Protection on the Road

I know I may alienate some people, or put some people off, or maybe some people won’t sign up for the newsletter and never come back. But I think protection on the road is an important topic, and one that needs to be discussed. That said, these views are mine and if you want to discuss, argue, or insult me, go right ahead. I have a thick skin.

I am on many RV-related Facebook groups, most of them dedicated to full timers and the joys and difficulties that come with it. Inevitably, the topic of self protection comes up. Then the war starts as both sides argue whether or not one needs a gun at a campground, then it devolves into an argument about the Second Amendment, and then finally, someone calls names and insults fly. Snowflake is common because if you don’t think you need a gun while traveling, you must be a liberal Democratic snowflake. In fact, today I was called a Rainbow Snowflake Vagina just for saying the post and comments were going to turn into an argument. I never said what my stance was, just that it was going to turn into an argument. If anyone can tell me what a Rainbow Snowflake Vagina is, I’d like to know.

But here’s the biggest problem with the argument that having a gun will save you: It’s not true. In fact, if you look at the research, the numbers of non-lethal crimes in states with concealed carry laws actually went up since they enacted the laws. The number of murders compared to states without concealed carry laws stayed the same.

If we look at crime in general, it has gone down since its peak in the 1990s. However, with research done by National Bureau of Economic Research at the Stafford Law School on June 21st, 2017, it was actually determined that in those states that loosened their carry laws, crime would actually have gone down further if they did not have those laws in place.

The fact is, carry laws are dangerous. The whole “good guy with a gun” narrative that is pushed by the NRA has forced into the American mindset that somehow, if you, Joe Nobody, have a gun, you can stop any crime. It doesn’t work that way though. There is a common belief amongst anti-gun owners that you have a greater chance of having your gun used against you than doing anything good, however, I cannot find any statistics to either support of debunk that. There are stories, allegories, passed on words heard from someone, but no one tracks the actual data. Even without that, we do know that there were about 21,000 suicides in the US last year, and about two-thirds of them were from guns. Would these people have committed suicide if they didn’t have easy access to a gun? We can’t know.

I have been frequently attacked for telling people that they are not cops and are definitely not super heroes. It always turns into an argument about what I would do if someone was raping my wife. Would I just stand there? Well if I had a gun, I could do something! Well that’s a load of crap. I have never been in a situation where I needed a gun to defend myself. Then it turns into a story about how I’ll be sorry one day when I need one and don’t have one. It devolves and gets personal and irrational.

A little background on myself. I have worked as a Corrections Officer and as a 911 Dispatcher. I have a degree in Criminal Justice. I have worked for years in law enforcement. In all that time, I have never once been involved in a situation where one person with a gun made things better. I’ve been on calls with victims and never once had to tell them that they should defend themselves.

But the super heroes remain. Take this situation: A man comes into a campground and shoots someone. You hear a scream. What do you do? If your answer is to run out with your gun and help them, you are foolish and maybe an idiot. Police do what they do because they have years of experience and training. What do you have? A gun? Good for you. Do you know how to use it? Do you know what the situation is? Anything? The fact is, you are completely unprepared to rush into a dangerous situation and do anything helpful. Having a gun does not make you more experienced, skilled, or wiser. You might think you are, but you are not at all prepared for an emergency situation.

Now, say you do help and you shoot the bad guy and he dies. Then what? Well, the police show up after a few minutes to find you, a guy with a gun, and a body laying there bleeding all over the place. You’ll just tell them you are the good guy and fixed everything. Doesn’t work that way. You get their guns drawn on you, you get tazed, thrown on the ground, handcuffed, arrested or maybe even shot yourself. But you were just trying to help! That doesn’t matter, they came to a dangerous scene with a person with a gun, saw you and don’t know the whole story, so you become the suspect.

Now, should you have a gun in your RV? Only if you are experienced and trained and know how to use it. When I worked in Law enforcement, I dealt with concealed carry permits. To get one in Florida, you had to take a couple hour long course, pass a background test, and fire a gun. You didn’t even have to hit the target, you just had to shoot the gun. That’s it. Now, lets go to Iowa, where I did have a concealed carry permit because it was required by my job. It was an eight hour course, followed by twelve shots from a gun which had to be 80% within a certain range on the target. I feel a bit safer with that as you actually have to hit something. That being said, I worked with an older man where I had to stand across a door from him to secure it while a vehicle left. He scared the hell out of me because he would hold his gun pointed straight at me and his hands were shaking. He was so old he couldn’t hold his hands steady, had the stupidity to point the gun at me, and I was afraid one day, his finger would twitch and I’d be dead. But he had that gun in hand, so obviously we were safer.

There is this mindset that you somehow need to have a gun. You don’t. The world is not that dangerous a place and you can avoid trouble if you try. But lets talk about mass shootings and how those could have ended up better if someone had a gun.

I can’t even keep track anymore since they happen almost daily, but I’ll talk about a one. First, the shooting in Las Vegas. If a good guy with a gun had been there, it would have ended better. Well guess what? Someone shooting from dozens of stories up in a hotel, raining gun fire down a crowd, would not have been stopped by people shooting back. First, bullets arc, especially ones propelled slower because of the small size of handguns and and their bullets. They fall as they travel, so if you were aiming at the right window, you’d probably hit much lower. Second, it was a freaking hotel and no one knew where he was. So maybe we should just randomly shoot out windows in the hotel? Third, Some people in the crowd thought the shooter was there with them. So they see someone pull a gun to defend all them. Then someone else sees that person and shoots them, thinking they are the original shooter. Then again, and again and again. Bloodshed goes way up. Then the cops show and see all these good guys with guns and don’t know who is who and someone doesn’t drop to the ground quick enough and the cops shoot them. It all goes to hell.

There is no situation where you can be in police contact with a gun drawn and it ends well. If you have a gun, they will take it from you, by force if necessary. You can tell them all about how you helped, and you are the good guy and all that, but they will see a person they don’t know with a gun. That’s it.

Done with the rant now. If you want to carry a gun, that’s fine, its up to you. But if you do, keep it somewhere safe, especially from children, and use the damn thing at a target range a lot. Don’t think buying it and putting it next to your door will help you. Its a tool, you need to learn the skills to use it or else you will hurt the wrong person or become another victim. So go out there, get trained, and keep learning, keep shooting, keep your skills up. Treat it like any other tool, but treat it wisely.

And above all, don’t think you are a hero. You are not.

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