Friday, March 20, 2015

Walter Mitty at the Gun Store

So you want a gun for self-protection? 


There's a lot of Walter Mitty in that statement, isn't there?

Walter Mitty?

The reference is to a short story published in The New Yorker in March of 1939 and written by James Thurber just as the nation was extracting itself from the Great Depression and about to enter a Great War that would leave millions dead.

In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, we are introduced to a man as common as a turnip top (and aren't we all?!) who dreams of being heroic, tough, expert, and brave.

When he came out into the street again, with the overshoes in a box under his arm, Walter Mitty began to wonder what the other thing was his wife had told him to get. She had told him, twice, before they set out from their house for Waterbury. In a way he hated these weekly trips to town -- he was always getting something wrong. Kleenex, he thought, Squibb’s, razor blades? No. Toothpaste, toothbrush, bicarbonate, carborundum, initiative and referendum? He gave it up. But she would remember it. “Where’s the what’s-its-name?” she would ask. “Don’t tell me you forgot the what’s-its-name.” A newsboy went by shouting something about the Waterbury trial.

. . . “Perhaps this will refresh your memory.” The District Attorney suddenly thrust a heavy automatic at the quiet figure on the witness stand. “Have you ever seen this before?” Walter Mitty took the gun and examined it expertly. “This is my Webley-Vickers 50.80,” he said calmly. An excited buzz ran around the courtroom. The Judge rapped for order. “You are a crack shot with any sort of firearms, I believe?” said the District Attorney, insinuatingly. “Objection!” shouted Mitty’s attorney. “We have shown that the defendant could not have fired the shot. We have shown that he wore his right arm in a sling on the night of the fourteenth of July.” Walter Mitty raised his hand briefly and the bickering attorneys were stilled. “With any known make of gun,” he said evenly, “I could have killed Gregory Fitzhurst at three hundred feet with my left hand.” Pandemonium broke loose in the courtroom. A woman’s scream rose above the bedlam and suddenly a lovely, dark-haired girl was in Walter Mitty’s arms. The District Attorney struck at her savagely. Without rising from his chair, Mitty let the man have it on the point of the chin. “You miserable cur!” . . .

“Puppy biscuit,” said Walter Mitty. He stopped walking and the buildings of Waterbury rose up out of the misty courtroom and surrounded him again. A woman who was passing laughed. “He said ‘Puppy biscuit,’ ” she said to her companion. “That man said ‘Puppy biscuit’ to himself.” Walter Mitty hurried on. He went into an A. & P., not the first one he came to but a smaller one farther up the street. “I want some biscuit for small, young dogs,” he said to the clerk. “Any special brand, sir?” The greatest pistol shot in the world thought a moment. “It says ‘Puppies Bark for It’ on the box,” said Walter Mitty.

So you are interested in a gun for self-protection?

Has anyone explained to you that simply having a gun on your person will change your decision-making process and tend to put you in more dangerous places?

Has anyone explained to you that guns bought for protection are actually more likely to be used to kill the gun purchaser than anyone else?

Oh, and you want to carry it in a bra or ankle holster? Fantastic. Love the pretenders! But no worries, they are making great prosthetic legs and breasts now, and if you don't bleed out in the first 10 minutes, I am sure you will be just fine... provided the gun is not taken from you and used to shoot you in the head.... or found by your niece who shoots her cousin in the head.... or is used by yourself to shoot yourself in the head after you come home late at night drunk and depressed.

Yes, you will totally be a hero and fight off the bad guys, and that will come with no legal repercussions that will cost you your job, your freedom, or many thousands of dollars in legal bills.

Because only good things come from buying -- and using -- a gun for self protection.


jeffrey thurston said...

Actually the reason for any statistical blip about gun owners shooting themselves is because they choose to do so. 2010 statistics from the CDC: 33,636 gun deaths of which 19,392 were suicides, 11,078 homicides and a tiny tiny tiny 608 were ACCIDENTAL. A tiny bit more dangerous than lightning or pit bulls but considering there are 250,000 gun in the USA it is but a tiny blip...

jeffrey thurston said...

PS I pre-apologize for even responding to a gun-control type post. My gun-guru taught me long ago that guns create a feeling- mostly a feeling of fear in people and so there is no rational way to discuss the problem. Similar to race or religion or politics or even pit bulls. Sorry for (as another man said:) "stepping all over your blog".

PBurns said...

I own a few guns, and and I have written a few posts on guns on this blog, including:

** The Liberal Case for Gun Ownership >>
** The Quickest Way to Gun Control >>
** More Guns, Fewer Gun Owners >>

One can own guns for any number of reasons, from hunting to skeet, from target to self=defense.

What I see far too much of, however, is Walter Mitty gun ownership -- young people buying guns and "trying them on" like a hat that substitutes for a persona.

Gun dealers and the NRA encourage this, and they actively discourage folks from thinking about how unlikely is for a gun to actually be used for "self defense," and how common it is for guns to actually be used against the person who bought the gun.

I tell people worried about "self defense" to stop drinking, get home by midnight, and not to speed. Always wear your seat belt.

Right there you have made yourself FAR, FAR safer than a gun will ever make you. Still worried about self-defense? Great: a baseball bat is $20 on Amazon, a taser is $20 Amazon, a whistle is $2 anywhere. Put your car keys on a cord that you can swing to strike someone hard in the face. Carry a knife if you want. But a gun? Nothing good can come from that.

Life isn't a movie. And for God's sake, if you insist on carrying, get a real holster, and learn how to draw from it. That's not an ankle holster or bra holster some schmuck at the gun store was only too eager to sell you.

If you are a diamond merchant, a celebrity at home, or a long distance trucker, there may be real reasons to own a gun for self-protection. But for the average person, gun ownership is not an honest assessment of risk and response. It's just Walter Mitty and narcissism.

5string said...

You're gonna fight off a group of young urban male dreadlockians with your car keys?

There's a reason they called the Colt revolver the "Equalizer"

"Be not afraid of any man, no matter what his size. When danger threatens call on me and I will equalize."

PBurns said...

Lived and worked in cities my whole life and wrote books and monographs on street drug markets, been in some very bad places alone at night as a consequence. No gun. Also no dreadlockians. If you keep your head in the game, you will not need anything else. No, I don't make prey noises, but I'm also not trying to be Dirty Harry. Tough without a gun.

jeff hays said...

Can we disagree and still be friends?
I too have misgivings about the average Joe using pistol or AR-15 for home protection.
I ALWAYS suggest a pump 12 Ga
as it is much more effective and less hazardous to your neighbors.
I DO think your figures are little flawed by your passion however.