By Matthew Schafer
copyriht 2013, All Rights Reserved
I have long known that I’m rather opinionated; I have no problem with that as I believe it is how you go about being opinionated that determines whether or not you become one of those people that walk down the street and have others grimace and say, “Shit, here comes that guy.” I’m actually quite careful about expressing my opinions because I learned early on that most people couldn’t care less what you have to say. Therefore, I largely limit the expressing of my opinions to my wife and through written word. I feel this is acceptable because regardless of what I write people have to voluntarily read it so if they don’t want to hear my opinions they just don’t read what I write, and my wife, well...she kind of has to listen to me because that’s the way it works, she’s trapped.
My wife, Mary, listens to my opinions and she either finds them interesting and it lead to a discussion, disagrees with me to a large part which also leads to a discussion, or she is disinterested but like the dutiful wife she is she sits graciously and pretends to listen all the while in her head she contemplates things like what character from the movie “Magic Mike” is the most bangable. The only opinion I have about this topic is that no one named “Tatum” can be bangable; say “Tatum” to yourself a few times...I bet each time you say it, it becomes less appealing. The word makes me think of either a potato gum or a gum that comes from your taint. It’s like going through the school lunch line and seeing the lunch ladies in the kitchen drop fistfuls of warm tater tots down the back of their pants and then do deep squats until the potatoes are smashed together between their underwear and bare oversized buttocks forming a potato paste that’s drenched in ass sweat. Just as you’re about to vomit the person next to you says, “Really? Tatum again? I have yet to get a scoop of Tatum without at least one hair in it!”
Anyway, I want to talk about the actual benefits and the reality of guns. (That’s right, it seems like my segue from potatoes covered in ass sweat to a hot topic like firearms is the simple and solitary word “anyway”) First, it really bothers me when people make the use of firearms special. Every time I hear the terms “gun violence,” “gun crime,” or “gun deaths” it is like nails scratching on a chalkboard. Why do these terms exist? Why don’t people just say “violence,” “crime,” and “deaths?” Why include the word “gun” as if it makes the crime special or unique.
There needs to be a distinction between violence and criminal violence, crime and violent crime, but why is there a distinction between violence that involves guns and violence that doesn’t? As I’ve mentioned numerous times more people in the US are killed with baseball bats than any other weapon so why don’t we say “baseball bat violence”, “baseball bat crime”, and “baseball bat related deaths?”
When you get right down to it there are three main classifications of weapons: 1.) impact weapons like a bat or a stick, 2.) edged weapons like a knife, razor, or broken bottle, and 3.) projectile weapons like a bullet, arrow, or missile. (there is also chemical and biological weapons but that is off topic) In the US more people are attacked with and killed with edged weapons then bullets so why aren’t edged weapons special? To me it makes no sense to make guns special and it only serves to single them out and put the connection in people’s minds that guns equal violence, crime, and murder.
That is a very important point. Our brains work largely on associations, which mean that it likes to connect something new to something old and it likes to connect things with other things in general. If I say the word “General” and ask you to give me another word there is a good chance that you’ll say “Motors.” Why, because people often see the name General Motors and a connection in the brain builds between the two worlds (you could also have said “electric” or several other things, that isn’t the point) If I show two words together constantly you will start to think of one when you think of the other. So, if someone says “gun” then there is a good chance that violence, crime, and/or death also pops up in your mind, often without you knowing it. It works the other way too, if you say “crime” there is a good chance somewhere in your mind the word “gun” also comes up. The human brain is quite easy to program and marketers use this all the time to tie things together like beer with sex, the act of being beautiful with certain brands of makeup products, or certain clothes with a high level of athletic ability.
In terms of causing injury there are four main benefits of having a gun. First, if I have a gun I can cause injury from a greater distance; without a gun, if I want to injure someone that is on the other side of the road I have to walk over there first and get them at a close distance so they are in my “work area.” However, if I have a gun and I can effectively use it then I can stand where I am, fire across the road, and get my injuries from there.
Second, it is a labor saving device. You don’t need a gun to cause injuries, in fact every single injury that a gun can cause you can cause without one, by simply throwing the person on the ground and repeatedly stomping on them. The reason getting shot stops people and sometimes kills people is because the bullet injures the central nervous system (the spine, brain stem, or the brain) so the body cannot communicate with itself and it shuts down and/or the bullet tears a hole and causes internal bleeding which, if left untreated for long enough, can cause loss of consciousness and death.
So, if you come home and find someone about to rape your spouse (men do get rapped) you may decide that in order to stop the rapist you want to puncture their liver, crack their ribs, create massive internal bleeding, and then reassess the situation. If you walk over and throw them on the ground and start stomping on them you might be able to accomplish that in 10 seconds or less, but if you had a labor saving device like a baseball bat you might be able to cause that 2 seconds, and if you had a firearm you might be able to cause that in less than one second (maybe, bullets are very unpredictable). You are very capable to causing the same injures but the firearm lets you get inside their body faster than you can with your bare hands.
The third benefit is it allows you to engage multiple threats rapidly. If you have a gun and four attackers you can fire at them in rapid succession to hopefully injure all of them quickly. This does take a bit of training and hopefully you have a semi-automatic handgun with 15 rounds (or better yet a rifle with a 30 round magazine) instead of a 6 shot revolver because even if you don’t miss you will most likely have to put several rounds in each person (like the woman that recently shot an intruder in her home while protecting her two daughters, she got lucky because after shooting at him 6 times not only did the guy not drop dead but she got lucky because he got scared, ran to his car, and drove away even though he had 5 bullet holes in his head, neck, and shoulders). You can certainly engage the same four attackers with your bare hands and prevail but it will requires far more training. It is far easier and safer to keep your distance and engage them with a firearm or a non-lethal weapon like pepper spray (not mace).
The fourth benefit to a firearm is it requires less intent to do the same amount of work (get your injuries). In most altercations is it the intent to cause injury or death that tips the scales either in your favor or out of your favor. America is quite unique because here where a private citizen can own a gun and be as well armed as the criminal element it is only, in most cases, intent that gives the criminal their advantage. The criminal quite often has no special training and no special...anything really, but what they do have in the intent to grab you by the throat and squeeze until the last drop of life leaves your body. The average citizen doesn’t possess that and so they just stand there and do nothing while they are murdered.
Since most people lack the basic and proper intent to cause injury to their fellow man in extreme situations they have three options: 1.) they can do nothing and end up being an accomplice in their own murder, 2.) they can come to people like me learn it (it is a perfectly learnable skill and has nothing to do with “right” or “wrong” and won’t make you a more aggressive person in your everyday life) so now they respond to the murder’s intent with their own intent and now instead of just standing and being strangled to death they might do something like simply reaching overtop their grip and easily pulling the hands of their throat (it’s simple physics and very easy), breaking their jaw with an elbow, breaking their wrist, dislocating their shoulder, and then looking around to reevaluate the situation, see if you have to do more, and if there are more threats in the area; or 3.) they can buy a gun and get properly trained so instead of doing all that physical stuff they can just fish out their gun and pull the trigger a few times (and pray because it is rarely that easy).
A gun reduces the amount of intent a person needs to have, and this is easier on most people both physically and mentally. It requires a lot of intent to be confronted by a violent criminal who is most likely bigger and stronger than you are and who is coming at you with murderous intent and to be able to look back at him and see his throat, his eyes, his neck, his knee, his groin, his...whatever...and say to yourself, “Ok, I don’t care what this guy plans to do to me, because THAT belongs to me!” and then step in and make your entire world consist of nothing but breaking that one thing that you’ve chosen, and once you’ve broken that and this guy is screaming or laying on the ground clutching a body part you do that over all over again and as often as necessary to make sure that that violent criminal is no longer physically able to harm you. Unpleasant at that is, that is what it takes to save your life. Even if you have a gun it may malfunction, you might be out of ammunition, or whatever the case may be, guns don’t always work or may be not be readily available and that is why competence in hand-to-hand combat is paramount.
If I could boil all my teachings down, if I could distill the last 26 years of my life into one master teaching that would save people's lives it would be this: intent is the heart of hand-to-hand combat; if you have sitting within you the intent to cause serious injury to another living thing and perhaps kill it if you ever needed to, to save your life or the life of someone else, then you’re on an equal playing field with the criminal element and every altercation you go into starts with a 50/50 chance of you coming out alive. However, if you lack that you are at a huge disadvantage and in any altercation you get in with a violent criminal you probably have less than a 5% chance, and I hope you’re not cornered in a room because you’re best bet at that point it start running as fast as you can and hope for the best. (Luckily if someone pulls a gun on you and you turn and run 95% of the time they won’t try to shoot you and if you do shoot at you they probably won’t hit you and if they do statistically you have a 97% chance of surviving, provided you’re only shot once) An instructor of mine once told me that if we could just bring in a big 50 gallon drum of intent and pump it into us he could simply hand us a diploma and send us all home.
It takes a lot of intent and training to be confronted by a violent criminal and then instead of cowering in fear like he expects you to do, you step in, grab his wrist as hard as you can, and then use your body weight to snap it like a twig. It requires little training or intent to pull a trigger which is why firearms are so useful and attractive for self-defense.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that gun owners shouldn’t have training and intent because having training and intent will only make you more effective at using your firearm and more efficient at handling it and the real experts have lots of all of the above, but from a purely physical standpoint someone with no training and very little intent could still pull a trigger. Perhaps that person with little intent that pulls the trigger is a violent thug or maybe it is a 76 year old grandmother whose physical limitations prevent much anything beyond pulling a trigger to protect her from some thug who has just broken open her front door.
When you get down to it I guess people preface “violence,” “crime,” and “death” with the word “gun” because it reflects their own fear. Although most people probably can’t articulate it the way I did, most people realize the radically lower amount of intent that it takes to pull a trigger and that scares them. What I’ve found over the years is that anti-gun people are usually scared of the idea of themselves owning a gun. If you ask them to describe why sooner or later it comes back to them not feeling they could handle the responsibility of owning or even handling a gun and because that scares them they project that fear to everyone else and therefore they’re scared of other people having the responsibility of owning or even handling a gun. After all, if it is too much for them then surely the person down the street couldn’t handle it either.
Question an anti-gun person, or perhaps that isn’t fair, so lets say a person who only thinks guns themselves, in inanimate objects that they are, are very dangerous so only certain people should own (not talking about criminals and the mentally handicapped) and sooner or later pretty much everyone will talk about not wanting a gun in their own hands. They often picture an evil gun sitting in their innocent hand and they’re instantly uncomfortable because they don’t want the responsibility of that perceived power a firearm offers them. They want that perceived power away from them because it is too much so they want to send it out of their hands, out of their homes, their neighborhoods, and even out of the hands of a responsible gun owner.
Over the years I have come to the conclusion that most people who are anti-gun are really anti-gun because they fear the perceived power and responsibility that they would have if they owned a gun and so they don’t want one and don’t want anyone else to have one either. The good news is that this really boils down to a lack of education and training; I have also seen that most people that are properly introduced to firearms and are educated and trained in their use not only lose their fear but find their prior fear kind of silly. Once you are properly trained and educated you come to the realization that there isn’t too much difference between a gun and a stapler. Both are tools that serve a specific purpose, operate in a somewhat similar manner, and have no free will of their own.