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Marksmanship Not Marxmanship
My good friend Jackie Danicki, who recently moved back to the States from England, posted a photo of a Kentucky gun shop on her blog, and wrote:

It’s SO refreshing to be back in a country where so much of the population has a normal and healthy attitude towards self-defense. (There’s a knife shop right across the street from this gun shop, which delighted me.) It’s nice to know that not just the criminals and cops are packing around here.

This reminds me of one of the funniest questions I used to get from (supposedly worldly) Europeans all the time: “Aren’t you afraid of getting killed in a drive-by shooting when you’re in America?!” A lot less than I feared being killed or injured by socialized healthcare in Britain, as it happens…

So...where do you stand on the Second Amendment? (I'm for it.)

Posted by aalkon at July 25, 2007 8:36 AM


An armed society is a polite society(Heinlein.) Learning, knowing and practicing responsible gun ownership makes a good neighbor and a good citizen(and a scared criminal.)

Posted by: martin at July 25, 2007 7:10 AM

TO: Amy Alkon, et al.
RE: The Second Amendment of the US Constitution

"So...where do you stand on the Second Amendment?" -- Amy Alkon

Somewhere. In a year long ago and far away, I raised my right hand and swore to defend it against ALL enemies; foreign AND domestic.


[Guns don’t kill people...I kill people. -- US Army Airborne-Ranger-Infantry. And I do it all for you.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at July 25, 2007 8:03 AM

From the BOJ:

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) in 2005, 477,040 victims of violent crimes stated that they faced an offender with a firearm.

Incidents involving a firearm represented 9% of the 4.7 million violent crimes of rape and sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault in 2005.

The FBI's Crime in the United States estimated that 66% of the 16,137 murders in 2004 were committed with firearms.

Responsible gun ownership is simply not practiced or enforced in the United States.

Posted by: eric at July 25, 2007 8:07 AM

I get nostalgic for the shabby genteel conversational wankery of pissed literati at London's Chelsea Arts Club when I've been in the US for a long spell.

It only takes a brief visit back before I yearn for the hustle and strut of New York.

I suspect Jackie's affection for "refreshing" Kentucky gun shops will dim soon enough!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 25, 2007 8:15 AM

I grew up shooting guns, and still enjoy it. I'm perfectly OK with gun ownership, provided that the person owning a gun actually knows how to handle 'em. I'm all for the second Amendment, but think that the following should be required to purchase a gun: 1) a clear criminal background and 2) demonstrated competence with the gun and its safe handling.

Posted by: justin case at July 25, 2007 8:34 AM

I agree with justin 100%.

Posted by: eric at July 25, 2007 8:40 AM

I think that every restraining order should be issued with a handgun, a concealed carry permit, and twelve hours of handgun training. I really, really do (yes making exceptions for violent criminals or mentally unbalanced).
I've been around firearms since I was ten and was taught respect for their power. I hunt, shoot trap, and yes, keep a handgun in my apartment (I keep a baseball bat under the bed. I'd have to load the gun if I wanted to use it - I keep magazine in the same lockbox)

Posted by: Elle at July 25, 2007 9:45 AM

NRA member here. BF is an avid hunter, I'm a novice. I won a rifle in a raffle (there's a pun in there somewhere, maybe) at a game dinner I went to earlier this year. BF has many firearms, locked in a safe, along with his bow and knives. My girls and I have taken archery classes (signing up soon for the fall classes) and BF and I go up to the local firing range every couple of months for practice. He has taken his kids there, as well (they are now in their 20's), and when/if my daughters express an interest, we'll take them. Safety is paramount where firearms is concerned, and the girls will be taught that, along with proper usage, cleaning, etc. Better to know than not.

Someone told me once that it's a law in Switzerland that every household must have an automatic weapon. I don't know if that's true or not, but I hear they've got a very low crime rate over there.

And wasn't it Mr. Dylan who said, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns"?

Posted by: Flynne at July 25, 2007 10:06 AM

It's true about Switzerland, Flynne. Each automatic rifle is disassembled in a case in each household.

Posted by: Joe at July 25, 2007 10:38 AM

I grew up in a halfway rural, halfway suburban environment (lived in the boonies, went to a yuppie suburban school). For generations, my dad's family was raised to learn how to responsibly handle firearms, and to respect them. They were seen as a tool, nothing more, so was I. I don't think anyone should touch a gun unless they are taught properly. I'm not convinced that gun control works, since those who really want a gun, can get one easily. Given that, I also think that there should be mandatory training (or at least a competency test) before being licensed to carry a firearm, however. Gotta take a test to drive a car, right?

Posted by: Jamie at July 25, 2007 11:26 AM

I think that every restraining order should be issued with a handgun, a concealed carry permit, and twelve hours of handgun training.

Don't be too quick to assume all restraining orders are given out with merit. A creep named Robert Feist of a sound place called Ravenswork took one out on me (along with his shrewish office manager, Katherine Morgan) after I called her a cunt for saying that they would continue taking up our neighborhood's parking rather than use their lot. This was my second complaint, and I went over their in a little skirt and heels, carrying my flea-sized dog. I'm sure I looked very threatening...I guess to anyone the size of a poppy seed. (In the papers they filed, they said they needed to leave their lot free in case, say, Tom Arnold came with an entourage.) (They're a looping house.) Basically, it was a revenge move, using the court, and I didn't know about anti-SLAPP violations until it was too late (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). I went over there to complain as a neighborhood activist concerned about our increasingly challenging residential parking situation.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 25, 2007 12:04 PM

But, Elle, I do agree with the spirit of what you said. Too many people fail to understand that a restraining order is merely a piece of paper, and it might protect you from being stung by a mosquito if you use it to stop one, but it's not going to stop a violent, rage-charged human being.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 25, 2007 12:06 PM

That is really vulgar language, Amy. Gross.

Posted by: Donna B. at July 25, 2007 12:40 PM

When somebody informs you that they're going to screw you over, and there's nothing you can do about it, the correct response isn't, "Why thank you!"

In fact, the Supreme Court said, in Cohen v. California, 1971, "One man's vulgarity is another man's lyric," and that sometimes the wrong words are precisely the right ones to communicate a particular message.

(That was the "Fuck the draft" case, where a guy was prosecuted for wearing a jacket with that statement.)

I think "cunt" is a fantastic word, because so many people are so deeply offended by it. And why? It's slang for vagina. It does, however, work a little better to show displeasure than saying, "!" (I don't think I could say that to somebody with a straight face.)

On the other hand, the most offensive thing a woman could probably say to a man is "Suck my dick!"

This is a total free speech site, in case anyone was wondering. Just don't libel anybody, thanks, or break any laws.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 25, 2007 1:02 PM

Did you just link the Second Amendment? I feel vaguely insulted.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at July 25, 2007 1:03 PM

My pro-2nd Amendmentry has twice gotten me peremptorily challenged out of jury duty, which really sucked the second time because the case involved a love triangle and a publicly discharged firearm and I wanted to hear the whole story, damnit.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at July 25, 2007 1:09 PM

Hmm, obviously I didn't take 'nuisance' restraining orders into consideration. But they may have had a point, that little dog of yours is cute enough to give someone diabetes.
On my end I hear way too many stories about how the magic piece of paper doesn't keep the psycho away. (My church supports a women's shelter. Yes, I'm religious. Yes, I promise I won't go all hezbollah on your 'heathen' ways and try to convert you. Everyone is entitled to their worldview.)

Posted by: Elle at July 25, 2007 1:18 PM

Well, you're very funny for a non-heathen!

But they may have had a point, that little dog of yours is cute enough to give someone diabetes.

I never imagined a dog could be vain until I encountered Lucy.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 25, 2007 1:32 PM

What I can't understand is how people who call themselves liberals can oppose Second Amendment rights. They love the First; can't they see how the Second buttresses it?

Notice that it comes right after the words that prohibit the government from abridging "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Given the context, the position of the Second Amendment implies, "But in case the government should ignore the petition and disperse the assembly. . . ."

This preference for the rights of the people over the powers of government is what classical liberalism was all about. How come current "liberals" want to give government agents all the power and keep the people from exercising any, even to defend themselves?

Posted by: Axman at July 25, 2007 2:25 PM

TO: Axman
RE: Heh

"What I can't understand is how people who call themselves liberals can oppose Second Amendment rights. They love the First; can't they see how the Second buttresses it?" -- Axman

It's called 'cognitive dissonance'. The bozos don't know what they're gaulking about.


[God made men. Colt made men equal.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at July 25, 2007 2:30 PM

This is the 2nd amendment photo of the day on the internet (I think it's israel)

Posted by: Crid at July 25, 2007 2:35 PM

P.S. I ran into one of them the other day. An 'associate' in Densa.

He was telling me how excited he was that he was going to hick the mountain trails from New Mexico back to here.

I recommended he pack a .45 ACP; there be bears and mountain lions where he was going.

He couldn't grasp that there might be something out there that might look upon him as a 'meat meal'.

After considerable discussion, it was pretty obvious that he thought his Swiss Army knife would be enough protection against a hungry bear.

[Note: There have been two bear attacks so far this year, reported in the news. In both instances, the bears came through the walls of the tent and latched onto the heads of their intended victims and dragged them out.

In the first instance, the victim was an 11 year-old who was dragged away and killed and eaten.

In the second instance, the intended victim was an adult man with a pistol by his sleeping bag. He grabbed his gun and shot the bear several times. At which point the bear let go and retreated. It was later tracked down and killed by Forest Rangers. Never to harm anyone else.

The so-called 'liberals' are really bozos in disguise. And they'll be removed from the gene pool in due order.


[Look upon it as evolution in action.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at July 25, 2007 2:36 PM

eric, your NCVS survey is one of those people use without thinking.


Because those are the people who testified that they failed to defend themselves. To a uniformed officer, by the way. It doesn't count any successful defenses - where the homeowner, for instance, is not a victim.

Americans possess more than half of the firearms in private hands in the world. Over 250 thousand real machine guns are part of that number.

As Jeff Cooper said, "The media insist that crime is the major concern of the American public today. In this connection they generally push the point that a disarmed society would be a crime-free society. They will not accept the truth that if you take all the guns off the street you still will have a crime problem, whereas if you take the criminals off the street you cannot have a gun problem."

Since the bulk of Americans obey laws - largely, they can see that most laws benefit them - there is no real problem with gun possession in the USA. It's manufactured by people eager to sell bad news.

Posted by: Radwaste at July 25, 2007 3:14 PM

- there is no real problem with gun possession in the USA. It's manufactured by people eager to sell bad news....

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

There's no real problem until there's another Virginia Tech and then it's no one's fault anyway.

I don't want an argument, Radwaste.

Just pointing out that "no real problem" has gotta lot of bullet holes in it.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 25, 2007 4:51 PM

Great shot, Crid. And I'm certainly not going to tell a girl who's that packing to lose the shiny white eyeshadow, but the thought did cross my mind.

In high school, I wrote an essay and won a trip to Israel, where I worked in a kibbutz restaurant (on the highway, not the mess hall on the kibbutz). The most amazing thing was seeing these tiny girls come in with these enormous guns, casual as can be about it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 25, 2007 5:50 PM

> I don't want an argument, Radwaste.

Them's fightin' words!

Posted by: Crid at July 25, 2007 5:52 PM

Jody -

People are being shot in Australia, where individual gun ownership is completely forbidden.

Tell me again how gun laws prevent gun crimes.

There was a home invasion a few days ago two towns over from me. Two paroled felons (both for property crimes) broke into the house, killed the two daughters, beat the father within an inch of his life, and after forcing the mother to take 15 grand out of the bank, killed her, and set the house on fire. The man managed to crawl away to a neighbor to get help while they were going to the bank, and the wife slipped a note to the teller. These two assclowns totalled one cop car and damaged two others trying to get away from the burning house.

If the criminal justice system doesn't kill these fuckers, I'll do it myself.

Oh, and I'm very likely going to buy a shotgun for home defense. If someone attempts that here, and they get past the Doberman, they won't get past the Mossberg. You can bet on that.

Posted by: brian at July 25, 2007 5:54 PM

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) in 2005, 477,040 victims of violent crimes stated that they faced an offender with a firearm.

In such cases, perhaps it's best to be armed with more than your beautiful manners?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 25, 2007 5:58 PM

I'm looking for something verifiable, but the NRA-ILA references a book that argues that 2.1 million crimes per year are prevented by armed citizens.

That's more than 4 times the number of gun crimes. I'd say that ratio argues in favor of less gun control, not more.

Posted by: brian at July 25, 2007 6:14 PM

Nah, not fightin' words, Crid.

Peevish, doubtless ill-informed and hopeless too, I dare say.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 25, 2007 6:59 PM

I am a short female with absolutely no training in martial arts or other sophisticated forms of self-defense - you had better believe I support the Second Amendment. Of course, I live in a part of the country where the idea of law-abiding citizens owning guns is seen as being completely (as Jane Austen would put it) unexceptional, and the cops view homeowners shooting those who invade their property as being a perfectly normal response to the situation. A while back, a few very bad guys carrying various sinister paraphrenalia decided to jump a young, slightly built woman in my greater city area who was getting into her car at night. Unbeknownst to them, she was an off-duty police officer who had been trained in the use of the gun in her purse. One of the three survived, albeit with his eyesight permanently gone (and, I'm guessing, some brain damage). This is why crime tends to go down after concealed carry permits are introduced into a region (as long as we're talking about data vis a vis the effects of gun possession).

As for restraining orders, while security expert Gavin de Becker and I differ on certain subjects, I agree with him on restraining orders - namely, that way too many people see them as having magic powers, when in reality sometimes all they do is make a bad situation worse. In SOME situations, they work wonderfully. But if you're dealing with someone who's genuinely unbalanced, all a restraining order is likely to do is inflame him/her, and that restraining order won't do any good if he/she manages to reach you and shoot you.

Posted by: marion at July 26, 2007 12:05 AM

Jody, you're presenting a straw man. The commission of a crime is manifestly not the fault of those who do not commit crimes. Here's a sad reality: the VT massacre was the fault of one man. Literally millions of other Americans, more heavily armed, broke no law; in fact, they have never broken the law handling a gun. Maybe you don't like it that one person can have the power to kill so many people; I can show you a dozen more ways to kill that many without making so much noise. I happen to value life, and the shooter didn't.

This doesn't have to devolve into an "argument"; I spent three years defending individual rights on the now-defunct "Guns Under Fire" forum once maintained by CNN. I have 84MB of that discussion archived. Wanna see?

The plain fact of the matter is that guns have been offered to a public eager to blame anything but the offenders for crimes involving a gun. They are also prone to glorifying guns in general - to assign to them criminal intent, and all manner of other things clearly identifiable as "displacement" - the transfer of blame.

Why else would throwing a chunk of lead by burning tree bark be so important? Why else would "black" guns be offered as evil incarnate?

Yet human weaknesses - even the appalling statements by some people, who are serious when they say, "If I had a gun I'd probably kill somebody..." - are not a reason to forbid the common, law-abiding citizen from possessing an effective weapon, no matter the use.

If you want to really chill yourself, think about this: No matter what laws are passed, a person cannot be prevented from a first offense. I'd be interested in what shackles you'd accept so that I can be sure that would never be true of you. After all, that's who the law is written for.

Posted by: Radwaste at July 26, 2007 4:17 AM

Thanks for a courteous - and full - reply.

I expected no less.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 26, 2007 5:04 AM

Amy asks "So...where do you stand on the Second Amendment? (I'm for it.)"

I'm for it too. But it's important to understand what it says, and what it's been held to mean over the years by courts. And it's equally important to understand what it doesn't say.

It is in no way a blanket permission for citizens to own and carry any kind of firearm they like, under any circumstances.

Axman contends that:

". . the Second [Amendment] buttresses [the First Amendment] ... Given the context, the position of the Second Amendment implies, "But in case the government should ignore the petition and disperse the assembly. . . ."

The implication is that the only reason we have any freedoms is because our government is restrained from taking them away because it fears armed uprising by the citizenry. This doesn't hold water for any number of reasons. And has anyone noticed that the party gave us the Patriot Act and more than one other freedom-infringing laws is the party that is the strongest supporter of (or supportee of, I guess) the NRA?

Posted by: Larry McKenna at July 26, 2007 6:44 AM

Just make sure that if you're giving out guns with restraining orders that people are ready load them and pull the trigger. I believe that people make a valid point for firearms as personal protection but you had better make sure that you know the laws in your state and are actually ready to shoot someone and risk their death before you pull one out.

My sister and I both use firearms for target practice as well as hunting and always practice proper safety. My sister pointed an unloaded rifle in a situation of self defense (from her roommate's boyfriend). The result of her trying to protect herself until the cops got there was him being able to charge her with a felony-assault with a deadly weapon, and her only being able to charge him with a misdemeanor-assault and battery. My sister didn't end up pressing charges because she didn't want to have to hire a lawyer and go to court to prove that what she did was self defense.

The moral of the story is if you fear for your life go ahead and pull that gun, but if you're just trying to protect yourself and you're not ready to pull the trigger, or you think that you can use an unloaded gun as a scare tactic think again.

Posted by: cleep at July 26, 2007 7:07 AM

The moral of the story is if you fear for your life go ahead and pull that gun, but if you're just trying to protect yourself and you're not ready to pull the trigger, or you think that you can use an unloaded gun as a scare tactic think again.

Exactly right. If you pull a gun, you've upped the ante quite a bit. You'd better be prepared to cover that bet.

Posted by: justin case at July 26, 2007 8:48 AM

Jody - you're welcome.

Those of you who are talking about your actions with a firearm have it right: this is all about personal responsibility. A firearm does magnify your power to decide between life and death, and with great power comes great responsibility. That makes the subject quite proper for an advice columnist; failed relationships or unrealistic expectations can lead a person to extremes where their belief that a gun will solve their problems can be more tragic still.


While this thread is still fresh, I'd like to close with three final points.

There are professionals from which you can learn the realities of gun use. I recommend a look at Massad Ayoob's Lethal Force Institute, Clint Smith's Thunder Ranch, and the late Jeff Cooper's Gunsite. All have a Web presence and publish class schedules. You can learn what your local laws are (never believe anyone's hearsay) through

There are those who insist that the Second Amendment is fully addressed by the presence of the National Guard. This is false. The National Guard is a Federal force; go read the fence around the armory. It says, "Property of the U.S. Government".

Finally, police are not only involved in an appalling number of various crimes - we draw them from the citizenry, after all, they're not magic - they are not required to protect you from anything or anyone. Look up the Supreme Court case, Warren v. DC.


I hope you all take your conduct seriously and continue learning about the issue. There are a lot of people eager to force everyone into a "cubicle" at home, as well as at work, to be sure of what you do at every moment. The issue is actually more about the nature and the preservation of personal liberty as it is about crime and protection of your person(s).

Posted by: Radwaste at July 26, 2007 1:38 PM

Personally yes, I would be absolutely willing to pull the trigger to defend myself or family (they can take the fucking possessions - I don't care about stuff). Fortunately I've never been in a position where I've had to even use the threat.

See I hear that story and I think 'Thank God she had a way of protecting herself. That could have turned out sooooo much worse.' Better to be alive and unmolested and in legal trouble than the possible alternatives. (Horrible thing to happen though. I'm really glad your sister's ok)

Your story reminded me of a friend of mine. My buddy John recently married a woman who really needed protection from her ex. The stories I've heard sent chills up my spine, and she's got two kids!
Now it doesn't irk me so much that John's particular religious views preclude him from using deadly force to protect his family if nessecary (I think he's WRONG but whatever). What kills me is that he has a mock-up of a rifle (painted wood silhouette.) And he seriously thinks this is going to protect him against psycho-ex!
So John's gonna give the psycho-ex every reason to think his life is in danger but has no way of responding further if psycho-ex 'calls' (To abuse Justin's running poker metaphor). Talk about the worst of both worlds.

Posted by: Elle at July 26, 2007 3:35 PM

The rule that John needs to acquaint himself with, and that Rad alluded to is this:

"It is better to be judged by twelve, than carried by six."

Posted by: brian at July 26, 2007 3:53 PM

I've been genuinely impressed with your (well, most of 'em!) responses here.

My beef - and it will remain a beef because of personal experience - is that people self-servingly overestimate the extent to which they are responsible about their firearms.

But that is not in any way directed at you.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 26, 2007 4:18 PM

The entire idea of self defense is out of context. The framers of the constitution understood the importance of its citizens being able to stand up to a tryanical despot, this is of course what liberals fear the most. Drip by drip, drop by drop as you all drown before you even know you're wet. If you can't face facts, how will you ever deal with reality?

Posted by: Cerabus at July 26, 2007 6:34 PM

Look up T. Jefferson's thoughts on the private ownership of firearms.

Posted by: winston at July 26, 2007 8:10 PM

Let's look up ALL of the founding brothers and then we'll take a look at ALL the despots who insisted on disarming the populace.

Posted by: Cerabus at July 27, 2007 5:51 AM

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