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Illegal guns

Illegal guns

There are three subjects that we try to avoid discussing, because they traditionally pit a moral view against an ethical view, and thus do not lend themselves to discussion. These are, in alphabetical order: abortion, gun control, and using (or not using) a comma before the final “and” in a series.

In terms of the second, and least inflammatory, of these issues, most of you who have been readers of the e-Journal know that neither editor of the e- Journal keeps or carries a gun for self defense. Additionally, we do not recommend the carrying of guns by protective teams for most domestic protective work and much foreign protective work.

This being said, we must note the sad truth that in situations where you need a gun, there is very little else available that will serve as an adequate substitute, and that a gun, legal or illegal, is what you are liable to wish you had at that instant.

As an example, some time ago a young woman came home from college for vacation. Her father, significantly more paranoid than are we, asked her to stick one of his handguns in her purse, just to be safe. Although the girl knew how to shoot, she thought this was dumb – as well as patently illegal – but, to placate her dad, stuck the gun in her purse, and headed off to the mall to meet her friends.

Some time later in the day a man grabbed her, and attempted to drag her into his car. In the struggle, the girl shot and killed her attacker. As it turned out, her attacker was a serial rapist/killer. This not being a metropolitan area, the girl was not charged with either illegal possession of a weapon (this was a place where felony possession means possession during the commission of a felony, rather than merely having a gun without the attendant paperwork, as is more common in big cities) nor with homicide.

This incident points out one of the practical (which is to say non- philosophical, i.e., not related to Second Amendment issues) complexities of the gun debate. On the one hand, an American dies from a gun accident roughly once every 9 hours, and from a gun homicide roughly once every 29 minutes, which is bad. On the other hand, an American uses a gun to stop a crime roughly once every 13 seconds, which is not so bad.

Well, we don’t think it is so bad: In all fairness, at least one major American church has taken the position that taking a life is bad (with which we agree), and that it is better for a woman be raped than to kill her attacker in self defense (with which we disagree). This is obviously an issue that you must think about and decide for yourself, preferably before the fact. And we believe it is perfectly reasonable to decide that there is no circumstance in which you would take a life, not even if it meant losing yours.

We suggest, however, that you should still master your defensive options, including learning to shoot, as you cannot make a valid moral decision to not do something unless you actually have the option to do it available to you.

Thus, for example it would lack moral content for us, your editors, to say that we, ourselves, would never, not ever, perform needless surgery.

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