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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On Guns, Self-Defense, and Personal Security

Not so long ago, the Obama administration, via Attorney General Eric Holder, made it known that they would like to reinstitute the old ban on "assault weapons" (in quotes because the term is defined so loosely as to include some weapons that are most definitely NOT what one would ordinarily consider assault weapons), as well as other possible gun controls. Reaction from such of the conservative blogosphere as I read was predictable, mostly focusing on the obvious (in my opinion) violation of the 2nd amendment, with some weighing in on the right to defend one's life and property and the need to be prepared to do so.

I, too, agree that the 2nd amendment would be violated by such a ban; the wording of the 2nd amendment seems very plain to me. I do not see how banning "assault weapons" would not constitute an infringement of the right of the people to keep and bear arms (Please don't attempt to argue this point in the comments unless you have something really novel to bring to the table; I am already familiar with the common arguments on both sides of the issue.). I also agree that man has an inalienable right to defend his life and property, and that there will soon be, if there already isn't, a greater need to be prepared for such defense. But I still think Americans' rights to own firearms are going to be infringed. The only questions are "How much?" and "How fast?" We have too few people who understand these things now for the country to avoid being demogogued into such infringements.

What are you going to do, if it comes down to it and the federales come to take your guns?

I suppose you might begin now to hide your guns, but even assuming that you are carpenter enough and surreptitious enough that no one else alive knows where to find your guns, a hidden gun isn't the most useful self-defense tool, is it? And if it really does come down to it, despite our much-beloved "from my cold, dead fingers" rhetoric, I doubt very many will actually choose being shot to death in front of their wives and children. Unless we are able to win--and keep winning--the battle for the 2nd amendment in the political realm, I think the reality is that it is going to be very difficult to keep, let alone carry and use, firearms for self-defense.

I also think that people tend to imagine themselves more capable with a gun than they really are--that is, they tend not to be aware of what can go wrong, or to over-rely on their firearms. Nothing is foolproof. For example, if I recall correctly, the author of Attack Proof told of an experiment where gun owners were placed on one side of a smallish room and someone with a knife on the other. In no case was the gun owner able to draw and aim before the knife-wielder had crossed the room and commenced his attack--and they knew the attack was coming! If you own a gun, are you sure that you will be able to draw, aim, and fire in time? What if you are grabbed first? What if the situation doesn't call for deadly force? What if someone attempts to take your gun away? Don't tell me it can't happen; police officers worry about it all the time.

I like guns; I have two and would like to buy two more. I would never suggest that firearms aren't a valuable part of a self-defense plan. But I am suggesting that relying solely on firearms is a mistake. Our thinking needs to be broader than that. We need to ask, and keep on asking ourselves questions like, "What will I do if I am followed? In a car? On foot? What will I do if I can't get to my gun? If I am surprised, what will I do until I can draw and aim? What can I do to minimize the chances of being surprised? How will I react to sudden stress and fear? What will I do if someone tries to take my gun? How can I keep intruders out of my house or car in the first place? Are there other viable ways to defend myself and my family that I can add to my personal security plan?"

Those questions are important now. How important will they be if, someday, your firearms are legislated out of your hands?


  1. Nice article, well thought out. Your readers might also enjoy these articles as well.

    Color codes of awareness;

  2. The outcome of the experiment you describe is called the 'Tueller Rule' (sp?) or the '21-foot rule.' It states, that if the knife guy is within 21 feet, you will be stabbed before you can draw and fire. This rule has been proved out so many times that it probably ought to be called the 'Tueller Law.'

    Some of my CDDS (modern arnis) buddies told me a while back that there is a school of thought that the Tueller Rule ought to be extended to closer to 36 feet.

  3. I had a Tulsa cop tell me one time that there wasn't a cop in Tulsa that'd get within twenty feet of my instructor, if he had a knife in his hand. Now it turns out that he was just obeying the "law." :)

  4. Self defense plays an important role in everybody's life. it is the most important aspect of life which we have to take seriously.