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Everyone, Just Stop Obsessing!

by Gila Hayes

Talking with attorney John Harris earlier this month turned my thoughts to the way people on both sides of the pro-gun/anti-gun divide worry about guns and gun-related issues so much more than life’s more common risks—like obesity, careless driving, heavy smoking or excessive alcohol use, to name only a few.

I wonder why an inanimate tool appears at the top of so many “to worry about” lists. Politicians stir up the flocks of Ovid aries because rabble rousing on an anti-gun platform raises more money than the hard work and sacrifice required to solve real, human problems. As gun enthusiasts, we all too often elevate firearms – these mere mechanical objects – to iconic status of far greater importance than the useful tool that a gun, realistically, is. It’s equipment, folks.

By comparison, responsible people don’t leave sharp chef’s knives where their children may inadvertently cut themselves, so fortunately, state legislatures have not yet deemed it necessary to pass laws ordering cooks to securely lock up kitchen knives when not in use. There’s no background check or waiting period to purchase a power saw but responsible parents don’t leave them plugged in and ready to rip where small children can get their hands on them. You don’t have to get a license to own and you don’t have to register drip torches, power saws and a host of other useful if dangerous tools, even though if misused, all are capable of causing tremendous mayhem.

Parenthetically, I’ve always wondered why gun enthusiasts name their firearms. I have never understood naming inanimate objects – be that cars or guns. While there’s great satisfaction in tools that work well, I doubt many cooks name their best knife, carpenters don’t name their power saws and I doubt foresters give nicknames to drip torches used to get rid of underbrush thus saving thousands of acres from wildfire.

I heard an echo of this obsession with guns when Harris wryly observed that asset protection planning is a good idea for people who participate in many common activities: driving, running a business, or, yes, using a firearm. Many aspects of life are fraught with risk. I’d like to see us adopt a more realistic view of firearms as just one of a dozen devices we use in daily life that requires us to balance the risk of use against the tool’s beneficial purpose– be that a mower, a car, a rifle, a chain saw, a cleaver or a torch.

There Must be Fifty Ways to Fight a Mugger

Safety is about so much more than carrying guns! While age, infirmity, risks of multiple assailants and other disparity of force issues make firearms our preferred means of self defense, we short change ourselves when we are blind to the many other aspects of personal safety, including my favorite, avoidance, but also de-escalation, verbal intervention, non-gun defense options, physical force and improvised weapons, all of which, I would wager, have been used in defense of innocent life with far greater frequency than firearms.

In highly restrictive situations where concealed carry rights are impinged, members resort to non-gun defense methods. The Network certainly pays for legal representation for members who use pepper spray, a knife, or other legal weapon where they are prohibited from carrying their gun.

A repeating theme in questions I’ve been answering recently concerns what assistance the Network could or could not provide for a member who shoots in self defense after carrying a gun into one of the multitude of so-called gun free zones. Personal decisions to knowingly violate laws are strictly the business of the individual. Individual choice, though, requires concurrent individual responsibility – the kind of responsibility that you can’t pay someone else to take off your shoulders. As an attorney friend once told me, “Before you get on the carnival ride, make sure you can afford the ticket.”

Here’s the Network’s stand on willful violations of the law: We cannot and will not encourage members to break a law by paying attorneys to argue that the scofflaw’s actions were justified. Deciding to violate a law is a very slippery slope. If today the Network funds a case where someone was carrying illegally, tomorrow will it be use of a prohibited weapon? Where does it end? The Network was founded and we have worked tirelessly to build up the Network for the legal defense of legitimate use of force in self defense by law-abiding Americans. That is our mission. If we funded legal defense of willful violations of the law, the Network itself would soon be outlawed and unable to fulfill that important primary mission. Let’s not go there.

To read more of this month's journal, please click here.