A couple of days ago, I was listening to an audiobook version of a novel in one of my favorite fantasy series: The Dark Tower by Stephen King.
The main character in the series is a gunslinger (a-la Clint Eastwood in a Sergio Leone film from the mid-60s, but also a type of knight-errant in the vein of King Arthur of Camelot). During a sojourn in our world, he encounters people carrying firearms. Some of them are police, while others are private citizens, and he makes an observation that dismays him and, I have to confess, me.
On seeing the liberty of armaments in our world, and the nature of the people who carry them, the gunslinger has this thought, misquoted, but true in essence: It seemed that these people cared better for the weapons they carried than for the weapons they were.
How many times have I heard someone suggest that hand-to-hand fighting is redundant knowledge for the person in possession of a gun? "I don't need to know how to fight. I carry a gun."
That sentiment upsets me deeply, for a variety of reasons. Most prominent among these is the old adage that says, When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. There are myriad types of physical altercations, and not nearly every one of them demands lethal force. Even in the classes required for carry permits in the state of Texas, the dire seriousness of drawing on an individual (aggressive or not) is emphasized by responsible instructors. Further, while I understand that the legality of presenting that weapon depends only on "fear of serious injury or death," and that such a fear could be relatively easily justified by the actions of an aggressive individual, I also understand that fear is a direct result of experience and competency in dealing with aggression. In other words, the more of a stranger you are to conflict, the more it causes fright, or even outright panic.
Our dojo programs employ a training regimen that induces mental and physical stress during simulated assaults. These assaults are adjusted to the needs of the individual student, and serve the purpose of forcing the practitioner to apply known technique in a chaotic, violent environment that is also safe. For students that have been through a barrage of these simulations, very little they encounter on the dojo floor induces panic.
Further, they are relatively physically fit. The type of training in which we engage at CNUDojo Martial Arts Academy is aerobic, and quite physically rigorous. They have an intimate understanding of their own bodies, and of what they are capable; resultantly, other people aren't as scary as they once were.
We also teach the basics of verbal de-escalation. I've known officers of the law who were effective talkers, and who could manage tense situations with a word than others could with the full force of their entire tool belt.
Is that to say that I do not believe that my students should own firearms?
No. Rather, I mean to say that if my students own firearms, that they have enough self-possession to be able to assess the actual threat level posed by an aggressor more accurately than by a person for whom violence is an alien experience.
In general, I dislike the attitude that excuses laziness and promotes bodily degradation by the existence of machines or an efficient society. I don't have to be able to walk two miles when I can just drive a car. I don't have to be strong; I work a white-collar job. I don't have to know how to fight; I have a gun.
Understand, I struggle with my weight. It is not struggle that rancors me so. For a period of my life, in early adulthood, my body was mostly composed of flab, while my mind was an entire battery of excuses that were predicated upon delicious lies. And, like those of us that have tried to self-improve over time (thank you, Lord Jesus), I bristle to recognize my own weaknesses in others.
I recognize that a weapon, a gun, can level a violent encounter when the odds are stacked against the victim. Age, physical disability, size all create disadvantages, and also mark people as victims in the mind of the bully or the aggressor. Further, a disabled or very elderly person may not be able to sharpen the weapon that is his or her own body.
...here is a truth to keep in your pocket: If you are living a life in which your laziness is justified by your lies, you are setting up to be a liability to the people around you rather than an asset. If that laziness extends to the point that you'd rather kill a person than undergo some physical discomfort-- if you care more for the weapon you carry than the weapon that you are-- then you are more than a liability; you are reckless, dangerous, and untrustworthy.