With the exception of an antique single-shot percussion-cap pistol inherited from my grandfather, for which I keep neither powder nor shot, I do not own any guns. My reason is twofold: 1) guns are expensive, and I lack the time to devote to their maintenance and the necessary training, and 2) Wifey doesn’t like them. But I support the rights of other Americans to arm themselves, and the gun-rights movement over the gun-control movement, with my votes. I have again a twofold reason: 1) I have never seen any compelling evidence that gun control improves public safety in any sizable way (rather, I think the reverse is true), and 2) I see far too much hysteria and snobbery in the gun-control movement for my liking.
Reasonable people can and will disagree about the efficacy of any public policy, and a robust debate about the purposes of the Second Amendment, and what level of regulation best balances liberty with public order is like to continue so long as the Republic does. This to be expected, and is all to the good.
However, Ms. Magazine’s “My Month with a Gun” feature does not contribute to that debate. I don’t think it really intends to contribute anything but shock and incredulity (and of course, hits for its parent web site). The feature is long on impression and short on facts, and its entire premise reeks of the kind of manufactured authenticity that Reality TV trades in.
The writer of the feature, one Heidi Yewman, a self-proclaimed “board member of the Brady Campaign,” has decided to go thirty days armed under the carry laws of her home state. She operated under four “rules”:
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.
The last rule seems to come with emphasis on the “finally”, as in the course of this first week Yewman has not bothered to learn the first thing about operating or even loading the Glock 9 she purchased:
Tony told me a Glock doesn’t have an external safety feature, so when I got home and opened the box and saw the magazine in the gun I freaked. I was too scared to try and eject it as thoughts flooded my mind of me accidentally shooting the gun and a bullet hitting my son in the house or rupturing the gas tank of my car, followed by an earth-shaking explosion. This was the first time my hands shook from the adrenaline surge and the first time I questioned the wisdom of this 30-day experiment.
I needed help. I drove to where a police officer had pulled over another driver. Now, writing this, I realize that rolling up on an on-duty cop with a handgun in tow might not have been fully thought through.
I told him I just bought a gun, had no clue how to use it. I asked him to make sure there were no bullets in the magazine or chamber. He took the magazine out and cleared the chamber. He assured me it was empty and showed me how to look. Then he told me how great the gun was and how he had one just like it.
The cop thought I was an idiot and suggested I take a class. But up to that point I’d done nothing wrong, nothing illegal.
The feature ends and begins with her sitting in a Starbucks, shaking with fear that the gun is suddenly going to leap from its holster and start killing children.
I have two problems with all of this.