A Gun Owner on “Stand Your Ground”

I don’t like “stand your ground” laws. I understand the sentiment–if I have the right to be in a space, I also have the right to be there and be safe. I have the right to be free from harm, from being a victim of a crime. I have the right to defend myself.

I have the right to defend myself.

That is why I don’t like “stand your ground” laws. I already have the right to defend myself.

One concern many people have for new (or old) gun owners is that gun owners will get overconfident–they’ll feel invincible, because of the power that comes with carrying a deadly weapon. As a result, they’ll become careless. They’ll escalate tense situations. They’ll be too quick to draw their weapon. They’ll draw their weapon when they have no intention of really shooting, just because they’re feeling out of control, and they want that control back.

Those are reasonable concerns, to say the least.

I’ve said before that drawing a deadly weapon like a gun, in self-defense, should be a last resort. What I haven’t said, but implied, is that every possible attempt should be made to deescalate.

I believe gun owners have a duty to try to deescalate.

If deescalating means removing yourself from the situation, if that’s possible, then so be it, your right to be in whatever location you’re in be damned.

Because it’s not about your right to be occupying a space, it’s about your right to be alive, to be safe, to be free from harm and injury.

(note: I’m not talking about castle doctrine here. I’m not referring to occupying your own living space, or your car, for instance.)

The right to self-defense is more than adequate for gun owners to protect themselves from attackers, wherever you are.

Stand your ground laws only protect irresponsible rogue-cowboy-wannabe gun owners from being prosecuted, not to mention encourages them to go on with their rogue cowboy fantasy.

This costs a lot of innocent people their lives, and that’s unacceptable.

Interview on Sunday Night Safran

Earlier this week, I was interviewed for the Australian radio program, Sunday Night Safran, on Triple J. It’s broadcasting live at the moment–it’ll be available as a podcast tomorrow. When the podcast goes live, I will update this post with a direct link to it.

Edit: The link is up! Check it out here. My interview begins about twenty-one minutes in, and lasts for about fifteen minutes. If you have the time, listen all the way through. The guest before me had a fascinating story.

Recap: I was interviewed because of my position as a pro-gun-rights feminist.

Correction/Clarification: In the interview I said one could not own a handgun until the age of twenty-one. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!) A person over the age of eighteen may own a handgun if it was given as a gift, but may not carry it until they reach the age of twenty-one. Edit: Felons are also prohibited from buying and carrying.

Other Comments: The other guest, Sofia Stefanovic, said something at the end of the segment that I would very much like to respond to: she said she’d be afraid, were she to own and carry a gun, that she’d grab it and point it at someone when she was irritated or frustrated with them. She used as an example how she’d lobbed a pen at one of the hosts when he said something that irritated her.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond to this, because I’m sure it’s a very common fear.

When you carry, you are very acutely aware at all times of your weapon. You are aware of its power. You are aware that you can frighten, hurt, and kill someone with your weapon. Your handgun is not a thing you ever treat lightly–certainly (and obviously) when handling it, but also when carrying.

I can only describe it as there being an invisible bubble around your weapon. Should I get the urge to throw something at an annoying friend, my hand would never stray to my weapon. I’d be more likely, should I get the urge, to grab for the pen. However. When I carry, I am also very aware of my behavior, my body language, my facial expression, my language, and my actions. I am extremely careful not to do or say anything that may be construed by others as being a threat to their safety. I am more reserved. I moderate my hand gestures. I watch my tone. I am careful to be polite. If my favorite song plays while I’m grocery shopping, I’m less likely to be silly and dance to the beat. I make eye contact and smile. I avoid resting my hands on my hips.

Being a responsible gun owner begins before one ever purchases their first gun: you reflect, considering your own maturity, impulsivity, and temperament. If you find yourself unable to be completely, 100% sure that you will handle your gun with all the respect it demands, then you don’t purchase a gun in the first place.

That self-reflection doesn’t end there. It’s a continuing process. It’s something I do every time before I reach for my Ruger. Carrying a gun is an enormous responsibility. It is a heavy weight on one’s shoulders. If I find that I do not have the strength to carry that burden that day, I leave my weapon at home. I close my eyes and hope I don’t need it, every time I decide to leave it at home. Because you know what? Some days I just want to pretend that the world is safe. I want to be a carefree 20-something woman. I want to be silly and dance in the produce section at the grocery. I want to be passionate and accompany my speech with grand hand gestures.

But if, during one of these reflections, I ever found that I might pull my weapon in any situation that does not threaten my life and my safety, I would sell my gun–because I would no longer be trustworthy or responsible enough to call myself a gun owner. I hope that day never comes. But it is something I must ask myself, in order to honestly call myself a feminist, responsible gun owner.

All in all, I had a fabulous time on the show–and I’m absolutely delighted and very grateful for the opportunity. I can’t wait to discuss it with my readers!

Logistical note: When the podcast goes live, I will post the time stamp marking when my interview begins. I will also do my best to get a transcript up as soon as possible, which will also be edited into this post. Edit: I plan on working on the transcript tomorrow. It is rather late here at the moment!

I may also add other comments (or edit ones already written) once I can listen to the broadcast. Memory is a funny thing, after all. I’ll note any changes and edits for those who may read the original post and return later!

Abortion and Gun Rights

As I’ve said before, I’m an advocate for self-defense and gun ownership rights, as well as the right to carry, especially for women. But, I must ask, what use is the right to protect ourselves if we’re losing the right to control our own bodies?

You may not think it, but gun rights intersect with abortion rights. Both are about protecting and having control over what happens to your person. Both are about preventing violation and violence to your body. Both are about taking control of your life, your safety, and not looking to another to do it for you. Losing the right to both would have a profound impact on our individual freedoms.

As many have said before, the personhood of a first-trimester fetus is irrelevant. No one questions the personhood of an attacker, but the right to self-defense is sacrosanct. That is because NO ONE can use our bodies without our explicit consent, much less harm us to the point of needing surgery and facing the possibility of death.

When it comes to it, do we consider the forces behind the robber breaking into our home? That he may be poor, that stealing is his natural inclination? Nope. All that matters in that moment is that someone is breaking into your home, without your consent, that you don’t want them there, and you’re going to do what you have to do to get them gone, to protect yourself, your family, and your home.

Gun rights exist to protect what is ours. Abortion does the same.

Mind-Boggling News Item of the Day

I’m not sure where to go with this one. A man in Madison County, Kentucky was shot while trespassing back in 2009. He is now suing the man whose property he was trespassing on for excessive force, emotional distress, and physical pain.

Now, being shot sucks, don’t get me wrong. But so does coming upon a strange man in your barn/house/whatever and not knowing if he intends to hurt you or your family. What did Charlie Harvey, the trespasser, expect the man to do? Say, “Good sir, I’m sure you do not realize it, but you are trespassing upon my property, and I have no idea who you are. I would very much appreciate it if you left, so sorry to be so rude”?

I can’t imagine how John Fair, the man who shot Harvey, felt and feels in dealing with this ordeal. I’ve been in some sticky situations myself, and I’ve not exactly kept a secret my thoughts on self defense. I can’t tell you what I would have done in Mr. Fair’s place. I can tell you that I don’t exactly blame him, or fault him, for doing what he did. Regardless, Mr. Fair will live with what he did for the rest of his life–shooting someone, even someone breaking in, is a big deal. I hope he can deal with that in any way he finds healing.

I can say, however, that this being Kentucky, Charlie Harvey will not win his suit. He will be, more than likely, laughed out of court.

A Silent Minority: Pro-Gun-Rights Feminists

So, eight months ago, I posted this blog. In it, I make my case as to why gun rights are a feminist issue. Monday, in a post on Shakesville, I lost my temper, got more than a little snarky, and got into an argument there. If you’re not interested in following the link, or reading all the comments, here’s the deal: Tennessee is expanding to bars and restaurants the right for CCW holders to carry. Most there begin stereotyping gun owners as the irresponsible, blood-thirsty, getting-a-hard-on-to-shoot someone, tea party, “second amendment solutions to political disagreement” caricature.

I’d heard all of this before. Nothing new. It happens every time gun rights come up in a feminist sphere. What set me off was one poster painting college students as infantile, unable to comprehend that shooting into a crowd of innocent people is a bad idea.

Insult me, sure. I get annoyed. Allies insulting me? That hurts me. Falling into the trap of painting all college students as just like those frat-boy movies? No. That’s ridiculous. I do apologize for losing my temper. It would have been more prudent to take a smoke break before replying. But. I’m only sorry for how I phrased the things I said. I’m not sorry for what I said. I’m not sorry for feeling the way I felt: angry.

What is it that makes mainstream feminists completely unable to contemplate and discuss gun rights?

Feminist can talk about trafficking, rape, child molestation—the darkest aspects of humanity and our culture—even those of us with personal experiences—we can talk about those things. Though we’ll put trigger warnings on graphic descriptions, we’ll watch our language, out of respect for those who have experienced those traumas. We do not allow stereotyping, victim-blaming, strawmen…but somehow the feminist community-at-large cannot discuss gun rights.

Guns are not humans with agency. Guns cannot do anything to anyone without a human being behind them. Guns are very dangerous tools. In self-defense, what is being discussed here, should only be used as a last and most desperate resort.  More often, in self-defense, they are a deterrent. You never pull out a gun unless you’re willing to use it. Never.

Violence against women, against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals are endemic. The world gives us platitudes. The world tells us it’s our fault—for being sexy, for being different, for being in certain places—for being who we are. The police make light of our attacks. They blame us. They refuse to get us justice. Sometimes, they attack us as well. But in light of all of this—we’re still expected to trust them. By the world, and by the feminist community.

Why? Victim advocacy groups, they say, will help us. Despite their overwhelming workloads, their little funding, despite these groups not being available in every community (red state, anyone? poverty-stricken areas anyone?). These groups are the feminist solution to dealing with a misogynist, homophobic, transphobic institution that is the only means to get justice for the wrongs done to us. And nothing, nothing, to prevent any of those wrongs, right here, right now. Sure, we can work to change our culture. It’s something I work for every day, but the kind of change we need to make the world safe for everyone, is going to take years, and it does nothing for people that live in this world, right here, right now.

I, along with a silent minority in the feminist and/or liberal movement, have no interest in making our way through a hostile world with nothing but the “don’t walk alone” and “carry mace or hairspray” solutions that the world, and the feminist community gives to us. We’re sick of “prevention tips” that call for us to change our living situations, behavior, movements, and appearance. I’m angry, very angry, that I, along with all of my brothers and sisters are forced to take extreme measures just to stay alive, to stay safe, and to stay sane. We’re liberals and feminists that are pro-gun rights. We believe in self-defense. We believe that it is our right as human beings to live, freely and safely, as we choose. We believe that we have the right to defend ourselves from people who would harm us.

We’re a silent minority. But let’s stop the “silent” part.

Oh yeah: and one more thing: laws only affect those who would follow them in the first place. If you’re afraid of ye olde stereotypical gun owner described above, he’s not going to give much of a shit about where he’s legally allowed to carry. The law only affects those who obey it, respect it, as well as all human life. If you ask me, those are the ones you want carrying in the first place.