I noticed a top ten posted on a friends page today, it was the top ten reasons to vote Democrat by conservative author Allen West.
I don’t know who Allen West is – and to be honest, I don’t really care. I vote all over the place, for Republicans, Democrats and everything else and check “other” as far my own personal politics. I am always up for humor though, and usually enjoy good satire. This satire wasn’t very good, and listed the usual stereotypes about Democrats……which having many Democrats in my family, I will say is simply not true. But this one thing on the list caught my attention.
“6. I’ll vote Democrat because I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves. I am also thankful that we have a 911 service that get police to your home in order to identify your body after a home invasion.
I will be the first to admit that I lean left on guns. Even though I am from Texas and my immediate family (siblings) owns like an arsenal. I’m not against them for recreational hunting however. I’m more just for keeping them out of the cities and making sure they are all registered and locked up, so small children can’t accidentally hurt themselves.
The statement above is part of a cultural myth – and in it, there is the deepest echo of another truth – so first the myth and then the truth, and then how I came to where I am on gun control. (And by gun control – I do not mean taking away everyone’s guns – we are in general far too absolutist on this issue).
The myth is that in a break-in one person must die. Over stuff.
The truth is that since we think this way, we believe this to be true and it results in more armed robberies all around.
How did I end up with these thoughts? By being robbed.
Back when I was single and living in China my apartment was robbed. I remember having an eery feeling, as if I was being watched (I had the window open because of the heat) earlier in the day while I was working at my computer. When I came home, my computer was gone, as well as cash, credit cards and my plane tickets to go home that summer, among other things. I called the cops, and they came and spent a while investigating the apartment, found the thief had left a handprint on my window and took the window down to the office for questioning. (In its place there was a bamboo shade – I think they figured everything of value was gone already?)
They then questioned me about my IKEA chair, taking turns trying it out and asking how bad the shipping fees are from Guangzhou. i think IKEA owes me for a few sales that night. They then put dust on the floor for footprints (?) and left. Ah China – always an adventure.
I bring this up not to make fun of the police – I was grateful for them and despite their somewhat interesting ways, later they did catch the thief. I taught in China four years and this happened during the third. It is the only time something like this occurred.
I would much rather be robbed in China than in the US. Mainly because China has strict gun control.
I was never – even when I flipped the switch saw my apartment and thought for a moment that the thief might still be there – never worried about dying. Nor did I have to make the choice to take someone’s life for stuff.
The thief had calculated when I wouldn’t be there. He wasn’t looking for a confrontation. If he had come in with a knife and I had done exactly what I did – which was grab my wok – chances are I would still be alive and so would he. I was in an apartment building. People would have heard the noise.
I went back to the states that summer. Many were bewildered that I was going back. What about assault and no guns? Well – it’s China, and the apartment building I switched to at the end of the semester had a gate guard who paid really close attention to everything. What about murder? Again – unlikely. Taking someone else’s life – over stuff – not ever a position I would want to be in.
I don’t know how to use a gun well enough to not run the risk of hurting myself and someone else. And having a gun doesn’t mean you can get to it in time, and doesn’t guarantee it won’t be used on you instead. Or someone in my family accidentally shooting themselves or someone else – also possible. My great Uncle, who was a good hunter, actually died in an accident and another of my cousin’s was shot randomly in a drive by. It’s Texas.
Being in a country with no guns, but a wok on the table right by the door – that was comforting.
So all that to say – that’s how I got there. Stats back me, but I am sure others will have conflicting ones. As a nation – we don’t care about stats. And this wasn’t ever about stats. Thats not how I got there.This wasn’t a cerebral argument. It was one of the heart – I am so grateful that happened there and not here.