Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Armed Idiot

Writing in Ms Magazine, Heidi Yewman tells of her month carrying a gun. She claims that she was inspired by the NRA's Wayne LaPierre who said "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Her rules for carrying the gun are:
Carry it with me at all times, follow the laws of my state, only do what is minimally required for permits, licensing, purchasing and carrying, and finally be prepared to use it for protecting myself at home or in public.

To understand where Heidi is coming from you have to know that she has been an anti-gun activist. She led a shareholder's revolt against Starbuck's open carry policy and has boycotted the chain for two years.

At first this sounds like an honest attempt by an anti-gun activist to understand gun culture. It is not. It is a stunt designed to prove her original point that guns should be banned in public.

The key is her third point - only doing the minimal requirements. While most normal people who buy a gun for self-defense take a gun safety course and become familiar with gun handling, she didn't even ask the dealer how to load it. Instead she brought the gun home, opened the box, and panicked because she convinced herself that it was loaded with the safety off.

After finding a policeman who showed her some basics, she strapped it on and went to a Starbucks. Her conclusion?

In some way, I feel a certain vindication. I was right to protest Starbucks policy. Today, they have a woman with absolutely no firearms training and a Glock on her hip sitting within arm's reach of small children, her hands shaking and adrenaline surging.

This whole is contrived. She faults Tony, the gun dealer, for selling a gun to someone as ignorant as she is. She faults the cop for not confiscating the gun when she told him what an idiot she is. Why didn't she ask Tony for some basic instruction? Probably because he would have spent more time with her than the cop could. He might have even tried to sign her up for a gun safety course which would invalidate her entire premise. Also, some basic gun handling would alleviate her jitters about carrying a gun.

That is the last thing she wants. Her whole article is based on the idea that guns are dangerous instruments that are likely to go off at any second. Her ultimate aim is to establish a guilt-by-association for gun owners. If someone who is willfully ignorant is allowed to carry a gun then all gun owners should be treated as willfully ignorant.

A careful reading of her goals shows that they are contradictory. She says that she will be prepared to use the gun to defend herself but that involves knowing how to aim and fire the thing. She can't remain willfully ignorant and still be prepared to use it.

She is not above stretching the truth a bit, also. She apparently lives in Washington state whch requires two background checks and a waiting period for getting a gun. She fails to mention this. Instead she says that getting a dog license is easier (do they really fingerprint dog-owners in Washington?).

The irony is that she will probably hurt her cause. The article is making the conservative rounds where she is being held as an object of ridicule.

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