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While I have not been the victim of gun violence, I have been physically assaulted by a mugger and have had someone deliberately set the apartment building where I used to live on fire two times. Because of these experiences, I have been commenting on articles and Facebook about violence and I have come to believe one effective way to reduce violence is to also challenge the idea of guns as a method of self-defense.

In both of my brushes with violence, I was attacked ambush style by a stranger from out of the blue. In the first instance, I was grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground. I experienced shock and my brain could not absorb what was happening to me. After a while, I recovered my senses and was able to fight back. I've never owned a gun, so I did not have one on me. But, it wouldn't have made any difference. I would not have had time to retrieve a weapon. Fighting back and screaming loudly were enough to make the man retreat.

After he ran off,  I understood that he was after my purse, which he didn't get. I made a police report and found out later the police believe he attacked another woman later that night and did get her purse. So, I think about what would have happened if he'd gotten my purse. Would that have been enough for him? Would that have kept someone else from being attacked? If I had a gun in my purse, would he have used it against her or another person? My point is not to answer these questions, it's to try to explain that crimes have a randomness to them and the situation you might confront can be lessened or aggravated by factors you don't know about and that you do not control.

My second encounter with violence was someone's decision to set garbage on fire in my apartment building. The first time, the fire was started in the basement, about 7 at night. The building was successfully evacuated. However, to exit the building, all the residents had to get through our front entryway, which was about 10-12 feet long and was enclosed by two doors. Most days it was very easy to navigate. But, when you have to face it when it's filled with black smoke that makes it hard to see and breathe, it's terrifying. The perpetrator returned a few months later and set another fire, this time in the elevator and much later at night. This fire killed my neighbor. Once again, a gun would be absolutely useless. A gun would not have saved my neighbor's life.

I have Facebook friends who post about incidents in which people with a gun have successfully driven off alleged intruders. My point in writing about this is not to say you shouldn't defend or protect yourself. Rather, it's an effort to use my experiences as a means to explain that the single most important weapon all of us have in fighting off any attacker is a clear head. The truth is, sometimes it might be best to stand your ground, but sometimes it's best to flee or play dead. The best defense is your ability to assess the situation you are facing as it confronts you. Life doesn't let you preselect the type of violent encounter you might face. Because of this, the idea of gun ownership for self-defense in many cases is nothing more than superstition or a belief that guns have magical protective properties to keep you from harm.

Guns are not magical objects, they are lethal objects. We must make sure people are clear about the difference. It will make us all safer.

Originally posted to Lstettle on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why do you believe your point of view is not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldSoldier99, VClib, DavidMS

    self-evident? I've never heard firearm-owners claim magical properties for them. Just that they change the odds when used to best advantage.

    •  OMG Heard over and over "the zen like effect (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Nica24, Joy of Fishes

      of shooting a rifle"   The magical "feeling of power from shooting a gun".  

      •  Just heard it last night... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joy of Fishes, shopkeeper

        The pleasure of a warm gun! My cousin kept spouting arguments: his first amendment rights (accept for the militia part), I just don't understand what it feels like (although I have shot a gun), he is a member of the NRA (which makes him infallible in regards to guns - even though he has no training at all). Why should he be prevented from owning a gun for something he did 25yrs ago? And the biggest joke, an AR-15 is not dangerous, the police, generals and doctors are all lying so that black guy can take them.
        He pretty much screamed at me on the phone for 3 hrs. At one point, even though we have some of the strictest laws in New Jersey, he tried to convince me we are the deadliest place in the world. When I laughed at him and asked how he pulled that one out of his ass, he amended and said he meant country. I went on to explain he was wrong, we are the 5th safeset state, so when he was confronted with facts, he just called me a liar.
        Then he started with the armed guards in every school and I told him the bill includes money for that, even though proven it does not help, again he called me a liar and then we got to the real arguement, the black guy is going to take his guns! So I asked him if the government wanted his guns and he needs to protect his freedoms, what's to stop them from nailing his ass with a drone? As it turns out he immediately reversed into how drones are killing defenseless children in other countries, so our kids don't count when it comes to guns, but he is concerned with children in countries he hates because once again it's the black guys fault. And yes, using the "black guy" is a cleaned up version of how revoltingly he spoke about our President.
        I think what scared me the most is how little this supposed "gun expert" knew about guns and the statistics of gun deaths. He actually told me that everyone in England has a gun, that is why they are safe without guns, lol! When I mentioned Australia, he just screamed over me. Needless to say it was an eye-opener, I seem to be related to a full-fledged gun nut who thinks every home should have an AR-15 in the cupboard next to the peanut butter.

        Republicans piss on you and tell you it's raining, Democrats hand you an umbrella!

        by Nica24 on Sun May 05, 2013 at 12:16:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sometimes reality is too much to cope with for (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Nica24

          some people and objects become their only security. too bad he does not have your inner strength and intellect.
           

          •  The conversation reminded me (0+ / 0-)

            of an article I read about the republican brain being easily scared. Because from what I could tell, my 6ft. 220 lb. cousin thinks he will need massive amounts of guns and ammo to protect himself and family. After an hour lecture about how we can't protect ourselves without a gun, I finally asked him where he thinks he lives! I worked in Atlantic City NJ for 25 yrs and walked around in the city at 4 am often (my shift). I have never even had a scary incident, and the same with my little 5 ft. blond sister.
            What especially outraged me is his rejection of limiting the capacity of clips, he kept telling me it made no difference, and when I told him children escaped while reloading, his answer was the guy wasn't good at reloading , he could have done just as much damage with smaller clips, he's that good at reloading. At this point I asked him if he was suggesting he could have killed more children, got sick to my stomach and hung up!

            Republicans piss on you and tell you it's raining, Democrats hand you an umbrella!

            by Nica24 on Mon May 06, 2013 at 10:46:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  For many it's not self evident (0+ / 0-)

      If my point was self- evident to you, I'm glad. In my experience it's not the case. I have had a coworker who would really press me on getting a gun, especially because I was a woman. I asked if he'd ever been the victim of a crime, he said no. I told him I had and don't believe a gun would have made any difference. No matter what, he never stopped asking. Further, he would talk about news events and say how he would have stopped if he'd been there with his gun.

      Maybe I should explain that some of what was written here stems from comments I posted at the Atlantic in response to Glen Greenwald's comments about being able to stop mass shootings others armed with assault rifles.

      To further clarify my point, when someone ambushes you, your brain cannot process what's happening to you. There will always be a gap between the attack and your minds ability to grasp what's going on. This makes the idea of stopping a mass shooter, especially one armed with an assault rifle very remote.

  •  You get it! (6+ / 0-)

    "the single most important weapon all of us have in fighting off any attacker is a clear head."
    "Guns are not magical objects"
    "crimes have a randomness to them"

    Everyone needs to understand these points.

    BTW every point on that list might have been said by the people who taught the defensive firearms courses I took two decades ago when I was trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.

    Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun May 05, 2013 at 10:46:55 AM PDT

  •  what? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib
    Life doesn't let you preselect the type of violent encounter you might face. Because of this, the idea of gun ownership for self-defense in many cases is nothing more than superstition or a belief that guns have magical protective properties to keep you from harm.
    Life doesn't let you preselect, but it does let Lstettle preselect one type of defense as unrighteous.

    What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

    by happymisanthropy on Sun May 05, 2013 at 11:12:48 AM PDT

    •  One should have the right to be informed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes

      in order to weight the risks of owning a gun verses the risks of not owning a gun, in the atmosphere of which one lives and how one conducts their life.
       This post details ones assessment of risks as they view it with in the atmosphere they live which adds to the available information others may use for their own decisions.  

        Preselect?  one must way the chances of needing a gun for protection and its use being effective at the moment of a need verses the chances of injury caused by just owning a gun to ones self, family and others.

      •  I guess the title of the diary should be something (0+ / 0-)

        like "challenging the wisdom of defensive gun ownership" then, since it makes no arguments about the righteousness of anything.

        What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

        by happymisanthropy on Sun May 05, 2013 at 01:28:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is the attitude I'm challenging (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you for your comment. Originally, I had it titled differently, but know I know righteous was the right word to use.

      But, to be clear, gun use of a gun may be righteous in certain circumstances. One of the points I'm trying to make it that there are many faces for crime. Too many people feel overly secure once they have their guns. Your false sense of strength and security may blind you to other more serious threats in your life. For example, Nancy Lanza apparently feared a violent home invasion both armed herself and trained to defend herself in that scenario. She did not foresee being killed in her own home, by her own guns, by her own son while she was asleep.

      I've made my choice. I live unarmed, deliberately with the full knowledge that I may be killed for this choice. I also know that I will not accidentally shoot someone I love, provide a criminal with a weapon should my gun ever be stolen, nor will I have created the conditions for anyone else to accidentally shoot another. I'm fine with my choice. I'm trying to persuade others to do the same.

  •  ever consider an alternative to nogun/gun (0+ / 0-)

    like move to a place where people don't get mugged?

    Just sayin.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun May 05, 2013 at 02:45:05 PM PDT

    •  There is no actual safe place (0+ / 0-)

      You can be the victim of a crime anywhere, that's just reality. When I tell people who know my city where it happened, they are surprised because it's a "safe" neighborhood. I also wasn't alone.

      Being the victim of a crime has nothing to do with your socio-economic standing, your moral worth, or where you live.

  •  needs (0+ / 0-)

    I have always said that I would rather have my gun and not need it, than need it and not have it.

  •  Isn't this challenging the practicality? (0+ / 0-)

    I mean, you're not really staking a moral position here...

    •  Yes, you have a point (0+ / 0-)

      I made the word choice because I'm also, trying to get at the ideas of morality that motivate the people I know who own guns. They seem to stake out a moral/constitutional high ground and imply gun ownership is some kind of religious or patriotic duty. You're right that my argument's are based more in practicality.

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