A Different Kind of Gun Victim

When you think of someone as devoid of humanity, you lose a bit of your own. Unless of course that person is truly a monster, like say, one who eats pizza with a fork.

So to stay human I try my darnedest to understand. That’s why I sympathize with someone who buys a gun for self-defense despite disagreeing with the purchase. We live in a scary-ass world. It makes sense to want protection. The problem as I see it? The facts show that a self-defense firearm actually puts you in greater danger. If you Google it and you’re honest, you can find a lot to support that. Here’s another link to get you started.

I was once the victim of a violent mugging, and I considered getting a weapon, but decided against it. I consider folks who rush out to buy a self-defense gun as a kind of victim. They are driven by fear to make a feel-good but counter-productive decision. They are the prey of a marketing trick as old as humanity that goes like this: “Buy our product, believe what we say, or you’re going to die.”

Of course, since we’re talking about odds, once in a while, a gun WILL help you instead of harm you. Just like how every now and then, someone uses their goddamn turn signal. Most of the time, though, such events are the stuff of fantasy.

If you play the overwhelming odds, owning a gun increases your chances of dying by gunshot. Push past the fear and get to the facts. The best way to reduce your chance of dying by firearm is to keep guns out of your home. That’s why the gun lobby works so hard to block gun research data. They don’t want any facts to exist beyond the reflexive fear.

All this said, I still want to concede that private gun ownership is a personal choice, like choosing your favorite color. The key difference is chartreuse won’t ever be stolen, discovered by a child, or used accidentally to tragic ends.

Related: a while back, I went on a bender of donating to charities. My mailbox was soon filled with further requests for money. Nearly all these pleas appealed to fear. If I didn’t give, the earth would melt. The animals would suffer. People would starve. Freedom would rot. Sometimes the warning included a call to arms that also worked as a guilt-trip worthy of any elderly aunt: If you don’t, who will? Wow. You guys are sending this to me and only me? I could be a hero? All for slapping one of these suggested amounts on my credit card? What about “other?” Can I still be a hero if I donate an “other” amount?

I tossed them all out and was more judicious about my donations. I focused more on groups that spoke clearly about what they accomplished rather than scaring me. Fear is sometimes appropriate, but not all warnings are created equal. Some are real: you might get shot. Some are not: the president is not likely to dispatch special forces to surround your house, steal your guns and scare away your cat.

Ultimately, I resist the idea that my mental state is something to be manipulated for the purpose of improving sales, no matter what the cause or product. That approach has given me more peace of mind than any weapon under my pillow ever could.