Curiouser and Curiouser: Me and Guns

Good Lord, my views are changing. True, it’s an evolution, but it’s not been as slow a change as I thought it would be, if I ever saw myself changing at all. Which I hadn’t. At the least,  it’s been preponderant—and it is not over.

I’ll stop beating around the bush. The truth is, I’m becoming more supportive of gun rights. I know, I know: it scares me, too. But I’m also supportive of gun control–I’m adding that post-posting because initially no one said anything and I think this is a big deal. Then I realized: people are afraid of this topic, especially with the recent rash of violence.

Well, I’m not afraid of it anymore. I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I’ve decided: I’m FOR owning guns. I’m also for doing so responsibly. Bring ON gun control. I’m not scared of that either.

But why my change?

Maybe it’s because certain members of my family have been known to make very compelling (and by this I mean well reasoned)  arguments consistently, almost relentlessly. Maybe it’s because I’ve started reading more crime fiction (yes, some of this can be blamed on Steig Larsson).

But I think the main factor in my thinking has more to do with economic class strata. And I had never thought about it that way until this year.

The first thing that happened was a fundamental argument at home over whether or not we should have guns in the house. That was followed by another broader family issue of why bows were okay, but not guns.

Then, I had occasion to take a class back in DC out of Georgetown U on the philosophy framing up the Constitution. We got into Locke, Hobbes, and Cromwell—Oliver Cromwell.

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What hangs in the balance? I’m weighing guns and no guns.

That led to an interesting discussion on the British House of Lords, the American Senate, the British House of Commons and the American House of Representatives.

See where I’m going?

The powers that be, mired in their continued strife to counter balance one another, have a stricture that makes American legislative progress very, very slow. The slow pace allows for oodles of influence. In American, heck maybe all cultures, this creates space and time for undue influence from those who have space and time to lobby. The people with that space and time are afforded it by one simple fact: that they can AFFORD it.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Then, there’s the intriguing, albeit it short, paragraph of description and chapters of implication in Steig Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest where he argues that while “not everyone can afford security,” anyone at any time can find herself in need of it.

I’ve thought about that a lot. Most people don’t have elaborate security systems protecting their homes, safe guarding their children. Most of us walk around vaguely aware something bad can happen, but with nothing better to defend self and family than our wits. So, in America, people interested in personal security do what they can afford: they buy guns. Or inherit them. Or share them.

The crux of the philosophical debate in my family has always been: why do you need that level of security? If you want self defense, take a martial arts class, for heaven’s sake.

But, again, it boils down to what an individual person believes. That’s where Locke and Hobbes come in.

If one believes in Locke’s “clean slate” theory, that most people are good, they just get jaded by experience, then it might be easier to accept, as my family long has, that a person doesn’t need a personal protection system. We have a social contract that mandates certain levels of acceptable behavior. Most people subscribe to this. A police force and a judicial system are there for those who don’t.

That makes logical sense to me. And, as I’ve never been seriously injured or attacked by another person on American or any other soils, my experience verifies there’s some truth to this.

Then there’s Hobbes who argued that people are animals who bite and fight and scratch for whatever they can get out of this life. As a result, the American Constitution—and other western systems—include protective measures to guard against the corruptible nature of humanity. I suspect that the oft-debated 2nd Amendment  stems from this politically-philosophic notion that, possibly, as a last resort, the American republic should have the ability to bear arms against the tyranny of the majority—something the Founding Fathers seemed to fear based on the more recent history (in their era) of General Cromwell and the British Crown.

For me, it’s been a lot to think about. (As my thinking simultaneously occurs with my talking, I’ve recently been ranting on Facebook about buying into bought elections and people not thinking for themselves, but more on that later). Weighing the great gun question in my home, I strive to balance it with some sort of consistency: no quick changes, nothing rash. Steady, preponderant and heavy consideration for the pros and cons shall guide my hand.

The debate has waged on for two years. But I feel my view softening, weakening to the point of accepting hard weaponry, at some level.

And the irony of that just kills me.
——-
From a friend’s Facebook page:

Does this bother anyone else?
1) Wednesday, June 4: a shooter in Moncton, Canada: http://bit.ly/1nnhoKg
2) Thursday, June 5: a shooter in Seattle, WA: http://cnn.it/1mgQ25m
3) Friday, June 6: a shooter in Atlanta, GA: http://yhoo.it/1kfnXdh
4) Friday, June 6: the beginning of 30 people shot in Chicago, IL:http://nbcnews.to/1kUUsUa

See More

A gunman opened fire Thursday at Seattle Pacific University, killing one person and wounding two before being tackled by a student security guard, Seattle police said.
CNN|BY RALPH ELLIS AND CHELSEA J. CARTER, CNN

 

Sporting Equality: Is There a Smoking Gun?

The last week of January, Gayle Trotter, a lawyer from Washington D.C., made headlines with her testimony to Congress favoring gun-ownership. Her argument sparked more flares in the gun-control debate. She concluded: “In lieu of empty gestures, we should address gun violence based on what works. Guns make women safer.” (See the whole testimony here.)

This might be old news to many of you considering it broke “above the fold” almost two weeks ago. But, I’m not completely smitten with our “gimme now!” 24/7 news cycle. I like to ruminate a bit. I’m a thinker. And here’s what I’m thinking about Ms. Trotter:

REALLY? Guns are “the great equalizer” for women? Whatever.
 

I have two problems with this testimony: 1) That’s a big logical jump from “what works” to “guns make women safer.” In her treatise she offers one anecdotal example and then a lot of what we’ve already heard from the NRA;  2) The implication of her argument. Her reasoning implies that unless a woman owns (and presumably knows how to properly use) a gun, she is “less than.” Disagree with me? Then check out the headlines after she testified. Is that how we’re starting our new year, with the “women are the weaker sex” argument? Good Lord. Can we get past this already?

Let’s tackle my first objection. Her argument is fallacious–i.e. not logical: it’s a straw man. She’s setting up a “fake” target (women need an equalizer!), knocking that down and using that knock down as “proof” of her unrelated point (no stringent gun control!). More simply put: she’s telling you to “look at the monkey” while she does something else entirely with her other hand.
 
Trotter sets up the “straw woman” example of a lady with a baby defending her home against a bunch of bad guys by firing a gun. That’s the story. It’s enthralling. But, so what?  So one woman lucked out. The success of that one woman in that one specific scenario is not proof that a gun in the hand of every woman in the country will give them, as a class of people, safety, or the bigger stretch, equality. It’s a huge jump.
 
Where’s the stuff in the middle? The claim is women are unsafe, and therefore, unequal. What does that mean, exactly? Women aren’t safe compared to what? Rabbits, flies, men? She doesn’t say. Further, I’m trying to figure out how and why a gun makes me, a woman, safer and more equal.  Is there a study somewhere about women’s equality in subject A when they do own guns vs. their lack of equality in same subject A when they don’t own guns? If there is, it’s not referenced in her testimony. She jumps to “guns make women safer.” Again: safer than what? Besides, as far as I know, I, a mere woman, already have the right to own and carry a gun.
 
Don’t get me wrong. I understand what she is trying to argue. I don’t like violence against women, either. It’s bad. Violence is bad for lots of classes of people. What does that have to do with the “women equality issue?”  Instead of pulling her argument together, Ms. Trotter cherry picks a very narrow slice of that broader topic, serves it up as a whole meal, and concludes that we’re sated. 
 
We’re not. We need to have a full course of evidence to determine that gun ownership and all it entails will indeed “level the playing” field for women.
 
Second objection: women’s equality is a really big field! More specifically–and let me pull over this box to stand on so you can hear me above the crowd–quit implying that women are weak! Trotter’s argument seems to say, “Oh, I’m just a defenseless woman who can’t possibly protect herself unless I have a big strong gun.” Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth a little. 
 
am a strong woman and I do know how to take care of myself.  Most of the time, I am safe (a few of my own poor choices notwithstanding). I know how to defend myself. I also know how to take care of my children, my family at large, my home, and my career. I most certainly do not need a gun to do any of that. Much of it comes from my own initiative, but there have been some helpful regulations and laws enacted along the way supporting me as a woman–none of them a “smoking gun.” 
 
As evidence of this, I’m happy to bust out the list of things that have made my success as a woman more “equal” than, say, the career success of my great grandmother nearly a century ago. Because, that’s what we’re really talking about when we use phrases like “equality,” right? We want women and girls in American society to have the same opportunities as boys and men in American society, right? So where is mention of the 19th Amendment, or Title IX, or the Family Friendly leave act? None of that is in the testimony.

This might be a long shot, but I suspect Ms. Trotter wants to argue for the right to bear arms to continue unimpeded. Then why doesn’t she make that argument, outright?  I agree there are some specifics in this topic that could use ironing out, but don’t muddy that already murky water by dragging equality for women into it.
 
Then again, if it is women’s equality she really wants to discuss, if her interest really is finding an “equalizer” for women, let’s have a frank conversation about that topic. Here’s some starter questions:
 
What sort of access to higher education do women have?
Do American girls do better, the same, or not as well as American boys in math and science? 
What is the percentage of poor women compared to poor men in this country?
How much does motherhood impact a woman’s ability to make money compared to a man’s abilities once he becomes a father?
What are our country’s policies on women’s health care? Are there similar policies governing men’s health care?
What is the average woman’s salary for a job compared to a man’s average salary for that same job? Do they match?
What is our culture’s main line on female sexuality (force to be reckoned with or marketing exercise)?
 
And let’s be damn sure to recognize the accomplishments American women have right now, accomplishments safe and sound women are driving home today. Right now, we have the largest percentage of women in the House and Senate ever. The entire political delegation from New Hampshire is female. Women just got the pass to serve in combat positions in our country’s military. It was  women who brought home the most gold medals for the USA in last summer’s Olympics.
 
None of them needed a gun-in-hand to make those accomplishments. None of those women needed a gun-in-hand to walk to their office, their car, or the gym as they worked on making those accomplishments. As for women in the military–heck, we’ve now got an entire Department of the U.S. Government saying out loud to the world that they want women in their service to have guns. So what is Gayle really going on and on about?
 
I’m pretty sure it is not women’s safety, nor our equality. If that really interested Gayle Trotter, she has a wealth of strengths and weakness from that topic on which to expound.  No, unfortunately–and ironically–she is doing women’s equality a disservice. She’s using it, devaluing it, making it “less than” in order to be sensational and win some points for herself and her personal agenda. 
 
She is distracting Congress from the gun control matter at hand by playing the damsel in distress. 
 
Boo. Shame on you Ms. Trotter! You’re a lawyer, for crying out loud. One would think you’d know how to make a more bullet proof argument.
 
–KLL