On Her Own

Why guns can be a bad idea for self-defense

The thing about lethal force, whether or not you intend it to be lethal, is that the consequences can be extremely high if we use it in ways that are not legally permissible. Watching the news and social media are not complete educations about what is and isn’t okay in the eyes of the law, especially if you aren’t careful with your sources. Beyond just learning when you can use tools or techniques that could kill someone, you also need to be careful about how you think and talk about the relevant concepts. It’s not just a matter of what looks good in front of investigator, prosecutor, jury, and general public if you end up acting in self-defense…it’s also a matter of encouraging those around us to act appropriately, and a matter of keeping your head in the right space if and when you might be in a situation where you might have an option to use lethal force. Getting it wrong legally, even kinda sorta, even if you thought you were right, can mean being arrested, being jailed, paying for lawyers, going to trial, living with a conviction.

Plus there are the personal consequences we might face if our actions in self-defense are not morally or ethically right, whether according to our personal compasses when we realize in horror what we have done or according to the judgment of those around us. That can cut both ways, when we do not respond against someone doing harm, but also when we respond and injure or kill someone who perhaps might have been stopped another way. We have to be able to look ourselves in the mirror, and if we only have a plan to use lethal force, we might not like what we see. And no matter how much we can claim we don’t care about what others think of us, we still have to live in a world with their disapproval, which can lead to ostracism and shunning, the loss of jobs, the loss of friends and family, even the loss of housing.

That’s one of the reasons On Her Own isn’t focused on guns guns guns (or even knives knives knives) for self-defense. While it’s important to respond to threats of violence with enough force to actually make your attacker stop, it’s also important to do so appropriately and at the correct time. Too early or too much, and you may end up in trouble with the law. Too late or too little, and you may end up injured or dead yourself. Getting it right is difficult, which is why we have long, winding discussions here about how to pick the best ways to prepare yourself and why we might not want to use some of the popular ones. It’s not just because they might not work, but because they might come with consequences beyond what we might have imagined – ones that might affect your long-term safety as much as the person you thought was a bad guy. Having other options, and using them early enough, can mean you still stay safe but can also apologize or face fewer consequences if you get it wrong. That’s not to say you should just pepper spray someone when they ping your spidey sense, but having that available as they start to violate your verbal boundaries might help keep you safe not just from them, but from what might happen to you if you decide to shoot them instead.

Read more (and watch the embedded video) at View From The Porch.

And check out Gun Culture 2.0’s thoughts on the topic.

Hi, I'm Annette.

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