Sunday, July 22, 2012

Provocation and Protection

Yesterday I took one of those CHL classes so that it would be legal for me to carry my revolver in my purse or truck whenever I travel here in Texas. I learned a few things about the laws of Texas that I had never known before. And, come to think of it, I learned a few things about the reasons that our country came to respect the rights of its citizens to “bear arms.”

Everyone has heard the arguments about disarmament and keeping guns out of the hands of irresponsible folks. One of the first things our instructor told us about those ideas was to make a comparison of automobiles to guns—they are both tools. We can’t outlaw F150s because so many die in pickup truck accidents, and by the same token, we can’t outlaw guns because there are idiots out there using them against others. Knives, baseball bats, tire irons, or any other handy hammer would be as easily utilized up close and personal. And my guess is that one of those big Humvees would be just as deadly as anyone’s .45 revolver.

When our instructor compared our abilities to protect ourselves against much larger and stronger opponents, it made sense to the women in the room that we would not stand a chance with a baseball bat or pepper spray against a man three times our size and strength. The man could easily take the bat away from us, and the pepper spray might not have any effect unless it actually hit the person in the eyes. Then too, one man who had been an MP said that someone hopped up on certain drugs often would be unaffected by the pain element from pepper spray because of the overriding effects of the drugs.

Two incidents—go ahead and call them tragedies—were discussed yesterday. One part of the discussion covered provocation of violence in regard to the confrontation and death in Florida of a teenager. Everyone has heard about it by now because of the extreme media coverage. Again, the long and short of the situation came down to bad decisions by both parties. But beyond the ‘who did what to whom’ part of the story, too many people see the right to carry a concealed weapon as the culprit or determining factor in the mix. The fact is that if the man carrying the gun had not used it, he would not be around to be standing trial. It brings back the old saw, “Better tried by twelve than carried by six.”

The second situation is the horror of slaughter at a movie theater among innocent people who never had a chance to either defend themselves or–in the case of a three-year-old child—never had the chance to really live. I seriously doubt that anyone in that theater was armed except for the insane man who murdered those people. But, if anyone had been more alert—and had been armed—it is just possible that the number of dead and wounded would have been greatly reduced. In Texas, it is not unreasonable to assume that as many as four out of ten men would be armed in almost any setting—theater, city park, or anywhere that handguns are not prohibited by law. And lately, it is not a stretch of the imagination to think that one of every ten women in Texas is also armed. At least, I know two that will shortly have their guns tucked safely away in a holster in their purses.

One of the reasons that Japan chose not to bring the war in the Pacific to the actual shores of America was the fact that they knew our nation was armed to the teeth. Every farmer, every rancher, and many businessmen were armed with either handguns or sports rifles. And all of them knew how to use them quite effectively. That was true all over this nation at that time. And the ownership of guns has increased in most states since World War II. More folks are members of the NRA now than of AAA.

Recently a treaty or firearm regulation agreement was supposed to have been discussed at the UN, but like so many other ideas, a few folks took off with the idea that our president was trying to totally disarm Americans. The Supreme Court had this to say: District of Columbia v. Heller, 26 June 2008: (T)he enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.

The treaty that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the administration seeks is one that has “legally binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons." Furthermore, the language of the discussion included this: that a provision in the resolution’s preamble – included at the request of the U.S. – explicitly recognizes the right of nations to regulate gun sales and ownership within their borders, including through their constitutions:
UN General Assembly Resolution A/C.1/64/L.38/Rev.1, Oct. 28: Acknowledging also the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership, exclusively within their territory… is one of the best places to dispel rumors and other stupidities that circulate about political or economic absurdities. Americans are pretty easily convinced of conspiracies and other hoaxes, unfortunately. But on the other hand, they are also one of the most stubborn and defensive in the world. Somehow one might have to really stretch the imagination to even think that America would be as easily disarmed as France or England or any of the other European nations were before World War II.
According to an article in Time magazine: “Though it may pale in comparison to America's 88.8 registered weapons per hundred people, the rate of gun ownership in Europe is higher than one might imagine. In Switzerland there are 45.7 guns per hundred people; in Finland, 45.3; France's 31.2 is a little higher than Germany's 30.3. The U.K., which banned most gun ownership after two massacres, has a rate of 6.2 registered guns per 100 people.
And in another publication: Although Norway has far and away the highest firearm ownership per capita in Western Europe, it nevertheless has the lowest murder rate. Other nations with high firearms ownership and comparably low murder rates include Denmark, Greece, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Holland has a 50 percent higher murder rate despite having the lowest rate of firearm ownership in Europe. And Luxembourg, despite its total handgun ban, has a murder rate that is nine times higher than countries such as Norway and Austria.
According to an article in GOA [Gun Owners of America] of 2008:
Nor does the "more guns means more murder" belief square with our own experience. The earliest American figures, dating from just after World War II, showed both gun ownership and murder rates holding at low levels. Today our murder rates are almost identical, despite six decades of massive gun buying whereby Americans have come to own five times more guns than they did in 1946. The intervening years saw a dramatic increase in murder followed by a dramatic decrease. These trends had no relationship to gun ownership, which steadily rose all the while (especially handgun ownership).

Finally, if common sense makes any difference in life at all, we should all know better than to purposely provoke someone. But we should also be aware that we need to be able to protect ourselves and our families from the insanity that seems to run rampant in today’s society. In a few years I will be too old to handle a gun effectively. At least, I cannot imagine being able to hold a steady aim. By then maybe I will get an old-fashioned scatter gun to keep by the bedside table and a big dog to growl at anyone silly enough to bother me. Until then, I will carry a gun with me for those situations that just may arise, and I will continue to appreciate the men and women who have taken this class in order to protect themselves and others around them.

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