempers and shoot someone over a parking place’ … Is it just because THEY do not have more than a 5-yr-old’s control of their own tempers?!)

    • Richard Nikoley on December 25, 2012 at 09:47

      “Most of the males are like “I NEED GUNS TO BE TEH HERO AND BLOW UP ANYONE WHO ATTACKS ME dont mess with me i am not a prison punk i shoot u first k!!!:”

      Let’s just be clear who she ridicules.

      Executive Summary

      The ostensible purpose of gun control legis- lation is to reduce firearm deaths and injuries. The restriction of access to firearms will make criminals unable to use guns to shoot people. Gun control laws will also reduce the number of accidental shootings. Those are the desired ef- fects, at least in theory. It is important, however, for conscientious policymakers to consider not only the stated goals of gun control regulations, but the actual results that they produce.

      What would be the effect of depriving ordinary, law-abiding citizens from keeping arms for self-defense? One result seems certain: the law-abiding would be at a distinct disadvantage should criminals acquire guns from under- ground markets. After all, it is simply not possi- ble for police officers to get to every scene where they are urgently needed.

      Outside of criminology circles, relatively few people can reasonably estimate how often people use guns to fend off criminal attacks. If policymakers are truly interested in harm reduction, they should pause to consider how many crimes—murders, rapes, assaults, robber- ies—are thwarted each year by ordinary persons with guns. The estimates of defensive gun use range between the tens of thousands to as high as two million each year.

      This paper uses a collection of news reports of self-defense with guns over an eight-year period to survey the circumstances and outcomes of defensive gun uses in America.

      Federal and state lawmakers often oppose repealing or amending laws governing the own- ership or carrying of guns. That opposition is typically based on assumptions that the average citizen is incapable of successfully employing a gun in self-defense or that possession of a gun in public will tempt people to violence in “road rage” or other contentious situations. Those as- sumptions are false. The vast majority of gun owners are ethical and competent. That means tens of thousands of crimes are prevented each year by ordinary citizens with guns.

      “The estimates of defensive gun use range between the tens of thousands to as high as two million each year.”

      That’s who she ridicules, just so we’re clear.

      The appendix contains an extensive list of defensive gun uses between October 2003 and November 2011, i.e., the very people she ridicules. Pathetic.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 25, 2012 at 10:22

      More targets of ridicule, some the same 2012 paper. Let’s all laf it up about these gun nuts.

      Armed and Female

      Some of the other categories are unsur- prising. There are 154 defensive gun use sto- ries involving women.60 On April 29, 2010, two Colorado residents used pistols to deal with an intruder. Avi Manges grabbed her .38-caliber revolver when she heard an intruder. “I hollered, ‘Who’s there? I’ve got a gun.’” The intruder fled after seeing her—and her pistol.61 The intruder actually at- tempted to enter a nearby dwelling, where he was confronted and then detained by an- other pistol-wielding homeowner.62

      In February 2010 an Albuquerque, New Mexico, woman called 911 to report a break- in attempt—and while she was on the phone to police, two men forced their way into the house. She shot one of them in the head.63

      On June 9, 2009, Marty Impastato react- ed to a home invasion in Southern Illinois. She confronted an acquaintance who gained entry through an unlocked window and was rifling through the “safe where the family keeps jewelry and prescription drugs.” Impastato shot the intruder.64

      It is difficult to say whether the relatively sparse population of armed females represents news media selection bias or simply the disparity between women and men on gun ownership. Women represent a more attractive target to male criminals, either be- cause they are on average smaller and weaker or because the criminal is looking for a rape victim.


      There are 25 news stories where rapists discovered that the victim was able to fight back. Take the case of a Charlotte, North Carolina, woman who, after being raped, disarmed her attacker and then held him for the police. It was later found that the perpetrator had “an extensive criminal his- tory, dating back 20 years, and many of the offenses involved sexual conduct with chil- dren.”65

      Sometimes a gun prevents a rape from happening again. On October 31, 2008, a Missouri woman shot and killed Ronnie W. Preyer, 47, “a registered sex offender who had broken into her home early one morning with the intention of raping her a second time.”66

      Shockingly, when it comes to resisting sexual assault, resources are few and effective armed resistance is not considered an option by certain law enforcement agencies. Instead, the Illinois State Police advise victims to claim they have AIDS, forcibly inducing vomiting, or fighting back with nail files or keys.67 The city of Davis, California, suggests mace or whistles, but also recommends urinating or defecating.68 Consequently, females should become a special focus for self-defense advocates, teaching not just the means and methods, but the mindset to resist an assailant. If more rapists expected their would-be targets to resist with force, a reduction in the rate of such crimes would seem inevitable.

      Armed Minors

      Another category is minors—those un- der 18 years of age. There are 21 reports where minors used a gun in self-defense or to defend family members. In November 2008 a 16-year-old boy shot his mother’s ex- husband on the front lawn in Kansas City, Missouri. The woman had divorced him two years before because of abuse. “But at 2:30 a.m., he suddenly barged into her home. She said he pulled out a knife and dragged her into the front yard, and that was when she said her son grabbed a gun from the house and pulled the trigger, hitting his ex-stepfather in the stomach.”69

      Some of these incidents are more dramatic, but hopefully less traumatic to the defender. A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, boy who was left home alone with his sister shot an intruder who tried to kick in the door of their apartment. The 10-year-old retrieved his mother’s gun from a closet, and shot Roderick Porter, who was, by then, inside.70

      These stories are not meant to suggest children can or should be armed, but they do show that minors often do possess the mental faculties to identify a threat and— when presented the means and ability to neutralize that threat—to do so.

      Along with minors using guns in self- defense, we also tracked defensive gun uses where the criminals were minors. At least 141 instances involved at least one criminal identified as being under 18 years old.71

      Armed Seniors

      One of the points often made in public debates about gun ownership is that even if you are young and strong and are able to protect yourself from an unarmed attacker—you may not be able to do so after you pass the age of 65. Consequently, the data set tracks defensive gun uses by the elderly— with 201 such incidents.

      In May 2010 an elderly Pennsylvania couple held a burglar at gunpoint outside their Stroudsburg home. Devin Tyler Ayala, 24, forced entry into the home, which set off a burglar alarm. The 68-year-old wife screamed, and the 74-year-old husband came downstairs with a gun, and was able to hold Ayala for the police.72

      In March 2010 Stephen Pritchett attacked an 82-year-old woman in a Wal-Mart park- ing lot. Pritchett approached the woman and said, “This is your day. You are too old to be alive anyway.” He then “grabbed her cane and started beating her.” At that point, she drew a handgun and fired at Pritchett. She did not hit him, but unsurprisingly, the gun- shot drew attention to her problem, bringing employees and then police.73

      • Richard Nikoley on December 27, 2012 at 08:42

        “I was not at all ridiculing extremist mentalities and an obsessive preoccupation with victimization, fear, and gun ownership as a proxy for overblown anxieties/paranoia/persecution complex.”

        That’s just you projecting yourself onto others. It has no correspondence with the average gun owner.

        You’re the one who goes on and one about your laundry list of irrational fears of just about everything, including healthcare and insulin. And rather than see to your own solutions, you love a massive institution to steal from—to victimize—others to assuage all those fears.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 28, 2012 at 16:45

        “Yea, because it is a psychologically healthy response to think about your gun when your husband is dead before you.”

        Yea, convenient to see it that way when the more essential point is that the gun had been left in the care of a friend who didn’t know she had it. Turn concern for the safety of someone living into a psychosis.

        BTW, my wife is full hispanic, both parents.

  6. Shelley on December 22, 2012 at 12:42

    “(I wonder about all these liberal idiots: they always whine about how we gunnies are going to ‘lose our tempers and shoot someone over a parking place’ … Is it just because THEY do not have more than a 5-yr-old’s control of their own tempers?!)”

    Ha! Most likely true since they don’t seem to be able to verbalize a rational, logical brain thought. Has a liberal ever won a gun control argument with a pro-2nd amendment person? I highly doubt it as the facts have been rolled out consistently by Richard and others commenting on this blog; otherwise, it’s just pure emotion, and to my mind, you cannot win an argument based on emotion.

  7. Jesrad on December 22, 2012 at 12:59
    • Shelley on December 22, 2012 at 13:06

      “Logan’s vegan friend Nathan Muir said: “When you’re a vegan and you’ve skulled 18 pints of Stella, you want something fucking wholesome, like a five-bean salad from a fucking Soil Association-approved grower.”

      I say bullshit, after you’ve “skulled” 18 pints of Stella, all I’d fucking want is some Poutine preferably from fucking Quebec, but realistically from fucking anywhere.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 22, 2012 at 13:10

      Ppppppph, laf

      “The atmosphere was raucous but good, until they ran out of those little bags of carrot sticks.

      “Things turned ugly then.”

  8. Mountain Evan Chang on December 22, 2012 at 13:29

    I’m sure you’ve persuaded more people than just those who have left comments. Your posts definitely gave me a hard shove down the road toward self-reliance. Thanks for recommending Harry Browne’s How I Found Freedom…it’s one of my favorite books now.

    • Dr. Curmudgon Gee on December 22, 2012 at 21:47

      Harry Browne, RIP. (i have an autographed version of his book.)

      • Richard Nikoley on December 22, 2012 at 21:58

        It was only because he was the best among us he got hounded to run for President, and only because he was the best among us to set aside his preferences and actually do it.

        I have it on good authority that he loathed it.

      • Dr. Curmudgon Gee on December 23, 2012 at 13:40

        i met him & his wife once. they seemed genuine people, unlike the facade
        of “sincerity” most politicians put on.
        Mr. Obama is probably the best in this department + he has weak chin & jaws (i’m thinking about WAP’s work) )


  9. Leo desforges on December 23, 2012 at 08:41

    Many of the insights on this blog, both written by you and many of the informed commenters have helped to open useful dialogue amongst me and my friends. In the past week, gun violence has been the topic and armed (pun!) with information from this site these dialogues have effectively helped guide 6-8 formerly “ban-assault-weapons” types into some mind expansion. No yelling, no forcing the hand, just good facts and an appeal to logic. Trickle down at its best. Keep it up.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 23, 2012 at 09:46

      Good job Leo. Just appended this to the bottom of the post.

  10. JerseyGirlJosie on December 24, 2012 at 08:56

    Rich, I’m so glad to see you emphasizing ‘responsible’ and ‘competent’ gun carriers.
    It wasn’t clear in the first couple of posts where you were going with this, so I thought I’d wait for the smoke to clear!
    I always wonder what people think they mean by ‘gun control’, it isn’t about gun banning.
    I’m glad for the Utah post and this one, making clear the idea that “right to carry” doesn’t mean just anyone gets to carry, they have to go through not just background checks (sure, idiots can pass those with flying colors) but also training and they have to demonstrate that they are competent to carry.
    Should that be what the debate is about, how to ensure (by who?) that the people carrying are responsible and competent?
    Here’s something though that worried me and what I think always riles-up many ‘anti-gun’ advocates, it’s a state that just Reduced requirements for carrying :
    In the news (for whatever that’s worth) you hear that there have been many laws like this reducing requirements for carrying guns.
    Also laws reducing background check rules and then there’s the whole private sales thing.
    Doesn’t this relaxing and removing of requirements go against the idea of ensuring gun carriers are like you said, of good character, responsible and actually competent?
    You’ve been in the navy, you know about keeping up training in order to be competent, what do you think?
    Or am I missing something implied in ‘gun culture’?
    Thing is, if you’re not from a state with that kind of culture, it’s hard to see how you can rely on it.
    I don’t know, but maybe is this what people need to grapple with rather than screaming catch-phrases at each other? What kind of gun control laws work to put guns into the hands of people who are Responsible and Competent and in more places?

    • Richard Nikoley on December 25, 2012 at 15:28

      I should be clear that I don’t support any regulations for anyone carrying a gun, concealed or not. Any more than I support regulations for anything, including owning and flying hang gliders (even over populated areas)

      However, just like I went and got training to fly a hang glider (lots of it, months worth, tantamount to a private pilot license) and worked my way up—it’s completely unregulated, anyone can fly one any time they like from anywhere—I think getting firearms safety and skill training is a prudent idea.

      In HG, because it’s completely unregulated, there is not a manufacturer or one of their dealers in the whole world that will sell an HG to a non-qualified person, qualification being granted by recognized entities such as schools certified by one or more pilot associations that exist in the world. What’s more, many HG pilots maintain alerts for any time an HG shows up on Craigslist, Ebay, etc., in order to make sure it’s not some garage sale acquisition, etc., and they contact and admonish the seller. In some cases, they get their local club together to pool the money to buy the thing off the market (many of these are older, 70s and 80s models that are not particularly safe).

      There is probably not an HG or paraglider pilot in the entire world that would sell a wing to a non-qualified pilot. It would be awesome if guns were like that. Get the government out of it and it would probably do much better along those lines.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 25, 2012 at 15:34

      ….Oh, and by the way, there has actually been far more pro gun legislation in the last couple of decades than anti-gun. See John Lott. Look into the trend toward what’s called “shall issue” permits, now up to 40+ states, shifting the burden of proof to the government as to why you ought be denied a permit.

  11. Nick Lo on December 27, 2012 at 16:36

    Some background on me as I think random relatively anonymous comments allow anyone to come on here and pretend they’ve much more experience of this topic than they may actually have:

    I’m not from the US, nor do I live in the US but I do have family and friends living in the US. I’m from the UK, which according to some of the comments on this site would make me a European “pussy” who gave up my rights to arms. This despite the fact that during the 20th Century, Europe went through two world wars on European soil and had the crap bombed out of it (in other words maybe Europeans are a little weapon weary). I now live in Australia, where apparently the gun control laws brought in in 1996 after a mass shooting have, statistically, not made Australia any safer. Yet it took me about a year to realise I was still looking out for suspect bags that may have explosives in them after living in London for years during the times when the IRA was still bombing the capital and other UK towns. No matter what statistics may say, Australia feels safer than the UK where there are also strict gun control laws. I don’t own a gun, I’ve fired them, but I’m not trained, I would go get training but have no aspirations to own a gun (honestly I think I’d rather own a bow).

    With that out the way I’m interested in thoughts about the divide between “More Guns, not less.” and “More responsible people trained in their use.”. If I change that to “More real food, not less” and “More responsible people trained in its preparation” the same divide occurs. That between the reality and the theory.

    I’d love for more people to be trained in the preparation (including butchering and cooking) of food and for more people to sit down to proper home-cooked meals with each other. What is the reality though? Apparently we’ve no time for food. Food needs to be quick, less and less people can even recognise raw ingredients never mind prepare them; rendering your own fat makes you seem like a weirdo to most people. I probably should take the time to look at some statistics to find out how much time people take over their food but do any of us reading this blog need to?

    Now move the same logic back onto gun ownership: How many people will really take the time to be “trained in their use”? If they’ve no time for proper food preparation what time will they have for such training? Also as with food, having decent home-cooked food and less decent, so with training in the use of guns. In training to face violence it’s surely not enough just to go and let off a few rounds at a gun range now and again. I’ve studied several martial arts and really cannot pretend that it was training to face violence. To even consider that I’d likely expect the training to cover the topics mentioned in books like Rory Miller’s “Facing Violence” (lifted from the Amazon page):

    1. Legal and ethical implications. A student learning self-defense must learn force law. Otherwise it is possible to train to go to prison. Side by side with the legal rules, every student must explore his or her own ethical limitations. Most do not really know where this ethical line lies within them.

    2. Violence dynamics. Self-defense must teach how attacks happen. Students must be able to recognize an attack before it happens and know what kind they are facing.

    3. Avoidance. Students need to learn and practice not fighting. Learning includes escape and evasion, verbal de-escalation, and also pure-not-be there avoidance.

    4. Counter-ambush. If the student didn’t see the precursors or couldn’t successfully avoid the encounter he or she will need a handful of actions trained to reflex level for a sudden violent attack.

    5. Breaking the freeze. Freezing is almost universal in a sudden attack. Students must learn to recognize a freeze and break out of one.

    6. The fight itself. Most martial arts and self-defense instructors concentrate their time right here. What is taught just needs to be in line with how violence happens in the world.

    7. The aftermath. There are potential legal, psychological, and medical effects of engaging in violence no matter how justified. Advanced preparation is critical.

    Now even if you are able (both financially and timewise) to do such training, is that really the best use of everyone’s time? Are some of us not better training to be doctors, nurses, scientists (to give statistics for your arguments Richard 😉 ), tradespeople, etc while others such as LEO’s, military personnel, etc are trained in the above?

    • Richard Nikoley on December 27, 2012 at 17:12


      I really enjoyed the thoughtfulness of your post. Good job.

      Yea, eh? There is a parallel. People have fast food now, and they have fast emergency response. While wheat only kills you slowly, though, a predator can make things messy real quick, like in seconds–when the cops are only minutes away.

      Still, I accept your parallel in the abstract, in terms of the attitudes of people. The fact is, modern life is pretty damn safe and your VERY BEST DEFENSE is choosing wisely where to live, not owning or being trained in the use of firearms and other self defense measures. That’s just an extra measure and plus, gun culture is a culture and most are not nuts, contrary to what a certain projecting commenter thinks. I’ll draw a parallel to hang gliding. People think we’re daredevils. The reality is that we’re mostly engineers and entrepreneurs. …One of my long time HG buddies is a NASA physicist. Another weird population amongst HGers? Construction workers, but the very smart ones.

      It’s basically the same in the gun culture. We are intensely self policing. In HG, there are about 4 manufacturers worldwide and not one of them of any of their dealers who will sell a wing to an inquiries person and we’re always on the lookout for only wings being sold in garage sales or ebay, in order to admonish the seller. Sometimes, clubs pool together, but the old wing and hang it in their club.

      But hang gliding is 100% unregulated. The only regulations we have to abide are private property and airspace. When you get very high and go cross country, you need to know the controlled airspace sectors. We are unregulated, so we regulate ourselves and none of us would have it any other way.

      • Nick Lo on December 27, 2012 at 18:45

        Thanks Richard, I feel like I’ve earned a bit of a badge of some kind now.

        I suppose what concerns me with a lot of the arguments is that they focus on the rights to gun “ownership” rather than the right to training in facing armed violence. I trained in kendo and iaido but wouldn’t for a minute presume that readied me to face a threat armed with a bladed weapon. I also don’t own a sword nor would I be particularly concerned about regulations against my owning a sword. I’d rather it be kept at the place I trained at. I’d apply the same logic if I went for gun training (which, incidentally, I’d like to do sometime).

        I understand your comparison with hang-gliding to the extent that it’s self-regulated but I wonder if that’s more a matter of safety in (small) numbers. There are a limited number of you, so you don’t require regulation. Add a few more hundred, a few more thousand to the skies and you still think you’d be able to continue without regulation (and that includes suitable training)?

        One of the comments (by Bill Strahan) on this site had me thinking a lot about this topic as I, like Bill, have daughters and often think about the “what if” scenario:

        Bill’s comment concerned me though as he was talking about killing a home intruder in a discussion about guns and he commented “Society at large seems to be so out of touch with what a very young girl got completely”. My immediate thought was that what his daughter actually “got” was trust in her adult father, which is a good thing, but it’s not the straight line logic suggested in the comment. However, then I started thinking about the realities of myself using a firearm to defend against a home intruder:

        Let’s consider the intrusion happens at night and I’ve been woken. Like most people I’m not necessarily going to wake with the sharpest thinking, next I’m going to be hit by an adrenalin rush which I’m not used to, so I’m already coping with two potentially major physiological issues. Next I’ve got to find my firearm, check it, get finger on safety (real gun users can fill in the details here). Then I’m going to have to take stock of where my family members are and instruct them if possible. If the situation progresses to me actually firing at the threat(s) and them returning fire, I’m also going to have to be very conscious of where stray bullets end up with regards to my family and our neighbours (the houses round here have thin walls and large windows). If I do manage to kill the intruder the movie doesn’t end there, in actuality it likely just starts and like pretty much everyone I’m absolutely untrained in dealing with what what could be called a successful self defence scenario that resulted in death.

        Little in the above scenario was about me aiming and firing. So many of the crucial variables in my success were things I’d be unlikely to get any opportunity to train in.

        So short version: I’d like to see more discussion on actual training against armed violence rather than, to use an appropriate turn of phrase, gun ownership as some kind of magic bullet.

      • Joseph on January 5, 2013 at 14:16

        I agree with this perspective. The real problem, as I see it, is that many people simply don’t have time for human concerns (food, violence, walking, thinking, etc.). They are too busy doing dumb stuff (e.g. working soul-crushing jobs or protesting because no one will give them a soul-crushing job that they like or can do). Education is mostly directed toward dumb stuff (decadent luxuries like soul-crushing jobs instead of productive life-skills like cooking, fighting, walking, thinking). Freedom is still reflexively identified with the decadent aspects of civilization (“rewards” like the food coma after an unhealthy holiday feast prepared from a box by somebody else) rather than its productive aspects (the rewards that come from increased life-skills). We want to pay lots of money for things that taste good now (without requiring us to do more): we want the status of the rich and famous (as we see them on TV) without the character of the wealthy (who may or may not be rich and/or famous: they are very hard to spot on TV). The truth is that life exists outside the classroom. The real world is a dangerous, unpredictable place, and dealing with it realistically requires individual competence in certain things. Over the past few thousand years, civilization has made us too soft in some areas (as it has improved many things in our existence: I would never deny that). It has taught us to be weak. In the worst cases, it has made weakness a virtue (convincing strong people to throw away their strength and seek salvation in becoming helpless beggars looking for scraps from somebody else’s overflowing table).

        Gun control is not necessarily a bad idea, as an idea. In practice, however, it shuts the door on the good more than the evil. Criminals will get weapons. They always do. Right now I live in “gun-free” Chicago, where people die of gunshot wounds all the time. Recently I went back to Utah, where my family currently resides, and rubbed shoulders with guys carrying concealed weapons all over the place. Compared to Chicago, Provo (the general area where I was meeting with armed citizens) does not have a high crime rate. The armed citizens of Provo are not going on rampages, and as far as I know their possession of weapons does nothing to create rampages anywhere else. Based on my experience living in both places, if someone does draw a gun on you in Provo, he is more likely to be somebody with training in violence. Armed people in Provo are likely cops or civilians with some training. Armed people in Chicago are either cops or thugs (whose training consists of finding an illegal weapon and pulling the trigger, not always on purpose). I would much rather have a gun pointed at me in Provo than in Chicago. More importantly, I feel safer in Provo than in Chicago, and in terms of my personal self-defense, Provo offers me better options than Chicago. In Provo, I have access to tools and training that work in real life (not perfectly, but nothing is perfect). In Chicago, my best bet is to pray that I don’t meet any thugs, since I don’t have access to the means to deter them; the police will pick up my corpse after they have shot me dead (assuming that they don’t miss: I still have chances). Creating access to tools and training inevitably empowers more good people than bad, since the good people are by and large those most likely to take advantage of them. I am not going to do anything illegal, as a general rule. In Chicago, this means that I am going to be a sitting duck (part of the “hunting preserve”). Not so in Provo.

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