Thursday, January 9, 2014

Guns, Bear Spray, and Self Defense

Over the past year, since folks heard that I intend to live in my truck, they tend to go into protective mode and more than one has said, "Hey gurrrrl, you need a gun."

I currently do not have a gun. If I were to have a gun, I would not put it on the internet for the world to know.

This morning, yet another person pushed the issue and I decided to ask the world of Facebook what they thought.

"Hey - folks on Facebook. I want your opinions. A lot of people have been expressed to me pretty strongly that, "Short females living in automobiles in trucks should have a... gun." A gun?! I'm not going to expand on my opinions on this topic - but I do want to hear you guys. What do _you_ guys think? If possible, do not write all crazy-emotionally-angrily charged or spend any time attacking the other side (just don't). Trust that I can read and still get something out of it without you getting super-passionate.

I have done internet research. I have looked at both sides. At this point, I'm just trying to see what the opinion is of folks that, for the most part, know me and my situation well and might be able to shed new light into it.

In the end, I won't be one to tell you what I decided because I don't feel it would be on the wise-side to say, "Hey, I have a gun!" and will probably never tell a single person if I _did_ have one.

I'll also likely be deleting this entire thread in 12-24 hours after thoroughly reading it."

Amazingly, 58 responded on this controversial topic without bashing each other or getting emotionally riled up, which is good.

At first, I thought I'd keep my opinion in my head, but I decided to write out, logically, what I've been thinking and then, after that, post what knew thoughts people had put into my head.

I am not into the idea of me having a gun in my hands in my truck. The main reason is (and as many people pointed out), to have a gun, you need to be prepared to use it. While physically I could do it, I don't think I could actually use it. I don't think I could get myself to use it to protect myself.

I've spent time thinking, "If it came down to me and someone else and I had a gun, could I shoot them?" And, based on all I know of myself, I couldn't - and I don't want myself to. I would rather I die than someone else - it's as simple as that. Ok, I know it's not simple, but that's the conclusion I've come to. Right now, as I think in a sound, mental state, that is the choice I have made for myself. I do realize, though, that I've been blessed to never have had yet to make that choice and have never been in a situation in which I felt like I was in danger.

One other reason why I wasn't keen on having a gun is because I believe that that would be me adding a gun to an already bad situation. I'm not sure how to word this. But, let's say they didn't have a gun but I did -- that would be me adding a gun to the situation which could change a lot of things. If they got their hands on that gun, that would change things. I don't think I explained that well, but I basically don't want to be the one to introduce a gun into a situation. I also wouldn't use a knife.

Bear spray is iffy, for me, because if there's a wind going towards the entrance of the truck, it would just get in my face and do no good at all. I also have to open up my truck to use it. I will have it, but not as a means of thinking, "I'm safe! I have bear spray!"

I do think I need to consider self defense, though. Here are some thoughts I'd been having.

1. Get an air-horn. Most folks wouldn't ever be trying to break into Tobbit to get to me. First, I doubt folks would want to break in - but let's pretend they did. We can pretend someone was curious about what's inside. I doubt those folks are thinking, "I bet there's a red head in there I can can pain to." Most folks are chill. With the air horn, that can startle them enough to likely make them want to run away. By hearing that, they don't know that I'm just me - for all they know, I'm a huge rough dude. By doing something illegal (breaking in), their defenses would probably already be up (on edge) and I doubt they would try even harder to break in after being startled. It would probably be enough to deter anyone slightly curious.

2. Sophia the dog. She's protective and I could count on her to bark. Good dog, Sophia.

3. Take a self-defense course.

4. Don't put myself in isolated situations 'cept when camping. Be aware. Try and park in safe neighborhoods and find connections as I go along. I've never been in a situation where random folks haven't offered me a safe place to sleep. I remember one train ride when four different folks made sure I had a place to sleep that night and some gave me their phone numbers just in case my host for that night fell through.

5. Mayyyyyybe a tazer? Maybe? Something? Honestly, probably not.

6. Practice being in different situations and think through what I would do. I'll want to practice what I would do if someone did try to enter Tobbit at night. Role-play works really well with me as a way to practice how I will interact with the world.

For a short while, a few months ago I thought I wanted a gun because I thought I needed one to feel safe. But after thinking it through, I realized that I wouldn't feel safe having one and it wouldn't be realistic for me to think I could effectively use it in a bad situation. Other folks maybe could. I don't see myself wielding a gun and having it work out...

I've been in situations that are sketch and things have always worked out. I'm not trying to go out into the world with this naive view of the world and I promise I'm not oblivious - but I've been told a lot of situations are dangerous and I've been fine. I've not yet regretted travelling Russia solo or hitchhiking in British Columbia or sleeping in my tent on the roof. I've not regretted CouchSurfing or travelling to Alaska with strangers or Craigslisting it to California. I do keep myself aware. I have ways of usually making connections with folks that keep an eye on me.

In more than one situation, things have had the chance to go funky, but I had multiple people (strangers) watching me who came up afterwards to tell me that they were prepared to step in if needed. Luckily, I made the weirdos leave me alone - but had I not, there were a few back-up plans up my sleeve and those of others.

This is not polished and complete, however it hopefully lets folks know where I'm at, mentally.

So what did the folks on Facebook have to say?

Both sides were well represented and I was grateful that they all communicated the ideas in a non-aggressive way. New ideas were brought up (like one, that I'd have to keep track of a gun all the time) that helped me even better understand the situation and fresh perspectives were given. I'm grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Cool to hear your thoughts on this and that you are so thoughtfully proceeding through this decision.

    After carefully reading what you've chosen to share here, the question remaining is: in all of the 'sketch' situations you've encountered to date -- both those in which you were potentially your sole survival option as well as those in which others were there, aware, and willing to step in if needed -- was an aggressor's gun ever present?

    If you've never been in a difficult situation in which this powerful tool is available and intended for potential use against you, then you may not fathom how much tasers, horns, etc., are not viable options to counter such a tool. A horn is practically useless (you could already be shot by the time someone is roused by the sound); you wouldn't want to tase someone who has his/her finger on the trigger, uncontrolled muscle spasms would likely fire the weapon; etc., etc.

    I could go on -- whittling down the usefulness of bear spray during certain points of armed conflict, the self defense training, etc. [That said, self defense training is probably the best idea out of the lot. That + your seeming dedication to not be socially isolated. Other (good) people are really one's best survival strategy. Tools of violence -- guns and all the rest -- are for when this social 'safety net' fails, or isn't present.]

    As folks in law enforcement say, "When seconds count, we're minutes away." If you're resolved that you'd prefer to handle the repercussions of rape, abuse, etc., rather than end someone's life, well, yeah, what you've outlined for yourself seems just about right.

    To me, guns feel like the 'nuclear' option in personal, one-on-one physical conflict. For situations like this ( and countless others, unless you're 100% resolved to be impotent to protect yourself and your loved ones, having *and training* with a weapon (to take away the fear, and gain competence with this mega-powerful tool) seems the only way to go.

    Best wishes to you as you head out into your next adventures! May they be grand.


Your words make me grin.

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