Monday, June 13, 2005

More on Thugs, Coyotes, and Bears

Last Friday, I posted on bears and coyotes that are now found in Boston’s metropolitan area. I also mentioned two-legged predators who predate on their own kind. In a comment, Blueeyes (# 2) believed I might be exaggerating the threat of animal attack. He wrote a very well reasoned comment, for which I thank him. He believes danger posed by wild animals is an insufficient reason to own guns when compared to thugs and the Second Amendment.

Here is where I differ from him. For too many Americans, the Second Amendment is a dead letter. At best, they believe it protects a state’s right to have a degree of influence over its National Guard. At worst, they believe it’s a relic from a bygone age. New scholarship has shown how flawed both arguments are (starting with Sanford Levinson’s “The Embarrassing Second Amendment”). We gunnies are making progress in ensuring that the correct reading of our Constitution’s Second Amendment is used in courts and in media, but we have a long way to go.

Using guns against thugs (mutants, goblins, however you want to describe human predators who have no feelings) in self-defense or defense of another is certainly a valid use of guns. It is also one that is fraught with a lot of emotional weight. I’ve had people tell me that burglary shouldn’t be a death sentence, that a person who fought and killed an attacker was a murderer as well, that violence even in a noble cause only increases violence. These people don’t get it and Bostonians in particular seem to suffer from an extreme case of anti-gunnie-ism.

Using wild animals as an argument for defending yourself is valid. I am not an animal behaviorist, but coyotes do eat pets frequently. A colleague’s neighbor in Jamaica Plain saw a coyote carry off her cat. My original post, Coyotes in Boston, mentioned a Boston Globe story about a man who witnessed a coyote killing his dog. So, I have one second-hand story and one documented story on coyote pet attacks in Boston’s metropolitan area. I have seen other stories also.

Further, I’ve seen coyotes while hunting (I don’t hunt coyotes since I eat what I kill) and these animals are as large as any German Shepherd I’ve seen. I would put their weight at 50 to 60 pounds--certainly large enough to kill a toddler. I honestly believe that such an event could happen, especially if one had no weapon to stop a possible attack.

Here’s my greatest concern though. Massachusetts has set up an elaborate gun-licensing scheme to discourage gun ownership. When I lived in that state, I got a gun license. Believe me when I say, Massachusetts’s gun laws are a mess. Many people don’t want to own a gun in the first place, but even those who do must go through a legal maze before buying one. (Read here for a description and cites to Massachusetts law). Blueeyes mentioned bear spray as a way to fend off an animal attack. In Massachusetts you have to get a Firearms Identification Card to own only pepper spray of any description. Even if you could own it, you still have to get up close and personal to use it.

A gun is a necessary defense tool. When you need one no other item will do. Massachusetts has disarmed most of its people and it likes it that way. But, I grew up near the country and now the country (wild animals) is coming to Boston. Citizens of Massachusetts need to have a firearm available to deal with an overly aggressive coyote or bear and a mutant.

Also, anywhere you have wild animals you have the chance of rabies in the population. Rabid animals behave very differently from their species’ norms. If one is bitten by a rabid animal, one must recover that animal or its carcass for testing or else potentially undergo a series of rabies shots. A gun is the best way to deal with a rabid animal.

Finally, I believe a gun is a tool for self-defense and a recreational item (target shooting). I don’t believe I should be forced to convince anyone that I have a need to own a tool. Living among thugs, coyotes, bears, and even possibly a rabid chipmunk is enough justification, if I really needed one, to buy a gun and learn how to shoot.

So, once again thanks Blueeyes for your excellent comment, but we will have to agree to disagree on at least a few of your otherwise excellent points.

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