madd0ct0r wrote:The principal of de-escalating the weapons-race between criminals and the population relies on guns being difficult and expensive to get hold of. But I accept that wilderness areas will need them, that certain professions might require them and I'm on the fence regarding home defence. It's a clear and obvious force equaliser for you Broomy, and I'd like to say your situation is pretty extreme, but maybe it isn't.
I sum up my position regarding the 2nd Amendment as I like having the option
, even if I've never actually owned a firearm. Guns really are an equalizer between fit males in their prime and everyone else. Of course, that also means "everyone else" can become just as dangerous and damaging as well as equally able to defend themselves. It is not an unmixed situation. A few years ago we had a frail, elderly mugger robbing people at the mall at gunpoint.
In the past, I have reacted to the neighborhood getting bad by moving. Unfortunately, that is not practical at this time. At one point in his youth my spouse explicitly owned handguns for self-defense while living in a rough neighborhood (that was before the de facto
gun ban in Chicago), but when he moved away from there he sold his guns, no longer desiring to own them. Purchasing a gun was one option we looked into (as documented in this forum) but we have elected not to buy a shotgun at this time. I think it gets lost in the gun the debates that a lot of Americans choose not to own guns for a variety of reasons, may own guns for a time then go back to being gunless, and are basically NOT fanatically on either side of this debate but really do make thoughtful decisions as to whether or not to purchase a hazardous tool. There are multiple ways to protect yourself and most people I know who own guns utilize more than one and would prefer to never have to shoot another human being.
For that matter, one of the handful of people I've know who have actually shot someone chose NOT to use his firearms the last time someone physically threatened him - he used a piece of metal pipe even though he had two fully loaded guns in the cab of his truck at the time, both within as easy reach as the pipe. When the police inquired as to his choice of pipe vs. gun he stated that he didn't actually want to kill the guy, he just wanted to stop him. That's another example of guns being an option. Even if you're carrying one you're not obligated to use it. (Also very clearly self-defense - the whole confrontation was caught on surveillance camera, with my friend very clearly trying to shove the guy away, close the door of his truck, using fists to try to fight him off, then escalating to pipe-over-skull.)
But that type of rational gun owner doesn't make the news. I assure you that that sort is far, far more typical than the whackos featured by the media, because crazy people bring better ratings and sell more cornflakes.
Maybe just the majority of folks in areas like yours wouldn't hang out in circles that overlap with my internet nerdery, and my impression of america as 90% suburbs of spoiled white over-grown teenagers is biased by tv shows and reddit.
Yes, TV does have an unfortunate and distorting bias. The suburbs are a significant slice of the US, but not the whole of it. Things are very different in true urban areas and rural areas. For that matter, there are significant differences between blue-collar suburbs and upper-class suburbs. Regional differences, too. I remember back when the Japanese were getting involved in the Detroit auto industry the Japanese just could not wrap their heads around the local passion for deer-hunting season - you just couldn't schedule any meaningful meeting or work project during that time due the numbers of men heading off into the woods with guns. Absolutely baffling to newcomers that this fever infected even executives of major corporations. I don't think deer season was ever quite so entrenched in the Chicago area.
madd0ct0r wrote:I know in the UK there are specialist funds for things like reinforced doors for people who have been the victim of hate crimes/vendettas ect, and I think that, as a principle, the steps should be 1) dealing with the source of the crime(hah!), 2) non-violent prevention that dosen't impinge on the possible victim, 3) de-escalating and insurance, 4)violent self defense.
Of course, you can prepare for all four steps, especially if the first three are ineffective and there's a significant residual risk.
There IS a reason why really bad neighborhoods in the US feature steel bars on all the windows.
Renters are somewhat hampered by the situation that they are limited in what modifications they can make to the property they live in. Then you have the US meme of self-reliance where it can be difficult to impossible to vote public funds for turning urban ghetto residences into small forts... but most ghetto families can scrape together the funds for a shotgun. Which, by the way, can be had for less money than reinforced doors, which has something to do with why the gun option is chosen as often as it is, it makes economic sense. Then there's the old trick of gluing razor blades to windowsills so if a thief tries to pull himself up to enter the window he gets his hands sliced up which has probably boosted sales of x-acto blades and superglue for decades in the big cities... really there are several ways to defend your home.
One of the appeals of a pump-action shotgun is that very distinctive noise it makes, the one that says "there is a gun here and someone is ready to use it" even from behind a closed door. Yelling "I have a gun and I'm willing to use it" through a door or window followed by that distinction krCHUNKchk!
will tend to make anyone hesitate. It can discourage a home invader just as a large dog can, to the point that some people use recordings of that sound as a form of self defense along with sound clips of dogs barking or dummy video cameras or signs saying "Beware of Dog". Most of the bad guys don't want to get hurt and if you can convince them your home contains a vicious dog, loaded shotgun, and is documenting their actions they are much more inclined to go elsewhere - but that only works if it's plausible
that you have a big dog, a video camera, or a loaded gun.
Realistically, most people, even in the most dangerous neighborhoods, use multi-layered defenses and don't just rely on guns.
The thing is, if I accept the use of shotguns ect for step 4. and it follows that said gun should be trained with and kept accessible and usable in a short time frame for it to fufill it's role, then along with the wilderness and professions, that's a shit ton of weaponry floating around the country and a criminal will not find it difficult to get hold of one.
Yes, as I said, not an unmixed blessing.
I've known people to utilize gun safes, who disable their guns outside of hunting season, who instead of leaving their guns in an empty home while they're away on business or vacation will leave them with trusted friends... there are ways to to make guns harder to steal.
Also, as recently demonstrated in Britain, it is possible for amateurs to make effective guns out of various common materials. It's not just that guns are common, knowledge about guns is common, too.
Is a situation where a criminal has a gun and the victim dosen't significantly worse than one where both do? It increases the chance of the criminal doing bad things at gunpoint, but it halves the chance of an accidental shooting of each other or a bystander. I guess it depends on the frequency of the 'doing bad things at gunpoint', which does need to be actually thought about and not a knee jerk reaction. The smallest chance of self defense is not something that is sacred, it's not an axiom.
It's a bit more complicated than that - how often does a criminal hesitate to target someone due to concerns that person might be armed? Guns aren't the only potential weapon, how does the possibility of a target fighting back change the equation? How would you even begin to research and quantify that? We do have statements from criminals that these things factor into who they pick as victims.
It also factors into people committing crimes - there have been people who have successfully robbed banks, mugged people, and even escaped from jail by using either unloaded, toy, or fake guns. All that was required was to convince the other party is was a real, loaded gun even though it wasn't. According to the FBI John Dillinger escaped from the Crown Point, Indiana jail by using a pistol carved from a potato
, although some reports said it was carved from soap. My local sheriff department, still headquartered in Crown Point, doesn't really like being reminded of that, and rumor has it that this is why they invariably serve mashed instead of baked potatoes at the jail. They do still allow the prisoners soap.
Of course, there are some people who are just fucking stupid - there have
been instances of morons trying to rob a gun store
. I mean, holy fuck, if there is ONE place where the people inside the building are guaranteed to be armed...! Oddly enough, these situations do not usually end in a hail of bullets. What happens is that when the would-be thief sees the employees and customers draw and point at him he has a sudden attack of smarts and surrenders.
A uesful thought experiment is would anyone support the outlawing of guns, but the legalising of carrying up to three grenades?
Hmm.... nope. Grenades are even more liking to injury bystanders/damage property as their force expands globally from their detonation point. Guns and bullets can be aimed and more precisely direct damage, which makes it easier to limit collateral damage.