Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gun Safety and Personal Safety - A Dichotomy

When I was nine years old my parents bought me my first firearm, an Ithaca M-49.  Let us pause briefly while any anti-freedom Moonbats reading this are revived and the howls from the Brady Bunch spit spit are stifled by the Sargent at Arms.  Now then.

I opened the package on Christmas morning, and before Christmas dinner my father sat me down and had a short talk with me about safety.  I'd been shooting dad's .22 rifle for several months, but that was always under adult supervision.  This was my very own rifle and now I was on my own.  Although he didn't really enumerate them, what dad told me about in no uncertain terms were the Four Rules of Gun Safety.  Here they are, with credit to Jeff Cooper:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

These rules are designed to keep gun owners from shooting each other.  This is what was drilled into me from the age of nine and it's what I practice today with special attention paid to rule number two, and that is where the problem begins.

Last Saturday night around 7:30 PM Toledo police arrived at the Westfield Franklin Park Mall in time to put out a fire - a large brawl in the food court.  Seeing the popo pull up, many (all?) of the combatants quickly concluded that a mutual non-aggression agreement was in everyone's best interests and hastily departed the area.  During the confusion one young combatant carelessly dropped his noisemaker which was retrieved by Toledo's Finest along with the supposed owner.  Commercial media and the local bird cage liner picked up the story and ran with it.

Teen brings gun to Westfield Franklin Park Mall
Around 7:30 Saturday night police responded to reports of a large fight in the food court. Two suspects were running away when police said one of them, a 14-year-old, dropped a .22-caliber revolver.
Probably the police wanted to return the young man's property to him... but perhaps not.  The paper interviewed a surprisingly candid Toledo police officer which makes the story worth reading.  Here's a link and a few highlights:

4 teenagers arrested at Westfield in 'large fight' - Police say 1 juvenile had loaded handgun
Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said it's unclear why the fight started or if the brawl was gang related.
"We have this issue all the time," the sergeant said. "This isn't anything that's new. We go through these spurts at the mall, we have as long as I can remember. … It's not an every day thing, but it's nothing out of the usual."
The gun, police said, has been booked into the department's property room.
"How and why these kids have these guns, you know, I don't know," Sergeant Heffernan said. "Is it a case of irresponsible gun ownership? Did he steal the gun? Did he buy the gun on the street? I don't know if we'll ever really know."
The fight in the food court occurred a week after Toledo police officers were called to the mall for a report of gunshots in the parking lot near the Elephant Bar and Dick's Sporting Goods.
A police dispatcher confirmed last week that police arrived at the mall on Feb. 18 at about 9:30 p.m. but were unable to determine if a shooting had occurred. Crews only reported a group of people running.
I don't know Sgt. Heffernan, but I like him for his plain speech and his honest, realistic approach.  Since most officers don't make the rank of Sargent overnight, I'll assume that Officer Heffernan has a few years behind him.  Probably a few miles, too.

The manager of the Westfield mall is Erika Williams, whom you can read about in The Sojourner's Truth newspaper: Erika Williams: Westfield’s General Manager Focused on Community Involvement .  Ms. Williams has put up signage around the mall forbidding firearms, has thoughtfully provided patrons with increased security and is concerned with mall profits community involvement.  Williams could implement a curfew for teenagers who are unaccompanied by a responsible adult, but she hasn't.  She could also prohibit gang members from patronizing the mall, but she refuses.  I wonder why?

I'm being facetious.  I can guess why, and I'll bet five to one that my guess is accurate.  Anyway, I'm bringing all this up to illustrate a few points:

  • Violent people exist and do not confine themselves to a special 'violent criminal activity' area.  You can find them mixing with everyone else at the mall.
  • Signs and rules don't apply to these people; they are not law abiding.  They choose to ignore local, State and Federal laws right along with signage informing them of same.
  • Anyone could easily become a target for violent crime.
Yeah, I know.  Brand new news, right?  The thing is that if you are a generally law abiding person, and most of us are, you might easily be just as guilty as home made sin of fracturing one or more of the criminal laws that society could easily live without, and which no one can get too excited about.  However that may be, I'll tell you one thing you won't do.  You won't violate the second rule of gun safety.  You will not point your gun at someone.  In my case this has been drilled into me since day one, and yet if I'm to defend myself against one or more unsupervised youth who happen to stumble over me while on their way to choir practice, and who decide to help me cross the busy highway, that's exactly the thing I must do.  I've got a split second to unlearn eighty years of training and point my loaded, cocked pistol right at someone and pull the trigger.  That's not going to be easy.

I was inspired to write this essay by Bayou Renaissance Man, a writer whom I admire.  You can read his thoughts in his essay Bayou Renaissance Man - Good advice on protecting yourself and your loved ones from criminals, in which he cites several other essays on self-defense that are well worth reading, and which I'm listing here.

Over on AR-15 someone calling himself BurnedOutLeo writes about the realities of people who commit violent crime in his essay Street robberies and you - The Basics. Here's an excerpt:
Some may object to me calling hold up men "the enemy". You can call them whatever you like. I can assure you however they are as deadly an enemy as you will find anywhere but the battlefield. Even many soldiers probably lack the viciousness and utter disregard for life most hold up men possess.
Xavier over at Xavier Thoughts (Nurse with a Gun) gives advice on Surviving a Gunfight, in which Xavier says:
In truth, civilian self defense and law enforcement training could not be more different. Civilians do not have a need to apprehend criminals and stop crime. Civilians need only to avoid crime and survive another day with minimum injury and legal entanglements.
Another worthwhile essay from Xavier Recognizing Threats in which Xavier points out what might seem to be obvious:
Many believe that they can avoid conflict by avoiding particular areas. This is not always the case. A person must go about one's life, and the criminal element does the same. A person may be more likely to be attacked in certain areas, but they can be victimized virtually anywhere. Indeed, they are often less prepared in their own element. Conflict avoidance requires threat recognition.
In keeping with the topic I wrote Call 9-1-1 the other day and cited two police officers who advise everyone to arm themselves.  I agree, but I also advocate learning to avoid a gunfight as well as what to do when you have to shoot.

Will the Sargent at arms please quell the moonbats in the back three rows?  Thank you.

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