Saturday, February 20, 2010

Myth: People who carry guns are looking for a fight!

Those who would ban the civilian ownership of defense guns feel that this absorption of potentially deadly power can create dangerous change in the character of the armed man. They fear that a man who before avoided quarrels, whether from reasonable or cowardly fear, will now be so fortified by the artificial potency of the gun that he will pick up on the slightest insult, perhaps escalating minor, everyday arguments into deadly confrontations.
Over many years of carrying guns, and of living in a part of the United States where the practice is commonplace among law-abiding citizens of all levels of society, I have learned otherwise.
In a normal, conscientious person, the presence of that deadly power engenders not belligerence, but an enhanced degree of self-control and coolness in tense moments of real or potential conflict. There are, I think, two reasons.
“If I hadn’t been carrying a gun, I would have punched that wise-ass in the mouth.” I have heard this sentiment many times. I have uttered it myself.
The responsible man who carries a legal gun does not respond to emotional provocation as he might if unarmed. An insult to one’s wife by a punk on the street is a case in point. The instinctive reaction is a threat or a blow. The presence of a gun does not give a reasonable man unnatural arrogance in this situation; rather, it creates a restraint. He knows that what would otherwise be a fistfight could escalate at the moment he, an armed man, engaged the provocator in physical combat, and he knows that the responsibility for the outcome would be his. It forces him to respond to the dictates of reason, not those of outraged pride.
Secondly, the possession of the ultimate degree in personal, physical power gives him an edge that improves his footing in more ways than one. An unarmed man threatened with physical assault responds largely from fear. A danger he is ill prepared to cope with has two results: it clouds his thinking with fear, even panic, and it provokes him to extremes to ensure his own survival. For instance, the two responses may combine, inducing him to attack before the use of force has become entirely necessary.
He who is armed is not above fear, but he experiences it to a lesser degree. The knowledge that he is prepared to cope with and survive the worst, relieves his mind of the heaviest fear, and lets him turn his full mental powers toward a non-violent escape from the situation.
He can afford to try to talk or walk his way out of it. He’s not giving up anything by holding off—his gun, and hopefully his skill with it, will still be the deciding factors if the assailants choose to make it a life or death situation. Another advantage is that he is under no social pressure to reinforce his masculinity with a counterattack: his possession of the gun, and the responsibility that accompanies it, give him an acceptable reason to excuse himself from the conflict.

• From the book: In The Gravest Extreme. By Massad F. Ayoob

No comments:

Post a Comment