Posted by: Jay | March 25, 2008

The Fear of Guns

My wife doesn’t like guns. When I press her as to why exactly, she can’t say. That’s the case with most people. Fear of guns for the most part is irrational, as are most fears. Do I fear anything irrationally? Sure. Lightning. I was never afraid of lightning until I moved to Florida. Florida lightning is scary man.

Unfortunately, popular culture has largely been part of the reason why people fear guns so much. People easily confuse fiction with reality. Movies and television shows often look realistic, so people assume that they’re doing real things and talking about real guns and that it was just inserted in there for dramatic affect. Let’s take for example the show ‘Law & Order.’ To me, nothing beats the first 5-6 seasons of this show. That’s when it was at its best. In season one there was an episode called, ‘Mushrooms’ wherein a kid shot up an apartment, killing a baby and seriously injuring another boy. When the cops located the gun, the departments ballistics expert identified it as a “Tec-9” saying it had “superior spraying power” and was “unsurpassed in penetrating steel doors.” In reality, the Tec-9 was a piece of junk and got its reputation because it was popular with LA street gangs. “Superior spraying power” doesn’t even make sense when discussing a handgun. There’s others. Remember the ‘Glock 7’? Referenced in ‘Die Hard II’, the Glock 7 was a gun that was made of porcelain and couldn’t be detected by airport scanners. No such model exists, and there’s never been to my knowledge, anybody who has produced a porcelain gun. Then there was the “it’s a composite…like plastic” gun that Mitch Leary made to kill the President in the movie, ‘In The Line of Fire.’

Sensationalism in the media doesn’t help the situation. Any time there’s a mass shooting, the first thing we read or hear about is the supposed “easy access to guns.” That’s usually followed up by proclamations of new proposals that are just “common sense” and “reasonable.” It has become a situation where a gun is no longer an inanimate object, but rather a living breathing thing that can do harm on its own, and therefore, should be kept away from people.

I was engaged in an online debate with somebody who put forth the statement, “Guns are designed to kill.” I asked him that if I took a gun down to a range and fired at a target, was it poorly designed because it did not kill something? He argued that me shooting at a target simply meant I was not using the gun for it’s designed purpose. I countered that there are pistols designed specifically for target shooting and despite that fact, could still kill somebody. Just like the Henckels knives I have in my kitchen can kill despite being designed for cooking.

In another discussion I had a with a relative, I informed her that it is more likely that she’d be killed in a car accident than by a gunshot wound. She used the same kind of rhetoric so many others use by asking me if I thought guns were safer than cars. The whole, “You’re saying guns are safer than ______” angle is bogus. First off, you cannot directly compare the safety of a gun and a car because they’re two completely different things. Even if you did, it doesn’t change the likelihood of injury or death. A person carrying a gun around for 10 years and driving for 10 years still has a higher likelihood of being injured or killed in a car crash than with that gun. It’s as simple as that.

Since most people who commit homicide and most that are victims of homicide have previous criminal histories, those with the fear will attempt to dissuade somebody from owning a gun or carrying because the chance of ever having to use that gun would be so low. It’s a poor argument. Because again, it relies on the thinking that the gun itself is dangerous, and not the person carrying it. If the Pope walked into the RaceTrac with an AK-47 slung over his shoulder, I wouldn’t care. I know that if I’m the one carrying the gun, I’m not going to bust it out to rob the place. However, by being armed, when that ‘one time’ does happen, a person can at the very least, defend themselves.

Read about this example here. You can listen to the 911 calls where the people were practically begging the cops to get there quickly. And these were two men that knew each other and were friends. Do you think either of them had any idea something like this would happen?



  1. Another great moment in network TV gun knowledge:

    In an episode of CSI, Brass and Willows are combing a parking lot for evidence after a gang shooting, when Willows picks up a Smith & Wesson Sigma pistol (the cheapest semi-auto pistol S&W makes) and says “Smith & Wesson…high end.”


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