Availability Bias and the “Right to Safety”

Robert Farago at The Truth About Guns had a post the other day titled “Note to Gun Control Advocates: Safety is Not a Right” In it, he responds to a northjersey.com editorial which preaches that:

Holding up the shield of the Second Amendment does not cut it. Yes, Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. And children have the right to attend school without worrying they’ll get killed. Pedestrians have the right to walk down a street without fearing for their lives. Moviegoers have the right to sit with strangers for two hours without thinking they’ll be mowed down.

Robert responds to this post and makes an impassioned argument that “safety” isn’t a right, and that it isn’t a right the government could guarantee even if it was. (I think he’s correct in both of these assertions, by the way).

He writes:

In fact, gun control advocates’ attempts to make safety a “right” reduces public safety rather than increases it. You only have to look at every country that’s instituted gun control—especially as a preamble to mass murder—to see the truth of that statement.

Bottom line: gun control advocates can argue for the need to “balance” the right to keep and bear arms against an individual’s desire not to get shot. But unless gun control folks amend the U.S. Constitution they’re claiming ground which does not belong to them. And never will.

Although I think Robert’s analysis is correct, I think this argument is likely to be dismissed by the anti-gun folks as legalistic hair-splitting. More to the point, though, I think Robert’s focus in his response mentions, but fails to delve into, a far more rational reason why the anti-gun argument to which he was responding is wrong. The basic problem is that the anti-gun crowd is falling victim to a common cognitive bias and not realizing it. As a direct result of thousands of years of evolution, their minds are leading them astray.

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Do You Break Knife Clips?

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve brown another knife clip.

You see, I carry my knives in my pants pockets, on the inside of the pocket and clipped to the front of the pocket. This does a good job of holding the knife where I can access it quickly, without it rattling around in my pocket too much.
Except that twice in recent weeks, I’ve caught the clip on something and broken it. Once it was my Spyderco Endura, whose clip caught on the back of a chair when I stood up. The force applied to those little T-6 Torx screws was enough to rip all three of them out of the Zytel handle, where they promptly disappeared into the carpet never to emerge.
Today it was the Gerber F.A.S.T. Draw that took the hit, catching on a sliding door when I went outside to throw trash away. The screw holes on the Gerber’s handle are reinforced, so the screws didn’t rip out. Instead, the clip itself fractured into two neat pieces. Once again, my trusty Torx screwdriver removed the broken pieces, and Gerber is hopefully sending me replacement hardware. It’s inconvenient, but I have other ways to carry the F.A.S.T. Draw, and I have another knife, so it’s not the end of the world. But it’s definitely getting boring and annoying to keep having to replace the stupid clips.
So, I’m curious: How do you carry your knives to avoid this problem? Or are there other knives whose clips are less likely to break? I’ve been reasonably happy with both my Spyderco and the Gerbers, but I’ve also seen some worthy objects of lust in the CRKT catalog which arrived in today’s mail. (This and this, for example.) And while we’re at it, what’s your current favorite EDC knife? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Teachable Moments

I’ve had a few people ask me lately about teaching firearms safety, safety and self-defense to kids. I’m working on some stuff specifically about teaching gun safety and shooting to kids, but it’s also important to me that my daughter learn the skills of personal safety and awareness.

Nutmeg is almost 17 and she’s at that age where she finds sport in calling me an “old lady”. (I’m on the near side of 40, though barely, and this seems terribly old to her). So, she’s not yet learned the lesson that kids seem to forget between the ages of 12 and 25: namely, that the way Mom survived to be “an old lady” is because she actually knows stuff.

Because of this, Nutmeg tends to be impatient when she perceives that I’m “teaching” her stuff. She’ll say things like, “I have to listen to blah-blah-blah all day at school; I don’t want to listen to it at home too.” If she’s feeling especially flippant, she’lll say “learning stuff causes cancer.” There’s no question Nutmeg is growing up to be a spirited young lady, which is a good thing, but which means Mom has to be a bit cleverer about taking “teachable moments” where I can find them.

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“Stop-n-Rob” Safety, and Risk Assessment

Ben Branam at Modern Self-Protection has a great post up about avoiding robbery at convenience stores, which he refers to as “Stop-n-Robs”. This is not far from the truth – “convenience store worker” is consistently among the more dangerous jobs out there. Especially for night shift workers. I know a woman who used to work in such a place who was raped and stabbed by a would-be robber early one morning. Robberies are commonplace, and I know of at least one shooting locally that took place in such a store.

I especially liked Ben’s suggestion to play the “what-if” game.He explains:
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Magical Thinking

I had a challenging conversation yesterday about my interest in safety and self-defense, and the end result left me feeling frustrated and bewildered.

“I believe in the Law of Attraction“, this person declared, “and by focusing so much attention on this negative and scary stuff, I think you’re attracting danger and violence into your life. If you don’t spend so much time and energy thinking about bad stuff happening, it won’t happen.”

I was momentarily stunned into speechlessness. It was clear from the conversation that the person I was talking to genuinely believed what he was saying. It was equally clear that he had no idea how absolutely ridiculous this idea sounds to my ears. The empirical evidence is vast, it seems to me, to support the proposition that trouble finds us whether we expect it or not, and that it’s better to have it find us prepared than unprepared. And besides which, all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that being aware and confident and prepared makes us less attractive targets for the predators, not more attractive. When I’d regained the ability to talk, I said so.

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Video: “Guns 101 – The 4 Safety Rules”

This is an excellent video by Shelley Rae. If you don’t know her, she’s a shooter, gun blogger, and the editor of Western Shooting Journal. Good info, and Shelley’s sense of humor definitely comes through as well.

Blog to Check Out: e.IA.f.t

The title is unwieldy to type, but the e.IA.f.t blog, run by Bill Keller over at Eastern Iowa Firearms Training, is chock-full of good stuff – especially geared to new shooters. I also found a post over there about the care and feeding of knives, which I’ve snipped for future reference. There’s tons of good information over there, so I highly encourage you to check it out.

Where Do You Draw the Line?

Over at Active Response Training, Greg Ellifritz has a terrific post today about where we draw the line in terms of decisions we might make in the face of a violent crime. Do we hand over our wallet? Our car? Our clothes? Our children?

These are decisions we should think about ahead of time, because prior thought and planning displaces the “fight/flight/freeze” response that arises from circumstances catching us off-guard.

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IANAL: Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy, and “Good Shoots”

First of all, let me clear something up: The acronym in the title of this post stands for “I Am Not a Lawyer”, which is true. Please don’t construe anything I write here as legal advice. Although I am trained as a paralegal, that isn’t the same thing as being a lawyer, and since the laws of every jurisdiction vary, it’s up to you to check what I have to say with a lawyer who’s licensed to practice law in your state.

With that said, this is the first of what I hope will be an occasional series about aspects of the law as it relates to self-defense. I know, I know, “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six” and all that, you may be saying. But really, if you survive your tangle with violence but end up incarcerated and/or in bankruptcy court to satisfy a civil judgment, it’s a bit of a hollow victory, no? Saving your life is good, but so is not bringing financial ruin down upon your family.

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EDC: In My Purse

Some time ago, I did a post about the things I carry every day in my pockets or on my body. In it, I promised to talk about the stuff that I always keep close by but not necesarily on my body. For this purpose, I’m using the phrase “in my purse” somewhat loosely. Depending on the situation – where I am, who’s with me, what’s around me, these items might not literally be in my purse. But they’re almost always close at hand.

Ready to take a look? Here’s what I’ve got:

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