Religious Orders

category icon Guns and Self-Defense

Posted: Friday October 14 2016 @ 7:40am

Religious Order: Politics

It would be dishonest of me to ignore those times when having a gun actually results in a person protecting themself.

Charges: Man With Permit To Carry Firearm Stops Potential Bat Attacker

Necessary vs Sufficient

It's interesting because this situation does fall precisely into the thin wedge where I think a gun is useful. My basic problem with guns as self-defense is that their use is rarely both necessary and sufficient. What I mean is that there are situations in which the bad guy is bad enough that non-gun options would not be enough. The gun is necessary. But usually in those same situations the bad guy is so bad that, even with a gun, I'd be totally out-classed. The gun isn't sufficient.

For the gun to be both necessary and sufficient, you need that rare occurrence of an adversary who is bad enough to justify using a gun, yet wimpy enough that the gun is enough.

That's pretty much the case here. The bad guy is wielding a bat, a medium range weapon capable of damage and not easily defendable by hand. They're in a parking lot, thus lacking in defensive areas. The bad guy has already shown a willingness to pursue. Arguably, a gun is necessary.

At the same time, this bad guy seems pretty hapless and unmotivated, is alone, and is armed only with the bat. Fending him off with a gun is an easy thing to do. The gun is sufficient.

Venn diagram showing small overlap between necessary and sufficient

Placebo Guns

Also interesting is that the outcome of this event doesn't change if the gun is a placebo gun, a real gun rendered inoperative. To me, a risk to benefit evaluation of guns leads to carrying a placebo gun.

In terms of self-defense, a placebo gun provides most of the benefits of a gun, with few of the drawbacks.


Lack of Drawbacks

Worst-Case Scenarios

But, wait, you can't actually shoot a person with a placebo gun! What about a worst-case scenario?

Yes, that's true. There's an even smaller section of that wedge, except just having the gun isn't sufficient. You would actually need to shoot someone. In that case, you're out of luck.

But if you're planning for worst-case scenarios without factoring in the rarity of the scenario and the risks of carrying a gun, then you're not really doing a rational risk to benefit analysis.

And note that none of us plan excessively for worst-case scenarios. If we did, we would all be demanding cars with 4-point racing harnesses. We'd be wearing flame-proof jumpsuits on our commutes. We would have fire extinguishers within reach of the driver in all our cars.

(Well, except for me, since my commute consists of walking down a flight of stairs. But I'd replace the carpet with rubber for traction, with extra padding at the edge of each step, and a big cushion at the bottom.)

Bad-Ass Motherfucker

But, wait, maybe you're a lot tougher than I am. Which, let's be honest, wouldn't be that difficult.

Ah, here's the thing. If you're tougher than I am, the circle on the right gets bigger, because you and your gun can handle more than I could with a gun. What about that circle on the left, though? It gets smaller. If you're a tough guy, you can handle more without having to resort to a gun. The gun becomes sufficient in more circumstances, but necessary in fewer. The overlap remains small.

Go back to the actual situation in St. Cloud. If you're really a tough guy, you could disarm the guy with the bat without yourself needing a gun.

It also works in reverse. If you're less tough than I am, the times where a gun is necessary would increase, but the times where it's sufficient would decrease. The overlap remains small.

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