A Former Marine’s Plea for Common Sense on Gun Control
- Joshua M Brown
- July 20th, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen, below is a guest post from former US Marine, current financial analyst and my friend Brennan Keeter. He’s written something about gun ownership, control and common sense just for us, he felt it was important to get this out there.
Tonight on the news you will be treated to the spectacle of salivating maniacs from both sides of the 2nd Amendment debate turning the Aurora tragedy into a battering ram for their own purposes. Brennan does the exact opposite here. Based on his measured reading of the law combined with his experience overseas as a Marine grunt, he lays out some pretty nuanced points I find it hard to disagree with.
In the wake of what’s happened in Colorado, its time we put firearms into perspective.
I’ll be the first one to tell you that I believe every law abiding citizen should (and does) have the right to bear arms. But aside from what the Constitution actually says (you have the right to bear arms as part of an organized and regulated militia; i.e. Army, police, National Guard) I don’t inherently believe in stripping everyone of the ability to defend themselves, their family, or their property with a firearm. I personally keep and maintain a firearm in the unlikely event that I’ll need it for just that purpose. My comments are more directed towards the rationale of gun ownership.
One of the few lessons my father taught me that managed to stick with me was differing between want and need. I would express the desire for something expensive or whatever and he would look me dead in the eyes and say ‘do you need that?’
If you’re a deer hunter, you need a rifle, plain and simple. If you’re a turkey hunter you need a shotgun. Fine, fair enough. No problem with any of that. But who, in the course of their daily routine, needs an assault rifle, body armor, tear gas, and a gas mask? Really think about it and be honest with yourself. I’m not even so much against these things in and of themselves as I am the irrational belief that anyone actually needs them for any useful purpose.
And while I have time for the theoretical argument that you might need them to defend yourself from the government, I have no time for the reality of that statement. First I would ask what in the world you are doing to merit interest from the FBI, ATF, or whomever. Second I would just simply say that it is a completely pointless affair. Look at WACO, Ruby Ridge, etc. From a purely practical standpoint unless you literally have your own military, your odds aren’t great. In fact, they’re downright nonexistent.
I guess in the end I’m not really in favor of more or less regulation on guns. Just something that makes sense. Should a law abiding citizen be able to buy a pistol or shotgun or whatever? Sure. Should anyone at all be able to buy an AK-47, at a gun show or otherwise? Based on my understanding of need, I would think the answer is no. Should you be allowed to carry a gun in public? Again, I don’t really care if you’re law abiding or not, based on my personal experience with a heavily armed populace, the answer is again no. Even if you’ve been properly trained with the fundamentals of operating a firearm, the vast majority of gun owners have had precisely zero training in the mental preparation necessary to operate one. As a Marine I was taught to be proficient in pretty much every hand held weapon in our arsenal. Knowing how was only half the preparation. The other half of the training was being taught to fully comprehend the gravity of using those weapons on another human.
Carrying a gun enables you to physically kill another person quickly and efficiently. It does not, by itself, prepare you mentally and in fact can give you a false sense of security. Knowing you have a gun can and does cause people to do dumber things than they would have otherwise. You feel invincible so you act that way, causing you to resort to a level of force you weren’t actually mentally prepared for. In short, there’s a world of difference between being trained to shoot and being prepared to kill. Personally, I’d rather not live in a society full of people carrying a gun that they think they need and aren’t actually prepared to use. Then again, I’d also rather not live in a society full of people carrying a gun that they’re fully prepared to use. If I did, I’d move to Somalia. Everybody there has a gun and is fully prepared to use it. And yet its the most dangerous place on Earth. I can assure you that having walked through neighborhoods fully expecting to be shot around every corner, you really, truly, have no idea how nice it is to be able to walk from my apartment to Whole Foods or Target without checking for snipers.
I’m not advocating the seizure of all firearms. But even in the military we kept very tight control on who has what weapon or piece of equipment, where, and for how long. We did this mainly for our own safety and accountability. Is it unreasonable to ask the civilian population at large to be just as safe and accountable? Are background checks for all purchases too much to ask? Is leaving your guns at home when you go to the mall or take your kids to Denny’s too much to ask? Is giving law enforcement the ability to cross reference delivery of an AK-47, body armor, gas mask, and tear gas to a non-law enforcement address so that they can knock on the door before he goes to the movies too much to ask? The most notable defenders of public good are those that used no weapons at all. Dr. King, Nelson Mandella, and Ghandi come to mind. And sure, force of firearms helped stop Nazism, etc., but that was state on state aggression. I’m talking about within a civil society.
In the end, this is about all of us being honest with ourselves and determining the difference between what we want and what we need. Do you need to purchase that 5th pistol and carry it in public to dinner? Do you need that body armor to go deer hunting? Do you need that assault rifle to protect yourself from government forces that you’ve never encountered (and never will)? If so, what kind of life are you living? And would you mind terribly living it somewhere else?
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The Reformed Broker is a blog about financial markets and the economy. Joshua Brown is a New York City-based investment advisor for high net worth individuals, charitable foundations, retirement plans and corporations... More.