Safety vs. Illusion of Control

I’m sick and uncomfortable, so let’s see if I can do this coherently with a low word count.

The idea of civilian gun ownership as a matter of “self-defense” reminds me a lot of the prevalence of “safety tips” aimed at women for avoiding rape. 

I get that we all want to have something, or do something, that makes us feel in control of a situation. That’s the idea behind “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” It’s about control. We ladies keep going through all these safety rituals, no matter how cumbersome and ineffective they are, because we need to convince ourselves that if we just do XYZ, we’ll stay on top of the situation and we’ll be okay.

And with that in mind, here’s what I’ve learned from years and years of seeing lots of people’s stories of rape and assault, with all the ways they tried to protect themselves, all the ways they couldn’t protect themselves, and all the ways they were blamed and shamed for having failed to protect themselves: sometimes, a situation is simply out of your control. Sometimes, some shitty person decides to do something awful, and there’s nothing you can do about it except try to live to fight another day. It’s not “empowering” to admit that sometimes shit happens no matter what we do, but it’s a lot more constructive than constantly moving the goalposts of what we should’ve done.

America’s law-abiding gun owners have had plenty of time to demonstrate that good guys with guns keep us safe from bad guys with guns, and they’ve failed. This is a testable hypothesis, and the evidence speaks for itself. You don’t get control of an already-chaotic situation by adding more bullets. There were decent people with concealed firearms near the shooting at Umpqua; they couldn’t help. There was one guy who actually did get in the shooter’s way and protect other people from getting shot; he did it by taking seven bullets in his own body. I hear he’s recovering. He shouldn’t have had to do that. There’s no good way for non-police to deal with a bad guy with a gun. Some ways are less shitty than others, and the less-shitty ways involve not trying to shoot anyone else. The more bullets flying in a given area, the more people getting shot. Doesn’t matter if some of the shooters have good intentions. 

I realize this isn’t what anyone wants to hear, but at some point we need to prioritize saving lives over maintaining our illusions.