Yup, I get it. People in England (and, for that matter, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine . . . no, wait, not Ukraine) can’t understand why anyone would want to own a gun. To be fair, there are some people here with the same mindset.
Below, I’ll recount a lengthy exchange of ideas (read: me being called an unreasonable and paranoid gun nut) with a guy named Robin. Robin lives in England. The conversation occurred in the comment section of one of Michael Shermer’s posts about guns and gun violence.
It began with me commenting that Shermer had casually discounted the case of self-defense when presenting his anti-gun argument. Namely, as mentioned in previous Tiny Thoughts (HERE and HERE), not only aren’t the cops likely to be there when you need them, but they’re also under no obligation to come if you call them. (Side note: the recent events in Texas should dispel any idea that the cops will come and save you from an attacker.)
The following are excerpts of multiple threads cured to give the gist of the discussion.
Robin: “I’m going to assume that as a responsible gun owner you claim you are, that your guns are trigger locked and locked away in a gun safe. If so, how long would it take you to get your weapon in the event of a home breakin? So much for defending your family.”
ejd: “This is reminiscent of dishonest discussions I have with religious folks, where they think they have a “got you!” question . . . but I’ll reply as if you’re actually serious (and honest). As far as being able to get to the guns in the safe, probably about a minute. But, I would be already armed because my carry gun is on my nightstand when I’m sleeping, right next to my phone and powerful flashlight.“
I then described the procedure in the event my alarm goes off due to someone attempting to gain entry to our home. Here’s the abridged version: I close and brace the bedroom door, grab the shotgun from the safe, wait for the alarm monitoring service to call, and in the meanwhile, I look at the camera feeds from the outside and inside the house. If it’s a credible threat (or even a possibility of one), I’ll request the police be dispatched as I wait in the bedroom. When they get there (5-10min or more), they will do a visual inspection of the outside, and if there’s no evidence of a break-in, they’ll ask if I want them to do a sweep of the house. Again, my response depends on what the cameras showed me and which sensor was set off. All the while, I’m hoping no one tries to enter the bedroom … but I’m prepared if they do.
Robin: “The best adjective to describe your preparations is probably, “wow “. Why are you so afraid? Do you live in a high crime area? As to my plan, I don’t have one. The probability of experiencing a home invasion is no doubt the same as dying in an airplane crash and I don’t fly wearing a parachute.”
I then gave a lengthy response about his poor use and grasp of statistics and of the effectiveness of wearing a parachute on a commercial airliner flying at 30,000 ft at a speed of more than 500mph.
To wit, the chances of being killed in a home invasion — albeit small — are much, much greater than the chances of dying in an airplane crash just because you’re at home a lot more often than in a tin can at 30,000 feet. Furthermore, the chances of being seriously hurt due to a violent crime incident are greater still.
Also, while the parachute is of no use if your airplane is plunging out of the sky, a gun is arguably an effective deterrent if someone intends to harm you inside your home (or anywhere, but we’re talking about home invasions here). Comparing the two shows a profound lack of understanding of the concept of agency. It’s akin to saying getting attacked is fate, and you can’t do anything about fate.
I mention the odds are small for being killed in a home invasion . . . The FBI’s figures for 2018 show that nearly two-thirds of the total number of burglaries were home invasion burglaries (around 685,766 total). Of these, the biggest share (56.7%) were committed by forcible entry, 36.7% were unlawful entries, and 6.6% were attempted via forcible entry.
There are around 100 burglaries that result in homicide every year in the United States, so, yes, the odds are small … but not zero. While living in Franklin (MI), arguably one of the safest places I’ve ever lived, a couple was killed as a result of a home invasion.
The chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Marion — where we now live — is 45% higher than the national average.
Now, let’s cut Robin some slack. Home invasions are indeed rare in England. Actually, we don’t know because crime isn’t reported the same way as here, but extrapolating from what little data is available (they don’t like reporting crime over there) it appears it’s relatively rare.
I don’t live in England.
But, let me address something else he asked: Why are you so afraid?
I was surprised by the question because I’m not afraid. I have a plan. I envision the possibility of something happening, formulate a plan of action, and I sleep better for it . . . and I said so.
Robin: “Gleaning, sometimes accurately and sometimes inaccurately, what a person feels comes from their actions. Your actions, as described, are the actions of one who is afraid and you nearly admit to being so. Your preparedness is for bad things, not good things and it is only human to be afraid of bad things.“
Now, I admit to this annoying me a bit, as might be evident in my response:
“Your beliefs about the world (and apparently, me) are rooted in your confidence that you know how the world and people work . . . but so do mine. I could assume you speak with the confidence of someone oblivious to reality, and that, in my eyes, would make you the happy fool. Sorry . . . an arrogant happy fool.
But, I have no such opinion. I assume you’re happy in whatever state of mind and circumstances you enjoy, and truly wish no harm comes to you to shatter what you perceive as reality.
But, you should return the courtesy of accepting what I choose to tell you about myself and my state of mind rather than judging me by your standards.
Otherwise, whether I believe it or not, you’re just being arrogant.”
I lied, of course . . . because I do think people like Robin and others are oblivious to reality. But I am honest when I express my wish that nothing happens to shatter their view of themselves and the world around them.
Because even in their ‘safer’ countries, crime — and violent crime — is a fact of life. (If you are from England, in that map of crime, turn off everything but ‘Violent Crime & Rape’, and see what’s happening where you live.)
The response to that fact — the possibility of violent crime entering one’s orbit — is what sets Robin and me apart.
I choose to be an active participant in securing my safety with whatever options are at my disposal, and those options are vastly different than those available to Robin because they include self-defense.
And that’s the greatest chasm between Robin (and others) and me . . . we live in different worlds and have a different mindset. The difference is that I don’t fault his choices, but I’m tired of he and others like him faulting mine. Because, you see, while I agree the odds are small, the consequences are disproportionately bad should I be an unlucky victim.
So, for the last time . . . I don’t live in fear, and if it will help anyone understand, I choose to own and carry a gun for the same reason I wear a seatbelt. In the case of the seatbelt, it’s not that I’m afraid of driving; it’s that I know that in certain situations, my chances are better wearing a seatbelt than not. My life is not focused on wearing a seatbelt or obsessing about what might happen as I’m out driving. Along with not driving distracted and being situationally aware, it’s just what I do as I go about enjoying a nice drive.
The other difference is that here — unlike in England — the cops are all for me being armed and taking charge of my immediate safety. And, I have to tell you this: when the people with lots of experience in dealing with criminals actively encourage me to get the means to protect myself, I listen.
I’ve now lived in four places, and in three of them (excluding Hawaiʻi), the cops did just that. If your cops are telling you something different and you’re happy about it, vade con spaghetti monstrum volantes. But that’s not me,
And so it goes.
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