Friday, January 23, 2015

Revisiting Why Many Foreign Citizens Do Not Understand US Gun Culture

 I first penned the following post in December of 2012.   Although it did not draw a lot of commentary of attention when it was first written, it has recently.  I have chosen to reprise it in order to disseminate a number of the points I made then, which are even more valid now.

My family and I have spent a great deal of time acquiring excellent skills including firearm safety.

   It must be really difficult for people who live in other nations to understand the United States and why we have a Constitutional Amendment which allows us to own and use guns.  When I have traveled to other nations, I was struck by how little most Americans understand about different cultures in other lands, but also how little even educated people in other lands, understand about the culture of the United States.    First of all, the United States is quite vast, and many states have vastly different populations, educational levels, climates, problems and issues.   People in Hawaii have different problems and different challenges, than people in Massachusetts. People in Florida can't fathom some of the challenges in Alaska !  California is almost it's own little country with coastal citizens living very differently than those in the agricultural areas and differently still from those in Northern California.  Puerto Rico might be joining us soon, and their inhabitants would find culture shock in Virginia, North Dakota or Wyoming.      In some ways, we share some similarities with Russia. We are home to many different cultures and in different parts of our country, things are done very differently.  For example, in Moscow, which is European Russia, motorists drive on one side of the street, and in Vladivostok, Asian Russia, motorists drive on the other.   Our Northern neighbor Canada also has such diversity.  Alberta has different challenges than Nova Scotia, for example.

                   Last time I was in London, I remember some Londoners questioning why anyone would ever have a weapon of any kind anywhere.  They forget that the Swiss and the Israelis all train in the military mandatorily, and they do retain their weapons afterward.

                   I can't hope to be anything as approaching as knowledgeable or as interesting  on the subject as Larry Correia, but I can tell you why I am a gun owner.   First, although areas like mine don't get much television airtime, there are lots of areas in the US just like my own.   Our farm is intensely rural, and then heavily forested beyond the pastured areas.  Although all of our personally owned mammals are immunized in accordance with law for rabies, wild animals are not,and in such a vast nation,  rabies is endemic here. For those of you who aren't familiar, rabies is a viral infection that is generally considered to be fatal to animals and humans 100% of the time.  In the past couple of years, a  rabid ground hog attacked a county official within a short distance to our courthouse.  My eldest son has been challenged by a rabid fox as we walked out our front door.  We do have coyotes here, and occasionally packs of wild dogs.  We presently have the largest bobcat we've ever seen (larger than many fairly large dogs) who stays pretty much on our property, that we have ever seen anywhere.  One of our vets saw a mountain lion near here, and the official word from Game and Inland Fisheries of Virginia is that "we don't have those here".  They had to rethink that stance when the local taxidermist got one from a farmer who shot one about three miles from here.  In the summer, we have aggressive large black snakes, poisonous and numerous copperheads, and the occasional rattlesnakes.   We also have no less than 17 known black bears very close to us, some of which we see with fair frequency. We coexist with these beautiful large animals, who move much more quickly and smoothly than their size would suggest.  Most of the time, we live in our home, and we care for our livestock which include dogs, rabbits, ducks, chickens and alpacas, and soon a horse.  Sometimes a dangerous animal threatens us close to our farmhouse.  Animal control personnel here handle only big issues, and cover a huge area. Many times, they are simply unavailable. Citizens are encouraged to learn to use firearms correctly and to have them properly maintained on farms.  To get an idea of the scale of things here, our own farm is larger than the entire village/town in England, outside London, where I attended school as a teen.

                 Each year, several of us make it an expedition to walk out a section of the farm and forest which we own.  We make sure that no one has come here to plant marijuana trees. (Yes, they can grow to tree size) and that no one has been altering property boundary markers, or setting up illegal hunting tree stands here.   One year we found an illegal timberer stealing valuable trees from our neighbor.  Had my son and I each not been armed, we could likely have been killed at that location, and probably never found again. The illegal timberer has been imprisoned by local authorities.  Several people from this area, have in fact, disappeared never to be seen again. It may be wild animals or it may be the two legged kind of predator.

                We have a sheriff and deputies in this county, but they handle many things including rural car accidents. There have been times over the years, like the time some citiots thought our farm road might be a nice place for a high level, high volume, drug deal, that we could not have gotten a law enforcement officer out to even take a report before next Thursday.   We have since developed working arrangements with the DEA, the State Police and we stay in touch with our sheriff and his deputies.   We were encouraged to train and receive Concealed Weapons Permits by our sheriff.  He knows that we, like most rural landowners, are good stewards to our land, the animals, our farm, and that we are trained and safe with our firearms. Many localities won't come out anymore for anything but what they call a "blood crime".    

               Several years ago, a realtor was murdered in our county. She was not armed.  In rural areas particularly, robberies, home invasions, abductions, child snatchings by known sex offenders, stalkings by the insane, all occur.  When we lived in another part of Virginia, and our youngest son Daniel was an infant, people with an out of state license plate tried to abduct him.  Like it or not, having a gun and being competent in its use, as all of our adult family members are, may be all that prevents anyone from becoming a murder or robbery statistic.  The law here allows me to shoot to stop anyone who breaks into my house.  This makes sense because anyone who walks fifty acres in to us, locates a wooded glen where a house exists, defeats a security system, in an area of farms where home invaders have been shot, is not here to have tea or get an autographed copy of my book.  They are here to rob, rape, torture, kill or maim, and I am not going to allow an invader to do that to me in front of my children.  Keep in mind, that most of the psychiatric hospitals in the US have been closed years ago due to budget cuts and a philosophy that "everyone deserves to be free" even if they have schizophrenia and a documented history of violence as well.   Although no gun proponents are fond of quoting the number of people injured or killed with guns in our huge nation, they fail to indicate that annually, many many shootings, abductions and killings are prevented by law abiding citizens holding guns, both with and without concealed weapons permits. The news does not report all of these, and so Europe doesn't hear them, and therefore lacks this perspective in a major way.

                 Lastly, here in the United States we are, and have always been mindful that the reason that our nation was freed from the English king, and the reason that the United States was a part of rescuing the world from the likes of Hitler is that all over our nation, we have perfected the ability to use firearms competently.  The second amendment which allows us to bear arms, exists so that we can prevent tyranny when it once again raises its ugly head.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, and others all knew that to live in this land, we would have to have access to personal protection of our land, our animals and our families.

                So, in future, just as I would not tell the Russian orphanages what to do with their children with regard to forest walks as they seek to avoid being eaten by the remaining Siberian tigers, and I would not tell the British what to do with their immigration, I would appreciate the consideration of your knowing as a European that I live a very different life than you.  I have carved out a life in an intensely rural region where there is no mail delivery, because spending gas money to deliver mail daily to so few people, would be unreasonably cost ineffective.  I can't walk to a store or a police precinct.  I am fifty miles from most things.  When someone is badly hurt here, a medical helicopter is called, generally at the expense of the person who will use it.  If you can't fathom what it's like to make your own bread or to freeze store bought loaves from fifty miles away to keep through winter, how can you possibly have any understanding of the challenges with regard to independent farm living ?   If you have never been without power for three weeks after a storm then you have no conception of the challenges here.  In addition, there are many places in the US which are far more difficult and more complex in which to live than this one.