Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dislike of Guns

In the wake of the Colorado theater shootings, I posted a Facebook link to an article about gun control, quoting a comment from Anne Lamott that such disasters are never stopped by citizens carrying guns. I was surprised when I received many comments on my posting--even some from people I didn't know--mostly opposing gun control. I added this comment:

It seems that many people have much stronger feelings on the subject than I do.

This isn't a subject I've researched, because it isn't of primary importance to me, but my impression is that many of the countries with the lowest crime rates have much stricter gun control than ours. Maybe I'm terribly naive, but I like to see the signs (like those on the doors to the building where I work) forbidding weapons on the property.

I think my attitude comes from the fact that guns have never been a visible part of the social circles I've lived in. If any of my family or friends had a gun, it was for hunting, and I thought of that as a strange, unpleasant, and dangerous hobby. My father served in the Army as a conscientious objector during World War II, and I did the same during the Viet Nam war. I no longer have religious scruples about possibly killing someone, but with no expectation of an afterlife, I value life very highly. I think shooting someone would be a terrible last resort for defending someone's life--certainly not something to do to protect property. Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, but I've never felt that I needed to have a gun to protect myself or my family.

I doubt that the intent of the second amendment was to deter oppressive state or U.S. governments. As I understand it, the militia was intended as a defense against foreign governments, outlaw gangs, and native Americans. I don't think we'd stand a chance against the U.S. military, but I think our government, as foolish as it often is, is far from what I would call oppressive.

Not to say it could never happen, but in our current situation I can't imagine that any law enforcement officer or military unit would attack my family. I know that innocent people have been killed by law officers, but I doubt that there are many situations in which it would be wise to use a gun to protect someone from a police officer.

I can understand that people who live in areas where violent crime is common might feel it worthwhile to carry a gun for self-defense, but that isn't true for me. In my situation, I feel safer without one.

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