Comments on: Security - Thinking Reasonably About a Hot-Button Issue http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Fri, 09 Jan 2009 22:10:49 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: Wildflower » Linkage: I Can Haz Gunz http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9732 Wildflower » Linkage: I Can Haz Gunz Sun, 31 Aug 2008 01:52:28 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9732 [...] Security - Thinking Reasonably About a Hot-Button Issue [...] […] Security - Thinking Reasonably About a Hot-Button Issue […]

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By: Sharon http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9623 Sharon Thu, 28 Aug 2008 18:57:26 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9623 Ah, duh. That's what I get for just skimming over wikipedia ;-) Sorry. Sharon Ah, duh. That’s what I get for just skimming over wikipedia ;-)

Sorry.

Sharon

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By: MEA http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9552 MEA Thu, 28 Aug 2008 13:06:39 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9552 Sharon -- I think one of the points of the novel is that both her children died. It didn't really matter in the end what choice she made -- that is no matter hard she tried to make the right choice when there was no right choice, all her efforts were for naught. MEA Sharon — I think one of the points of the novel is that both her children died. It didn’t really matter in the end what choice she made — that is no matter hard she tried to make the right choice when there was no right choice, all her efforts were for naught.

MEA

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By: Sharon http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9550 Sharon Thu, 28 Aug 2008 12:29:58 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9550 My own take on the deterrance issue is that in a society where gun ownership isn't all that common, not having would probably be a good choice. But I don't live there, I live here. And Fearsclave is right - rural areas in the US have high rates of gun ownership and in many cases, quite low crime rates. That doesn't mean that having guns is an untrammelled good - that means that when people do own guns, and do commit crimes, the potential damage they do is worse. It is easier to kill your wife or the guy who owns the meth lab. But 99% of the guns mostly don't kill people - not the kids in the households, not anyone. They get used for hunting and driving off animals and occasionally someone breaking in, without all that urban stuff. I don't know where you live, Myrto, but it can be really hard to understand (and I didn't before I lived here) how differently guns function in rural areas from urban ones. As you say, though, we may simply have to agree to disagree. Sure, Sophie had a horrible, horrible soul destroying choice - and novel characters only live with what they writers give them - but she also had a living child at the end of it. And that child's life may have mattered, at least to the child, if we lived in a non-novel world. Of course means affect ends - they simply aren't all the ends. Sharon My own take on the deterrance issue is that in a society where gun ownership isn’t all that common, not having would probably be a good choice. But I don’t live there, I live here. And Fearsclave is right - rural areas in the US have high rates of gun ownership and in many cases, quite low crime rates. That doesn’t mean that having guns is an untrammelled good - that means that when people do own guns, and do commit crimes, the potential damage they do is worse. It is easier to kill your wife or the guy who owns the meth lab.

But 99% of the guns mostly don’t kill people - not the kids in the households, not anyone. They get used for hunting and driving off animals and occasionally someone breaking in, without all that urban stuff. I don’t know where you live, Myrto, but it can be really hard to understand (and I didn’t before I lived here) how differently guns function in rural areas from urban ones.

As you say, though, we may simply have to agree to disagree. Sure, Sophie had a horrible, horrible soul destroying choice - and novel characters only live with what they writers give them - but she also had a living child at the end of it. And that child’s life may have mattered, at least to the child, if we lived in a non-novel world. Of course means affect ends - they simply aren’t all the ends.

Sharon

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By: Fearsclave http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9542 Fearsclave Wed, 27 Aug 2008 23:24:39 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9542 #Myrto Ashe: the thing about gun ownership is that increased gun ownership rates don't correlate to increased violent crime rates. If you look at Norway, Finland and the other Scandinavian countries, where gun ownership rates are very high by European standards, violent crime rates are much lower than, say, Luxembourg, which has relatively low rates of gun ownership. Here in Canada, Newfoundland has the most guns per capita of all the provinces, and much lower crime rates than Quebec or Ontario, which control guns aggressively even by Canadian standards. Certainly, our gun control laws, which were tightened up considerably a decade ago, have had no detectable effect on our crime rates. And the UK's have been skyrocketing since their handgun ban. The same thing applies in the US; the Brady Campaign gives its highest ratings for gun control legislation that are the worst places to live in the country in terms of violent crime. Conversely, the states with the highest rates of gun ownership tend to be safer (and more rural). When I started looking into this, I found it counterintuitive at first, but I eventually concluded that while high rates of legal gun ownership probably do deter crime, the correlation between low rates of gun ownership and high violent crime rates in cities is also partly due to social, cultural and economic factors that make cities violent places, and that the rural way of life is saner, healthier, more human, and less violent, and coincidentally frequently involves gun ownership. #Myrto Ashe: the thing about gun ownership is that increased gun ownership rates don’t correlate to increased violent crime rates. If you look at Norway, Finland and the other Scandinavian countries, where gun ownership rates are very high by European standards, violent crime rates are much lower than, say, Luxembourg, which has relatively low rates of gun ownership. Here in Canada, Newfoundland has the most guns per capita of all the provinces, and much lower crime rates than Quebec or Ontario, which control guns aggressively even by Canadian standards. Certainly, our gun control laws, which were tightened up considerably a decade ago, have had no detectable effect on our crime rates. And the UK’s have been skyrocketing since their handgun ban.

The same thing applies in the US; the Brady Campaign gives its highest ratings for gun control legislation that are the worst places to live in the country in terms of violent crime. Conversely, the states with the highest rates of gun ownership tend to be safer (and more rural). When I started looking into this, I found it counterintuitive at first, but I eventually concluded that while high rates of legal gun ownership probably do deter crime, the correlation between low rates of gun ownership and high violent crime rates in cities is also partly due to social, cultural and economic factors that make cities violent places, and that the rural way of life is saner, healthier, more human, and less violent, and coincidentally frequently involves gun ownership.

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By: Myrto Ashe http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9534 Myrto Ashe Wed, 27 Aug 2008 18:11:22 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9534 Thanks for the interesting discussion. It has surprised me to discover that I do not value my own life above all else, after all. Sharon, think it through (and you may continue to disagree). The means by which one accomplishes an end speak loud and clear and create the world we all inherit. It is too bad, because when horrible choices are foisted upon us (live under a tyrant or shoot the guy, for example), we feel an overwhelming sense of despair. That is why what Gandhi did was such an accomplishment. The idea is that by refusing violent tactics (and I guess losing one's life, sometimes...) we give strength to other tactics, in the long run. I go back to an old movie, Sophie's Choice. In the movie, Sophie and her two children are taken to concentration camp. At some point, a Nazi officer forces her to choose life for one child, death for the other (more details on Wikipedia). This is the sort of choice that would clearly corrode your soul and leave you a shell of a human being, at best. What world you create after you survive such a situation is sad indeed. But the smaller transgressions hurt us too, in smaller ways. (Note that I refuse to judge others for their choices because I am untested). Statistics about guns deterring crimes (they may be correct) makes me really mad when I think about all the people living in other developed countries where gun ownership is beyond rare, and how somehow they are NOT the victims of more crimes! I once had the job of making a database of unexpected child deaths in San Francisco, between 1990-1995. It made me nuts to read about all the teenagers maiming and killing each other for bogus territorial reasons, or girlfriends and such, when a fist fight would have sufficed. And that's without giving you details of the kids I met in clinic who recounted first hand experiences watching friends be shot. I am pretty clear that I want many, many FEWER guns around, whatever the outcome!! Thanks for the interesting discussion. It has surprised me to discover that I do not value my own life above all else, after all.

Sharon, think it through (and you may continue to disagree). The means by which one accomplishes an end speak loud and clear and create the world we all inherit. It is too bad, because when horrible choices are foisted upon us (live under a tyrant or shoot the guy, for example), we feel an overwhelming sense of despair. That is why what Gandhi did was such an accomplishment. The idea is that by refusing violent tactics (and I guess losing one’s life, sometimes…) we give strength to other tactics, in the long run.

I go back to an old movie, Sophie’s Choice. In the movie, Sophie and her two children are taken to concentration camp. At some point, a Nazi officer forces her to choose life for one child, death for the other (more details on Wikipedia). This is the sort of choice that would clearly corrode your soul and leave you a shell of a human being, at best. What world you create after you survive such a situation is sad indeed. But the smaller transgressions hurt us too, in smaller ways. (Note that I refuse to judge others for their choices because I am untested).

Statistics about guns deterring crimes (they may be correct) makes me really mad when I think about all the people living in other developed countries where gun ownership is beyond rare, and how somehow they are NOT the victims of more crimes! I once had the job of making a database of unexpected child deaths in San Francisco, between 1990-1995. It made me nuts to read about all the teenagers maiming and killing each other for bogus territorial reasons, or girlfriends and such, when a fist fight would have sufficed. And that’s without giving you details of the kids I met in clinic who recounted first hand experiences watching friends be shot.

I am pretty clear that I want many, many FEWER guns around, whatever the outcome!!

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By: Tara http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9524 Tara Wed, 27 Aug 2008 13:40:01 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9524 Risa B - excellent points! I would also add that once you pull the trigger, your life is likely to never be the same again, ever. Even after all the public wrangling is done, it's something you'll still have to live with. I have to imagine that shooting a person, even when it's the only choice, can't be very satisfying to one's psyche. Risa B - excellent points! I would also add that once you pull the trigger, your life is likely to never be the same again, ever. Even after all the public wrangling is done, it’s something you’ll still have to live with. I have to imagine that shooting a person, even when it’s the only choice, can’t be very satisfying to one’s psyche.

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By: Fearsclave http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9510 Fearsclave Tue, 26 Aug 2008 22:26:50 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9510 #Myrto Ashe: there are a number of conflicting statistics floating around to the effect that a gun in the home is more likely to result in a household member being shot; these are mostly traceable to studies by Arthur Kellerman and Donald Reay in the New England Journal of Medicine in the late eighties and early nineties. To say that their methods and conclusions were biased and questionable would be an understatement. The two studies that I'm familiar with are "Protection or Peril?: An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home," New England Journal of Medicine, 1986, and "Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home," New England Journal of Medicine, 1993. Some Googling should turn up the articles and the very many criticisms levelled at them (among others, Kellerman counted only justifiable homicides as self-defence, leaving out cases where firearms deterred potential attackers). On the other side of the debate, the NRA claims that firearms are used defensively to the tune of two million times a year in the US. This stat gives us something to work with; even assuming that the NRA are exaggerating by a factor of ten, the fact that there are nowhere near 1.2 million firearms-related deaths in the US tends to indicate that the claims that a gun in a house is 2.7, 6, or 43 times more likely to kill a family member are grossly exaggerated. This, of course, shouldn't be taken as being a dismissal of the need for proper safety practices and storage. #Myrto Ashe: there are a number of conflicting statistics floating around to the effect that a gun in the home is more likely to result in a household member being shot; these are mostly traceable to studies by Arthur Kellerman and Donald Reay in the New England Journal of Medicine in the late eighties and early nineties. To say that their methods and conclusions were biased and questionable would be an understatement.

The two studies that I’m familiar with are “Protection or Peril?: An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1986, and “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1993. Some Googling should turn up the articles and the very many criticisms levelled at them (among others, Kellerman counted only justifiable homicides as self-defence, leaving out cases where firearms deterred potential attackers).

On the other side of the debate, the NRA claims that firearms are used defensively to the tune of two million times a year in the US. This stat gives us something to work with; even assuming that the NRA are exaggerating by a factor of ten, the fact that there are nowhere near 1.2 million firearms-related deaths in the US tends to indicate that the claims that a gun in a house is 2.7, 6, or 43 times more likely to kill a family member are grossly exaggerated. This, of course, shouldn’t be taken as being a dismissal of the need for proper safety practices and storage.

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By: risa b http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9509 risa b Tue, 26 Aug 2008 21:30:37 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9509 People like to go straight to a discussion of guns in these threads, and that's interesting, because I suspect something like less than one-tenth of one percent of the <i>successful</i> security actions we will take in our lifetimes will involve guns. But of course there are those exceptions ... My mom, who is now 80, keeps a little .22 snubbie in her nightstand. She's had it since the 50s. She only needed it once. In 1960, one hot Georgia night, when my dad was out all week fixing up a train derailment, she heard a guy jimmying her bedroom window. I was asleep in the next room. She ordered the guy to depart, and when he showed no signs of withdrawing, she popped him with a .22 short. In the leg, I think. He hung in the window, bleeding slightly, thought about about it, and went back the way he came. I do kind of think she "done right," and I'm proud of her that she had proactively trained, equipped, and protected herself, and that she taught me these things. I do have a Concealed Handgun License and am active in shooting sports. But I recognize that, as a society, we're really a difficult place in which a woman can defend herself in this way. If the man had shown up at a hospital, and had been investigated, and the incident had been traced back to her, she would have possibly had to spend a great deal of time in front of a grand jury. And could have faced an expensive and harrowing civil suit; this does happen. On the other hand, she and I remain alive and unraped. If you're going to be a gun owner and even consider defending yourself with one (at least pre-collapse, and the collapse is not going to draw a clear line that says "ok, NOW there is chaos and you can behave according to old-West-mythology rules"), please, please please do these things: 1. Take a proper defense class from a NRA-certified instructor or the equivalent. 2. LISTEN to the parts about responsibilities: Safety, Awareness, Prevention, Safe Room, 911, Last-Last-Last Resort. 3. Train. It's expensive but important. Defense is <i>not</i> the same as shooting sports. 4. Know and obey the laws, which are different from state to state. Losing your job because you carried where it is not permitted is not any kind of security. 5. Now that you are dangerous, revisit Prevention: protect punks from yourself by investing in proper locks, bars, lighting, awareness, and every nonviolent preventive strategy you can lay your hands on. 6. Remember that statistically you may be more likely to have a really wretched accident with, or lose a child to, or be shot by someone you know with, or have stolen, or have taken away and used against you, your weapon than ever need to or be able to defend yourself with it. The truth is that "bad guys" have the drop on you. Heroic scenarios are just that -- scenarios. So think it all through and weigh the pros and cons realistically. Because once you have pulled that trigger, your life can become extremely complicated for a long time, anything from losing a few of your friends all the way to lifetime imprisonment. For sure, not whatever it was before. Oh, my, I'd much rather talk about putting away potatoes! People like to go straight to a discussion of guns in these threads, and that’s interesting, because I suspect something like less than one-tenth of one percent of the successful security actions we will take in our lifetimes will involve guns. But of course there are those exceptions …

My mom, who is now 80, keeps a little .22 snubbie in her nightstand. She’s had it since the 50s. She only needed it once.

In 1960, one hot Georgia night, when my dad was out all week fixing up a train derailment, she heard a guy jimmying her bedroom window. I was asleep in the next room.

She ordered the guy to depart, and when he showed no signs of withdrawing, she popped him with a .22 short. In the leg, I think. He hung in the window, bleeding slightly, thought about about it, and went back the way he came.

I do kind of think she “done right,” and I’m proud of her that she had proactively trained, equipped, and protected herself, and that she taught me these things. I do have a Concealed Handgun License and am active in shooting sports.

But I recognize that, as a society, we’re really a difficult place in which a woman can defend herself in this way. If the man had shown up at a hospital, and had been investigated, and the incident had been traced back to her, she would have possibly had to spend a great deal of time in front of a grand jury. And could have faced an expensive and harrowing civil suit; this does happen.

On the other hand, she and I remain alive and unraped.

If you’re going to be a gun owner and even consider defending yourself with one (at least pre-collapse, and the collapse is not going to draw a clear line that says “ok, NOW there is chaos and you can behave according to old-West-mythology rules”), please, please please do these things:

1. Take a proper defense class from a NRA-certified instructor or the equivalent. 2. LISTEN to the parts about responsibilities: Safety, Awareness, Prevention, Safe Room, 911, Last-Last-Last Resort. 3. Train. It’s expensive but important. Defense is not the same as shooting sports. 4. Know and obey the laws, which are different from state to state. Losing your job because you carried where it is not permitted is not any kind of security. 5. Now that you are dangerous, revisit Prevention: protect punks from yourself by investing in proper locks, bars, lighting, awareness, and every nonviolent preventive strategy you can lay your hands on. 6. Remember that statistically you may be more likely to have a really wretched accident with, or lose a child to, or be shot by someone you know with, or have stolen, or have taken away and used against you, your weapon than ever need to or be able to defend yourself with it.

The truth is that “bad guys” have the drop on you. Heroic scenarios are just that — scenarios. So think it all through and weigh the pros and cons realistically.

Because once you have pulled that trigger, your life can become extremely complicated for a long time, anything from losing a few of your friends all the way to lifetime imprisonment. For sure, not whatever it was before.

Oh, my, I’d much rather talk about putting away potatoes!

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By: Sharon http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9507 Sharon Tue, 26 Aug 2008 21:11:33 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/26/security-thinking-reasonably-about-a-hot-button-issue/#comment-9507 Myrto, I liked your comments a lot. I will say, in response to both you and Robyn, that I think the "locked up guns are of no use" is probably not true - I discuss this in more detail in my next post, but while they do definitely reduce your choices in the "they are coming through the door in an instant" situation, assuming you are trained and practiced in their use, and know how to get your case open and load a gun under stress, they would be useful in the "there are clearly people outside and they are trying to break into the house" scenario, where things don't happen instantly. That's not to say you or anyone else should get a gun, just that I think it is important we don't rhetorically cast off a tool as useless because it doesn't serve us in one particular scenario. People with children (or with disabled people who can't be reasoned with, or senile parents) can't risk a gun easily accessible, and they sacrifice some ability to respond to an unlikely instant threat because they are protecting their family members from a more likely accident. On the other hand, many dangerous situations do carry warning - enough to walk to one end of a room, unlock a combination lock, quickly do the same in another and load a gun. Or perhaps enough to make other choices, involving calling police. My use of the kindertransport is to point out that when we're actually in situations, it is almost impossible to be certain you are making the right choice - as your grandfather found too. Having a gun could easily be a bad choice in a society where that's a marker of an enemy of the state. Not having one could be a bad choice in a society where they are needed. That said, I'm not sure I agree that the means are the end, or at least, not that that's all the end. That is, sometimes means are forced upon you, without you doing much to choose the end. And sometimes what matters most about an end may not be the means. For example, going back to the Holocaust, whether you look at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising or those who lied or stole or whored to bribe border guards, those who endured in the camps - of those who lived, I'm not sure that you could ever say that their means were the end. The end that mattered most is that in the face of overwhelming loss, they lived. That can come up in our lives too - to an extent, we choose the circumstances we live in. To an extent we don't. To an extent what we do shapes what the end means. And to an extent, sometimes, it just matters what the end is. I hope nobody will run out and buy a gun 'cause Sharon said so. And I hope nobody will take up absolute non-violence because Sharon said so. I hope everyone will make the best and wisest and most careful choices they can, and then accept that those choices may not always be sufficient, but that we've done our best. Sharon Myrto, I liked your comments a lot. I will say, in response to both you and Robyn, that I think the “locked up guns are of no use” is probably not true - I discuss this in more detail in my next post, but while they do definitely reduce your choices in the “they are coming through the door in an instant” situation, assuming you are trained and practiced in their use, and know how to get your case open and load a gun under stress, they would be useful in the “there are clearly people outside and they are trying to break into the house” scenario, where things don’t happen instantly. That’s not to say you or anyone else should get a gun, just that I think it is important we don’t rhetorically cast off a tool as useless because it doesn’t serve us in one particular scenario. People with children (or with disabled people who can’t be reasoned with, or senile parents) can’t risk a gun easily accessible, and they sacrifice some ability to respond to an unlikely instant threat because they are protecting their family members from a more likely accident. On the other hand, many dangerous situations do carry warning - enough to walk to one end of a room, unlock a combination lock, quickly do the same in another and load a gun. Or perhaps enough to make other choices, involving calling police.

My use of the kindertransport is to point out that when we’re actually in situations, it is almost impossible to be certain you are making the right choice - as your grandfather found too. Having a gun could easily be a bad choice in a society where that’s a marker of an enemy of the state. Not having one could be a bad choice in a society where they are needed.

That said, I’m not sure I agree that the means are the end, or at least, not that that’s all the end. That is, sometimes means are forced upon you, without you doing much to choose the end. And sometimes what matters most about an end may not be the means. For example, going back to the Holocaust, whether you look at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising or those who lied or stole or whored to bribe border guards, those who endured in the camps - of those who lived, I’m not sure that you could ever say that their means were the end. The end that mattered most is that in the face of overwhelming loss, they lived.

That can come up in our lives too - to an extent, we choose the circumstances we live in. To an extent we don’t. To an extent what we do shapes what the end means. And to an extent, sometimes, it just matters what the end is.

I hope nobody will run out and buy a gun ’cause Sharon said so. And I hope nobody will take up absolute non-violence because Sharon said so. I hope everyone will make the best and wisest and most careful choices they can, and then accept that those choices may not always be sufficient, but that we’ve done our best.

Sharon

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