A study in contrast

In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, local citizen Kathy Stevenson (who I think it's fair to say is speaking for many women, and probably many men if the truth were told) writes very eloquently about fear:

Whereas one kind of fear wore the face of the bogeyman (Bundy, Charles Manson, various other psychos), suddenly the bad guy could be anyone. The grown man who still lived at home and was always quiet. The loner whom none of the neighbors knew. The boy down the street who always seemed like a nice kid. The loving father and husband who one day just snapped and went on a rampage.

As I sit double-bolted in my house, my motion-sensitive outside lights at the ready, I watch the day's carnage on television and breathe a guilty sigh of relief. All of my loved ones are accounted for today. There was a moment at the bank when a deranged-looking man who was muttering to himself made all of us in line more than a little nervous. And, waiting to cross Lancaster Avenue, the loud backfire of a bus caused several of us to jump and then laugh nervously. And, of course, the dash to the car at night.

We seem to accept as a fact of life that nowhere in the world is safe anymore. Those former sanctuaries, the suburbs and the workplace, have been laid open like a wound for all of us to wonder what happened.

Maybe what happened is that we've simply learned to live with fear. As long as we make it home every day in one piece, we can lock the door behind us with a satisfying click and dream sweet dreams. At least until the next day.

Reading this, I wanted to scream out loud, "It doesn't have to be this way!"

That's all too easy a thing for an armed man living with an overly alert pit bull to say, isn't it?

So normally, I wouldn't have said it.

Ms. Stevenson's thoughts on fear (articulate as they are) would have been just another thing in the paper that upset me, but which I'd have quickly decided was unworthy of a blog post. Who am I to even appear to be taking issue with the legitimate fears of a woman I have never met who is obviously speaking from the heart?

And I would have left the fear piece alone had it not reminded me of a different view -- from a different woman -- on how to handle these same all-encompassing fears.

That woman is "The Mrs." (I'm assuming that means Mrs. du Toit), and here are her thoughts about fear in her husband's blog:

NOTE: The whole post is a must-read; what follows is only a small excerpt.

I had a similar situation in my own life. I, too, had an ex who was menacing and threatening. In one of those ďblame anyone but myselfĒ communications with my kids he said, ďI canít come around anymore. Now your mother has guns.Ē It isnít so easy and fun to threaten a woman when she has the means and the discipline to defend herself, is it?

I could go on and on with hundreds of examples, just like this. Many of our members tell us about their personal stories of helping someone choose their first gun, and helping them learn how to use it. We canít even begin to count how many there are, but weíre sure itís in the many thousands now. Those thousands will share that mentoring approach with their friends, and on and on it goes. ďOne citizen at a timeĒ works.

Itís so simple. I think some people donít realize just how simple it is. I know I never did. Gun ownership isnít about so many of the things people think it is. It isnít all the negative stereotypes of men with issues with their penis size or owning a gun to become a criminal. And, most importantly, it isnít about being able to shoot someone for being rude or offensive. Itís about protecting your life. That decision to spend a few hundred dollars on a piece of metal is a really amazing thing. We all know that guns are inanimate objects, incapable of harming anyone or any thing on their own. But the decision to purchase a gun and learn to use one responsibility is a kind of right of passage. Itís all about growing up emotionally and recognizing that there are real dangers in the world. It also means that people value their own life and have accepted that they time theyíve spent on this earth, working hard and earning money to buy stuff that is worth protecting, too. ďIt is MINE and YOU canít take it from me.Ē Such a powerful thought and so many of these new thoughts accompany that apparently simple purchase. But it isnít a simple purchase, is it?

Itís a decision. It is a decision that will alter the way the new gun owner views the world and their place in it.

It means that the owner has made many important decisions about their life. But what it really comes down to, when you add up all those decisions, is this: I take control and responsibility for my life and I have the right, the courage, the discipline, and the expertise to stand my ground.

I know that many people will read the above and say "guns are never the answer!"


Might that not depend on whether fear becomes the question?

posted by Eric on 01.25.06 at 07:44 AM


If guns are never the answer, they're asking the wrong questions.

Like, "What word goes before "of Brixton" in a famous Clash song?"

Or "what's the best and most fun way to put holes in a tin can at 20 yards?"

Guns are/is often the answer!

Sigivald   ·  January 25, 2006 5:21 PM

Self-defense is the first human right.

DSmith   ·  January 30, 2006 3:17 PM

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