Gun + Fear = Freedom?

At the risk of starting a train wreck, I am interested in people’s definitions of what ‘Freedom’ actually constitutes for them.
Whilst owning a gun because I want to and I can is a measure of ‘Freedom’, living in fear and needing a gun to feel safe isn’t ‘Freedom’ for me.

Fear of?

I’m not really sure what you mean. Are you saying that anyone who sees ‘self defense’ as use of their firearm is living in fear?

I’m not ‘fearful’ that someone will attack me. I just recognize that it is a possibility and like to have a tool around that I could use in such an event.

I’m also not ‘fearful’ of my house burning down, but it could happen, so I do have a fire extinguisher around.

What are you trying to say? Do we need to own guns to feel safe, but feel unsafe because others own guns?

Anyway, owning a gun does not necessarily make the owner fearful. I personally own a few guns, and I do not keep any loaded in the house, nor do I have easy access to a firearm in the house. I own them because of the sporting and fun aspect of them.

I think, perhaps, that the portion of the gun-owning community who own guns because of fear see the gun-fear relationship as being the reverse of that expressed in the OP. The fear that they feel certainly tends to rob them of some level of ‘freedom’ (I’m not sure that’s the right word, but I can’t think of a better one), but the fact that they can purchase and own a tool to protect themselves returns that ‘freedom’ to them. The gun that they own means that they no longer have to rely solely on someone else (the police, etc) for protection from the feared elements. It is, then, the fear (and the resulting loss of ‘freedom’) that is primary and the decision to own a firearm (and subsequently retaking that ‘freedom’) is a result of the fear.

I (as a gun owner) personally do not view my decision to own firearms as reflecting any level of fear. I purchased and own firearms solely for the enjoyment and relaxation I get out of target shooting. I could eaily envision circumstances where a healthy realization of my situation would prompt me to desire a firearm for protection (living in a high-crime, violent section of the inner-city, for instance), but I see that more as pragmatism than a fear-reaction.

Finally, one could argue turning the fear-guns-freedom relationship entirely on its head and cliam that private firearm ownership can produce some ‘fear’ in the government which will aid in the protection of individual freedom. This, obviously, is a highly contested argument (I know it has been done many times on these boards), but I think it is a reasonable thought. I do not mean that the government would actively fear the populace, but rather they would have an understanding that they could not go too far in suppressing freedoms without raising the ire of the people. The definition of “too far” depends, of course, on the then current state of affairs (post 9/11 concerns and the safety/liberty trade-offs seen there, for instance), and, as such, this argument seems to be somewaht dilluted.

Since you felt the need to add the gun comment: I own a 12-gauge shotgun solely for bear protection. It’s only loaded when I’m out camping, and then with either 00 buckshot or slugs or both. Yes, fear is the motivator, along with some common sense. Not that it would necessarily stop a grizzly.

[soapbox]Keeping a loaded gun in the house just doesn’t make sense to me. If awakened by an intruder, the odds of having the presence of mind not to shoot the cat, my wife or myself (or even to get the thing from the closet) before said intruder is on me are slim.[/soapbox]

I grew up with guns in the house and have no problems with responsible gun owners, hunters and the like.

In response to your question: I agree that being able to own firearms is part of the freedoms we enjoy, but it doesn’t define the term for me. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” does.

Sorry, I should have said: guns for protection, not for sport. akennett - thank you for your explanation. I find it very hard to understand gun ownership for personal protection because I have never lived in a country where this is something that people do (bar the odd one or two I’m guessing). I also don’t get where gun ownership in the US is all leading - are people advocating that everyone should be armed for their own protection? Have gun sales ever gone down for a sustained length of time?
Here, guns for sport are fairly common but with strict licencing laws, both the owner and the gun have to be licenced.
I guess freedom is to not live in fear of being attacked and for some the gun may buy this freedom? How many people still have fear even though they own the gun for personal protection?

It seems that law abiding guns owners trust other law abiding citizens not to put them in a situation that requires them to defend themselves with a gun.

I kind of find this to be a matter of conditioning. Some people will, no doubt, call the amount of practicing I do with firearms to be indicative of paranoia that I will be attacked.

I consider it reasonable that if I have any intention of defending myself with a firearm, I should practice with it until such actions become every bit as rote as other methods of defense people spend countless hours and dollars training with.

Some spend years training in martial arts. I train with firearms because to me, those are the best tools available. I do not ‘fear’ attack any more than someone who trains in martial arts for both recreation and self defense. I see it as just being prepared.

Absolutely not. A person who is not willing to put in countless hours and dollars to be able to safely have, carry, or use a defense gun, or is not comfortable with the same, shouldn’t do it.

This is the position that was put forth in one of the NRA magazines, also. That whatever choice you make regarding self-defense, you’d better put a lot of care and thought into it and be willing to train yourself to use it correctly.

Like I said, I don’t ‘fear’ being attacked. I never did. I recognize it as something that is possible, just as it is possible that my house my catch fire or my car may crash on the highway. I chose a firearm for self-defense. Others choose mace, martial arts, keychain alarms, a dog, a security system, etc.

It’s a matter of personal choice. The only thing that I find irritating is when someone likens my choice to penis envy.

Nowhere is the trust that law abiding gun owners place in other law abiding citizens with firearms so evident as at an public outdoor range. You walk a hundred yards to put up your target and trust the total stranger at the next bench not to fire or fuck up while you’re down range. :wink:

Freedom, for me, is a minimum of laws telling me what to do and what not to do.

I realize that some laws are necessary for a society to function, but I’m an adherent of the old saw that I should be free to swing my fist as much as I want, unless it comes into contact with someone’s nose.

Or, I should be free to do whatever I want as long as it hurts no one else or infringes on their freedom to do what they want.

It has nothing to do with guns, BTW, except that gun ownership is a freedom that Americans enjoy, and should be allowed to enjoy as long as they don’t misuse that freedom.

And of course, people likely to misuse it should not have that freedom, either. Don’t issue driving licenses to the blind, but to trained, sighted drivers who have demonstrated their ability.

Freedom to say what I like, worship how I choose, freedom from oppression of any kind.

Read the Bill of Rights (and the U.S. Constitution, BTW) and you’ll get a good idea of what I think freedom is.

Some people will tell you it is freedom to have that option to kill or mame people when ‘required’.

Others will tell you they would rather the freedom of being able to walk around without fear of the former exercising their freedom.

I am in the latter camp, but thats just me.

Having grown up in the country, I love the freedom of being able to go walkabout across paddocks and through the bush. Some countries you cannot do this because of land mines, bears, militia, geurillas or paranoid farmers with guns to protect themselves from bears.

Wow, I didn’t realize it was that bad ‘down under.’ No wonder the Queen took away all your guns!

It’s different here in the U.S. Maybe you ought to immigrate. We can walk around free from that kind of fear here.

For every person murdered in the UK, three more are murdered in the US.

For this reason, I was more fearful of being killed when in the US. I began to wish for some freedom from this fear, a major source of which I thought was this curious insistence that people be “free” to keep their guns at home or even in their very pocket at all times, rather than in a club vault or some other designated place for sport.

When I returned to the UK I felt more free from this particular fear.

Have you considered that the relative size of the US as well as cultural factors such as the way the US prosecutes the ‘war on drugs’ may have something to do with this difference?

If your numbers are correct, and the murder rate in the US is 4 times what it is in the UK, that’s also because you’re dealing with a population about 5 times as large in the US.

I don’t see the need to turn over property I lawfullly own to a third party for ‘safe keeping’. Of course, anyone keeping a gun in their pocket is a moron. Carried firearms should be in holsters.

Being the regular, average citizen that I am, not involved in organized crime, drug trafficking or gangs, I have absolutely no reason to fear being shot to death, and damn near all my neighbors own firearms. They’re law abiding people. Why should I be afraid of them?

Why are you fearful of law abiding firearms owners?

The murder rate per capita is 4 times greater. In terms of absolute numbers it is 15 times greater. In terms of absolute numbers with firearms it is an incredible 134 times greater.

The UK has its own drugs and gangs, on a similar scale to the US. How is it that the total crime rate and assault rate are similar in the two countries but the murder rate is so vastly different? Something is making those crimes and assaults more lethal, agreed?

Because if for some reason they wanted to assault me they could do so lethally with such ease.

If you look at this site http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6166 you will see that the gun death figure is proportional to pupulation. You will also see that the majority of the UK gun deaths are here in Northern Ireland, where we have had a terrorist situation for over 30 years. The rest of the UK … England, Wales and Scotland, are all close to the bottom of the list.

The per capita murder rate is really the only one that has any relevance, since no matter the means or manner, those people are still dead. I don’t know why it makes you feel worse that more American murders are committed with firearms than it does that the majority of UK murders are committed with some other weapon. They are still murders.

And you are completely unwilling to look at any other factors such as that while the crimes of drug trafficking and gangs may be occurring similarly in other countries, US policies toward prosecuting these crimes have an effect on them. It’s probably also worth noting that mostly rural Washington County, Pennsylvania for example with a low population density but high firearms ownership rate has very little violent crime, whereas places like Washington, DC with a very high population density and a near total ban on firearms ownership for the general public has very much violent crime.

More things are at play here than the number of violent crimes and the number of firearms.

Can the populations of the US and the UK be accurately compared, or would there be a state in the US that is more analogus to the UK?

The fact that they could does not mean they would. What makes you think that law abiding gun owners want to assault you at all, let alone kill you?

Considering the number of murders in the US, the locations that contribute the majority of those murders, and the enviorment of those areas, I just can’t find the danger to the average Joe in the US of being shot to death.

I’d love to see something done about crime. I just don’t think focusing on firearms is the answer to that.

I don’t ‘feel worse’. As I explained in another thread, it is simply that the difference between the murder rate in the two countries is specifically accounted for by firearm murders. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that firearms access makes assaults more lethal.

I find it extremely difficult to believe that such policies could somehow cause thousands of murders, yes. What particular policies which are not being prusued in the UK did you have in mind?

I said that if they did, for whatever reason (mistaken or not), they could. If they only had access to hand-weapons, I would stand a much greater chance of running away or defending myself. Hence their assaults would not become murders.

Then you’re going to have to show me some kind of proof that there are large numbers of ‘assaults turned lethal’ among people who legally own firearms, because that’s the group of people whose firearms ownership you’re talking about.

Well for one, we have mandatory sentencing programs that put people into prison for long periods of time for what I see as minor offenses. While I don’t think that the threat of going to prison is what causes it to be a high stakes game, I think those that are sentenced and put in prison come out with kind of a Carl Jung thing. Start with a bachelor’s in pot, get a master’s in cocaine.

We put what were non-violent offenders into prisons where they are mixed with violent offenders, and then when they come out, what of them then?

Even given all the practicing that I do with firearms, and the training I’ve had, there’s no way I’d want to be inside 10 feet of someone who’s got a knife. Thunder Ranch and other such training programs that specialize in defensive firearms training and the training of bodyguards/personal security personnel will even state that flat out, within 10 feet, the person with the knife is likely to fare far better than the one with a firearm.

What’s interesting to me is that while I don’t sit around thinking ‘What if my gun owning neighbors wanted to assault me? Would they draw their firearms?’ you do think about that.

See, we 'Murricans have to keep extra guns around in case this happens again.

But if firearms outside vaults in recreational premises were mostly illegal themselves, surely the “legally owned” herring would turn a bright shade of red? I contend that easy, public access to firearms inflates the murder rate. I contend that the reason that UK criminals don’t simply keep firearms illegally is because there is a mandatory 5 year sentence for doing so.

Are you suggesting, then, that the US is more violent than the UK? The statistics emphatically do not bear you out.

I don’t “sit around” thinking that. I merely do not wish to die, and when there is a fourfold greater risk of murder my fear increases proportionally. I ask myself why the murder rate is so inflated, and my consideration is that the main factor is easy access to guns, since any other obvious factor would clearly show up in the statistics. That is my consideration. Feel free to believe your own explanation for the murder rate.