Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Get to the Gun Stuff Eventually, Trust Me....

The other day I was checking the Consumerist blog, which bounced me over to to Mcsweeny' to read an article about an energetic lawyer who was able to keep a young family from eviction and foreclosure.

Its a great article about a very messy situation and should provoke all kinds of interesting reactions towards the laywer, the people and the bank -- Wells Fargo.

But I digress.

While I was nosing around Mcsweeny's, I ran across a series of articles by a woman from Texas who has a karate black belt and writes about violence, self defense and women. 

One of her columns is called Ghost Stories, and contains the following excerpt:

Getting good information is a critical component of staying safe; fictional scenarios presented as truth skew our perception of reality and lead us to make bad choices. Certainly terrible things happen to people—especially to women—and we dread them for a reason. There's really no need to embellish or reinvent the awful, true stories out there.

... when you nurture and share fear, you're not making the world a safer place. When you fear something that doesn't exist, and shape your life around that fear, you help to make it real. When we pass along these fictional stories, because "You never know—it could happen," we make women a little more afraid to go out of their homes at night. We make men a little more fearful about their mothers, daughters, and wives. 
She's referring to urban legends, but I think her point applies to all kinds of misinformation. Which is why its so surprising to read the following in one of her other columns, which involves an unpleasant encounter with an angry driver.
But the fact is, I'm not interested in carrying a weapon at all. Concealed carry is legal where I live, but I've spent enough time practicing self-defense with make-believe weapons to know that I don't want anything to do with real ones. In a realistic self-defense situation, one thing is abundantly clear: Any weapon I'm carrying is more dangerous to me than it is to my opponent. 
Later in the piece, she explains how pointing a camera at an assailant is an effective deterrent.
Best of all, cameras force people to stop focusing on how their violent behavior is making them feel at the moment, and consider how it is making them look, to others. When your intended victim turns a camera on you, you've lost control of the fight. It's not just the two of you anymore.  
If she doesn't want to carry a gun, that's her choice, but I'm surprised to see her repeating the old "he'll just use it against you" myth.  Even if you don't believe that Gary Kleck's work on defensive gun use refutes that myth entirely, it at least calls it into serious question.

I think martial arts are terrific for fitness, for self confidence and even for self defense, but not everyone has the time and inclination to put in that much practice. And I'd hate to think that a woman who could have used a gun in self defense didn't get one because of the misinformation she saw here. 

Finally, on the subject of cameras -- if the attacker really wants to hurt you, pointing a camera just gives him a reason to close in and destroy the evidence


BobG said...

"I think martial arts are terrific for fitness, for self confidence and even for self defense, but not everyone has the time and inclination to put in that much practice."

True. Not only are there many people who have physical limitations that make it difficult for them to learn unarmed combat, but a lot of the stuff taught in martial arts is very stylized and out of date, and may not be as effective as the user believes.

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