Cold Dead Hands

From a New York Times op-ed titled “I Wanted to Be a Good Mom. So I Got a Gun“:

A few months after my father left our family home for good, my mother heard me screaming in the middle of the night. It was the kind of scream that made her grab her rifle in one hand and some ammo in another.

It was a spring night and I was sleeping with my window open, which was right above my bed; I loved breathing in the fresh air. That night, in that open window, I heard the banging of a ladder, and by the time my mother made it into the room and began loading her gun, a man was about to climb in.

She said something along the lines of: “Bethany, come over here. I don’t want you to get his brain matter on your face.” I backed up behind her and my mother raised her gun. The would-be intruder slowly backed down the ladder. As he climbed down, my mother approached. The barrel of her rifle was inches away from his face and she told him, “Next time you come here, I won’t hesitate.” She had her gun pointed at him through the window on his way down, and as he went down the ladder she grabbed the top and shook it, just to put the fear of God into him one last time before he fled.

The op-ed was written by a conservative activist who says her outspoken hostility to Trump has led to death threats from the alt-right. After the Daily Stormer published her home address, she decided to arm herself in order to protect her children, as her mother did before her.

As with almost every pro-gun argument I see, this one is based on a “good guy with a gun” anecdote that beggars belief. But I’m willing to overlook that, because the author has a valid point to make, that point being that while she recognizes the dangers of owning guns, and (along with most Americans) wants stricter gun controls, she and people like her are going to continue to buy and own guns. They’ll do it for a reason that’s impervious to data and argument: to protect families and homes. And to that I’ll add that they’ll do it because they can: owning guns is a choice available to Americans.

I have guns, and for the same reason. I know it’s dumb, that my guns are more likely to be used against me than against home invaders, but I’m not going to give them up. At the same time, I want to see far stricter controls on their ownership, to include criminal background checks at all points of sale, plus mandatory training, licensing, and registration. Moreover, I want to see a nationwide ban on military-style weapons (a broad category that includes AR-15s and similar semiautomatic rifles), including the confiscation of such weapons already in the hands of gun owners. I don’t see any conflict there: not with the 2nd Amendment, not with internal logic.

If I were your king, I’d send jack-booted agents out into the land to round them all up. In my benevolence, though, I’d allow you to keep your pistols, shotguns, and hunting rifles, more than enough to defend hearth and home.

In real life, I’ll have to settle for whatever small steps toward sanity our society is capable of. The kids, bless them, are contributing to a groundswell of opinion and activism, putting heat on the NRA and politicians, and I hope we can keep up the pressure.

© 2018, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


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