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An Internalization of Violence

Picasso Guernica

This past Sunday, The Daily Beast published my essay on gun-ownership, violence in schools, and the ways we guard against it. I referenced the work of David Grossman, a leading author, speaker and authority on the psychology of violence. I presented his opinions not because I agreed with every word, but because I found them interesting, counter-intuitive, thought-provoking, and thus potentially useful in a pragmatic national discussion about gun violence. Grossman breaks society down into three groups – sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs – and as an entry to the subject, I related my own experience of feeling a burning need to guard my family after my tours in Iraq. Because I am trained in firearms, using a gun to protect my children seemed obvious, so obvious to me that it caught me off guard that my plans disturbed news interviewers and common readers alike.

It is safe to say those feelings persist. The day after my essay appeared David Frum wrote a thoughtful rebuttal, emphasizing the inherent risks of anyone owning a gun and echoing the sentiment of Terry Gross and others that the existence of the firearm is the dangerous part. I have long admired Frum as a writer, we share many of the same public policy opinions, and so I should say that while I have gotten used to many aspects of this new semi-public life of an author, seeing Frum’s piece pop up Monday was a new experience. I’m honored to have him respect my work enough to devote a column to it.

I agree with nearly everything Frum wrote, especially the (implied) need to address gun violence as we would a public health crisis. Where we diverge is on the psychology, the reasonableness of the protective feelings, and his selective application of the deficiencies of human behavior.

Let us consider the second part first, as it is the most straight-forward. Frum correctly notes that gun owners are not “competent, responsible, sober” all of the time. The pro-gun lobby conceives of such a thing as a good gun owner, but “… in the real world, human beings spread themselves along much longer gradients of behavior. Some are well-intentioned but careless. Some are admirably well-tempered, except when they have had too much to drink.”

All true, but while Frum admits there are trust-worthy veterans and valiant grandmother shotgun owners, he states that it is this variety of human failings that make guns dangerous to even the well-intentioned.

But it is no more difficult to keep one’s gun locked up when drunk than one’s car keys. When not competent, reasonable or sober, there are a multitude of bad behaviors we humans could engage in. Gun ownership and an increased propensity for such carelessness do not have to go together. Or, to put it another way, human beings are careless, and some of them happen to own guns. Many more of them recklessly and imperfectly drive cars. An awful lot also own swimming pools.

This has relevance. Frum states “In the US, however, the greatest risk to children comes not from roadside IEDs, but from carelessly handled handguns belonging to the loving adults in their lives.” Not true, actually. The CDC says the greatest risk to children is motor-vehicle accidents. The second is accidental drowning, most often in swimming pools. Each year 600 children die in gun accidents, while more than 700 children aged 1-14 years drown.

No matter how many safety nets we erect, we still live in an occasionally dangerous world.

These are not perfect comparisons. The difference between owning a gun and driving a car or owning a swimming pool, of course, is that the first seems rash and “poorly conceived” and the second two are more accepted behaviors in society, either for practical transportation or simple entertainment. One could move to the city, take public transit, not go swimming, and do more to make your child safe than you would by keeping a gun out of the house (interesting that generally in our society we address the threat of drowning with fences and teaching children to swim, while we address accidental shootings with trigger locks but little education). Arming oneself as a guard against potential violence is statistically unnecessary, though, which brings us to the second point, the psychology and reasonableness of that protective feeling at all.

*****

“Will violence happen to me? Am I the kind of person violent things happen to?” Who even asks themselves this kind of question? If a combat veteran doesn’t reflect on this before they join the military, they know the answer after their first firefight.

Mitch Albom at the Detroit Free Press addressed this immediately after the Boston bombings:

I read a quote from a female spectator in Boston, who suffered minor injuries and who told CNN, “I personally will never participate in an event of this nature in a city in fear that something like this could happen again. … Seeing terrible things … all over the world on TV, my heart would always go out to those directly affected. But I never imagined in a million years I would be a spectator at the Boston Marathon running for my life.”

This is a very telling statement. She admits she has seen terror happen all over the world, yet says she could never have imagined running for her life. Why? If it happens all over the world, why couldn’t it happen to her?

Is violence something that will happen to you? This is not fear-mongering. It is an honest question that I wonder how many of us ask ourselves. If the answer is yes, what to do about that realization is not at all obvious.

Frum used two words to describe my need to be on guard: irrational and unreasoning. They are inaccurate. I surely reasoned, perhaps over-reasoned, my way to choose my spot at the top of the stairs to guard my son’s door. And it is completely rational to note you have the skills and means to protect your children and then plan on how to best go about it; no different from installing a car seat, really. I am reminded of the column by David Giraldi where he argued that when we say senseless to describe terror attacks what we really mean is useless. I think the same applies here. Arming yourself to protect your children is not irrational but useless. What practical effect was I trying to achieve? Who was I guarding my children against, after all? I still don’t have a good answer.

While noting that, because of my time in Iraq, I may be excused for over-protectiveness, Frum nonetheless dismisses any lesson I may have learned there. That my experiences left me “Crazy” (my word, in my book) makes this especially easy; a clinical mental health diagnosis sanitizes what is a normal human reaction. There is a wink and a nod here, a certain “well, you know Brian saw lots of bad things, but that was a war, after all. That’s not a shared reality. That stuff doesn’t apply back here.”

When does it apply? What lesson would we all listen to? There is always a disclaimer – it’s a gang-on-gang shooting, everyone knows New York is a target, she was asking for it, who would walk home by themselves at night, they are the one’s that volunteered for the military - that explains why violence happens to other people and not us.

This is what the statistically-based public policy teaches: it will not happen to you. Do not own a gun because it is far more likely to harm you than protect you. And in the average, this is right, and for the general public, that is probably the right message. Except when the individual learns that it is wrong in the personal case.

Why should any American fear a violent encounter? “Human beings are notoriously poor estimators of risk,” Frum says. “We are phobic about flying, but not about driving – although driving is vastly more dangerous.”

True, but a plane crash is what we in the military used to call a “low probability/high impact” event. The risk from an auto accident is easier to compartmentalize – many of us drive every day, have been in a fender-bender and lived through it. But we fly less often, and a plane crash is far more often fatal. It is unlikely an armed and violent intruder will enter my home, but the consequences if it happens? Devastating.

Should I internalize this, or will it only make me a security hypochondriac?

In the film “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Ben Stiller’s character, Chas Tenenbaum, loses his wife in a plane crash and then becomes obsessed with the safety of his sons. He runs fire drills from their apartment. He sleeps in the same room with them. He loves them fiercely. Perhaps there is a Rorschach Test here. Is Ben Stiller’s character a caricature to be laughed at? Or a sympathetic figure to empathize with? I am guessing one’s personal experience is a great predictor of the answer.

What seems wise in the aggregate (the nature of public policy, and Frum’s specialty) is difficult to apply in one’s life, especially when the impact for rolling snake eyes on the dice is so large. I question the utility or practicality of applying the statistical average to one’s individual behavior, especially when our brains are programmed to consider personal experience above cold theory. Once something unlikely happens to us - major car accident, loved one drowning, rare cancer, violent attack – we are predisposed to be more on guard against it, not less.

It is interesting to note that Frum does not address the basic sheep/wolf/sheepdog structure. I admit that I am uncomfortable with it. The existence of and need for sheepdogs seems certain – observe the many in uniform at work in Boston, immediately after the bombings and in the days of hunting that followed – but are they protecting us from wolves, from obviously evil men (and only occasionally women)? Ehren Tool, who I interviewed for a previous piece on this blog, reminded us of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.

We need protecting, but when in war you see so many average reasonable human beings doing horrific things to one another, it is hard to label what we need protection from. This bother me not; I don’t need to know who is shooting at me to realize I’m being shot at.

But if we agree on the need to have sheepdogs, who then is to fill that role? What is my responsibility for bearing that burden myself versus leaving it to others? This is the hesitancy Frum notes, that I am unsure if I made the right decision to keep the gun out of the minivan. It is not insecurity because logic overcame emotion, but rather my reliance upon others for something I could do myself. It is being the recipient rather than the provider of protection.

Because there has not been a triumph of reason over irrational fear, or an embracing of the statistically probable over the unlikely (or some might say a return of denial to avoid messy reality), but rather a choice to live my life in a more peaceful way. I learned in war that violence can happen to me, a white kid from suburban Buffalo. I learned it is not something that just happens to other people. I learned that when you are being shot at you should take cover behind your weapon. That if you are shooting at them they will put their head down and not shoot back at you. That when bullets fly – and they will, remember – that I should fight and not hide. I have not reasoned my way out of this to the “right answer.” I am choosing not to participate because of the calm it brings to my present. I am choosing to turn the other cheek; that I will be slapped again someday is not a theoretical question but an inevitable certainty.

23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nick #

    Brian
    Thoughtful and on a tangent from the tribal wisdom. The polarized myopia of the political extremes that dominate that conversation are not helping. Neither side represents the majority but they certainly represent the minority. The reality in many urban communities in the US is that the 870 keeps the wolf at bay. Perhaps if your white with a University education and no one in the family has a felony conviction, no family member was represented In drug statistics or an element in a victim of violence statement.
    In those parts of town where both the middle American NRA supporting libertarian and the center of the city granola Liberal both hit central locking as they roll up on a stop light, is it not abundantly clear that the paradigm they espouse is …………crazy.

    May 3, 2013
  2. It is scarey the world we live in. Even when keeping our eyes open, do we really know what we are looking for?

    May 9, 2013
  3. Hmm… Yes, 700 children die drowning every year but it isn’t by demonstrating the other flaws that exist in the world (lack of surveillance around pools or whatever it is) that gun violence is any less preoccupying. That’s still 600 deaths that could have been avoided. And they are avoided in most European countries so why not follow their example?

    May 9, 2013
  4. Most death and injury to women is from people they know and not from intruders or terrorists. If keys to gun cabinets exist, kids can find them. Guns are too quick. Damage is irrevocable. We are all capable of making mistakes. I would not feel more safe with a gun in the house. I would feel a lot less safe. If intruders do come, having my own gun is not a safeguard against violence, but a potential way to escalate things. Only in the movies do people get to be the hero and shoot the bad guy. Who in our crazy world can even decide who is good and who is bad without time to think things through? My father was in the military for 30 years, and he is a sharpshooter. He kept a gun in the house, but he did not tell anyone that fact while we lived there, only later when we were grown and gone. The instant after he told me, though, I correctly identified where it had been. It solved a mystery for me. Why did he need to open up the attic access so often and check up there? Why did he look at me so intently when he made me promise never to open the access myself. I had always known there was a mystery in my room, and I always respected his privacy and never opened it. As soon as I knew his rifle was in the house, I know where it was. He confirmed I was right. If there had been a locked gun cabinet, I would have known where the keys were. Would I have been able to stop looking if I had known what was up there? Maybe. Do we want safety to be based on a maybe? I’m afraid of guns and bombs in the hands of angry people, whoever they are. I’m not afraid to say so.

    May 9, 2013
    • At the hands of safety, Guns in residential areas seem to be unfit. And safety is hardly a reason to whip out a firearm, I agree. Putting a few more seconds of thought into it, I understand that if guns welcome nothing but negatives, I doubt it would still be an accessory to our present generations. After all, it is a deemed century old invention. I’d rather just leave it as another Boon-Bane issue that has an equal or competent adversaries in the form of perspective.

      May 10, 2013
  5. The line between caution and paranoia is what both sides seem to want to ignore. Your post is very good at addressing, and admitting, that some gun-owners edge mightily close for a variety of reasons. There is also a line between not worrying about victimization, and indifference. In this same space, one can either accept the possibility, be aware, and move on, or one can freak out and stock up on AK’s. The gradients in between are getting lost in the noise.

    My gun-owning friends are protective of their children, single, some elderly. Some are vets, some not, some hunt, some play. Some drink, some smoke, some jog. But the common denominator of this group is a healthy understanding of the dangers of just being human among other humans. They do not need ten guns when they can only fire one, and they do not feel a need to blow up tanks. They do not fear life, nor do they fear the other life that shares their planet. They also respect its (life’s) potential for explosion, much as a soldier respects landmines. Tread carefully, but don’t panic. All that happens is everybody panics.

    What I mainly see in the gun “debate” is one pole screaming in fear of guns, and the other pole screaming in fear from their own insecurity. Again, nothin’ but a lot of stupid fear.

    What I do not hear, and that’s why I like your post so much, is enough talking amongst the level-headed to drown them out.

    Thank you for your words. They are refreshingly sane :)

    May 9, 2013
  6. sergeantmac #

    Reblogged this on Sergeant Mac's Blog and commented:
    I like much of what you have to say, but I share a number of different views about some of the issues. I retired from law enforcement in L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept after 36+ years, 30 of them spent mostly in a patrol car, as a deputy for 10 years, and a Sergeant for 26 years; I worked at 6 different stations in L.A. County, each with unique demographics. My Dad was a deputy for 29 years. I’ve read Grossman and I like much of what he has to say and his perspective on many issues. I want to think about and re-read what you’ve written, and perhaps share some of my thoughts at a future time, as well. I commend you for your service to our country, and I have always had high regard for our military, in general, although I never served in the military. I also want to commend you for your very thoughtful, rational thinking and honest open writing in your blog, and your article. It is rare in much of the writing I see elsewhere. May I suggest you look up an author who is a Vietnam Vet, and is also very thoughtful, honest , open, and rational in his writing and thinking. He has some similar and different ideas about these issues. You may have already read or heard of him: Karl Marlantes, his book “What It’s Like To Go To War.” If not, I think you’ll find him at least interesting.

    May 10, 2013
  7. Thank you for your words, and for your honest and open reflections on your own experiences. Your dialogue with Mr. Frum touches on an aspect of the gun debate that is often overlooked in all the rhetoric-laced fear mongering. Everyone must consider the inherent risks of gun ownership and weigh them against the risks of the occurrence of violence against themselves or their loved ones. This is a process that can only be undertaken at the individual and family level; it is for no one else to decide. Only I know my proficiency with a gun, and only I can assess the risks that the presence of a gun in my home will present to my family.

    I sympathize with your sentiment regarding relying on others for something you could provide yourself. If I am able to change the oil in my car, why would I pay to have it done? If there is a doctor in the room, why would I wait until I get to the hospital to get treated? If I own a car, why would I pay for a cab (unless of course I am impaired, in which case I have the sense to neither drive nor handle a weapon)? If you are specially trained with weapons, and could be carrying one, why would you wait five minutes for police to arrive?

    May 10, 2013
  8. If there is a need to have a gun in a country, then it’s best to change the country. If the society is fueled with volence and lack of security, guns will not help it. Isn’t it better to improve education then to invest in weapons. Crazy!

    May 10, 2013
    • Totally agree with you. You said everything I wanted to say.

      May 12, 2013
  9. I enjoyed reading your article, but I have to address comparing guns to swimming pools. Guns are designed to kill/wound/maim only. Pools are not. When an “accident” happens with a gun it’s because it accidentally did precisely what it was designed to do, just to the wrong person/living thing/target. The issue is owning something that was designed to cause suffering, period, and claiming that it’s a right is saying “I have the right to cause suffering.” When someone drowns it’s because the pool had an accident that was disparate from its intended use. I think this comparison along with cars, etc. needs to be dropped because they don’t make sense. It’s not comparing apples and oranges, it’s apples and cows. Also, the “I buy the gun to XYZ” also needs to be dropped, because that’s just another way of lying to ourselves about what guns really are and we need to stop doing that to really have this debate. Weapons are their own separate thing and I feel like they needed to be treated as such for this debate to go anywhere. (I’ve known people whose lives were shattered by both guns and pools, incidentally.)

    May 10, 2013
    • I thought someone might question the analogies between guns and swimming pools or cars. The point is not that there is a direct correlation; the author does not make that claim. The point is to address the fear that exists about guns, but not about other things that are statistically more dangerous.

      Your claim that gun ownership is like saying “I have the right to cause suffering” is the exact opposite of the author’s position in the article. You have not addressed his assertions or logic in any way; only made your own assertions without support. To summarize the author’s point for you, for most gun owners, the right to own a weapon is about preventing suffering, not inflicting it. The right to own a weapon is saying, “I have the right to defend myself and my family, and I need a weapon to make it a level playing field.”

      May 10, 2013
  10. I am so glad this post made “Freshly Pressed” so I could find it.

    A most thoughtful piece, and food for thought for the rest of us. I am not a gun owner, nor do I plan to be. If one has a gun and keeps it locked, with the ammo stored elsewhere and also locked, there is little chance the kids will find both and still have “alone time” to play Russian Roulette.

    Then again, there is the five-year-old with a “toy gun” who killed his sibling… with a toy.

    My problem with the vehemence of the NRA is that they are not spreading education and caution. They are spreading money to lobby for things like huge clips for pistols. This has nothing to do with your intention of protecting your family; this is so hunters can nail game more efficiently and gang-bangers can get multiple shots off at drive-by victims… etc. etc. ad nauseum.

    About the efficacy of protecting your child, I can’t imagine how you expect to unlock the gun safe, unlock the ammo, load the gun, and get to your son’s bedroom door in time, let alone get off a good shot in a panic situation. I have a friend who’s a Marine, former special ops (like Iran Contra stuff), and he said anyone with training still won’t react the same way in a personal situation once they’ve been out of the field.

    I have PTSD and think you may, too. Have you been evaluated? I don’t mean you’re “crazy” (I hate that term – it’s stigmatizing to all who live with various mental disorders), but it could be that thinking the only way you can protect your son is by taking the life of another might be an indication.

    I mean this, not to dismiss your arguments, but out of genuine caring. However your life works out, I hope you and your son live to be old men and never have to kill another human being. As for me and mine, if they come in with guns, I intend to look at the floor (not be able to ID them) and tell them to take everything they want. After all, it’s only stuff. As for my daughter, I’d give my life to save hers. It’s only time on earth. Blessings to you and yours

    Sincerely, a “Christian Left” mom, Amy

    May 10, 2013
  11. My human read your post and liked it. He liked it for it was a reasoned appeal to judgement. He respectfully disagrees. He’s ten days older than dirt and as a result has seen the results of not having a populace that can defend itself. If you stand on the side of an opened pit that 2700 skulls reside in as a result of mass extermination, (he has) if you understand whole societies, races, and nations have been decimated for the lack of means of civilian defense, you begin to accept the abhorrent behavior of a few versus the total destruction of many. Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, and Hitler’s Germany all had one central theme for allowing its citizens to be armed…it was the denial of firearms to the populace. That’s then and now is different?… Consider it took a filibuster in Congress the get the current Attorney General to finally delineate that “Drones” could not be used against his own population. If there is one thing we can all agree on it’s that trusting or believing any politician equates to standing on a banana peel at the cliff’s edge.

    May 10, 2013
  12. Yes, we all (with few exceptions) have the capacity to be sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. In so far as we are free to engage in any of the three characters at any time, we are responsible for that choice and what follows. That any man or entity should dictate who should assume which identity at what time is tyrannical. Freedom is power. With power comes responsibility. To lessen our responsibility, we have sacrificed our power (freedom). We have disarmed and disqualified ourselves of the freedom (power) to choose our role (sheep, wolf, sheepdog).

    This makes life easier.

    This makes life less meaningful.

    May 10, 2013
  13. “Gun ownership and an increased propensity for such carelessness do not have to go together. ”

    I don’t understand your argument here. According to your explanation of what Frum says in his article, he is not saying that these two go together. He’s saying that even the most well-intentioned human’s propensity for carelessness makes gun ownership more risky. What is meant by the phrase “go together?” What’s easier or even feasible? Making people less careless…I would say that’s impossible…. or enacting strictly enforced gun laws to help prevent tragedy…when a streak of carelessness happens to strike a person?

    The fact is we’re talking about gun violence here….we’re talking about preventing gun-related deaths..frankly I don’t understand why a discussion of car keys or swimming pools is necessary when discussing gun ownership and ways to reduce gun violence. Its a way for the pro-gun lobby to distract people. The fact that more deaths happen statistically in one manner is not an excuse for not taking action to prevent deaths in another manner, especially when the manner in question, a gun, its only purpose is to either produce death or injury unlike a swimming pool or car keys. The fact is that stricter gun laws do work to reduce gun violence and massacres…Its been demonstrated in Australia. In 1996 a Conservative pm enacted sweeping gun control legislation after one of their worst massacres, and there have been none since. homicide rates also declined by factors of up to 50 60%. And guess what.. there were conservative politicians in Australia who lost public support and re-election in order to support gun control….something that politicians in this country can’t even fathom also there was incredible public opposition to gun control in Australia back in 1996…things you hear here like “government is becoming a dictatorship…they’re invading our freedoms…and all the rest” and now no one could care less…they implemented it in less than three and a half months.

    That being said, I strongly disagree with Frum on his characterizations of you as irrational and unreasoning. I agree that personal experiences will shape us more than hearing about statistical averages. I personally think the worst thing we can do is internalize fear, that being said I still internalize fears just as you do…just as we all do. I think we have to deal directly with the man-made systems that create that fear. And the fact is that lax gun control in this country is one of those systems.

    May 12, 2013
  14. Hi, interesting to use Picasso’ image on this theme!

    May 14, 2013
  15. As a law enforcement officer I have to praise the eloquence with which you made your point.

    People like to run from the possibility of “it might happen to me someday” preferring rather to either stick their heads in the sand and hide from the possibilities of danger or are content to coast through their perceived safe lives enjoying the false security of “well it hasn’t ever happened to me, so it most likely won’t ever happen at this point”, mindset.

    The problem with that is if and when it ever happens they are completely unprepared to handle it. Growing up in Brooklyn NY, I took martial arts for protection. Because the sad reality of life is that even if you’re not looking for it, violence can prey upon and pounce on you in a life changing instant. My sensei was one of the few at that time who trained us by actually allowing contact during the practicing of techniques and focusing more on kumite or brawling/sparring than point fighting. Why? Because he said, when the situation occurs, where you find yourself in a confrontation, the actual getting hit part won’t cost you that few seconds of shocked response where you don’t know how to react. By actually letting you get hit here in a controlled environment, when it happens out in the street, hopefully, your reaction time will be that much quicker, which could make all the difference in your survival.

    Owning a gun doesn’t make you any more susceptable to violence or accidents than owning a chainsaw would. Both are tools and require the proper care, respect and fear in order to be safe around them. The problem comes as in everything else, when we, the caretakers of our weapons grow complacent around them. When we fall prey to the mind numbing presence of them simply because an accident has never happened before. This is the real danger. When we lose our respect and fear for the tools we use, we are more liable to injure ourselves or let others be injured by them. The same way we forget to lock the gate to the pool to keep our kids out. Or we forget that we shouldn’t drive drunk because we’ve never crashed before while doing it, or we forget to lock the chainsaw in the shed and leave it in the yard where the kids play.

    But not owning a chainsaw won’t help you when you need to cut that limb from the tree before it falls through your roof. Not owning a car won’t protect you from the other drunk driver on the roads. Not owning a pool, will only prevent an accident in your home, but what about when you go to other people’s pools? We cannot prevent any accident from happening at any time, we can only be vigilant in exercising the proper restraint, control and preparedness that we personally can influence. Not owning a gun won’t help you a bit when the deranged stranger comes calling in the middle of the night and the under-staffed, under-funded and under-appreciated protectors can’t respond in time. At least you would have the tool necessary to help protect you and yours if the need arose.

    Thank you for your post I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    May 16, 2013
  16. I’m moved by your post. It seems to me we are constantly told we will BE protected and deprived of the right to protect ourselves. Yet, the defenseless are victimized every day.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    May 22, 2013
  17. How very well written and thoughtful. Thank you for taking the time to write and answer the “other” side. I am from Texas- born and raised and lived here all my life. I must say I cannot really comprehend how someone can think that taking away all guns is to make the world a safer place. Maybe it is a Texas thing- but I feel safer and better able to protect my family because we do have a gun(s) in the house. All four of my children ages 12-20, can operate and clean a firearm- safely. That fact brings me comfort in an uncertain world.

    Thank you for your service. My one and only son- the youngest of the four- has planned on being a soldier since he was three, he narrowed it to Marine after seeing a few John Wayne movies. We shall see, but he is a cracker jack shot.

    May 22, 2013
  18. Having been brought up in Europe, it is difficult to understand the obsession some Americans have with guns. From here it seems much of it is driven by arms manufacturers arming one half of the country, then telling the other half to buy guns, as half of the country is armed.

    Europe is not exactly without guns. Where I lived in England shots could be heard every weekend, as soon as the hunting season began. Though mostly from shotguns, a modiified shotgun can be a very dangerous weapon indeed. Here in Spain it is also common to hear shooting once the hunting season begins.

    There seems to be a huge cultural difference between the two. Most Europeans don´t see guns as a means of protection, so we wouldn´t buy one for that reason. When we hear some US citizens keep small armouries at home our eyes swivel skywards. Nevertheless, illegal handguns are entering European society on an increasing level. I think Hollywood bears a lot of the blame for that and should start treating violence in films in a much more responsible way.

    Thank you for a very thoughtful piece from somone who knows rather more about guns and the terrible damage they can inflict than most.

    May 23, 2013
  19. I have always said I would never own a gun as long as I have children in my house, but after being broken into while living alone in Houston in order to work, I sent for a gun. A friend with a gun. I asked him to show me how to use it. I began to sign up for handgun lessons. Violence can and will cross your path at some point, as will disease. It is up to each of us individually to determine our own worth. Will we accept the doctors orders? Or research the best possible way to remain healthy and live a long life?

    I don’t think everyone should own a gun, but it amazed me how quickly I rescinded my anti-gun policy once I realized how vulnerable I am and what an easy target I might be.

    May 24, 2013

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