I’m a crime fiction guy. I write about guns all the time. I Google various weapons to make sure I’m getting facts straight. I’ve fired guns, too. Hell, I went to a military school, learning to handle firearms was part of the curriculum.
But I don’t like them much.
Fortunately, this election cycle, the whole gun thing hasn’t been getting that much play – not when the right has religion to fight over. It will be a curious thing, I might add, to see who gets custody of the baby Jesus. If it’s Gingrich, I hope he does better by him than he did by his own family. Or families, I guess.
The last week or so, though, the accompanying photo meme (PHOTO DELETED, AS IT TURNS OUT TO BE COPYRIGHTED. I HOPE THE GUN FANS WHO KEEP POSTING IT ON FACEBOOK SHOW AS MUCH RESPECT FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S PROPERTY RIGHTS AS I DO AND STOP POSTING IT WITHOUT THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE OR ATTRIBUTION. THE PICTURE SHOWED A WOMEN IN A BUSINESS SUIT, EXCEPT UNDER HER OPEN JACKET SHE’S WEARING A CAMISOLE, NOT A BLOUSE, REACHING FOR A HANDGUN. THE COPY PROMOTES USING A GUN FOR SELF DEFENSE) keeps popping up in my Facebook feed. And lately, passing concealed carry laws seems to be all the rage. I know guys who get positively priapic at the thought, get a little chubby when they start musing on the prospect of wandering around strapped everywhere they go, just like Wyatt Earp.
So I just thought I’d do a little fact checking, and I found this article from the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. Seems they researched a few thousand shootings involving firearms kept in the home, and here’s what they found. A weapon kept in the home was 22 times more likely to be used in an attempted or completed suicide, a criminal assault or homicide (usually against a family member), or an accidental shooting (usually involving a child) than it was to be used in a self-defense shooting.
In other words, keep a gun in your house and, if it is used at all, odds are better than 20 to 1 that it will be used to kill or injure a member of your household than it will be to ward off the boogeyman you bought it to save you from.
Still, people get to do shit that’s bad for them. We get to drink. We get to eat steak. And I really don’t like too much nanny state crap. So, you want to keep a gun in your house, or several, knock yourself out. But this concealed carry stuff? There I draw the line. When you start wandering the streets strapped, you might become my problem.
I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Wichita, Kansas over the past several years. Nice town. Ancestral home of Scott Phillips. I know it’s got it’s rough neighborhoods, but the area we were in, Rock Road, Webb Road, around in there, it seems to be mostly pretty wealthy white people and churches. Lots of churches. Anyway, Kansas passed one of those concealed carry laws a couple years back. Suddenly, I started seeing all these NO GUN stickers (a picture of a pistol with that universal red circle and slash) on the doors to hotels, restaurants, shops, even on the doors to people’s homes. Lots of folks like to talk about their right to bear arms, but I guess they don’t think much about the right of other folks not to have a lot of loaded guns hiding in their home or place of business.
One night, we stopped into an Applebee’s for a late bite. And I see this guy wandering around the restaurant, got a Glock right there on his hip. Turns out he’s the manager. When he gets to our table to ask how everything is, I tell him I’m from out of town and, frankly, I’m a little nervous.
“Why?” he asks.
“This must be a high crime area.”
“Oh, no,” he says. “Wonderful neighborhood. It’s very safe. You have nothing to worry about.”
“But you must get robbed a lot,” I say.
He laughs. “Ten years in this location and we’ve never had any trouble. Just relax and enjoy your meal.”
In nodded at the automatic on his hip. “So what’s with that? Just some kind of Walter Mitty thing then?”
He wandered away, muttering something about liberals.
Sure, every so often a gun saves somebody somewhere from a horrible fate at the hands of a horrible person. But it seems for every happy story like that, there are better than twenty where a kid shoots a sibling, or what might have been just another incident of domestic violence turns into a homicide, or where someone struggling with depression sticks the barrel in his mouth because having the gun handy, it just made it that much easier to end it all.
And I know that every gun lover out there is going to tell me how that could never happen in their house. They’ll tell me about their gun safe and their trigger locks and about how they never have a loaded gun anywhere a kid could get at it. But if the gun isn’t loaded and handy when the boogeyman comes to call, then what good is it? And if it is loaded and handy, then I call bullshit on all the claims to safety. And then they’ll tell me hey, accidents happen. But car accidents kill way more people than gun accidents. You wanna outlaw cars? Yeah, but when cars aren’t getting into accidents, they’re taking people to work, kids to school, moms to grocery stores. When guns aren’t being fired, they’re just sitting there waiting to be.
Do I want the government to go house to house and take everybody’s guns away while the black helicopters hover overhead waiting to pick off patriots trying to scamper into the woods with their deer rifles? No. You want a gun in your house, fine. I hope you handle it safely. I hope it never bites you or anyone you love on the ass.
But you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t want you wandering the streets with one. Better to be judged by twelve, the gun lovers like to say, then to be carried by six. But I’d rather not be judged by you, thanks all the same. You see, that 20 to 1 business, I don’t think the causative issue there is the boundary of the home, I think it is the judgement of the gun owners. And I don’t like my odds.