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.

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Dad Bullies and Intimidates Daughter, Posts on Facebook for All to See

This video has been making the rounds on facebook lately, accompanied with commentary like “best dad ever!” and “brilliant! Way to show that disrespectful teenager her place!” Okay, I thought, let’s see it. I was repulsed. I couldn’t articulate why. So I thought I’d check out the comments, to see how others felt.

Again, I felt repulsed.

A summary, for those who cannot or do not wish to watch: a middle-aged white man, is sitting on a lawn chair in a grassy field. He tells the viewer how his teenaged daughter posted a rant on her facebook page about her parents and the chores she’s made to do. He mocks her for trying to restrict her parents from being able to view said post, and brags how he was able to see it anyway, when he was updating the software on his daughter’s laptop. He’s an IT guy, you see. How foolish of her, thinking she could hide something from him.

He reads the rant from a printout. He tells the viewer that since she had the temerity to complain about her parents on facebook, he is going to show her up by recording this video and posting it on her facebook, to humiliate her in front of all her friends. He lists the chores his daughter must do every day, and mocks her for complaining about a paltry amount of work. He castigates his daughter for being disrespectful. Then he gets up and pans the camera to show a laptop sitting on the grass. He tells the viewer that it is his daughter’s laptop, that he’s going to destroy it, and that his daughter is going to have to work to pay for the destroyed laptop, and the software he just uploaded on it. He pulls out a handgun and shoots the laptop. He shoots it again. And again. All the while reveling in it and mocking his daughter: “your mother said to do one for her, too.” He shoots it again. “You’re going to pay for these bullets, too. These are two-dollar bullets.” He shoots again, until his clip is empty.

The comments were reminiscent of a bloodthirsty mob, cheering the destruction of the laptop, mocking the girl, and raging about “teenagers these days.”

I have a problem with the idea that teenagers must “respect” their parents, when “respect” means they are never to say or think a negative thing about their parents, never to express their feelings unless it’s unconditioned praise and adoration, and certainly never to say such things to their friends. This degree of control over another person’s thoughts and feelings, and the expression of the same, is borderline abusive.

This man’s complete lack of respect for his daughter’s privacy is astounding. I’m sure he felt he was well within his rights as the one who paid for the laptop–people like him always do–that is, feel that once they have paid for something, they own it forever, along with rights to control whatever is done with it. (Apparently the concept of gifts is far beyond this man.) I’m sure he was absolutely shocked when he found that status while snooping–people like him always are–because without a doubt his daughter has never felt safe or comfortable enough to speak to him directly. He snooped, he didn’t like what he found. Shocking. His daughter will never trust him again.

This man felt humiliated (and probably emasculated) because his daughter spoke negatively of him to all of her friends. His response was to humiliate her in front of the entire virtual world. He responds to criticism by bullying. What a fabulous lesson to teach a teenage girl!

Not to mention the implied threat of shooting up his daughter’s laptop. I find this to be the epitome of irresponsible gun ownership. Guns are deadly tools–dangerous, deadly tools, meant to be taken seriously. The only way they should be used is for sport target shooting, hunting, or self-defense. They are not to be used as an outlet for your frustrated emasculation. He felt embarrassed by his daughter, so he destroyed the tool she used to do it with a gun. That he went to his weapon as the answer to his anger is a sign of a lack of control, and a bad temper.

In fact, the very reason I was so frightened of guns for so long is that, as a teenager, someone close to me vented their frustration by going outside and shooting into the air. They would wave it around and describe how they should use it on people who wronged them. This made me afraid for my life. I felt threatened, despite that they never pointed it at me, or threatened me specifically. Just that their first action when they were angry was to grab their weapon was a very bad and scary thing.

This man does not respect his weapon.

He has no business owning a gun.

That he told the offending person that they must pay him back for the bullets he used is psychological abuse–making his daughter participate in her own intimidation.

I feel for this girl. I hope she gets as far away from this sorry man as soon as she possibly can.

Tales of a Feminist Gun Owner: Fear

For a variety of reasons, when I carry, I open carry. My handgun is there for all to see as I walk around. I do it mostly because I haven’t gotten my concealed carry license yet, but also because I want to be an example of a good gun owner.

That burden that I mentioned in this post, that is, the heavy responsibility that comes with choosing to carry a very dangerous tool, and the need to be sensitive to others’ reactions; to put them at ease–is a heavy one. I’ve chosen recently to keep my Ruger at home rather than take that burden up. Monday, I took it up again.

I sat in my car outside the gas station, debating whether or not to put it in my glovebox while I picked up a pack of cigarettes. It was a sunny Monday afternoon–but I know gas stations seem to be a favorite of thieves and armed robbers. I don’t want to frighten the gas station attendant. Finally, I decided to keep my Ruger on me, and my cheerful, sunny disposition coupled with my Southern manners will ease the tension brought by my gun.

It didn’t. I could see her glance down at my hip. She was nervous. I kept my hands on the counter or behind my back. I smiled. Please and thank you. I offered my ID. I did my best to put her at ease. The fear in her eyes did not go away. I returned to my car. I felt awful.

I wanted to toss my Ruger in the glove compartment and rush back inside and apologize over and over again. I fought that urge, because me rushing anywhere was a bad idea. Instead, I unwrapped my cigarettes and lit one up.

She was afraid of me. All I wanted was to escape that fear myself–and in so doing, I was inflicting it on others. I drove to a local coffee shop. I purchased an iced mocha and a grilled sandwich. I ate inside then moved to the patio to smoke and read. I was in Hemingway’s WWI Italy, but the gas station attendant’s fear haunted me still.

What could I do? Should I have said something? Was clasping my hands behind my back a bad idea? Probably. Does everyone who open carries feel this way? I texted a friend and asked.

There’s a reason for  concealed carry.

I felt uncomfortable with that answer. It didn’t answer my questions. It didn’t make me feel better.

I chose this power. I chose this burden. I chose to take back my fear. Here was an in-my-face example of how I might be inflicting that same fear on others: what was I going to do about it?

Put my gun away? I couldn’t–I won’t expose myself again. Get my concealed carry license, and conceal my gun, and know that others would be afraid of me if they knew? I don’t know.

I can only keep doing what I’m doing–be aware of my surroundings, of the feelings that my gun inspires in others, and be sensitive to that. Keep going out of my way to put others at ease. Be a good gun owner. Be a feminist gun owner.

Judge Suspended for Crimes of Abusive Husband.

(Note: Trigger warning for descriptions of domestic violence and spousal abuse.)

Carla Hartman, an administrative judge in Indianapolis, is suspended after police found evidence of a marijuana-growing operation in her home. The items belong to her husband. The police discovered it when Carla called them to her home after her husband threatened her with an axe.

This is yet another example of domestic violence victims being punished for the crimes of their abusers. Did police ever think that she may have feared reporting her husband because he might hurt her? That the marijuana might have been the least of her worries? Douglas Hartmen, her husband, sounds like a classic abuser, based off the information from the article. Aside from threatening her with the axe, he broke windows. He stole her birth certificate, law degree, and other important documents. Documents that she would need if she were to try to get away. Police found four guns in the home–this article indicates they belong to Douglas. Their presence makes a scary situation even more frightening.

Douglas Hartman was arrested, but was released after posting a $5,500 bond. Carla has been suspended without pay while the police investigate her husband. She has not been arrested or charged with anything, in fact.

There are so many things wrong with this situation, the most appalling of which is that the police and the BMV, who should be Carla’s allies, are inhibiting her by suspending her from her job, which not only gets her out of the house, but provides her with her own income separate from that of her abusive husband. It looks as though she’s no longer living with him, which is good, but it is also dangerous, because abuse tends to escalate when the victim escapes.

I hope Carla is able to escape cleanly from this situation. And I would hope that the BMV will rectify this atrocity by reinstating her immediately.

To keep and bear arms: a feminist issue

Since the campus lockdown a year and a half ago, popular topics of conversation have been violence, self-defense, and weapon-carrying.

It is interesting to note how people’s ideas on self defense rights change depending on who you’re talking to.

In our society, we have this stereotypical notion that men are aggressors (or aggressive) and women are not. When talking about self defense, it is generally assumed that men will take an active role in their own self defense (of course!) and women will take a more passive role. What I mean by this is, men are taught and expected to know how to fight. Women are offered self defense classes. Men are taught how to use guns and knives. Women are told that pepper spray and tasers are available. Somewhere. Maybe.

In a lot of ways, and for a variety of reasons, women are more vulnerable to violence, and ergo, in most need of reliable self defense. And yet, society, and even feminism works to keep the safest and most reliable form of self defense from women: guns.

Yes, I said it. Guns.

I’ve been in more than one thread discussing violence against women, or a particular violent act against a woman, and if someone suggests women start carrying, someone will inevitably cry foul.

People hear “own or carry a gun,” and it’s interpreted as “shoot people willy-nilly.”

This is a problem. The world is hostile to women, where we’re expected to be all things, and be nothing. In this particular topic of discussion, we’re expected to alter our schedules, our modes of transportation, our dress, our footwear, our behavior, and our social life to avoid those who mean to do us harm. If a woman is attacked, we don’t wonder why the attacker chose to attack, or start a campaign to against violent behavior: we ask what that woman could have done to avoid being attacked, and posit if she deserved it.

What is wrong with this picture?

A lot of things.

Second Amendment rights are not usually seen as a feminist issue, but I would say that they are.

As I said on this post on Feministing, guns are a very good deterrent. Very few would attack a person carrying a gun, or in the case of acquaintances, a person they knew that both owned and knew how to use a gun. If carrying became so widespread for women, attackers would think twice. Just the knowledge that a woman carrying would deter most attacks. No shooting willy-nilly required (or desired).

For those that still choose to try, brandishing the weapon would scare them off, or buy you time to get away or call the authorities. If a woman is in a desperate situation, her life need not be forfeit.

Anyone who chooses to own a gun needs to be educated and trained. You won’t buy a car without knowing how to drive and maintain it, naturally you wouldn’t buy a gun without knowing how to shoot, disassemble, and clean it. Regular trips to the shooting range are absolutely necessary. No one likes to drive a car they’re unfamiliar with, likewise, no one likes to shoot a gun they’re unfamiliar with.

I also want to make another thing clear: guns do not a violent society make. Violent people a violent society makes. Police cannot be everywhere, and free societies cannot sacrifice freedom for safety (or the hope or feeling of safety).

Until society is changed, making the world a safer and more welcoming place for women, we must take the initiative for our own safety. We have the right to self-defense. We have the right to keep and bear arms. Let’s take advantage of these rights. Relying on others hasn’t done a whole lot for us.