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Self-Defense and the Anti-Gun Mentality, Part 1

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I recently attended a meet-up group started by a friend of mine. The goal of the group is to bring people together from across the political spectrum to discuss a variety of issues and to, as the mission statement reads, use “common sense ideas to build a healthier and happier community.”

The group meets every week, with a different speaker and topic each time. After a recent talk, I and others asked questions, and there ensued a very lively and rewarding discussion.

Then several of us went downstairs to the bar. One of the people I had been talking back and forth with upstairs approached me and said, “You sounded very confident up there.”

“It’s a friendly crowd,” I said, “and, besides, what is someone going to do if I say something they don’t like — beat me up?”

I meant this as a joke, trying to break the ice. But she instantly became very serious. “They might,” she replied.

I’ve been carrying a 9mm Smith & Wesson automatic for 15 years. I started doing this when my wife and I moved to a bad part of town. Since then we’ve changed states a couple of times, and I daresay that the quality of neighborhoods we’ve lived in has improved with each move. Now we live in quaint and quiet Portsmouth, New Hampshire — hands down the best city on Earth. But the habit of carrying my pistol has stayed with me; I rarely leave home without it. The other night was no exception, so after the woman’s statement I lifted my shirt a bit and, nodding down toward my holstered pistol, said, “I’m not worried about that.”

You’d think she’d seen a ghost. She turned pale, clapped her hand over her mouth and took about three steps back. I honestly thought she was going to faint. Then she turned and walked away from me, joining another small group several feet away. She didn’t speak to me again for the rest of the evening. Later, as we were leaving, I said goodnight to her, but she wouldn’t even look me in the eye.

I got to thinking about this. She couldn’t have been ignorant of the rapes, robberies, and murders that are part of daily life in some places. Even here in Portsmouth such a threat exists. In fact, there was a string of beatings downtown just this past winter, some of them quite vicious. And her claim that just expressing the wrong opinion “might” actually get me beaten up suggests that she takes such things quite seriously. Yet the mere sight of a person who has taken steps to ensure his personal safety brought about an actual physical reaction. I don’t think it would be unfair to call it revulsion.

For those with an anti-gun mentality, this is how the world is supposed to work: better for a good person to be beaten, robbed, or killed than for that person to defend himself — especially with a gun. Jeffrey Snyder talked about this in “A Nation of Cowards” 20 years ago. “While people are encouraged to revel in their individuality and incalculable self-worth, the media and the law enforcement establishment continually advise us that, when confronted with the threat of lethal violence, we should not resist,” he wrote.

Little has changed in anti-gunners’ minds since then. For them, there is a moral equivalence between the attacker and the victim. Raising your arm to fend off a blow is the same as raising your arm to strike one. The difference between someone trying to club your brains out and you not wanting your brains clubbed out is just a difference of opinion.

I sincerely hope this woman returns to our Tuesday night meeting. And I honestly hope she asks me why I carry a gun. I’d like the opportunity to tell her a little bit about the dignity of each individual human life — a message many anti-gun types preach with great zeal but don’t really believe.

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    Scott McPherson is policy adviser at The Future of Freedom Foundation. An advocate of the Free State Project, he lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.