Saturday, November 7, 2009

When Women Carry . . . Handguns: Sergeant Kimberly Munley and Fort Hood

The recent shooting at Fort Hood has left me sober, but also grateful. If you have not heard the story I recommend you read it here:"Hash Browns, Then 4 Minutes of Chaos." Below is a significant section that I want to highlight this morning:

"Kimberly Munley, a 35-year-old police officer, happened to be nearby, waiting for her squad car to get a tune-up, when she heard the commotion. She raced to the scene . . . As she rounded a corner, she saw Maj. Hasan chasing a wounded soldier through an open courtyard. He looked as though he was trying to "finish off" the wounded soldier, Mr. Medley said.

"He looked extremely focused," said Francisco De La Serna, a 23-year-old medic who had fled the building and was watching the same scene unfold from a hiding spot across the street.

Ms. Munley's first shot missed Maj. Hasan. He spun to face her and began charging, Mr. Medley said.

The time was 1:27 p.m., just four minutes after the initial 911 call.

Authorities haven't said precisely how many shots were fired during the running gun battle between Maj. Hasan and Ms. Munley. But one of her shots hit Mr. Hasan in the torso, knocking him to the ground. With that, officials say, she quite likely prevented more injuries or deaths on the base.

Ms. Munley took two bullets to her legs. Both entered her left thigh, ripped through the flesh and lodged in her right thigh. She also received a minor wound to the right wrist.

Specialist De La Serna, the medic hiding across the street, sprinted to the scene as the shooting stopped and put a tourniquet on Ms. Munley, who was fading in and out of consciousness, he said. Then he moved to Maj. Hasan, who had a gunshot wound through the chest.

Ms. Munley underwent surgery Thursday night to halt bleeding and faces at least two more operations to remove the bullets in her thigh." quoted from The Wall Street Journal, to read more from this article or from another in the WSJ "Lethal Rampage at Fort Hood."


In these pictures of Major Hasan and Ms. Munley, both man and woman involved in this gunfight look like kind people. And yet they each took their weapons out to kill one another. This forces me to note an unsettling and significant fact of our fallen world.

When Sergeant Kimberly Munley pulled out her handgun to shoot Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, a man who had killed 13 and wounded 30, she put herself, a woman, against a man. Without her gun she could not have matched his strength, but with her sidearm she was capable of meeting his aggression.

Ms. Munley makes me think of the unnecessary losses when a man pits his strength against a woman's vulnerability and dominates. Makes me think of the students at Virginia Tech. What if one female student at Virginia Tech, with the same tenacity to run after the assassin as Munley had been permitted to carry concealed weapons? Makes me think of my neighbor whose close friend was hunted down at her own home by a serial murderer and despite a long, physical struggle against him, eventually decapitated in her own home. What if she had had been carrying a concealed weapon and knew how to use it?

What if women were encouraged to know how to use guns, instead of our society relegating guns to violent, dangerous, testosterone-fueled obsessive types?

Munley laid her own life in harm's way to protect those who could no longer protect themselves. She was equipped not only with a weapon but with the courage and skills to protect herself and others. She bent stereotypes and for that I am deeply grateful. I feel my heart quake in me when I think of her running toward Maj. Hasan, drawing his fire away from the wounded. I'm sure she knew she might not come through alive. Still, because she was armed, a woman's strength was on equal ground with a violent man's. It surprises me that there are not more feminist's blogs commenting on the need for women to carry a concealed weapon.

Ms. Munley's heroism and willingness to attack an aggressor, rather than run, speaks to the power a sidearm when held by a capable woman in battle. Because she was trained and armed she was a force powerful enough to stop Maj Hasan.

Upon moving to the woods, a remote region in the Rocky Mountains, Dale and I both filed for concealed carry licenses. We had to take a three hour safety class and then endure fingerprinting and knowing we're under suspicion (you should hear some of our big-city friends when they find out) for the offense of wanting to exercise our Constitutional right (something I thought only fanatical, kooky people every wanted) of carrying our own guns.

Last month we took a handgun defensive training class, in Eastern Oregon at Thunder Ranch. Their goal, "Our primary concern is that people who come to Thunder Ranch® leave with a peace of mind in their heart and head. We strongly hope that they never have to use any of the skills or things learned here for the defense of themselves or their family, but if they do, we want this knowledge to be used confidently and with great vigor."

Still, I was, frankly, afraid. I didn't know my 40 caliber pistol all that well, I was nervous about making a mistake with so much risk at stake and the gun is just LOUD and forceful. Besides, I was 16 weeks pregnant. Was this a wise thing to do? My doctor, surprised at my request, said the baby would be fine and to be careful. If I learned anything at Thunder Ranch it was awe for the power of a gun. We NEVER allowed the gun to point at something we did not want to destroy. I'm more careful now than I was before, but I'm also a heck of a lot more accurate. Dale says he's glad to have me at his side.

Our instruction, Clint Smith, marine corps veteran and police officer, nationally known for training SWAT teams in urban defense, and his wife and one other assistant, helped me and 11 others learn the importance of steady, careful gun drawing, shooting, re-loading, clearing jams and re-holstering. We fired over 800 rounds in 3 days. And I've never met a more conscientious, respectful group of strangers. None of them fit the stereotypes of gun-carrying fanatics. You can, by the way take classes like these all over the nation, but Clint's record of safety (he's had NO accidents and 19,000 clients) and professionalism motivated us to make the trip.

The cost of the class was severe, not only in dollars, but also in energy, strain and fatigue. By the end of each day my pregnant belly, around which I could barely squeeze my belt to hold my holster, were aching. While the class included several couples, I was the only pregnant woman. By the second day I had rubbed my fingers raw with clicking the safety on and off of my handgun. It was very cold most the time (watch the video below to see our breath in the air as we practice a leaning drill to know how to be off balance and shoot around corner). We could not wear gloves, so we would know how the gun felt without any protection. I felt every bump and button, I know how to load and ask for "Cover!" while I'm vulnerable. And Dale and I know how to work as a team. The ear protection helped, but the repetition of drawing, firing, belting out verbal commands to "Get Away" or "Stop" combined with the ceaseless vigilance, left me utterly exhausted at the end of each day. Then we had to pick up all our shells, carefully unload, clean our equipment, then finally off to find some dinner.

While men and their guns has grown into a stereotype mixed with red-necks and caricatures of violence, I know many gun-carrying men (many who attended the class at Thunder Ranch) and women who carry their weapons with humility, respect and utmost safety. I would trust them to defend me. I'm grateful for their willingness to carry a dangerous weapon so others might be safe. So as I move on to catch up with the rest of my life, as I read the week 24 update on my pregnancy, as I think of protecting the lives of those nearest to me, I'm grateful to have a husband who wanted to educate me about concealed carry.

And in light of the sobering murders committed at Fort Hood, I want to salute the women across the country today who bare the disapproval, misunderstanding and mockery of carrying a sidearm, not only for their own safety, but for the love of their fellow men and women.

To read more about the Biblical justification for carrying a handgun see this helpful blog: The Cornered Cat

41 comments:

Jodi h. said...

Bravo! Well said! You're inspiring me to look into it. What are the "rules" for carrying when you have children? Should it always have the lock on? -but then how helpful is it when you need it asap? Just curious if those issues were explained/addressed.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Jonalyn. My husband was stationed at Fort Hood Texas in 1991 when the Luby's Massacre took place. A woman from my church was shot in the shoulder and my hairdresser was shot and killed. What I didn't hear about until later was a young woman who had recently stopped carrying a weapon in her purse (because it was illegal)that was in Luby's at the time and watched both her parents get killed there. Here is a link where she speak before congress about her experience.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye5Y-1vYcgc RB

Mandy Orozco said...

Well written, as usual! But I don't see the direct correlation between Ms Munley's heroism as a police officer and our civil right to have a concealed weapon. I think if anything this sad situation reminds us of the urgency to keep firearms away from people who shouldn't have them.

Fiona L Cooper said...

Hmm. I come from a country with very strict gun control laws and a low incidence of gun crime. As a result, the thought of actually carrying a gun makes me feel sick and the thought of firing one towards another human being is even worse. No. I can't imagine it.

I understand the desire to protect 'you and yours' but if I was faced with a gunman pointing his weapon at me, I would accept my defencelessness - I would have no choice. And because I would have no choice, it would be easier to accept.

If it's my time to die, then so be it. If I had to watch my loved ones be killed, then of course it would be an absolutely terrible and traumatic experience. However, owning a gun is not an option, so I would never feel bad that I hadn't been able to protect them. My anger instead would be directed towards the gunman, who is the only person at fault in a situation like that.

If 'God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose,' then anything that happened to me as a result of a gun being used against me would also fall into this category.

The more guns there are, the more firearm accidents there will be and the more people will get hurt and killed. Horrid.

I realise I'm in a minority here, but I just wanted to respond with my personal point of view.

Dale Fincher said...

I can't resist some replying...

Jodi, you have to check with Oregon laws. I've never heard of any laws anywhere that say you can't carry around children, etc. In fact, that may be the best situation to carry. In CO, if someone is attempting to kidnap your child, it is your legal right to use lethal force. You become an extension of the law.

Anon, I'd like to see that video, but it says it's a malformed ID... can you copy/paste it again?

Mandy, I think at least it shows that a weapon in the hands of a woman enables a woman to better stop an evil man (despite their physical strength differences). Whether she's a police officer or a civilian, the principle (and the law) applies to both in lethal situations.

It is an ongoing modern debate that we need to keep firearms away from those that "shouldn't" have them. But who are those who "shouldn't" have them? We already have laws against felons having guns, but they break laws to get them anyway, etc.

Bad guys will always be able to get guns and anything else they want in abusing society. They break all sorts of laws to be bad.

What is more, we can apply this same principle to anything in life where people will act irresponsible and abusive: driving, procreation, using knives, money, etc. Just recently a guy in heavily gun-controlled UK recently murdered a guy with a knife. What about knife-control? In another town in gun-controlled Europe (I can't remember the city) a guy drove his car angrily into a crowd killing 4 people. What about car-control? The potential for danger in this world is great. Better to at least teach responsibility with the dangers of life than to pretend we can avoid the dangers. Better to be scared smart than be scared stupid... Better to be prepared than to be left wondering what life would be like if we took responsibility for our own safety.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the police should not be expected to protect you in a lethal situation and told citizens they were responsible for themselves (Gonzales vs. Castle Rock: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Rock_v._Gonzales).

I wonder if we can use the flip of your suggestion and say we should put guns into the hands of every responsible adult in America... in stead of keeping guns away from those who shouldn't, we should encourage guns for those who 'should.' Most people who carry in the US have very strict hoops to jump through to qualify to carry legally. These are your best citizens as they are open to full disclosure, including having themselves inputted in finger-print databases. That's a lot of hoops to just be "allowed" to follow the Constitution. In some ways it's infringement, but so it goes.

Just some thoughts to consider, especially while it's still a legal right among law-abiding citizens.

Dale Fincher said...

Fiona, I would challenge your right to self-defense against evil, whether with a gun, a fist, or an army. If we simply said, "God is in control," then we'd not have to take responsibility for much of anything. Romans 8 has to be read in light of the whole Bible which shows that if we do not take responsibility for ourselves calamity will come.

The majority of firearm incidents do not lead to deaths. In fact, more criminals are shot by civilians in our country than by the police. In addition, many sexual assaults are prevented by women because they carry.

Most negative effects of guns happen because either people are being evil (and they will kill with another weapon as well as with a gun, see Jonalyn's example in her post) or people are being irresponsible and mishandling power. The global economic crisis is an example of many people mishandling power. Yet we don't get rid of money just because some people abused it.

Though the statistics are 10 years old, this article is helpful to see how, in the States, the places with stricter gun laws also have higher crime. http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0210e.asp. Logically, we have to put our visceral feelings of danger aside and act according to reason and the stats. Danger presents itself to us in many forms. Our question is whether we are prepared. Most states in our country have background checks and requre federal licensed transfers of firearms. So the laws are strict, but bad guys don't obey laws.

You are right that as a citizen of a country that may not allow guns, then you have to abide by the law and learn other ways to be responsible for yourself and those you love. But at the same time, you have a voice and reason. And people can change laws if they are willing to have a voice and be empowered.

I don't think you're in the minority. Many in our country agree with you. I think this is an issue where cultural sentiment often trumps what makes good sense.

By the way, what country are you in?

Dale Fincher said...

p.s. Fiona, I forgot to mention that the laws of our land read that a civilian becomes an extension of the law in some cases.

The govt actually creates provisions for citizens to legally police their own welfare, since our Supreme Court ruled that citizens, not the police, are responsible to protect themselves, especially in cases of your life being in danger, sexual assault, kidnapping of a child, etc.

We have a long history of citizens stopping evil in our land.

I wish gun-education and money-education was as mandatory as sex-education.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Jod- the "rules" I was given during Thunder Ranch training include a few flexible tips about carrying with a child
1- since your hands or at least hand is full of child, its best to have a hip holster that you can access without unzipping (as in shoulder harness which is also unsafe as the gun is always pointing at someone) or hip or ankle harness because you have to lift your pant/skirt to access gun.

2- Carry the gun as you feel most comfortable. For me, that means with the safety on. Glocks don't have a safety but you have to pull the trigger to make the gun go off (they think of this as the safety). Frankly most children cannot pull the trigger, and definitely not when it's in the holster. So ideally carry the gun with bullet in chamber and safety on or off (up to you). Most important is to be consistent. Always carry it the same way, and practice that way.

3- Best to carry with the bullet in the chamber, if you choose to carry with safety on (as I do) practice flipping safety off with ONE HAND. That way you can actually use your handgun without dropping your kid or putting the applesauce down. After training I only need one hand to pull my pistol, remove safety and fire within five seconds.

Hope this helps :)

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Mandy,

Your point makes me think we need some sustained discussion about who should and should not be permitted to have a gun. What rules would you set up?

In my thoughts Ms. Munley acted in a way you or I could have acted, had we the skills and training. I don't think you have to be a cop to have a gun and use it well. But, I used to think this.

What are your current thoughts about who should and should not own and use a gun?

My thoughts are that since the heart is deceitful, we can set up all the rules we want and all the background checks we think we need (most of which I think are good ideas), but human beings will continue to deceive each other. Weapons will continue to get into the wrong hands, even if there are very few of them.

And without weapons women lose the battle against men, when it comes to brute force, 9 times out of 10. That concerns me so much.

The state of humans in this world makes me think that if we choose to not carry guns then only the criminals will have them. What do you think?

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Jodi,

You might enjoy these posts about educating children about firearms as well: http://corneredcat.com/TOC.aspx#Kids

Fiona,

I'd like to point you to a short blog giving another perspective on trusting God and carrying a gun (please know that I'm not advocating you carry a gun illegally. I'd love to know your thoughts in response to her blog post "Trusting God and Self-Defense" and how she applies Romans 8:28 as evidence that we should carry a gun. Read it here: http://corneredcat.com/Ethics/trust.aspx

Thank you for your boldness to share your ideas, even if you feel you might be in the minority. I respect that!

Fiona L Cooper said...

Dale -

I'm British, currently living in Paraguay. It is true that knife-crime is rising in the UK. So there are organised campaigns to get knives off our streets. No-one should be carrying around a knife, looking for trouble. Or would you argue that, since knife-crime is rising, then I should carry around a knife in order to defend myself in the event of being attacked?

I think there's a difference between taking responsibility for ourselves and seeking to defend ourselves through violence. I can be responsible by not walking alone at night or putting myself in other obviously vulnerable situations. But if someone sets out to do me harm, then I will do what I can to defend myself, but I cannot see it as my responsibility to be ready to defend myself with a gun or a knife.

I did not quote Romans 8 as a defence of total passivity, but because I think if we have the attitude, "I have a responsibility to defend myself with a gun," then instead of blaming the attacker for any harm that comes to us through someone else's use of a gun, we are taking the blame ourselves, for not protecting ourselves well enough.

It seems to me that, with this attitude, we are saying that even God puts the blame on us for not defending ourselves.

But if we have the attitude, "Evil things happen in this world and I am not going to be able to stop everything bad that happens to me," then we can see God in every situation and not blame ourselves if something horrid happens.

You say that most negative effects of guns happen because either people are being evil (and I agree that other weapons can be used to kill. However, guns can kill from a distance in a way that knives and clubs etc cannot, which makes guns more dangerous because of the increased potential of mistakes being made the further you are from your target.) or people are being irresponsible and mishandling power. You liken this to people mishandling power and causing the economic crisis. But how many people have died as a direct result of the abuse of money? My argument is that guns are, in and of themselves, highly dangerous things, in a way that money is not. Put a gun in a child's hand and he has the potential to kill or be killed by that very weapon. Put a wad of money in that same child's hand and the immediate danger is non-existent.



Jonalyn -

I just can't see things from cornered cat's point of view. At all. Her starting point seems to be so far from mine that I don't know where to begin to refute her argument. I talked about Rom 8 above in my answer to Dale. I can't agree with her defence in her post on pacifism of gun-carrying because Peter had a sword at the time of Jesus' arrest. The only comment Jesus makes about the sword is for Peter NOT to use it at that time. She says, "if He really was helpless and defenseless, then His sacrifice would have been no real sacrifice at all, and wouldn't have had any meaning.  It would have just been a gruesome story of some guy killed by a mob." What? As I understand it, the point about him laying down his life - it being his own choice to do so - had nothing to do with whether he was armed and humanly protected. It had everything to do with the fact he was the Son of God and therefore more than able to use God's power to defend himself.



So there you go. I guess we come from radically different cultures and this is something we are never going to agree on. But I'm glad to have read the explanations from both of you and it's made me think through my own opinions to a deeper level.

Praise God for the beauty of his worldwide communion, where we can worship at the same altar, yet have differing points of view on various issues!

:-)

Dale Fincher said...

Hey Fiona, Thanks for your reply. I appreciate your tone and how you're reasoning through the issue. I enjoy reading your perspective.

You are right that because our cultures are different, we may arrive at different conclusions. Yet I do believe we're not trapped behind our culture and that reason can help dissolve the boundaries. Our shared humanity bridges us more than anything.

I did not mean to say that because people commit crimes with guns that everyone should be required to carry a gun (or a knife). But I am saying that though some commit crimes with guns they shouldn’t be taken away from everyone, especially when one may be needed at a certain time like the Ft. Hood shooting. The old saying goes, better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Many of the gun tragedy's in the US happen when people are not prepared. School shootings happen more easily because evil people can get guns into places law-abiding citizens cannot.

Robbing guns from law-abiding citizens gives the bad guy an advantage in every situation. This was built into our constitution from the beginning (because we saw the problem the opposite caused when occupied by an unjust enemy – no offence to the British intended).

We see this globally with nuclear weapons. If you know the other nation has nukes then you are less likely to use your own. Meeting power with power, the enemy is less likely to strike, though nobody pushes the button.

I hope nobody has to use a gun in self-defense. And many, many lives are saved when a bad guy knows he's risking his own life by putting yours in danger. Statistics on prevented gun crime cannot be calculated, except those when a real gunfight took place. I do know that where gun laws are stricter in developed countries that crime is lower. There's a deterrent behind it.

continued...

Dale Fincher said...

from above...

I agree there are ways we can take responsibility for ourselves outside of carrying a weapon. But not always. I can be in my own home with the doors locked, having avoided every dark alley. Yet someone can still try to come into my house and harm my family because they are fully aware, in a gun-controlled state, that no harm will come to them when they walk into my house. He knows he automatically has the upper hand. This is why in most gun-controlled countries, crime goes up rather than down, this is true in Paraguay and the UK. Just a cursory look through the internet will reveal these numbers. I am surprised myself to see how much this is the case.

As for power at a distance with a gun, the distance is very limited. A man distracting you on the street has power at a distance when his two buddies sneak up behind you and take you down. Action at a distance can apply in many situations. Knife-throwing is a live possibility, so is throwing Chinese-stars and rocks (stoning was an act of killing people back in the day). What is important to note is that most shootings are not fatal. And power at a distance may be your only option when multiple people gang up or when you just don't have the strength to defend yourself (like a man assaulting a women). So I don’t think power at a distance is enough to negate a firearm.

What this may come to is whether violence is ever a just way to defend oneself. And if that's the case, then this isn't about guns or knifes or a punch that removes an eye or breaks a neck. It’s about violence itself and whether it can be justly demonstrated. I actually lean toward pacifism but for the clearest cases of stopping evil, especially when laws expect you to do so).

As for money hurting others, yes there can be direct and indirect results of even money that cause tragedy. The present economic crisis did incite many suicides, to name one tangible threat it posed. Putting money into the hand of a kid vs. putting a gun into the hand of kid could have varying results. If the child was taught how to use these tools, he could pay for corn seed and shoot an antelope for food. If he is not taught how to use it, he can bully his fellow students with his money or use his gun to wound himself. If you look into starving Africa these days, I think we can honestly say that it's a combination of issues, including money that warlords steal from relief efforts and their own people. Statistics of how many die each day because of this are staggering. Alcohol is a similar issue: the amount of deaths leading from alcohol far outweighs firearms. Prohibition tried to stop that but everyone concluded that the best way to solve a problem is not to take away the items involved but to better understand and use it.

At the end of the day, we may have different philosophical views on what counts as a just ways to defend oneself. I believe one should be allowed to defend himself from evil with whatever means he can to match the perpetrator. I believe we should all be trained and thoughtful about how to do that. I believe both the bad guy is responsible as well as the victim. My financial crisis was the fault of bad bankers as well as my inability to save for the future. I think it cuts both ways. And if a bad guy every brought me to the point of pulling the trigger to defend my family, I will be deeply angry at the bad guy that he brought me to the point where I had to pull the trigger. But I'd also be glad that next Christmas to have my son bouncing on my knee than to be weeping that I was powerless because the state decided that only law-breakers were allowed to have power on the streets.

Mandy Orozco said...

Jonalyn and Dale,

Thanks for your replies. I know we come from different perspectives. My stance on this is not quite solidified, but I want to err on the side of peace and love, even when that means not defending myself as forcefully as I can.

In your post you shared some horrid stories of how guns might have helped some people if they had used violence to try to stop violence. It is hard to say if someone had had a gun if that would have helped. We will never know. But for every story where a gun might have helped, we have at least one story of when a gun has harmed.

My position is not new. Peacemaking survives throughout Christian history. I turn to someone who puts it much better than I can; in Discipleship, Bonhoeffer writes,

“‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Jesus’ followers are called to peace. When Jesus called them, they found their peace. Jesus is their peace. Now they are not only to have peace, but they are to make peace. To do this they renounce violence and strife. Those things never help the cause of Christ. Christ’s kingdom is a realm of peace, and those in Christ’s community greet each other with a greeting of peace. Jesus’ disciples maintain peace by choosing to suffer instead of causing others to suffer. They preserve community when others destroy it. They renounce self-assertion and are silent in the face of hatred and injustice. That is how they overcome evil with good. That is how they are makers of divine peace in a world of hatred and war. But their peace will never be greater than when they encounter evil people in peace and are willing to suffer from them. Peacemakers will bear the cross with their Lord, for peace was made at the cross…”

Dale Fincher said...

Hey Mandy, thanks for your perspective.

Defining "peacemaker" is not always an easy thing to do. Each situation calls for different measures. A middle-eastern "peace" accord usually means a missle defense shield. The only reason Israel isn't run over by its Muslim enemies who want to destroy them right now is because Israel has bigger guns and only uses them when provoked. This is exactly what I'm talking about for American citizenry on a smaller scale.

The same is true of police officers who are called "keepers of the peace." They do so by inflicting violence consequences on the violent. It's arbitrary to think that because someone is paid by the govt to keep peace is any more capable of keeping that peace when the laws of the land are written that both police officers and citizenry are expected to protect themselves. Shall we not call the police when a bad person is kidnapping our child because it may produce harm to the kidnapper? Will doing nothing keep the peace? That's the hard question for me.

If we say, ethically, that officers can protect themselves but citizens cannot, a good case would have to be shown since both are human and both are in danger of the bad guy and both are acting within legal bounds.

The more people I meet and read on forums online, the law-abiding people that carry firearms are far more likely to let themselves be spit on, punched, pushed, and shouted out while trying to avoid a fight at all costs than they are to draw a weapon. The weapon is only the very last resort (which the law says is a form of keeping peace, protecting kidnapping, etc). Not to mention, if you fire a weapon, even in the clearest cases, expect $25k-$50k in legal fees. It's no light matter for anyone. But our families' lives are worth more.

Peace means ending violence and setting things right. Even Paul understood this about the sword in Rom 13. Having a weapon to end the violence of another is not against peace. It all depends on the context and circumstance. I would never advocate someone with a firearm to instigate a problem.

I'm unsure if the good incidents of firearms are a one to one comparison with the bad incidents of firearms. We don't hear the good incidents in the news very often, while most bad incidences are reported. This article (http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0210e.asp) shows stats that firearms are used 60 times more for defense than for criminal intent. That's a good article for perspective on stats, by the way.

I also don't read the New Testament the same way I used to, that "peace" usually means non-violence. The context of the New Testament was one of how to behave when you are occupied by an enemy and how defending oneself doesn't lead to protecting oneself anyway and then hurts the cause (MLK non-violent marches are a good application of this; not home defense). However, I read the New Testament and the Old hand in hand. And prudence and violence against aggressors was not outside the scope of a flourishing society.

I like Bonhoeffer, but one thing I would note about him is that he was a not a proponent of non-violence. As action required violence against evil people, he was ready to step in. In fact, his attempt at defense of his own citizens by trying to assassinate Hitler led to his own death. I haven't read anywhere that he confessed his attempt was an evil one.

Mandy Orozco said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

Police officers are specially trained, undergoing months of training, to know how and when to use arms against another. This is one good reason for leaving this to them.

Bonhoeffer was a proponent of nonviolence, though he admitted straying from his nonviolence convictions. He attempted violence because of the extreme severity of the Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer actually was tormented with guilt for his attempted violence, which he admitted didn't accomplish what he wanted it to. It seems implicit in his writings that if the threat was less serious than what was occurring in Nazi Germany, the appropriate response would be peace and love, and not violence.

I wish I had time to dig up the references; I'm sorry I can't be more informative. But I'm thankful to you for challenging my convictions. Blessings to you both!

Dale Fincher said...

Mandy, I can certainly agree that in all but the most extreme cases, lethal force must not be used. Some think Nazis are extreme... others thing any bad guy threatening children is Nazi-like behavior, etc.

And while it is a constitutional right to bear arms (implying a moral obligation of self-defense that citizenry need the ability to fulfill, at least from the view of the founders), the time the Constitution was written was among a culture of many well versed in the use of arms. Today is not that way. Most shy away from guns, are not encouraged to get to know them, refuse training, and are often afraid of them because of mystery rather than knowledge. I'd like to see firearm education and financial education taught right alongside sex education in our schools. We need people as trained as police officers when it comes to awareness of a weapon. While I don't want to remove the right of granny to use whatever self-defense she needs to, I also want to see the opportunity and responsibility for granny to be trained instead of telling granny she cannot defend herself in the most extreme cases.

In fact, I'd like to see police officers better trained. From the chatter from law enforcement officers online, most mandatory practice is very minimal for them to sharpen their skills. I'd like to see more of it. The Supreme Court said in 2005 that police officers are not to be depended on for our protection (see Gonzales vs. Castle Rock) and that we are responsible for ourselves.

Interesting thoughts on Bonhoeffer's regrets. While I don't think he's the standard on what is considered just war and just self-defense, his thoughts must be wrestled with for any reasonable conclusion.

Thanks for the discussion, Mandy. As always, it's great to hear from you!

Anonymous said...

Carrying a "concealed" weapon is not legal in most of the US. Besides, if it were concealed, this would not be any kind of preventative the act of violence. It would only increase the chance of a fatality occurring during such an encounter. Surely that only makes the situation worse. For women to display a weapon as a deterrent, perhaps. For a woman to shoot anyone who is going to subject her to violence, that will only lead to more unneccessary death and not decrease the rate of these offences. Plus, if you have insufficient evidence, the woman could still be convicted for murder under federal laws even if her situation had been severe at the time.

Dale Fincher said...

Anon, much of what you have written is actually the opposite of public information.

Conceal carry IS legal in all states with a permit. And no permit is required in Vermont and Alaska. And the majority of states have reciprocity for permit holders. Your statement sounds like it's illegal to conceal carry in most places, which this is not the case at all.

Some info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_States

Conceal carry does deter violence and it is highly recommended NOT to display a weapon as a deterrent. The deterrence is usually stopping the bad guy, not scaring him.

Any firearm instructor will tell you that brandishing a weapon without using it escalates violence.

This does not considered a form of deterrent and is usually considered a threat or assault. Anytime you pull a weapon it is for the purpose of using it. If you're not ready to use it, you don't show it. You can square off and free up your shooting hand to be ready if someone is approaching you as you give them the verbal command, loudly, "Get away from me! Stop! Step away!"

The added deterrent is reports of women defending themselves against bad guys so that bad guys think twice about harming innocent people (there are plenty of stories of this every year... 200,000 women a year deter crime against them with a firearm...).

That it leads to more violence is not shown. See the links above that I posted.

That a woman could be convicted of murder is unlikely if the scenario was clear and called for lethal action (laws allow for this).

From the sound of it, you're saying that it's better to be murdered than to defend yourself because some jury somewhere MAY not agree with your action. That's why we need to be educated on the laws of our state and how to properly stop a threat. Education, education, education.

I'm baffled why many point fingers at innocent citizens instead at at those perpetrating horribleness of rape, murder, molestation, kidnapping that bad people do that are often prventable if people took their constitutional rights seriously and got some training. Something is horribly backwards that we allow the perpetrators to sound like victims and the victims turned into evil mobsters.

Note the Supreme Court in 2005 said it is our obligation to protect ourselves and not to count on the police. The precedent has been set. The Supreme Court of our land is telling us it's up to us to be smart and that firearms, used properly, can prevent social chaos and injury.

asharpfamily said...

GREAT discussion here. Of course, being in Texas, Mary Jo and I more than likely skew the discussion somewhat.........it's a given that most people carry here. Texas is wonderful for responsible individuals to rightly protect against fallen man.

Roger Sharp
Making a Defense of Defense
OR
An Apologia of Apologia :)

Anonymous said...

For some posters, "Bonhoeffer advocated Hitler's assassination..."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer#Double_agent_of_Abwehr

Dale Fincher said...

Anon, I also noted that, but as Mandy said, Bonhoeffer struggled with that decision and may have even regretted it.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Fiona,

Thanks for writing again. I also appreciate the chance to think about these and the freedom to not agree. Glad you are willing to engage in debate without unkindness. I like that about you!

What do you make of the passages in the Old Testament where God advocates violence against the violent, like the Noahic covenant?

Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds human blood, by human beings shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God
has God made humankind."

Or when his people take up arms against the enemy and their courage saves Israel? For instance, do you think Jaal was a hero for killing Sisera by driving a tent peg through his temple (Judges 4:17)? Or would you say she was inappropriate?

Thinking of the Judges time period, I feel it reminds me a lot of the rampant violence today.

What about the times that the Holy Spirit gives people power to murder their enemies? I think of Samson and the donkey's jawbone in Judges 15:14-20.

To think that this is the same God who came in flesh as Jesus, I must reconcile these passages with love your enemies. How do you do this?

I do this by training myself to use a gun as well as a police officer, so I am an extension of the law and capable of defending the life of those I love. To me this is loving, both for the sake of my family and for the sake of the evil men and women in this world, who can be stopped when their force is matched with force. Having a gun, knowing how to use it and being willing to use it can actually save 2 lives: my own and theirs.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Mandy,

A few thoughts for you. I was a bit puzzled when you wrote, "It is hard to say if someone had had a gun if that would have helped. We will never know. But for every story where a gun might have helped, we have at least one story of when a gun has harmed."

I wonder why you think we will never know. If I pull out a gun and the evil man backs out of my house and no one is killed, isn't this a way of knowing that the gun aided the peace of the situation?

I don't think we have clear statistics of a gun in the hands of a responsible person hurting people. I have trouble when you right about guns without their operators. The gun, in my mind, is not a problem, it is the operators who are the problem or solution.

I tend to like to compare gun rights with sexual rights. For instance, the sexual pleasure and fulfilmment between a husband and wife has enormous power for good (unity, recreation, procreation, sacramental metaphor), and enormous power for evil (rape, manipulation, violence, identity abasement). To talk about sex is actually nothing, sexual persons is everything, for they are the ones who choose to use sex for good or ill.

Sex existing by itself is a misunderstanding as sex does not exist without sexual persons. The same, in my mind, with guns. Guns do not exist as a moral good or evil, only people's USE of them as good or evil.

It's amazing to me that I'm arguing this case, on one front, because 3 years ago I would have sat alongside you and Fiona with arguments about the danger of guns. However, I was deeply uneducated (I do not want to assume you are the same as me, just sharing my background) and afraid of guns' power. I thought gun owners had a secret vengeance or lust for power and were not not not to be trusted. I had never taken a gun safety class, didn't know anything about how a gun operated and was frankly disgusted with that much power in my possession. I had only fired a pistol once and had an overall feeling that guns were best left to the experienced and trained.

I had no idea that nothing truly separates me from a police or military officer, except the will to learn and the willingness to accept more responsibility for my own safety.

That knowledge has changed me.

I liked Dale's point about peace. I wonder if you would equate peace with pacifism? I think I would tend to equate peace with shalom, the Jewish concept of wholeness, orderliness and rightness with the world, God and others.

Anonymous said...

Dale here's the link for the woman at the Luby's massacre. My initials were at the end of the post and probably got pasted into the browser thing-y.RB http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye5Y-1vYcgc

drafted.rough said...

I agree that Bonhoeffer is a crucial part of any Christian discussion of ethics, perhaps most particularly as such discussions pertain to "self-defense" and "peacemaking" versus spiritual or actual violence. In fact, Bonhoeffer burns his way into us quite viscerally by making us face some appallingly difficult nuances of "You have heard it said...but I say unto you..."

For example, it was as if Bonhoeffer said to the German Christians, "Yes, you have heard it said that we are to be peacemakers, but I say unto you that you might want to reconsider your idea of 'peacemaking' when it 'saves' you but savagely and unjustly murders hundreds of thousands of other people." There is something terribly wrong, he might have screamed, with a "peace" that serves you first, and serves you only.

Jesus refused Peter's sword as a defense for HIMSELF, and that's a key point. To "make peace" by refusing to fight on your own behalf or be fought for by another is one thing, but Bonhoeffer raises the question of whether or not refusing to defend others is Christ-like also or is merely self-serving cowardice - which is a very different thing.

"Self-serving" is the point that turns everything on its head.

The officer at Fort Hood could have maintained her pseudo "peacemaker righteousness" with God by standing idly by with her own cheek "turned," but how "loving" would that have been to the hundreds of others whose cheeks were in harm's way?

Yes, we are commanded to "turn the other cheek." But that's OUR cheek, not the cheek of every other person in harm's way.

And please note: The command was to turn YOUR cheek to YOUR enemy, not close your eyes to the defenseless around you.

I think that was Bonhoeffer's rebuke of the German churches.

It is his echoing rebuke to us, too. A few years ago, I lost my career after enduring years of severe, malicious, chronic bullying. I spent years turning my own cheek, just as I was commanded to do. I do not regret that. However, what I could not do in good conscience was leave exposed to the same evil and abuse every other "cheek" like mine that would come behind me. I could turn my cheeks, but I refused to close my eyes. So, I fought. Turned over a few tables while my cheeks dripped blood. But not for me. It was too late for me, and beside the point.

The peace will be for those who follow - precisely because I did not "turn my cheek" for them, but FOUGHT for them. In fact, you could make a case that the fight cost me my life. But it spared many others the same severe and unjust suffering.

For those like me who follow, it was my fight, and not my presumptuous turning of their collective cheeks to follow, that will allow them peace.

Did I sin?

And if I sinned, what did those do who stood idly and knowingly by, saying and doing nothing - "keeping peace" - solely to save their own selves and their own jobs? What loving thing did they do for the people like me with distinct vulnerabilities who will follow me?

They did nothing. Nothing except self-servingly, passively and "peacefully" protect themselves, and only themselves, in the face of blatant evil, wrongdoing and the unjust destruction of the one they knew to be innocent.

Bonhoeffer watched the German Christians do exponentially exactly the same thing, and it was his calling (one doesn't sign-up for such things)to have to ask if that's what Jesus really had in mind.

They closed their eyes for "peace" and lost something of their souls.

I kept my eyes open, got grotesquely bloodied cheeks, and lost a love of my life for a far away peace that will never touch me. It will touch those who come behind.

One does regret, as Bonhoeffer did, having to die. But better to die physically or socially or politically or ecclesiastically or professionally for the right reasons, than to die in soul for the wrong.

There's Bonhoeffer's haunting whisper.

So, carry that gun. Somebody else's cheeks might need you.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Drafted.Rough,

I appreciate your comments especially as they come from a life of both turning the other cheek for yourself and standing up for others.
Thank you for your vulnerability!

RB,
This is a great link, though the visuals are sketching, the audio is terrific--a great example of how guns do not hurt people, their mis-use does. I appreciate how she notes that the 2nd amendment is not about duck hunting, but about protecting ourselves. I recommend everyone following this post click here and listen in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye5Y-1vYcgc

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Drafted.Rough,
p.s. EXCELLENT distinction between turning OUR cheek and protecting OTHERS.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

I've been reading an article that I believe will help extend this conversation with some real statistics about who carries and uses guns.

I found these eye-opening insights

1- Guns are used by people for DEFENSIVE used (that would be to protect others or self against predators) between 800,000 and 2.5 million each year. These statistics are not getting out much. I was very surprised and interested as we don't think of civilians playing such a dominant role in self and home-defense. We often think only police or military should handle outside predators.

2- "Despite research, discussion with someone who has never fired, or even held, a gun, or who has never been in a potentially violent situation, is generally framed in abstract terms due to a lack of knowledge or experience." Perhaps the best solution is to take a gun-safety class, or to accompany a friend to the firing range to become familiar through first person knowledge with the instrument that can save lives.

3- Gun awareness and training can put civilians in the same skill set as a trained police officer. "In confrontational shootings, studies show police hit their targets between 13 percent and 25 percent of the time. Of the incidents analyzed in this study, civilians hit their targets 84 percent of the time. This gives us a statistical basis to refute claims that only police should have firearms or that civilian shooters are largely ineffective in emergencies."

4- There is no safe place where a criminally minded person will leave you alone. The story at the beginning of this article of the elderly woman who was burglared and beaten, nearly two times, in her own home (after her phone line was cut, her barred windows dismantled and her house broken into) provides an illuminating case in point. Shooting her gun may have saved her from death.

5- The most frequently reported crime is a home invasion. About 1/4 of these reported (a number reaching 1067) thwarted the invader through the use of their own firearm.

6- Of all instances when a permit holding gun carrier had to pull out their firearm, 12% never fired (though were prepared to) and despite mythology about gun shootings, not all criminals were killed. Only about half, 52%, of the criminals died from gun wounds.

7- Civilians who reach for their gun to defend themselves or others are by and far male. Only 11% are women. This is something that bothers me. Of all people women should be more prepared, after all, we are weaker.

Read the entire article: http://www.nrapublications.org /a1f/AFFlead.html

drafted.rough said...

Here's a much better-quality video of the YouTube video regarding the Luby's massacre and the "duck hunting" comment. Absolutely worth a viewing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1u0Byq5Qis

drafted.rough said...

A clarification regarding the better-quality YouTube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1u0Byq5Qis :

About the last 1/3 of this version is commentary by a third party, and it CONTAINS A MOMENT OR TWO OF OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE towards the end.

drafted.rough said...

Copying and pasting the link to the NRA article from your post doesn't work, because for some odd reason "spaces" are added in the link line. Try it again here:

http://www.nrapublications.org/a1f/AFFlead.html

or simply go to:

www.nrapublications.org, click on "America's 1st Freedom" and then on the article "Who is the Armed Citizen?"

drafted.rough said...

The NRA piece was enlightening. Thanks for posting the link.

This thread has caused me to think of several issues, one being the .357 Ruger on my bookshelf...

A few other thoughts:

I have a good friend who is extremely adept with firearms. She has always said, "If you point your gun, you point it with the intention to kill - not wound." I keep harrassing her to comment on this thread.

I used to work for one of the premier police departments in the country. Given that law enforcement in this country is increasingly para-military in nature, I would NOT suggest that anyone simply presume A.) that police are always or even primarily "for the common people," or B.) that police necessarily believe that "common people" should be allowed to own and defensively use firearms. There is a certain thrilling power, after all, in exclusivity - and frankly, many police enjoy that power and would be hard-pressed to want to give any of it up. Police departments want more weaponry and power for them, not for you. That's one direction this thread could go.

In an earlier post, I used a life experience of mine as an example of having to wrestle the issue of when to "fight" - if ever - and for whom, and on what basis, and with what weapons. I wanted to clarify that the point of that was not my experience, but simply the example.

The fact is, the issues raised in this thread aren't for just Bonhoeffers in Nazi Germanys, and the issues certainly are not just about guns. To all of us at some time, and in potentially a million different ways, will come questions for us about what we believe, and why, and what it means in "real" life. While we may never have to decide whether or not to draw a sidearm, we will all have to decide whether or not to use our tongues, for ourself or for someone else, for blessing or for cursing. Different circumstances, different weapons, same principles, same high stakes.

The way of a great teacher is to sneak you in to places you never dreamed were even connected. Who'd have guessed that a thread on guns - guns! - would lead to James 3? Excellent work, Jonalyn.

drafted.rough said...

Just one more thought:

It was almost exactly two (2) years ago when a shooter killed two (2) young people at a YWAM center, and then drove 12 hours to a church in Colorado for the sole purpose of continuing his murderous rampage. Like the Fort Hood murderer,this guy was also "taken out" by a female with a gun. See the story here: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/14808321/detail.html

At the time, I was on a devotional mailing list written by a Christian pastor out of Florida. He was a passionate, insightful and usually profound thinker. He wrote about the Colorado church shooting, and his premise was that, entirely despite the fact that the female (a professed Christian) stopped the rampage and saved many others from harm by drawing her sidearm, confronting the gunman,returning fire and killing him, she had been misguided - she had sinned - because she had "failed to turn the other cheek."

But that's not the real kicker.

Aside from pastoring a church in Florida, this guy was also employed as an ARMED PRISON GUARD. When I wrote to ask him if his employer and fellow guards were aware that his own stated religious convictions (at least as they applied to the sinner/heroine in Colorado)would prevent him from firing his weapon on aggressing and/or escaping prisoners, he never answered my question. I was simply dropped from his mailing list.

I surmised that he did not want his "real" job and HIS way of life jeopardized by his publicly stated theology.

While his widely-distributed chastisement of the Colorado Christian heroine surely afforded him the joy of having many readers congratulate him for his "clearly more scriptural" and superior piety, what it left a valid question was unanswered.

For all the rest of us.

Amy said...

Wow, Jonalyn, I'm inspired by your feminine awesomeness--pregnant (something uniquely feminine,except in that weird Arnold movie) and using a handgun like a pro! You make me proud to be a woman!

Your case for women carrying guns is a good one, and your retelling of the Sgt. Munley story is a good one. Yes, her heroics are amazing.

I think this is one of the reasons why I like Eowyn from LORD OF THE RINGS--a fierce woman with a sword who defends her [crazy] uncle. Or Rogue from X-Men--she can kick any guy's butt, yet if she touches him without her protective gloves--watch out!

Eowyn is still vulnerable and lonely (more in the movie depiction than in the book) and Rogue cannot feel human touch. I believe they are distinctively feminine, too.

Thanks for another wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

Good article and excellent writing.

Dale Fincher said...

Drafted, one comment on your comment. You said, "I have a good friend who is extremely adept with firearms. She has always said, 'If you point your gun, you point it with the intention to kill - not wound.'"

I think this is also part of the misnomer in the way we talk about firearms... so I want to clarify the term of "intent."

For self-defense, one should have neither the "intent" to shoot to wound nor to kill. The intent is to stop the threat. No good citizen in self-defense has the intent to kill another. However, when protecting oneself and one's family, the threat needs to be stopped that is provoking serious harm (endangering lives, kidnapping, etc).

The way to stop the threat is to aim at the biggest target, which is the center of mass. If they are wearing body armor (and more and more criminals are, though most obtain it illegally... again, bad guys don't care about laws), then above and below the center of mass will also work as secondary targets.

If the person is wounded or dead, neither was your "intent." Your "intent" was to stop the threat, get the bad guy arrested, hug your children who are thankfully still alive, and to talk to your attorney.

drafted.rough said...

"For self-defense, one should have neither the 'intent' to shoot to wound nor to kill. The intent is to stop the threat."

Strictly speaking - yes.

I did not do a good job at all of contextualizing my friend's dictum. The context of her comment was the gravity of pointing a gun at another human being, and that once you do that you have crossed a line that may result in "just wounding" (which may or may not be sufficient in a given situation)but can quite potentially (whether with "intent" or not)result in killing.

She might say that either you fear for your life or you do not, and if you do not, then you shouldn't be pointing a gun at somebody. However, if you are pointing that gun at somebody, then you should be prepared for the potentiality of killing, and even intend it.

You may have enough time to figure out with precision how much and what kind of reasonable conversation or physical incapacitating or fleeing will stop the threat.

But that all comes before firing your weapon at another human being.

People pulling triggers should be absolutely intentional about THAT.

"No good citizen in self-defense has the intent to kill another."

I disagree.

No good citizen in self-defense has the intent to MURDER another.

If it is not your intentional goal to KILL with your gun, then don't point it and don't fire it at another human being.

Dale Fincher said...

drafted, I hear you.

If you're going to point a gun at another person, it has to be with the intent of pulling the trigger on a threat. Otherwise the firearm should remain holstered and out of site.

I still hold to my position that the "intent" is to stop the threat, not to kill. I was taught this by a gun instructor who is a lobbyist in Colorado and works on gun laws in Colorado.

We must already be aware that the "potential" to kill is apparent when pulling a firearm (though most gunshots are not lethal). Yet "potential" is not "intent."

The "intent" is not to kill someone, let it "sound" like you are shooting with the intent to "murder" out of revenge or anger at the threat.

The "intent" to stop a threat rather than kill a threat will go much further, not only in political matters and gun rights causes, but in a court of law if you find yourself having to defend the right to self-defense.

drafted.rough said...

Dale,

I have read and considered your comments. Thanks for posting them. I actually prepared a lengthy response, but have opted not to post it.

I think we agree that to counter a threat, the rule is always to use the least amount of force possible to accomplish that goal.

glitch-man said...

Absolutely well put. Your expression of how a firearm in the hands of a trained and confident woman can neutralize the worst case of "testosterone poisoning" is a great case for EVERY woman to become educated on firearms. I don't think everyone needs to carry a firearm, just the people who have something worth defending. And I applaud Dale in seeing to it that you are trained, competent and confident. My wife and I took our firearms training together, as well. This is an area in which most women are needlessly intimidated. I'm certain your son will have great memories of shooting lessons from Mom, as well as Dad.