When Seconds Count, the Police Are Minutes Away

I read a lot of blogs and watch a lot of videos about home defense and personal defense. They talk about all aspects of American gun ownership, like tradition, freedom, the constitution, being a watchdog of society, calibers, killing power, stopping power, tactical response, and so on.

It’s an unfortunate truth that many of the people posting these items are motivated by ideas that are less inclined toward real self-protection, and more inclined toward a sense of feeling powerful and vindictive.

Sometimes its hard for people in the suburbs or quiet college towns to understand why home defense might be more of a consideration to people who live in the inner city or, as in our case, the country. In particular, I feel safer here in our little patch of green Oklahoma than I do almost anywhere else, and yet I understand that on most nights, the sheriff’s office might have two officers on duty, assisted by a highway patrol unit or two. For the 36,000 people in our county, that’s starting to stretch things, but it’s really the geography that complicates things. From our house, deputies could be as far away as 35 miles.

At issue:

  • Safeties: A lot of shooters and firearms enthusiasts are against external safeties on weapons, citing, somewhat correctly, that the only safety that really counts is the user, and any movable safety selector on a weapon merely creates a layer of confusion for the weapon. The universally accepted slogan is “Any weapon is a hot weapon.” Abby and I live by this rule, as does anyone who comes to shoot with us. I can imagine a scenario or two in which I would want an extra layer of safety, such as when I am handing a weapon to someone else, or when we are at the range and want all weapons as safe as possible when inspecting targets.
  • Training: Almost any good cop would agree that an untrained gun owner is almost as dangerous as the criminals he defends against. Having a gun vs knowing how to use it is almost like having an airplane vs knowing how to fly it. If anyone intends to own a gun, training is more important than any accessory.
  • The will to defend yourself: It’s hard for me to imagine ordering an intruder to show me his hands or get on the floor, and that is one area in which I feel I need more training – in confronting potential assailants. I have always regarded violence as an absolute last resort, but in defense of my life or my wife’s life, I need to address this.
  • Real dangers: Once years ago Abby’s daughter was struck in the chest with a shotgun by an assailant in spite of her compliance with his demands. I have no doubt that only luck saved her life. If she had been armed and poorly trained, and attempted to defend herself, she probably would have been killed; if she had been properly trained, she might have been able to prevent the assault entirely. Again, training is key.
  • Philosophy: Firearms ownership is one area which seems at odds with my liberal leanings. Hopefully I am not dogmatic and robotic in any philosophy, and hopefully I judge all actions and doctrines not on ethereal ideologies, but on results. Gun ownership, as odd as it seems to say, works to reduce violence in this country, at least based on my knowledge of gun statistics and violent crime numbers.
  • Concealed carry: Abby and I have been promising ourselves that we’ll go together and get our concealed carry licenses. She had one for a while in the late 1990s, but let it expire. Actually carrying a concealed weapon, however, is more complicated, since both our employers, despite espousing different philosophies, prohibit any weapons on their property, undoubtedly due to liability concerns (illustrating that money is always the overriding factor in America.) I can still see a value in carrying in certain circumstances, however, and I am still interested in getting the required training and certification.
  • The purpose of shooting someone: This relates to the philosophy of self defense and understanding that we are not angels of death or righteous avengers. The idea behind having a defensive firearm is entirely one of self-protection and self-preservation.
  • Attitude: Too many YouTubers and gun bloggers seem just a little too eager for someone to kick in their front door. Ultimately, violence injures everyone involved, and each of us must understand the consequences before deciding to arm ourselves.
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3 Comments

  1. All good points, Richard.

    “Firearms ownership is one area which seems at odds with my liberal leanings”

    My wife, a lifelong NYC liberal, did not understand the right or need for average people to own firearms, and had no reason to when she lived in a city with cops on every corner. After moving to rural Oklahoma and listening to my police scanner and driving the back roads of Seminole County, she quickly saw it differently.

    How many times did we listen to radio traffic as deputies sped across the county, requiring nearly an hour to arrive at a remote location? While the caller stayed on the phone attempting to give directions, describing unnamed and unlit dirt roads…

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  2. (i wonder if this name crossed some sort of line)

    this entry calls to my mind the golden rule, which can be different depending on who you ask. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Confucius say…sorry…i mean said, “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.”

    in other words, Jesus is more of idealist than Confucius. bet you didn’t see that coming.

    Jeff Bridges said something like (and i’m paraphrasing because i can’t find the quote), “Be kinder to others than you have to because they’re probably going through Hell.”

    the golden rule is hard to practice because life doesn’t exactly announce when a tough decision is coming. i think it relates to self defense because if we don’t live in the world as it should be, rather than being pragmatic and living in the world as it is, it will never be as it should. that isn’t to say it will be as it should, anyhow.

    Buddhists say violence never solves a problem; it only delays a problem. that isn’t to say some problems don’t need to be delayed.

    when i was single, maybe i would prefer to be shot by a home invader than kill another human being. i’m married now and i think i’d probably assess the situation differently. either way, i don’t think anyone could say i would be wrong. and who is to say what the person robbing my house has been through? maybe his mom did crank while she was carrying him and he grew up in and out of jail. should anyone expect different of him? i’m not saying that gives him a right to kill me or my family. i’m just saying everything isn’t so simple as “good guys” and “bad guys.”

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  3. Anders, that’s an interesting train of thought, especially the final paragraph. “What the person … has been through” is certainly something to consider when we’re sitting here in front of our computers on a peaceful sunny morning. When my wife and daughter are in danger, I’ll not consider the other person’s background. At that moment, only tactical considerations will come to mind.

    “Buddhists say violence never solves a problem; it only delays a problem. that isn’t to say some problems don’t need to be delayed.”

    Can we agree that this depends on the definition of ‘solve’ and ‘problem’? If the problem is defined as ‘this specific home invasion with possibility of harm to my family’ and ‘solve’ is defined as ‘bringing the aforementioned problem to a swift conclusion’, then violence (carefully and judiciously applied) will certainly solve it.

    Of course, it has no effect on the underlying problems of poverty, desperation, drug addiction, mental illness, poor decision-making skills, or other situations that lead to the crime in the first place, but those problems require entirely different solutions and can certainly not be solved during the home invasion.

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