To Mathew Owens

Mathew Owens wrote a comment on Sparrow Chat recently, relating to the previous post (Guns Save Lives – 7 Update). He, like anyone else refraining from worthless obscenities, is welcome to comment. What he had to say I find disturbing, so rather than respond in the “comments” section, I have decided to do so as a separate post.

Here is what Mathew had to say:

“Hello, i would like to say… yes that yes guns were created to kill and most likely in due time kill many, but i would also point out that when one uses a gun as a defense weapon to protect oneself or others then they have just easily saved lives that could have been lost. People allowed to carry weapons to protect themselves is a great idea, maybe not the best but everyone is so quick to point fingers at others and say “Hey why dont you do something to fix this?!” well i’ll tell you as i say to most.. SHUT UP! accept the fact that if they wherent killed with a gun they coulda been killed by a bomb.. or maybe a knife.. or my fav a sword! it dont matter the cause the point is that not all weapons are bad and depending on the person who uses it should be judged. i for one accept guns as a means to protect from those who would do harm. if you take away the ability to get a weapon to defend yourself then the ones who use the illegal means to obtain them have no won.. evil wins when good does nothing to help prevent it.”

Mathew, welcome to Sparrow Chat.

You, and millions like you in this country, live in fear. It may surprise you to hear that, and your first reaction will almost certainly be denial, but it is true. You camouflage your fear with the bravado that somehow weapons are “macho”, a sign of strength, almost “romantic”. You even say your favorite weapon is a sword.

Certainly, weaponry has its own social clique, gun-fairs, gun-talk, and of course, the hunting element. Perhaps you consider that aspect worth the lives of thirty-two students?

I truly doubt you do.

In March 1996 Britain suffered its worst school massacre when sixteen young children and one teacher were slaughtered. A lone gunman, toting two 9 mm Browning HP pistols and two Smith and Wesson .357 revolvers, walked into the Dunblane Primary School in Scotland and opened fire. He was also carrying 743 cartridges.

In response to this dreadful event the British Conservative government had the strength to pass legislation banning all handguns, with the exception of .22 caliber single-shot weapons. One year later, these were also banned.

Major objections were raised by gun and shooting clubs, as their activities were seriously curtailed by this legislation. The British Government’s response was, “Too bad. Find some other way to have fun.”

The lives of all human beings, Mathew, are more important than having fun with guns.

In the weeks following the Dunblane massacre, media and public opinion followed much the same course as is happening in America today. The media consensus indicted that a ban was unworkable; criminals will always get guns.

Yet, they were wrong. That ban has worked. There have been no further incidents like Dunblane in the past eleven years. Of course, there are still occasional shooting incidents, mainly between drug gangs or underworld criminals using illegal weapons. Nevertheless, penalties for possession of illegal firearms are severe, and deter many who might otherwise resort to gun violence.

There is another factor, more difficult to measure. Since 1996, Britain feels safer. Knowing that a burglar, or just a violent drunk on the street, is not going to pull out a firearm makes for far less of a threat. Knives – and swords – can still kill, but less impersonally. Of course, in Britain, both are illegal when used as weapons, and would be classed as an “offensive weapon” in law.

Put simply, Mathew, there is a lot less fear in Britain today as a result.

I’d like to reflect, Mathew, on your perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

You believe the “good guy”, carrying a gun to defend himself against the “bad guy” is acceptable. You call it a “great idea”. I would respectfully suggest your viewpoint is seriously flawed. It smacks of the the old-time Hollywood Western films, the good guy and the bad guy approaching from opposite ends of town and the good guy always fastest to the draw.

Real life is a little different, Mathew.

Today’s bad guy will likely shoot you in the back. He will give you no chance to shoot him first. If you are one of thousands of Americans who excuse their fear by maintaining the gun cabinet is only there to protect the family from intruders, you are duping yourself. Unless your fear causes you to sleep each night with a loaded pistol under your pillow, it is extremely unlikely an armed night-time intruder would conveniently wait around while you wake-up, walk to the gun-room, unlock the cabinet and seize your trusty firearm ready for the battle. In all likelihood, you’ll be dead before your feet reach your bedroom slippers.

On the other hand, in the event of a full frontal assault on your house by a gang of murdering psychopaths, you probably would have time to fetch your gun and defend yourself through a convenient window. But let’s face it, Mathew, in reality is that situation a likely occurrence – even in America?

The conclusion we must reach is that in real life a gun as a form of self-defense is fairly useless, except as a psychological prop to keep that fear subdued. If that’s so, there’s little point in owning one – or two, or half a dozen. Great for the odd school massacre, but redundant as an instrument for self-preservation.

Having reached that conclusion, Mathew, it surely seems unfair that the bad guy who is likely to shoot you in the back, should be able to legally buy the gun from Wal-Mart with his credit card.

One of the factors to emerge from Britain’s gun ban, was that future shootings tended to be restricted to illegal revenge killings among drug gangs, or the underworld. Ordinary people like you and I, Mathew, are generally not the ones getting shot. The bad guys are shooting each other.

Now that’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?

In conclusion, Mathew, I would make one last observation. You state your favorite weapon is a sword. Mine – is a pen.

Which do you believe is the mightier?

“”Go on doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword.” ~ Thomas Jefferson 1796.

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3 Replies to “To Mathew Owens”

  1. If I could make another point to add to your well constructed essay. I know of three gun deaths of people in my life – all accidental. Hunter climbing fence, father cleaning gun and it discharged killing daughter, hunter shooting fellow hunter ala Cheney. I would no more keep rattlesnakes in my basement than have a gun.

  2. As for carrying a weapon against the bad guys, you have 3 seconds to respond to an armed attacker and even then, you most likely will be shot as well. So, the havoc guns cause is not worth the armed and loaded approach. We could ban bullets. Then people could just throw guns at one another.

  3. Flimsy – there are so many reasons for not owning a gun, and truly none to counter them. Every notion put forward by the gun lobby can be successfully countered with little effort. It’s interesting that you have lived in America all your life and suffered the loss of three intimates from gun incidents. I lived in Britain all my life, until four years ago, and have lost nobody close to me from that cause. Neither do I know of anyone in Britain who has.

    PM – that’s one of the best suggestions I’ve heard in a long time. Let’s forget gun control, and campaign to ban bullets.

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