Archive for March 24th, 2014

by lizard

Pete Talbot is disappointed and disturbed that I would join the ranks of Republican gun enthusiasts, which he makes very clear with this comment:

I’m disappointed, liz. Joining the ranks of Gary Marbut? Seriously listening to Adam’s discourse on dropping methheads with a .22 hollowpoint v. a 9mm jacketed? Good company.

I’ve had whackos in my life, too, but I’m 60-years-old and never felt the need for a handgun. I’ve seen far more damage — suicides, accidental shootings, rage homicides — than legitimate acts of self defense.

What I find more disturbing is your comment on social and economic turmoil getting worse. You can buy an arsenal of weapons, move up some draw in the Bitterroot or Sanders County, and hole up. Or you can embrace your community, work with others to make things better and envision a world that has fewer guns rather than more.

While Pete did walk back his comment a bit, it’s that last paragraph I find the most intriguing. I’m going to assume Pete hasn’t read about this NASA-funded report about the potential for an “irreversible collapse” of our industrial civilization that specifically mentions resource exploitation and economic inequality between the wealthy elite and the rest of us as risk factors that have contributed to collapses in past complex societies, like the Han, Roman, and Mesopotamian empires. Here’s an excerpt:

By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.”

I wish I could just ignore the plausible nightmare scenarios where the social order breaks down and we are left to our own devices. Maybe I am just being paranoid. After all, I live in Missoula, and what can go wrong in our idyllic mountain college town, right?

After a lot of thought I completed the transaction yesterday and purchased a Ruger Mark III .22 caliber pistol. It took me about 20 minutes to fill out the paperwork. When I told my father, he told me it’s probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.

I have two young kids and what I just did dramatically increases the chance they will die in our home from a gun-related accident. The responsibility I have as a parent is tremendous.

I truly appreciate the feedback from readers about this decision, especially this comment from Nameless Range:

Hey lizard I think others gave you good advice and you’re going the right way with getting a 22.

I think it is important to recognize though that having a gun in your house increases the probability that your children will die due to a gun accident. We all like to think we are outliers but the statistics are pretty clear.

I have a gun in my house for self-defense and I have two small children. If you’re going to have one gun I think it is worth your while to put as much thought into the safe you will have that gun in as the gun itself. I have a quick safe which is a four button combo. Practicing getting your gun out of the safe Safely and quickly is a must or else the purpose of having a gun is really defeated.

I would also not hide the fact that you have a gun from your children. Force them to associate your gun with danger and terrible consequences. You don’t want to instill fear of others into them, But I think it is better to explain gun safety and rules to them as opposed to creating some sort of forbidden fruit effect about the gun in dad’s closet.

I’ve wrestled with these things myself. I own many guns but only one is accessible. As a gun owner, don’t shy away from the fact that having a gun in your house increases the chances of your family members dying because of a gun. That’s a cost-benefit analysis you have to make yourself.

I did not see this post coming.

This is the kind of practical advise I was hoping for, because it both acknowledges how difficult the decision process is while providing some common sense suggestions about how to manage increased risk of a tragic accident happening.

My wife and I have already started the conversation with our kids about guns. I want them to be as aware and informed about guns as possible so they know how dangerous guns can be, but I also don’t want to create the “forbidden fruit effect”.

So thanks again for the feedback, even the criticism. For me this is a practical matter, and the political sectarianism, like Pete, is getting old. If I get to be 60, the year will be 2039, and like I told Pete, I’m not feeling all that optimistic about 2039. My outlook would be different if I knew there was the political will to begin substantively addressing the damage human beings are doing to the planet. Unfortunately our politicians are still playing the Great Game against old adversaries. If that doesn’t change I shudder to imagine the kind of world my kids will inherit.

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