Thursday, June 30, 2011

What if?

I was reading a conversation on Facebook (again), and it ended up talking about guns. A woman was saying that she was considering getting a gun for home defense and wanted to make sure it was safe.

First, people came on saying things that I have always assumed to be true: make sure it has a safety, and store it unloaded with the safety on. Don't keep it within easy reach, but in a gun safe. Made sense to me.

But then people came on saying things like, "What if your home was invaded and the guy was in your bedroom before you realized it? Would you have time to open your gun safe, load the gun, disable the safety, and fire before it was too late?"

One woman said something along these lines: "I have a tall fence around my house and three large guard dogs. But it would be so easy for someone strung out on drugs to climb my fence, shoot all three dogs, and break into the house before I was aware. For this reason, I have a gun with no safety which I keep loaded by the bed."


I just don't think it's very likely that someone, even someone who wasn't high, could shoot three dogs before any of them bark to alert you. All you need is enough warning to grab the gun and ammo and remove the safety. It doesn't take long. It seems to me there would be time in between the crash of them breaking your window and when they start up the stairs to grab the gun and be ready.

But home invasions are very unlikely. They're even more unlikely if your house has a fence and dogs and the other houses on the street don't. Of course, this is assuming there isn't someone specifically out to get you. If you are involved with the Mafia, perhaps you had better take more particular precautions.

What's more likely is a kid reaching into your bedside table and pulling out the gun. Or, as one woman described, a teenaged family member snooping around and firing the gun. Luckily, in her case, no one was hurt. But it's still worth the trouble of practicing gun safety. Home invaders, if you're very unlucky, might be in your bedroom once in a whole lifetime. Your kids will be in there a lot more often.

I guess what I'm saying is, you can't spend your life thinking about the "what if." These rare situations, which we tend to believe are common because they're always happening on TV, are not statistically likely. I've already mentioned before that kidnappings are rare -- and the statistics are inflated because most kidnappings are by a non-custodial parent, not a stranger. But so are most far-out, terrifying dangers.

Not that we shouldn't protect ourselves. I don't see a problem with owning a gun or with practicing other safety measures. But we should focus on the likely dangers -- gun accidents, drowning, choking, car accidents, and the like, which are much more frequent.

And then, once you've assessed the risk and taken appropriate steps, you have to let go. Trust that you have done what you can, that your guardian angel will take care of the rest, and go to sleep at night. I know it's easy to be consumed with fear when you watch the news and read the papers -- which only talk about things that are the exception rather than the rule. And we love our families so much, it scares us to think anything could happen.

But if we're living in fear rather than simply living, it's time to relax. So much of what happens is out of our control, but it's no reason to panic. God knows the day and the hour that we will die, and nothing will happen that he does not permit for our benefit. I truly believe this. And so I focus on living, rather than continually asking myself, "What if?"


JenniC10 said...

Oh, Sheila, once again, I am SO with you. I was horrified by some of the comments made in that conversation! I grew up in a home with guns, and my dad taught us all how to shoot (safely) at a pretty young age. We kept all the safety precautions. I'm all for having guns, like you, but you're right about the actual dangers. I once heard a statistic that a home is more than 20 times likely to have a gun-related accident (which would likely be deadly) than to have a situation requiring a gun. You're absolutely right about just relaxing and trusting God. That doesn't mean that we are to be all nonchalant about life, but we should definitely try to recognize that there is only so much we can control, and there is a God that loves us and protects us.
Of course I'm not about to go near these FB conversations anymore. ;)

Sheila said...

Haha, yeah, I keep my mouth shut! The convo about c-sections really made me want to jump in, but then I thought, "I haven't had a c-section, and many of these women have. So there is very little I can say that might not offend someone."

Though, for the record, only 7% of c-sections are truly elective. So the rate is not rising because women are "too posh to push." There are many, many reasons, from overuse of Pitocin to our sue-happy culture, but many c-sections are neither elective NOR truly medically necessary (though it may be necessary because of things the doctor did earlier). And I DO know women who had unnecessary c-sections they did not want!

Whew, I feel better now! I get a lot out of that group besides blog fodder, but it does get me wanting to write.

some guy on the street said...

SO right about "What If"; the game of "What If" is, maybe, the second or third most dangerous activity for people not in any real danger. It's distressingly similar to Mark Shea's historical phases questions, in the sense of not really being a question so much as a mechanism of rationalization.

When one does have to deal with dangerous and unpredictable situations, like driving in a city, it makes sense to play restricted "what-if" games, like the game of "find the red sports car" my driving theory instructor liked to talk about. It makes sense because it's a real necessity AND there are things we can do about it.

We really *can't* do much about dark magnetars whizzing through space, or the eventual self-catalyzing destablization of all protons (hey, it could happen!) or random psychopaths. And these problems really aren't pressing issues for any of us, so why work ourselves up, eh?

Sheila said...

Love that xkcd!

I think you exactly get my point. It's good to know what you'd do if the car in front of you slammed on their brakes. But if someone randomly attacks you in the post office -- you're pretty dang unlucky. And you'd pretty much have to be planning escape routes 24/7 to actually be ready at the moment of a crisis -- and, of course, the crisis would take a form you weren't expecting.

Enbrethiliel said...


"What if?" is a game you can't win. It's like "How do you know?" These questions are only asked by people who have no good arguments of their own and therefore can only blow holes in yours.

And for the record, I like your blog fodder! =P So I hope you keep hanging out with that FB group.

Sheila said...

Haha, I intend to. I actually learn a lot there, despite the occasional topic that gets me worked up. Recommendations for bug sprays and diaper creams, tips for naps and potty training, and -- best of all -- working out playdates and things. I don't "know" most of the people there, but I see many who seem like the sort of person I'd like to get to know.

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