Alternatives to Concealed Carry   Leave a comment

Following recent shooting sprees in “gun free” zones, Homeland Security has issued a pamphlet providing tips for how to avoid death in such circumstances.

My favorites were “shouting at the assailant” and throwing objects at him/her.

I have never been in a mass shooting and pray God never to have the experience. However, I did work for a lot of years in a mental health agency with potentially dangerous clients who had access to my work area. It was a “gun free” zone. I had plans for what to do in the event of a rampage by a paranoid schizophrenic, but hiding under my desk never seemed as secure as hiding under my desk with a Glock trained at the door.

I grew up around guns. The Alaskan wilderness is not the sort of place you want to go into unarmed. You could go a very long time and never need that gun, but you don’t get any mulligans if the wildlife decides you look tasty. Last week, a trapper was attacked by a wolf. My dog has backed down a few moose with just her attitude, but my husband faced down a bear with a chain saw a couple of years ago. He was clearing land for our cabin site under a deadline from Department of Natural Resources and his employer (who wanted him back at work). He didn’t have the option of just staying away until the bear went to sleep for the winter, so he returned the next day with me packing a shot gun and the day after that with our 16-year-old daughter carrying the shot gun. Last summer, he did more work out there with our 13-year-old son carrying the shot gun. The bear has returned five times. He didn’t like the sound of my personal body alarm at first, but last summer, he was coming closer even as it was deafening us. I know people who were mauled after using bear spray. So, yeah, a shot gun and someone who can hear over the chainsaw is necessary. I was berry-picking there one day and heard something in the woods. The 357 came out of my shoulder holster, just in case. There are no mulligans if you face an Alaskan bear unarmed. Google “Johnny McCoy bear attack” if you want to know what might happen. In his case, he was harvesting a moose, but in our encounters with Mr. Grizzly, the only food he was interested in was us.

I know quite a few mentally ill people because of my former job. Some of them are the nicest people you’d ever want to meet — when they’re on their medication. But the law says they don’t have to be on their medications. They have a right to refuse to be medicated … even if they are dangerous when unmedicated. If they haven’t actually broken the law, they can’t be locked up just for being paranoid and delusional. If they do break the law, they only have to serve the same sentence as anyone else, so as soon as they get out, they can go off parole. Security in our persons is a bedrock constitutional right, so what are we going to do?

Alternatives are:

  1. Disarm as many people as possible;
  2. Put armed guards and police officers wherever people gather;
  3. Arm all the “normal” people.
  4. Option #1 won’t work! Sorry, it simply won’t. Personal ownership of guns is rare in China, but school massacres are not (see my previous post). If you can’t get a gun and you really want to kill people, you can find other methods. Anybody familiar with suicide bombers? Yeah, they don’t usually use guns. Twenty-two children were stabbed and some critically injured in China the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting. A man here in Fairbanks beat three of his roommates to death with a hammer about 15 years ago. Option #1 just leaves ordinary citizens to be victims of those who want to kill people.

Option #2 also won’t work! That’s a lot of manpower and that costs a lot of money which we don’t have. This country is broke, in case you hadn’t noticed. Plus, someone is going to fail to guard some venue, somewhere and that’s where the bad guys are going to hit. Remember, the reason why 911 happened was that nobody sane thought that flying airplanes into buildings is an effective way to kill 3000 people — until somebody did it.

Also, I don’t particularly like the idea of turning every public venue into an armed camp where admittance is only gained if you allow a stranger to feel you up, search your bags and take your name. I don’t like the idea of my kid going to school with a cop or a soldier standing at the door with a gun. Do we automatically think that the soldier or the cop is a “safe” person who would never turn that weapon on a classroom? I don’t. I live in a military town and I don’t think that is a safe assumption.

Option #3, however, would work. Look up the statistics on concealed carry. The number of incidents involving permitted concealed carriers is essentially a statistical anomaly. In the 20 years since the concealed carry movement got started, there’s been fewer than 1000 incidents in a country of 300 million people and most of those incidents have been legal use of a firearm in defense of self or others. A friend of mine carries concealed just about everywhere he goes. You’d never know it. It under his jacket and he doesn’t advertise it. He’s taken training on how and when to use his gun in some situations. I want to be sitting beside him in a movie theater when a Jim Holmes type character comes in. Yes, Jim Holmes was wearing body armor. Peter unloads a couple of shots into that vest and the shooter’s not going to be able to breathe, giving ordinary citizens a chance to disarm him. Instead of all those dead people, there’d be maybe a couple before Peter could draw, assess the situation and shoot the guy.

I don’t carry concealed simply because as a small woman, I can’t really hide a big gun, but I’m more and more thinking I want to reassess that. I’d much rather have the gun in my hand than be huddling on the floor hoping death doesn’t find me while a madman takes people out like rabbits.

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