In my last big blog, "Guns, Shooting and Pregnancy" the main thrust of the article was addressing the components of a firearm and whether they are dangerous to a pregnant woman.
Though most people who read this blog are already pro gun and understand the message I'm about to write there are some who come across my writings, whether they be here or on my Limatunes/life blog and are genuinely horrified that a woman, a mother, a PREGNANT mother would have a gun anywhere near herself or her child because, in their mind and beliefs, a gun is a dangerous thing in and of itself.
So, why am I writing this if the majority of readers are already pro gun? Because there are some who are on the fence and this might be the balanced piece that gives them a little more information with which to make up their own mind.
I've seen it time and time again in mothering or pregnancy forums, blogs and articles, a young woman who never really had cause to stop and think about the evils and violence in this world gets pregnant and suddenly her eyes are torn open. She realizes that she is now responsible for another little and very defenseless life. She also realizes that her previously fit and nimble body is changing into one that is labored and weighted down. She is vulnerable and she knows it. She wants to protect herself. She considers a firearm for this purpose but is afraid of the previous spoon-fed notion that guns are, in and of themselves, very dangerous things that should be avoided. How does she decide whether or not a firearm is for her?
The place to start on this road to discovery is to point out what a firearm is at it's very core: an inanimate object. It has absolutely no power or means of action above and beyond what it's user bestows upon it. Not even your antiest of anti-gunners can deny that. A gun is only as dangerous as the person using it.
So, let's get even more basic and define danger and dangerous. Dangerous is defined as a potential to do harm. A person's comfort with an object or activity can dramatically change one's perspective of danger. A mountain biker who frequently bikes trails that are no farther than a few inches from a great precipice may have no real sense of danger is doing so whereas a casual observer may look upon the activity as one of great danger. Consequently, someone who has spent their life hunting and shooting for sport may find firearms no more dangerous than a shoe whereas someone else is petrified by the very sight of the object.
An object (unlike an activity), however, has no inherent danger. It is neither dangerous NOR safe. A pillow, used in the wrong fashion can be dangerous, even murderous. A car, a shoe, a kitchen knife, a broom, all have a potential for danger if applied in a dangerous fashion or misused. When left to themselves they are not dangerous but neither are they safe. We make sure young children don't sleep with pillows so that there is no chance of suffocation. We tell our children to walk with scissors and knives pointed down. We are careful to not leave our children in parked, running cars. We pad the corners of coffee tables while our little one's learn to walk. We make sure our children are looked after while bathing and swimming. We understand that while an object may be seemingly innocuous, there is a potential for harm when misused.
A firearm, is also one of those objects. It has no potential for harm unless misused or ignorantly used. It is neither safe nor unsafe. An unloaded firearm is little more than a paperweight made of plastic or steel. A loaded firearm is also only as dangerous as it is accessible to untrained/ignorant or neglectful or mischievous hands.
There are those who say firearms have a moral or psychological imperative in influencing a persons actions or thinking. As one woman put it, "And isn't an ever-present gun a constant reminder of potential (but statistically unlikely) dangers, like robbery, rape, and murder?" This is only as true as someone's experiences and predispositions to think in those terms. Just like someone who is exhausted might feel drawn to sleep upon seeing a bed or someone who is hungry might feel an urge to eat upon seeing a restaurant or someone who is dirty may feel an urge to bathe upon seeing a shower, a person with murderous intentions may have a surge of those feeling upon seeing a means with which to carry out their desires (a gun, a knife, poison, etc). This is where morality and self-control come in to play, and in the absence of those, the legal system which does a darned fine job (despite what some think) from keeping those kinds of people from getting their hands on firearms. And the blessed truth is that very very few people actually have murderous feelings and intentions. Even in the throws of the most heated anger your average person still does not consider murder as a viable option to resolution and is not predispositioned or influenced to act on any thoughts of violence beyond punching a door, yelling or throwing a pepper shaker across the yard.
Likewise, those who have had bad experiences with a firearm may be reminded of it's hurts (someone who witnessed someone being shot or was a victim of gun violence) but even those negative associations can be overcome.
A person who does not have those feelings, negative impulses and desires sees a gun as no more than a gun and has no associations of violence with it. It has no influence over them. The good, law abiding people who go through the multitude of background checks and paperwork to legally purchase their firearms and carry them have no such intentions or impulses nor are they influenced in a negative way by merely possessing or carrying a firearm.
A firearm is as safe as you make it and has no power (physically, mentally or emotionally) beyond what you give it. If you feel you are able to properly and safely utilize a firearm as a self-defense tool and do so responsibly then there is no reason why you should not be able to master a firearm as effectively as you've learned to master your toaster oven.