The Pamela White Gun Challenge


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Drizzt
December 25, 2002, 01:44 PM
The Pamela White Gun Challenge
by Ari Armstrong, December 13, 2002

Pamela White is one of my favorite local journalists. It therefore pained me to read her frankly ignorant perspective on gun ownership and the right of self-defense ("The night I would have killed," August 22). She completely misunderstands the nature of self-defense and the appropriate use of a gun.

Obviously White understands the importance of overcoming ignorance and prejudice with education and an open mind. Thus, I have taken the liberty of arranging a learning experience for her. My father Linn helps organize the best introductory handgun class I've ever seen. The class, offered on weekends or during the evenings in Grand Junction, provides information about firearms and the law and offers practice on the range, with an emphasis on defensive scenarios.

White can think of the class as a cultural exchange. She can leave the borders of the "Peoples' Republic of Boulder" -- if only for short while -- and spend some time in a town where even many Democrats profess their loyalty to the Second Amendment. (Plus, the vineyards, the orchards, and the Monument are lovely.) My dad has offered to put up White and cover the cost of her class. In addition to gaining a new perspective, White could write a fascinating article for the Weekly about her experiences.

One of the first things White will learn is that sentiments like, "I wanted to kill," have no place in a defensive situation. The story White relates is a terrifying one, to be sure. Two men broke into her apartment armed with knives and threatened her and her 9-month-old baby. White fears she would have been raped or murdered had the police not intervened. But the purpose of using a gun for self-defense is not to vent anger, seek retaliation, or kill somebody. The sole purpose is to stop the threat.

White will also come to realize the folly of her statement, "If I'd had a gun, I'd have shot them both in the face." The attempt would have been awfully stupid. First, if you're close enough to stick your gun in the criminal's face, you're too close for your own safety. The class actually runs a drill to demonstrate how fast an attacker with a knife can overcome the victim. Second, in a high-stress defensive situation, the defender should generally aim at center of mass, again for the purpose of stopping the threat.

White was very lucky that the police showed up in time to save her and her child. Many are not that lucky. At a trial earlier this year, a Denver police officer admitted the police usually show up only after the crime has been committed. There's even a book out titled "Dial 911 and Die" that indicates the police are too late 95% of the time. If the intruders had cut White's phone lines first, she almost certainly would have become a victim. (The class also reviews ways to keep one's home more secure against break-ins.)

White claims if she'd had a gun the night of the attack "at least one man -- perhaps two -- would have died." But that's unlikely. In his book More Guns Less Crime, John Lott suggests a defensive gun use usually involves merely the brandishment of the firearm, not the firing of it. In other words, when criminals see a gun, they almost always flee. And in Armed, Gary Kleck points out a person with a gunshot wound dies less that 15% of the time. Again, the purpose of using a gun for self-defense is to stop a threat, not to kill.

White notes the tension between her own aversion to using a gun and her reliance on armed police officers. Some might "say that makes me a hypocrite," she writes. But White doesn't get to the core problem. She argues using a gun is immoral. "[I]t would have cost you your soul" to use a gun in self-defense, one of White's friends counseled her. She urges us to look to the "spiritual consequences" of defending our lives. "When we meet darkness with darkness, some of that darkness enters and stays inside."

I don't think White has fully thought through this notion that police officers -- agents of the state -- should be in the unique position of acting immorally, of letting "darkness enter and stay inside them." The suggestion that police should sell their souls and do our dirty work for us is disturbing in its implications.

A free society demands the opposite philosophy: the powers and responsibilities of the police should not extend far beyond those of the ordinary citizen. If it is immoral for the citizen to defend him or herself with potentially lethal force, then it is also immoral for the police to do so -- and the police should be immediately disarmed.

It is the moral issue, therefore, that must be addressed at the deepest level. The right of self-defense is a necessary and immediate corollary of the right to life. There is nothing dark, evil, or sinister about not wanting to be raped or murdered and wanting to keep one's family safe. White's comment, "in dying, we risk nothing," almost serves as a reductio ad absurdum for her position. If life is not important, then nothing is. Ultimately, prudent self-defense is a celebration of life and a recognition of the ultimate value of life.

Before she began thinking of the issue in terms of ethics, White relates, she declined to purchase a gun because she feared her children would "find the gun and become statistics." White would have done better to make sure her children never rode in cars or played near five-gallon buckets. In 1998, firearms accounted for about 2% of all unintentional injuries for children ages 1-14, far behind injury due to cars (50%), drowning (16%), and fires (13%). Certainly all gun owners should be careful to keep their guns (and other potentially dangerous items) out of the hands of irresponsible persons. The overwhelming majority of gun owners, though, do maintain a safe household -- a household also safer from violent attacks.

http://www.thehighroad.org/newthread.php?s=&action=newthread&forumid=4

Deceptive title I know...... you probably thought I was posting an invite to a match ;)

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Hkmp5sd
December 25, 2002, 01:47 PM
Actually, I thought you were challenging her to a duel. :)

pax
December 25, 2002, 02:07 PM
Drizzt,

That is a truly excellent article.

Thanks for posting it.

pax

Blackhawk
December 25, 2002, 03:04 PM
First, if you're close enough to stick your gun in the criminal's face, you're too close for your own safety. The class actually runs a drill to demonstrate how fast an attacker with a knife can overcome the victim. Second, in a high-stress defensive situation, the defender should generally aim at center of mass, again for the purpose of stopping the threat. First, you should be able to nail somebody in the face from 7 yards away. If you can't, you need to practice until you can.

Second, unless you get in a lucky shot that penetrates to and breaks the spinal column, you'd better be using a cartridge with much more power that a really perky .45 or you're NOT going to be guaranteed to stop the attacker. You can also get lucky by the noise and shock of being shot at amounting to a giant wake up call to the attacker that he's momemts away from oblivion to cause him to stop from psychological rather than physical reasons, but guess what? A missed head shot has the same psychological affect.

Secondly to the second point, an adrenaline charged attacker isn't likely to even feel a COM shot that doesn't shut down his CNS.

Otherwise, it's a good article.

PATH
December 26, 2002, 12:00 AM
Any woman who is not willing to defend her child by any means possible leaves a lot to be desired in my book! Then again she might just be plain ol' nuts.

pwolfman
December 26, 2002, 12:34 AM
Anyone not willing to defend their children are not true parents.

Tamara
December 26, 2002, 03:05 AM
Anyone who says they are not willing to fight and die to defend their children is either a liar or an aberrant evolutionary deadend. :p

KMKeller
December 26, 2002, 01:46 PM
My wife is not a person who likes firearms. She does however know their uses and is familiar enough with the function of those in the household to be proficient in defending her life and the life of our son and if need be, mine.

She will be putting in her application for her North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit this January and once received will be gifted a Kahr P9 from my collection.

This from a woman who doesn't like guns. And if you were to ask her why she became familiar with firearms, and why she is willing to carry a concealed weapon, her reply would be very simple, to protect our family.

JBA
December 29, 2002, 01:03 AM
I'm with you Dizz
Ms White seems to have no problem with a police officer risking his soul to protect protect her soul.. I think Ms. Whites soul is already in danger.
My wife is a kind, warm hearted, generious, fine Christian lady. And a mother of 5 who will fight you to her last dieing breath protecting her children, as so a Mother should!!!
The Bible is full of stories of Christias fighting evil, to protect themselves and to protect others.
To think of yourself over an above your child tells me you are one VERY SELFISH woman!!!! And I'm sure glad you ARN'T my Mother!!!!

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