For the Good of the Children

20121125-220322.jpgWhen they’re pushed for a justification for the latest proposed restriction on the right to keep and bear arms, gun control advocates often dredge up the rationale that it’s “for the children”. They assume that the public will support any measure that claims to make society safer for our kids, and unfortunately, too often in the past the public’s fallen for it.

I had a couple of teaching and shooting things going on this past weekend, and one of them was a Ladies Night at the range I frequent. I took the almost-16-year-old daughter of a close friend of mine who enjoys shooting (and has quite a bit of natural aptitude), and enjoyed watching her score hits on her target. While we were shooting and afterward, we talked quite a bit, and so I’d like to share a few things that I think are good for our our kids.

I think it’s good for our kids to have the tools and mindset to own their own safety. When I was a volunteer rape crisis advocate, I heard far too many stories from women who voluntarily incapacitated themselves with alcohol and drugs and intentionally placed themselves in dangerous situations — and then were surprised and indignant that nobody was there to save them. Here’s the basic reality: The police cannot be everywhere, and even in my small city it takes 4 to 6 minutes for the cops to respond to a “hot” 9-1-1 call. Compared to the national average, this is quite good, but a bad guy can inflict a lot of harm in that amount of time. I want my kids to be prepared with the tools and mindset they need to keep themselves safe, rather than waiting for rescue that will in all likelihood come far too late.

The Jewish rabbis used to say that it is incumbent upon parents to teach their children three things: The knowledge of the Torah (the bible and rabbinic teachings), a trade to provide for themselves and their families, and how to swim. And they explained that this last duty is the most important, because it’s the one most closely connected to the paramount requirement in Judaism: The preservation of life. I teach the young adults in my life to shoot because that skill will help them preserve and defend their lives and the lives of their loved ones, and there is (in my view of things) no more sacred duty than that.

I think it’s good for our kids to tackle challenging skills and experience the self-esteem that comes from mastering them. Shooting is a skill that combines strength, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving and decision-making skills. All of these are important life skills that I want all our daughters and sons to go out into the world possessing. Sometimes people are afraid to challenge their kids for fear of hurting their self-esteem. I think this is a mistake, because I think self-esteem comes from being able to tackle something hard and accomplish it. My friend’s daughter got an IV shot of self-esteem from landing four shots in a row inside the ten ring that a whole night of telling her how great she is could never have provided.

I think it’s good for our kids to learn to make responsible choices, and to be accountable for them. There’s no question that it takes responsibility to use firearms safely. You don’t really get to have an “off day” where gun safety is concerned, and when one is handling a mechanical device with the potential to cause serious injury or death – be it a gun, a power tool, or a car or motorcycle – there are definite and serious consequences to carelessness. But this is the reality of a great many things in life, and I think that learning responsibility and accountability is an absolutely essential skill for our kids.

And, finally…

I think it’s good for our kids to know that we will do whatever we can to protect them. This is going to sound harsh, and I mean it so deliberately: I do not ever want to be looking into my daughter’s haunted eyes and trying to explain to her why I didn’t do enough to prevent her from being attacked or raped. I don’t ever want to be standing over her murdered body and hearing her voice in my head asking why I didn’t have the gun and shooting skills that could have stopped her attacker before he took her life. Yes, the odds of both of those outcomes are low, but odds are cold comfort for those who are, in fact, victimized. I want to know that I did everything I could to safeguard my loved ones, and my gun, knife, and defensive skills are the tools for meeting that burden.

The anti-gun folks offer magical thinking and sophistry to try to convince me that I shouldn’t equip myself with the ability to safeguard myself and my loved ones, but magical thinking and sophistry are not nearly good enough. I am not willing to sacrifice my life or my loved ones to the altar of shared delusion that “the police will protect you” or “there will be rivers of blood running in the streets if law-abiding citizens are armed.” I am not willing to give up my life for the sake of ideology – especially ideology that’s directly refuted by thirty years of data.

I am a responsible, law-abiding, armed citizen – for my own good, and for the good of the children.

Comments

  1. Excellent points all!! Kids have such a natural talent for the shooting sports as well. I had a shotgun merit badge class for a Troop a couple weekends ago. We had a couple guys go from never having shot a gun in their life to breaking 12 clays out of 25 in just a few short hours. They were some pretty happy critters.

    I fully agree that the “antis” have a fondness for “letting the professionals handle it” – in many areas that can easily be 10s of minutes away. The only thing they will handle is the aftermath. The earlier kids learn to be responsible for their protection and parents learn to be responsible for their family’s protection, the better!

    • “The earlier kids learn to be responsible for their protection and parents learn to be responsible for their family’s protection, the better!” Absolutely.

      When I’m teaching, I sometimes tell my students that the average nationwide response time for 9-1-1 calls is eight to twelve minutes. Sometimes, if I’m teaching a crowd that I know is uncomfortable around guns, I’ll actually time out eight minutes with a stopwatch. “Just how badly,” I’ll ask, “do you think someone with that amount of time could hurt you or your family?”

      It’s an uncomfortable truth, but I tend to prefer uncomfortable truths to pretty lies.

  2. Excellent, as always Tammy.

    Just don’t forget that the police, nor any government agency, has ANY legal obligation to protect any individual, EVER, even if they were physically able to do so, and honestly wanted to do that job. It is simply not possible.

    I own my life and body, and I am the only one who is responsible for that life and my safety (and that of my legitimate dependents). THAT’S why I carry a gun. 🙂

    • Indeed. I have a friend who likes to say that the reason he carries a gun is because cops are heavy and don’t fit well into a holster. To that I’d add that there simply aren’t enough of them to go around.

      My local police department has something like 45 sworn law enforcement officers for a city of about 42,000 people. Needless to say, not all of those 45 officers are on the streets at any given point of time – but even if they were, it would still mean that there was only one cop for every thousand citizens. How could they ever protect everyone?

  3. I just had an interesting conversation with my boys on the way to school this morning. In the course of the conversation, it came out that they were worried about my safety and being home alone while they were at school. I told them that I keep my pistol on or near me during the day and did that make them feel better? They both gave a relieved “Yes”. (I know this doesn’t have anything to do with what you wrote exactly, but the headline made me think of it.)

    • I think it might be easier for kids to wrap their heads around the idea of armed self-defense than it is for some adults, because kids don’t carry around all the ideological baggage that adults do. For kids, the math may be as simple as “mommy carries a gun in case bad guys try to hurt her or us”. It’s a shame more adults can’t see this simple truth.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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