Pistol Whipped

In a barbarous society, we have the right to protect ourselves against the barbarians.

But, when warding off barbarians, we have to be careful not to become barbarians. The pacifist view deserves respect. If a person would rather be killed, or raped, or beaten, than use a gun to harm another person, that person deserves respect.

But so do those who assert their right to resist such treatment. Your freedom stops short of freedom to hurt me. Because that is where my freedom to hurt you begins.

Another argument for banning guns is that if people didn't have guns, then the cops wouldn't be so prepared to shoot people out of fear that they've got guns. This is patently ridiculous. The problem is trigger-happy cops, not armed suspects. You don't need to have a gun--or seem like you have a gun--to get the Phoenix cops to shoot you. You can be 16 years old and waving a knife, and still get gunned down in a crossfire by half a dozen cops. You can be drunk and waving a bottle, and get shot by a cop who feels threatened by you, even though you're so wasted you can hardly stand.

Even if we had responsible cops who only shot people out of fear for their own lives, how would gun eradication make any difference? The bad guys would still have guns, and the cops would still be afraid that the people they were arresting might be packing.

Gun-eradication nuts love to cite the number of children who shoot themselves or each other when playing with their parents' guns. We can shake our heads at the grieving parents and say, "If they hadn't had a gun in the house, this wouldn't have happened."

These parents don't deserve sympathy. They deserve jail time. They should be held criminally responsible for allowing their kids access to the gun. You don't give children weapons to play with, any more than you let a 10-year-old drive your car. Guns didn't kill these kids. Parental negligence did.

In a world that's nice, we can all be nice. In an ideal world, we can leave our doors unlocked and go about our business unarmed, without fear of violence.

But in a world as brutal as this one, every peaceful person ought to acquire the capacity to be as brutal as his environment, when necessary.

In 1996, Phoenix had 186 violent deaths, classified by the FBI as "murder or non-negligent manslaughter." There were 460 rapes, 3,757 robberies and 6,126 aggravated assaults. How many of these could have been prevented if the victims had been armed?

Guns are here to stay. Or, if they're not, we're still light-years from finding a way to get rid of them. Rather than daydream about abolition, we should focus on control. The Brady law is a good thing. Any kind of check into a potential gun owner's background is. But the bottom line is this: In a society that can't guarantee us protection from violence, every law-abiding citizen should be able to protect himself.

In Arizona, you don't need any kind of permit to carry a gun, as long as the gun is in plain view. If you want to carry a concealed gun, you need a permit.

I haven't bothered to obtain such a permit, because I haven't felt the necessity. I don't want to conceal my gun. I want thugs to know I'm armed. When they know you've got a gun, people don't try to bully you casually or for fun. Only the seriously crazy are going to want to start anything with you.

Guns are very democratic. Size doesn't matter. Nor does gender. The bullet will hit you with the same force no matter who fires it. When you consider the 460 women who reported being raped in Phoenix in 1996, one thing becomes clear: We don't need gun laws to be tighter. We need to loosen them.

If you point a gun at someone, you are committing aggravated assault, according to the law. If you're convicted of pointing a gun at another person, the mandatory minimum prison sentence you receive is five years. You may only legally point a gun at someone if he is attacking you with deadly force, in which case you'll be doing more than pointing the gun--you'll be firing it.

This law is outrageous.
People are not equal in terms of size and strength. Unless she's had special training, the biggest, strongest woman is probably not going to be a match for most men. The kind of self-defense training necessary for women and small men to deal with bigger assailants requires years of dedicated practice. And, even with that, a bigger opponent with equal skill is going to beat you.

It ought to be legal to pull a gun on a person who is approaching you and threatening to assault you. In particular, a woman shouldn't have to wait until a man is using deadly force against her before she can point a gun at him.

It would be a far safer society for women if the anti-date-rape slogan "Which part of no don't you understand?" was replaced with "Which part of a Smith and Wesson don't you understand?"

Contact Barry Graham at his online address: bgraham@newtimes.com

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