After recent events, I received a request to repost my security, safety and weapons. I won’t post the whole thing, but I wanted to include the rant that I ALWAYS preface any discussion of guns with in my classes, my book and on my blogs.
I am not anti-gun. They are a useful tool in my trade, mostly used to put down dying and suffering animals. I approve of hunting of overpopulated animals, although I don’t hunt myself (grew up around it, though, and ate my share of Brunswick stew with squirrel in it). I think in some hands, particularly those of older women in dangerous urban areas, guns can make you safer. In a society with fewer guns, I’d probably prefer no one own them privately, but that genie is long since out of the bottle, whether I like it or not. They are a tool, and in and of themselves, not good or bad.
That said, our society has a troubled relationship with its tools – and a troubled relationship not limited to guns. We have a really tough time recognizing and putting into place appropriate technologies – technologies that fit the scale of the responses we want and with unintended consequences we can live with (because nothing is without unintended consequences.) In that respect, our inability to use guns wisely and well is of a piece with our inability to manage our other technologies gracefully. Home scale ownership of assault weapons, besides its dangers, is just a ridiculous use of inappropriate technology.
When I teach adapting in place classes we talk about safety a lot, because everyone has that concern. We emphasize several things. First, safety is not “get a weapon.” There are many, many things to keep you safe that long precede defensive weaponry of all kinds. They start with where you are and what you are doing and how alert you are, your behaviors, your attitude, your relationships, your community. If you are going to put your resources into something for your safety start there, and when you’ve got that covered, then you can think about other things.
Gun ownership is only one of many options – it is unfortunate that in American society we think “safety” and mean “guns.” For some people in some ways of life, it is an appropriate option. However, there should NEVER be a gun in your house if:
1. Any person in your household suffers from Depression or any other Mental illness. It is simply too likely they may use a gun on themselves.
2. You or anyone in your household has ever experienced domestic violence, even once, and the perpetrator still lives with you. If they will hit you, they will kill you, and if you or someone in your household has already declined to use the best tool for victims of domestic violence – GETTING OUT there is no likelihood that the victim will defend themselves with a gun in their house and every likelihood that they will be killed by it.
3. If you have children or adults who for reasons of age, disability or other factors CANNOT fully understand the dangers of guns and their safe and appropriate use.
If you do have guns, make sure you and those you utterly trust are the only ones who can get ahold of them. No one wants their child or their friend to kill themselves or someone else with their own gun. Lock ‘em – and well, in a way that makes it impossible for someone you don’t want to to harm themselves with it. Be especially careful with young men in your life, since they are the most likely to use a gun inappropriately. The simple truth is that stastically speaking, the odds of you being hurt in a home invasion because you can’t get your gun and ammunition fast enough are microscopic, so recognize that and play the odds correctly. Keep safe.
Whatever you choose in this discussion, remember this – that appropriate technology is about weighing costs and options, and choosing wisely with consequences you can deal with – that applies in home appliances and it applies just as much to safety technologies. Not everyone will choose the same, but there are always some good and basic guidelines that apply – the biggest one being a real and honest assessment of your costs and benefits – and one that goes beyond the smallest circles, and thinks about your larger community. I talk about this in much more length in _Making Home_.