I’ve tried to avoid politics and religion as topics for my blogs. I believe I’ve maybe talked about religion once or twice in the context of how it has or has not impacted my life.
Recently, after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut I voiced my position on gun control and was confronted by a friend on Facebook as to how I would defend/protect myself or my family should an intruder invade our home. I’ve been thinking about this question and my answer to it ever since I was asked. I’ve decided to write out my thoughts on this subject including all the things that have been going through my mind. Perhaps I will resolve this question within my own heart and mind.
I’ve written on this blog about my abusive childhood, that was the initial reason for starting this blog, to work out some of my insecurities and better understand who I am and why.
Growing up in a physically, emotionally and verbally abusive environment I made a life choice, as an adult, that I would strive to prevent further violence in my life, including an heightened awareness of my own reactions to stressful and difficult situations.
I am pro-life in my own beliefs. I don’t believe in pushing my beliefs or what’s right for me on others, but for me, a pro-life position makes sense. When I say I am pro-life, I mean that to represent my position about all life, not just in a limited way regarding one politically charged issue.
I don’t believe any one life is more or less valuable than another. I believe all life is precious. All of us are someone’s mother/father, sister/brother, etc., our lives having meaning and value to someone who loves us. We all struggle, make poor choices, make mistakes and break down from time to time. All of our lives have meaning, even when we aren’t able to see it ourselves.
I would describe myself as a pacifist. Having been subjected to violence from a young age I know first hand that violence is a thoughtless act of desperation, it is not (in my experience) the result of rational thought.
When confronted by someone who supports gun ownership, as to how I would defend myself or my family, my response has long been that I have nothing an intruder could want that is of more value than a human life. It seems that this position is difficult to understand.
In high school I did a term paper for a Criminology course on gun control. I had to do a lot of research on gun violence and related statistics. It was at that time that I formed my position and beliefs about the topic.
Statistics compiled by law enforcement have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of home invasions, break-ins are non-violent. Most intruders intend only to steal from the homeowner, they do not intend to hurt anyone. Homeowners escalate the intrusion by confronting the intruder with a weapon. Guns in homes have a greater likelihood of being used against a family member during a domestic disturbance, discharged accidentally wounding or killing a child or in a suicide attempt than being used in self defense.
When asked how I would defend myself I want to turn the question back on the asker… how would you defend yourself? Are you suggesting that by having a gun in your house you would be able to use it against another human being? Do you truly believe that under duress, in a time of heightened fear and anxiety, you would be able to accurately discharge a weapon at an intruder? Are you not aware that even trained police officers and members of the military freeze and are unable to discharge their weapon?
It is terribly disconcerting to me to hear average people, people I know, saying they believe they could kill another person.
One of the most unsettling aspects of this topic, for me, has been that many of the people who espouse these views also profess to be Christian and are some of the first folks, when confronted by the struggles or misery of others, to tell others they need to “have faith in God”, they “need to put their problems and worries, their stress and struggles, at God’s feet”, that “God has a plan for us, we must trust in Him.”
I find that incredibly hypocritical. Apparently, trusting in God to take care of us, protect us and know what’s best for us only applies when dismissing the needs of others.
Yes, you detect some bitterness in the last paragraph, as I’ve shared in previous writings, I’ve struggled all of my adult life with trying to reconcile Christian teachings about God’s love with my abusive childhood and the disabilities I live with now, as a result of that. I’ve been told by Christians that I should thank God for not having been killed by the abuse, though I want to know why He would allow one of His children to be abused in the first place.
None of us can truly answer the question, what would you do if…. We simply don’t know. I may fight back to protect my child, pet, spouse or myself… I don’t know.
What I take away from consideration of this question is this:
Do we choose to live by values and principles, practice morality and stand by our beliefs or do we only apply those values, principles, morals and beliefs when doing so benefits us and disregard them when standing by them is difficult for us?
Is our society really comprised of people who could, without thought, kill other human beings or have we been deluded by a false sense of security, by having firearms within easy access, that we have the power and right to take a life if we feel justified in doing so? Why are so many people so quick to flippantly talk about taking a life? Why is it so difficult to accept the idea that someone would NOT choose to take another life?
This question of using deadly force to defend oneself or loved ones only creates more questions, questions that, I’m guessing, none of us have the answers for. Pointing out the contradictions created by one’s statements and professed beliefs doesn’t promote logical discussion, though there needs to be such a dialogue.
That was a mix of thoughts, kind of scrambled, but I touched on all the things that have been going through my mind.