11 March 2007

We're all gonna die

I feel somehow obligated to add to the hysteria surrounding Friday's Federal Appeals Court ruling overturning DC's ban on gun ownership.

Initially, I suspected that the case was brought against the District by people living in the wealthiest, safest, least crime riddled (and also whitest) parts of the city, who were afraid of riff raff coming into their homes and killing off their babies and/or stealing grandma's china. After a little muckraking though, this theory seems not to be true. As far as I can tell, none of the appellants live in Ward 3, which fits the above description best.

But I guess all that is mostly irrelevant. What it boils down to is that these people want to be able to "defend themselves" against whatever it is that makes them afraid. That's fine with me, in principle. However, I take issue when one individual's "self defense" makes others feel less safe, or unsafe. I should note here that I grew up in a gun owning home. Hell, my father had an arsenal. And in all those years, knowing that we had roughly 3 guns per capita in my home only scared me even more.

Hypothetical situation: I live in a big apartment building (ok, so that part's true). The walls are thin. I own a gun. I'm at home one night, and it sounds like somebody's breaking in. I draw my gun. Say there's an actual intruder. We spar. Guns go off accidentally. One bullet kills my bunny, one injures my partner, and one goes through the thin wall separating my unit and the one next door, fatally wounding my neighbor's baby.

I promise you, grandma's china ain't worth that much.

Yes, there may be some remote chance that someone may break into your detached house with a crowbar on a hunt for your TV. Your drawing a gun on them may well scare them away. Or it may cause them to scuffle with you to try to get the gun. Then they've got the gun, and your TV, and you've still put your family at greater risk.

Remember the NRA's old line: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." That's exactly true. Whomever is holding a gun, legally or not, is automatically at risk of killing or injuring someone. Home arsenal or not, it was blasted into my young head that one should never aim a gun at someone else. Guns were specifically invented as instruments of death, whether for combat or hunting. Thus when you pull your gun on crowbar man, you're threatening him with death, and then who knows what he'll do. Conversely, that same fear is why criminals wield guns in the first place: to scare you into giving up your TV, wallet, or whatever they're after. Yes, people commit outright murders with guns, but unless you're really a complete asshole or already engaging in some sort of criminal activity, you probably don't have to worry about that either.

I've seen at least a couple comments on DCist with people talking about making muggers think twice because now their victims may also be packing heat. Yet that's also ridiculous, and outside the scope of Friday's ruling, which applied exclusively to owning guns within homes, and upheld restrictions on carrying weapons through public space. Thus if mugger and victim are both carrying guns, then they're both breaking the law, and, frankly, both likely to end up dead. Again, the victim's attempt at defense makes the situation more dangerous not just the two individuals involved, but also for anyone who happens to be in the vicinity, including that cute little toddler staring out the window with his dog.

Basically, what I'm saying is that while living in the District, you don't need a damn gun. You're only endangering more lives (especially if you're an amateur shooter rather than a well trained marksman who practices regularly) than are already at risk with the guns already on the streets. But, if you wanna kill your wife to keep your TV, I guess that's your business too.

No comments: