Why Do Gun Owners Love Their Guns? Not Because They Protect Us From Anything.

One thing about the gun debate I find interesting is how quickly and easily gun owners get riled up when politicians, or anyone else for that matter, begin talking about taking away their guns.  From the way they talk, you’d think the world was about to come to an end.  What was Heston’s famous line?  “From my cold, dead hands.”  Here’s a guy who made more forgettable movies than anyone could ever remember, but five words uttered at the NRA convention and he’s immortalized forevermore.

I see the same intensity of feelings in comments on my blog.  “You’re a traitor,” is one of the less-angry ones; “Mike the Gun Guy is Enemy #1,” crops up from time to time.  I have never once advocated any legislative or legal response to gun violence, but God forbid I say that maybe some of what the NRA claims to be true isn’t so true and you’d think I was calling for the confiscation of every, single gun.

heston                Maybe  I just don’t appreciate how gun owners think about their guns. So yesterday I decided to get a better understanding of the average gun owner by conducting a survey on how frequently gun guys (and gals) actually walk around with a gun.  After all, if you listen to the NRA, you quickly learn that nobody understands the problems faced by gun owners like they do, and nothing is more important to gun owners than being able to protect themselves and their loved ones by walking around with a gun.

So yesterday I sat down and sent an email to 650 people who took the required safety course from me that my state requires for issuance of the LTC.  And if they had, in fact, received the LTC, I asked them to tell me how often they carried a concealed weapon with the choices being: always, usually, sometimes, frequently or never at all.  Obviously, the folks who said they always or usually carried a concealed weapon were embodying Wayne LaPierre’s “good guys” dictum; the rest were pussies or worse.

Within 24 hours I received back more than 130 responses, of whom 102 stated they had received their LTC.  And how did the NRA do in convincing MR or MS gun-owner that they would be fulfilling a sacred trust by walking around with a gun?  Not very well, I’m afraid.  Only 29 of 97 LTC-holders reported that they ‘always’ or ‘usually’ carried a gun, of whom 22 were guys and 6 were gals.  The rest just weren’t convinced that they needed to carry a gun, and 53 of the respondents, 39 men and 10 women reported that they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ carried a concealed weapon at all.

Now don’t get me wrong.  The latest numbers indicate that there are roughly 8 million active concealed-carry permits in the United States, so if the results of my poll are representative, that means there may be about 2 million people walking the highways and byways of our beloved country ready at any moment to yank out and use their guns.  But 2 million doesn’t even represent 1% of the country’s population so it’s not like there’s some huge, gun-toting army out there just waiting to protect the rest of us from the criminal hordes.

On the other hand, a couple of million people who believe that something’s about to happen in DC that will directly affect them can make a lot of noise.  They can contact their Representatives, or make a telephone call, or send a nasty email to me.  I have never done any of those things because I can’t recall that Congress ever debated a law which would have any direct impact on me.  But the NRA, to their credit, has managed to make its membership feel that any discussion about gun control is a discussion about them.  Why pass up the opportunity to let everyone know what is the most important thing to you?  I wouldn’t, that’s for damn sure.

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Want To End Gun Violence? Ask Rev. Pat Robertson

The Reverend Pat Robertson has been telling Americans about all kinds of things for nearly fifty years on his 700 Club television show, and recently he spoke his mind about the issue of gun violence.  In response to a question from a young viewer who said that his father was “always” threatening his mother with a gun, Robertson said, “You ought to go to your Mom and say, ‘Mom, this thing is scaring me, and I ask you please to get my father to have some help.’” Robertson also advised the viewer not to report anything to the police.  “You don’t want your father busted,” the good Reverend said.

This may strike you as a rather novel way to deal with potential gun violence – telling the potential victim not to report the possibility that she is going to get shot – but it’s right out of the playbook on gun violence published by – you guessed it – the NRA.  Take a look at the brochure for the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program, for example, which allegedly has been read by 26 million children and tells kids that when they see a gun they should do the following:  Stop – Don’t Touch – Leave The Area – Tell An Adult.

Now what happens if the gun the kid sees is in the hands of an adult who happens to be the kid’s father and is threatening the kid’s mother?  Then you don’t have to do anything because an adult is already holding the gun.  And what if the gun is lying there in the street?  Either way, notice that it’s the same approach now endorsed by Reverend Robertson – Don’t Tell The Cops.

patThe NRA’s refusal to get law enforcement involved in stopping gun violence extends to the issue of domestic violence as well.  Several years ago with great hoopla, the NRA rolled out a new version of their Refuse To be A Victim training program which was developed by the “ladies of the NRA.”  The course, which I am certified to teach, covers security in the home, workplace, out of doors and online, but the 80+ page course workbook says nothing about how to protect yourself from domestic violence or what we now call Intimate Partner Violence or IPV.

One out of five homicide victims each year are women, but more than four out of five are killed in domestic disputes.  To the extent that women commit murder, roughly 10% of all perpetrators, virtually every incident started as a spousal or domestic argument that got out of control.  Either way, the idea that anyone, adult or child, who witnesses a potential gun assault should not report it to the cops is an idea that is both dangerous and absurd.

Robertson, you may recall, embarrassed even the most ardent religious conservatives when he joined with Jerry Falwell who said that the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center was God’s way of punishing America for being home to abortionists, lesbians, gays and liberal advocacy groups like People for the American Way. So nobody should be surprised when he comes up with a rather unique way of dealing with something like IPV.  But if the NRA is trying to figure out new strategies to get more women into guns, they better tap Reverend Jerry on the shoulder and explain to him why he’s so wrong.  On the other hand, what he’s saying really isn’t any different from what the NRA tells adults and kids to do and what not to do when there’s a gun in the wrong hands or a gun just lying around.