Armed self-defense is scary. What other choice do we have?
I grew up in proximity to guns, but have always been in the “not for me” camp. That said, the harassment my wife and I experience during 2020 made me reconsider. I still don’t think I have a way to safely own a firearm, and I don’t like the feeling of falling into patterns of violence but it’s a reality to consider. Next best thing is first aid, self-defense I guess.
Which Mayan forest?
Ugh. What you say is true. I live with depression, so this kind of step will be the last one I take, but I have to live with the possibility it might be necessary in the future. What a fucked up world.
The shooter belonged to, or at least had ties to Mormonism as well. One of the top LDS leaders, Jeffrey R Holland, last year in a sermon at BYU called for "musket fire" against the LGBTQ community.
you were born to have more than 180 characters. Fuck Elon. Keep going and thank you from the Mayan forest.
Much like you, Robert, I grew up in a deeply conservative Bible belt, one saturated with firearms. I started with a BB gun at a young age and knew how to shoot a .22 by the age of 9, killed my first deer at age 12 with a 230yd shot. I was never afraid of guns. After going down the transformative road from Conservative to Libertarian to Leftist/Anarchist, I found myself surrounded by people who looked and thought very differently about guns. I always was politely vocal about my experience and knowledge with guns though, and over time (especially after 2020) they started asking what might be a good, reliable gun to have just in case. Currently, my two best friends are queer non-binary people - both have chosen to arm themselves, and both are very anxious. I don't think that owning the gun itself makes one anxious, I believe that owning it forces you to face and deal with the reality that there are a growing number of people who desperately want to use lethal force on the LGBTQ+ and leftist communities.
Well said. I carry a 9 mm, first aid kit I assembled, and Narcan. We protect us.
I grew up with guns, but my parents always treated them with the utmost respect. I've used the phrase, "check out my new toy," when showing a new piece to a friend, but perhaps that needs to stop. There's a lot wrong with that phrase and even more so if it's used where kids can hear. Those unconscious lessons stick more than the conscious ones. There is a lot of gravity in these little machines and I'm not talking about a couple of pounds.
I'm with you on the hesitation to recommend that people arm themselves. Buying a gun should be seen as a commitment: if you aren't willing to learn to use it and store it safely, you are far better off without. I rarely carry, simply because it is a thing I have to be aware of whenever I leave the house with it. That said, you're right: what choice do we have. I don't know that we are on an irreversible path toward fascist oblivion, but I do know that there are those who will take us there if we let them.
Also, I've spent a little time up in the hills on the Oregon side of that Cali/Oregon border. All these little compounds out in the middle of nowhere and they're just a grab bag of random things... From weed farms and meth labs to Jesus compounds and hippie communes. One thing about spending a lot of time out in the sticks... you learn to respect people's boundaries.
I feel incredibly grateful to have had my first hands-on experiences with firearms largely facilitated by other radicals approaching the class from a safety and even trauma-informed position. Although my stance on gun control (having been raised by CA liberal parents) meaningfully shifted early on, I've been involved in anarchism in the U.S. for the last 10 years. I used to feel a certain anxiety towards some of my peers around the obvious powerful attraction to the aesthetics of violence/militancy where a critical connection to its material effects, to the depth of what actually using these tools could mean, wasn't quite being made. It is incredibly bittersweet to reflect on the history that we've lived through that has allowed me to feel less of that anxiety.
I live in Germany, where it’s comparably difficult to obtain a gun, though I know nothing of the specific rules. I always considered this a good thing. Now, a couple years after journalists have uncovered a fascist conspiracy by members of the army to steal and hoard guns for an armed insurrection, an antisemitic terror attack in the town I grew up in that left two people dead and another terror attack where the perpetrator killed eleven people and his father has been harassing the survivors ever since, I’ve started to feel slightly differently.
I didn't grow up with guns, but I've lived most of my adult live in a rural NorCal town probably even more remote than the one you were in (I think you mentioned it on one of your podcasts and I thought..."LOL, I have to drive way farther than that to the grocery store"). Guns are just part of life here and I've always been pretty cool with it. Even if some of us are not adequately socialized and others get a bit twitchy around marijuana harvest time. Even with the very conservative politics of some of those around me, I've lived openly as a queer atheist with a smart mouth and rarely felt threatened.
But things have changed. Now after years of only having a gun around for the occasional rabid fox or scaring bears, I'm wrestling with whether I can cope with the idea of shooting another human being, maybe even a neighbor. It's not easy as an EMT to contemplate putting a hole in someone, I'm used to patching those up, and I have no romantic notions left of violence and its aftermath. But I believe in the right to self-defense and it's hard to deny that firearms level the playing field.
Some of the rural queers out here are organizing self defense training and practice, maybe the best I can do is try to scrounge up money for bleeding control kits, give trainings, and hope that people really think and practice, rather than carrying around their shiny new guns like a talisman, thinking that just having it will protect them.
I’m from Spain and from the point of view of an European (a crappy grade B southern one) all this sounds terrifying, i understand it and i think it is probably reasonable, but still absolutely terrifying
Even if it were legal in the UK, I wouldn't own one. I'm a depressive, and when my illness is less well controlled, having something like that around would be too damn tempting. I'm only still around because I got caught with the box-cutter in my wrist a few years ago. A gun would be too quick and easy.
However I do make sure that as I get more physically disabled, that I know how to use my mobility aids and limited strength to defend myself and others. I am a qualified first aider, and I'm looking into getting hold of narcan (tougher in the UK, it's not handed out so freely, but you can get it if you know where to ask) so I can help if someone ODs.
Best I can do as a disabled queer.
Well said Robert.
I remember the Tea Party protest in Minneapolis where about 2/3 of the attendees were carrying openly. I remember the Bundy standoffs, too. What I REALLY remember about them was the very low level of actual, physically-present violence, though the stochastic violence was also very much present. The police at the US Capitol were hesitant to act to break up the crowds because, as one officer present said, "They have a lot of guns in there."
And so I made a decision to show up, tooled up, for any future protests. Yes, the cops will hassle me. But like Mr Evans, I share his tall white-guy privilege, plus I'm an Old, PLUS I'm a US Army veteran with various T-shirts and trucker hats advertising that.
I don't like it. I really wish that The People In Charge would be more willing to listen to Leftists. But my hope is the presence of a 6'3" truck driver hanging out on the perimeter with a decent AR pistol will serve as, if not warning exactly, then a harbinger of the possible. And I hope it makes people who would do my friends and fellow travellers harm take a moment to think. Because I really, really don't want to have to use the stupid thing.
This is working. Keep going with the essays!
Thank you for this, Robert.