Tragedies and Verbal Attacks

First of all, yes, I’m still here (if just barely, it feels like!) Things have gotten a bit crazy work-wise, and it doesn’t look like they’ll settle down much until after I move (same city, different house) in July. I also hd a minor motorcycle accident a month ago, and my hands have been in enough pain to make blogging a challenge.

I had a post ready to go on another subject, but then this horrific tragedy happened in Santa Barbara (just about a 90 minute drive away), and…well, it’s been ugly. So the post I had written is being shelved for another day so I can express some of what I’m feeling.

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Make Your Voice Heard

20121222-101435.jpgI try not to get too political on this blog, but today I’m going to break that rule and make a personal request of my readers.


It’s time for firearms owners to take a lesson from the gay rights movement and come out of the closet. Those that would ban firearms need to see and hear from us right now. We need to be respectful, intelligent, and informed, but we need to be visible. We need to say, “We are your daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers and neighbors and friends. We sit next to you at the PTA meeting, worship with you in your church/synagogue/mosque/etc. You KNOW us, you KNOW we aren’t criminals or murderers. Forget the stereotypes you see in the media; WE are the faces of America’s gun owners.”

Write your elected officials. (You can find your Congressperson here, and your Senators here). Tell them why people like you are not the problem. Encourage them to take real action on the real problems (public safety funding, mental health services, ineffective and dangerous gun-free zone laws etc.) rather than demonizing the vast numbers of law abiding American gun owners.

Support the Second Amendment Foundation. Or the NRA. Or your state and local gun rights organizations. Better yet, support all of them. They need your money, but they also need your time and energy and passion.

When Great Britain enacted a ban on most firearms, they declared open season on law-abiding citizens. The crime rate soared, and now the UK is the most dangerous country in Europe, with a per capita violent crime rate that exceeds the United States. The same thing has happened in other countries that have banned guns.

Don’t think it can’t happen here.

Make your voices heard, now and often. We’ve had historic gains in gun rights in recent years, but the war hasn’t been won yet. Get involved, get active, get visible.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Lessons from the Clackamas Mall Shooting

585836_31371578The mainstream media is whipping itself into a frenzy this morning after a shooting at a mall in Oregon yesterday. Although the details are fuzzy, current media reports suggest a killer with body armor and a semiautomatic rifle killed two people and wounded a third before taking his own life. Law enforcement response was gratifyingly fast — by some accounts, the first officers on scene arrived in less than two minutes — but by then the incident was already over and the killer lay dead of what sounds to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

I think there are some good lessons that can be learned from this incident, and I’d like to talk about a few of them. As tragic as yesterday’s events were for the victims and their families (and for the family of the killer, a victim of his crime and yet often overlooked), they’d be even more tragic if we didn’t learn anything from them.
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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 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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Why Logic Isn’t Enough

I had an interesting conversation with a family member yesterday that illustrated to me why discussing guns with those who aren’t already shooters is so challenging. I was born in Canada, and much of my family still lives there. As most people know, Canada has a very different culture around guns than the United States – handguns are much rarer than in the US and much more tightly controlled, and high-capacity long guns are exceedingly rare.

So, yesterday, I was talking with a close family member and I told her about the IDPA match I shot over the weekend. I told her what IDPA entails and that I intended to keep shooting. I invited her to attend an IDPA match and watch me shoot next time she visits. Predictably, the conversation then turned to the recent Aurora shooting, as well as a mass shooting that took place in Toronto a few weeks earlier and which seems to have rocked the Canadian cultural consciousness even more than Aurora has here.

Then she asked me if I would ever use a gun for self defense. Yes, I told her, if I ever found myself in a situation where my life was in jeopardy and there weren’t other options available to me, I would use any means necessary – including a firearm – to keep myself safe.

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An Open Letter to the Anti-Gun Folks

Over on the A Girl and Her Gun blog, I came across a terrific post with the same title as this one. Reading it, I was struck by the realization: I could have written this. Sure, some of the details of my life are different: I adopted my daughter from the US foster care system and not from abroad. My religious experiences were with the Jewish, not Christian, community. But I too have been awed by the kindness, support, encouragement and sense of belonging I’ve found in the gun community. And so, with AGirl’s permission, I am reposting her open letter here.

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