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BUDDHIST Packing Pistol Shows America's Warm Embrace of Guns

edited December 2011 in Buddhism Today
Bad news: polls show handgun ownership is becoming much more accepted in the US, even by groups once staunchly anti-gun: "women, liberals, gays, college kids".

Robin Natanel, a Buddhist and a Tai Chi instructor, got a James-Bond-style pistol to protect herself after an ex-boyfriend broke into her home when she was away. Reports say she is indicative of a trend toward mainstream acceptance of handgun ownership, and a feeling that life isn't safe anymore, "even as violent US crime rates fall". "Twenty years ago, 76% of women felt [as Natanel used to: no one should have handguns], and 68% of all people in the country were wary enough of firearms of any kind to tell Gallup pollsters that they backed laws more strictly limiting their sale. In October, a Gallup poll found a record low support for a handgun ban--at 26% among all, and 31% among women.

The surge [in approval of gun ownership]has been propelled by shifting politics and demographics that have made it easier and more acceptable than at any time in 75 years for Americans to buy and carry pistols. Post 9/11 fears seem to be a factor, as has been the relentless pro-gun politicking of the National Rifle Association and marketing, particularly to women, by handgun manufacturers. Events like last Thursday's shooting at Virginia Tech contribute to a feeling the world is not a safe place..."

full article at:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-09/buddhist-packing-bond-pistol-shows-american-warm-embrace-of-guns.html

Could any Buddhists here see themselves owning a handgun, or any gun?
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Comments

  • *shakes head* Just the like dharma wheel, once that got spinning it did not stop, I am afraid it seems to be the same with the US and guns.
  • Could any Buddhists here see themselves owning a handgun, or any gun?
    I am in the very early stages of learning, so maybe my view doesn't count in your poll, but I would have no problem owning a gun if I felt I needed one to protect my family... the gun doesn't kill anything in the same way a knife doesn't. It's the intent and purpose of the person with the gun which should be examined.
  • Telly, as a Buddhist how would you feel about using your gun on a human, or any living thing? I think it's a tough decision, to have a gun for protection. I've thought about this myself. ...still thinking. ;)
  • mithrilmithril Veteran
    edited December 2011
    IMHO, the popularity is more indicative of clever marketing then anything else. So i don't really see a difference between owning a nice car or a nice gun. Would i shoot a person? Yes, if i thought that was necessary. I do see value in owning a gun as a tool to avoid certain situations, and those can happen to anyone both Buddhist or not. Owning a gun is thus an individual thing, since every person should himself know if it is necessary for him to own a gun.

    Why good marketing? Because there are many other risks in life, so the need of most people to own a gun is not as great as gun makers would like. Over on another forum, where gun ownership is considered good sense, and not owning one is considered foolish i found that people get guns to avoid troublesome situations: getting robbed, raped, shot etc. Thing is, the possibility for this to happen is not as great as e.g. getting a heart attack. How many people do you know that own defibrillators? I'm guessing very few. So gun ownership is mostly a matter of fashion, and as such is really of no consequence.

    In Buddhism there is also no place for an eternal, unchanging self - is a Buddhist a gun owner, are Buddhists not gun owners? This is a matter of forming an identity, while suggesting ownership of a gun in some way defines a person / defines the "self". Which is irrelevant. I'm a person owning a gun, i'm a person not owning a gun. Buddhism is not a path that leads to an perfect "I". Do not expect it to define you, or give you instructions on an "I" that would be more permanent or perfect or whatever...
    MaryAnne
  • Telly03Telly03 Veteran
    edited December 2011
    Telly, as a Buddhist how would you feel about using your gun on a human, or any living thing? I think it's a tough decision, to have a gun for protection. I've thought about this myself. ...still thinking. ;)
    @Dakini I would never want to shoot anyone, that would be a terrible thing that would scar me for life... but weigh that scar against something happening to my family that I could have prevented? I would probably choose to wear the scar. I don't like thinking about it, but I feel like I have an obligation to protect my family... they depend on me. Ideally though, nobody tries to hurt us and the gun stays in the box and is never used.

    I have no desire to shoot animals either... I personally don't see the sport in that
  • shanyinshanyin Novice Yogin Sault Ontario Veteran
    There seems to be alot of gun violence in the states that countries with tighter restrictions don't have. statistically speaking.

    I wouldn't pass judgement on someone possesing one in a responsible manner to protect their children i dont care if they're labeled bodhisattva

    it seems like there's an imbalance in the US.

    just an observation
  • A good one at that shanyin.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited December 2011
    I think it's mostly due to marketing. When on the Virginia Tech thread, that line, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" came up, it raised suspicions in me. I don't know where that line originally came from, but in the context of the discussion we were (and still are) having, it suddenly sounded to me like the perfect sales pitch for a reluctant citizenry, aimed at the anti-gun sector. What if it's a bug the pro-gun lobby put in the public's ear? What if those who fall for that line are just being manipulated by the gun lobby? These are the thoughts that came to mind when someone posted that.

    I don't see the public in other countries demanding to have guns so that the outlaws won't be the only ones with guns. The US may be "out of balance" because it's dominated by corporate interests, and apparently the gun manufacturers are part of that.

    I'm just throwing this out there for discussion. Just some thoughts.
  • See Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" for a rather disturbing look at gun culture in the USA.
  • LesCLesC Bermuda Veteran
    edited December 2011
    I own several guns and have for many years. I also have a Concealed Carry Permit for two states (VA & MA). while my primary interest is in target shooting, I would have no problem shooting someone to defend myself. I remember hearing a quote by the Dalai Lama along those lines. And didn't his guards carry arms on his escape from Tibet. Surely they were't for show.

    However I am opposed to hunting for sport, with a gun, or any weapon.
  • Nope. Definitely don't want a gun. Crazy that nowadays it's okay to have a gun.
  • See Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" for a rather disturbing look at gun culture in the USA.
    I double that!
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited December 2011
    . And didn't his guards carry arms on his escape from Tibet. Surely they were't for show.
    Interesting point.

    I recently read the autobiography of the Dalai Lama's oldest brother. He was declared to be a reincarnate lama, and was sent to live in the local monastery where they family came from in eastern Tibet (actually on the Chinese side of the border. None of the family spoke Tibetan until they moved to Lhasa.) When the family moved to Lhasa, the oldest brother decided to leave his monastery to be with his family. He never got over missing his family when in the monastery. So he organized a caravan to Lhasa, and brought rifles along, so his assistants could hunt for food along the way. I imagine that if they'd encountered bandits, the guns would have been used against the bandits. But I'd guess that they might shoot in the air first, to scare them away, and not shoot to kill unless absolutely necessary.

  • Due to the nature of my job, I legally carry a pistol in my pocket most days. I must pass the same weapons course as the police every year. But I never had to pull it or use it and hope I never have to do so. I frequently have dreams of pulling the trigger and the gun falls apart in my hand. My mental health counselor wife tells me that dream indicates that I lack the will to kill anyone, and that's fine by me.
  • IMO it seems sensible to at leats change the 2nd ammedment to create stricter laws and slowly taper USA off of guns, but I feel that it would be and is a losing battle. It has gone too far. Like the war on drugs. Maybe, just maybe they will catch up with the rest of the deveolped world, I don't know. I hope so.
  • I own a bolt action rifle, a .22 bolt action, and a 12 gauge pump shotgun. I used to own a tiny .22 revolver I used merely for plinking around for fun, but I got rid of that. Believe it or not, I am a gun owner that would be happy to see handguns gone from the streets. Firearms like the ones I own are very long and un-concealable. Not to mention slow to cycle and hold limited rounds, ideal for hunting and not much else.

    Well, with the exception of my rifle, if someone was going to go on a sniping spree. Whereas handguns can be kept in a pocket or waistband and quickly drawn and fired, weapons like mine are practically impossible to sneak in somewhere or use in close quarters.

    While I support the removal of handguns from the population, I honestly do not see how it could be done practically. You could check through the gun registry and go door to door I suppose, but that is assuming that everyone that owns them would want to turn them in in the first place. Not to mention I am sure there are many more unregistered handguns in the states than registered ones. And again, even if you somehow managed to round them all up, our proximity and rather large and unregulated borders with Canada and Mexico will ensure a steady flow of illegal and unregistered handguns into the states. Suddenly many more people are armed, and not on the radar. Gun control of this nature has to start at the borders. You can remove as many as you want, but you will never get rid of all of them until the borders are firmly secured.
  • Like I said, it hs gone too far..
  • i have thought a lot about this as i've thought many times about getting a pistol. i have come to the conclusion that owning a gun for protection is not a bad thing and it is not wrong by Buddhist standards to protect yourself, even if that means shooting someone. especially since if you did need to use it for protection you would most likely be able to stop the person without killing them.

    last night, one street down there was a home invasion. they pepper sprayed a 70 year old lady and when the maintenance man came to check on her they pistol whipped him and then shot him in the face. these things happen ALL the time where i live... and where i live is NOT that bad compared to many many places.



  • SileSile Veteran
    edited December 2011
    Everyone has a right to survive. If one feels the situation is so dangerous that carrying arms is the only way to assure that, it's sad, but not particularly un-Buddhist.

    It's generally the atmosphere that prompts most people who wouldn't otherwise think of getting a gun, to get one.

    Guns suck, but they're only an extension of what a human is willing to do to survive.

    We can definitely argue that the best thing to do is avoid it as far as absolutely possible, so as to contribute to an atmosphere of de-arming. However, anyone here who has kids, and young, provenly-violent drug dealers living down the road (as I do), at some point thinks, "Do I have a right to opt out of this protection?"

    We could also then argue whether the gun actually affords protection, given the stats.
  • @ajnast4r You're right, that does happen a lot. Even if the intruders aren't armed. There are a couple of blocks in my neighborhood that are close to the "barrio" across the freeway, and those houses tend to get hit by burglars. They're especially vulnerable in the summer, when people have their windows open. An elderly woman living alone was burglarized and she was tied up while they cleaned out her house. I don't think they had guns, but people advised her afterwards to get a gun, since she was all alone and especially vulnerable.

    Of course, the other solution would be either a) put bars on the windows, as some neighbors already have, or b) get central air conditioning, like I have, so there's no need to open windows.

    Guns aren't the only solution. But if the majority of the population has guns, guess what? Then ALL the outlaws will have guns, and those few without them will be sitting ducks. It means even teen punks, poor people looking at the nicer homes in the next neighborhood over, juvenile delinquents, everyone will have guns. This is not headed in a good direction...

    And notice that our non-US members aren't thinking this way. They're not saying "I need a gun to protect my family", or "if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns". They don't fear for their lives because guns are outlawed in their country. They feel safe.
  • SileSile Veteran
    edited December 2011
    And notice that our non-US members aren't thinking this way. They're not saying "I need a gun to protect my family", or "if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns". They don't fear for their lives because guns are outlawed in their country. They feel safe.

    Excellent point. Totally agree. I think like any mediation, then, one would have to get through the scary interim period here in the States, where we have to at some point lay down our arms knowing that not everyone has yet.

  • I think like any mediation, then, one would have to get through the scary interim period here in the States, where we have to at some point lay down our arms knowing that not everyone has yet.
    This is very much the tricky part. We're told that European countries pulled it off, but that was in the context of post-WW II. It's a very different context here.

  • To put it blunt, USA = trigger happy
  • The way I see it: USA = UCA -- the United Corporations of America. Including the gun lobby.
  • SileSile Veteran
    edited December 2011
    And, well...the very present fact that I know the guys down the road will likely just hide their guns, saying they gave them up.

    The thing is, to be really certain the new law was complied with, the government would have to get pretty invasive. Searching everyone's homes and all.
  • I repeat: just because something is difficult, that does not mean it should not be done.

    As Dakini points out, the abolition of slavery, in the US, was used as an excuse for a civil war - although that was not the case elsewhere in the world.

    Just pray that nobody suggests a "War on Guns". Now that could get messy.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited December 2011
    Searching everyone's homes currently is illegal without a warrant. And people would only hide their guns outside the home for a period. The process Simon has suggested depends completely on the goodwill of the people. I wonder, did any criminal types hide their guns during this disarming project in Europe? But as soon as any hold-outs ended up using their gun, if caught, they'd be put in jail. Someone posted the sentence in one case was 30 years. That's a big incentive to comply with turning in your gun.
  • I would not mind the USA ridding itself of the handguns. I would just hope that the cops of the USA would be doing the same.
  • SileSile Veteran
    edited December 2011
    What do you all know about Switzerland's situation?

    I grew up with the lore that every Swiss boy, at the age of 14, was required to have a clean, oiled, loaded rifle, kept in an unlocked, accessible case and know how to use it; and that overall crime in Switzerland was low. I think I read it in National Geographic, lol.
  • "Switzerland has one of the highest militia gun ownership rates in the world"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland
  • Wow. I had no idea - ck this out. (For the record, aside from a few personal fears in the neighborhood, I still lean heavily toward de-arming everything and everyone.)

    ---

    Prof. Marshall Clinard writes in Cities With Little Crime: "Even in the largest Swiss cities crime is not a major problem. The incidence of criminal homicide and robbery is low, despite the fact that firearms are readily available in most households." The low crime rate is even more remarkable in that the criminal justice system is relatively lenient.

    In American society, firearms take on a sinister reputation from the nightly news and excessively-violent movies. In Switzerland, firearms symbolize a wholesome, community activity. The typical weekend shooting festival brings out the entire family. By the range will be a huge tent where scores or even hundreds of people are eating, drinking, and socializing. With colorful banners of the Cantons and of the rifle clubs fluttering in the wind, the melody of rifle fire blends with Alpine music and cow bells. Event sponsors may include banks, supermarkets, watch makers, and Die Post--the telephone and postal system.

    The bottom line is one of attitude. Populations with training in civic virtue, though armed, generally do not experience sensational massacres or high crime rates. Switzerland fits this mold. But the United States does not. As H. Rap Brown declared in the 1960s, "Violence is as American as apple pie."

    http://www.stephenhalbrook.com/articles/guns-crime-swiss.html
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    Wow, there's a lot of American stereotyping going on in this thread. I'm an American. I'm a gun owner. I'm a Buddhist. I've never shot any living creatures.

  • @Brian Perhaps more generalizing than stereotyping? I mean the US is rank #1 in gun ownership by quite a margin

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_gun_ownership
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    Yes...? I don't see the point. Are you implying that there's a correlation between gun ownership and violence? You do realize that a large number of violent crimes are committed with illegal/unlicensed weapons? And that if there were no guns, those crimes would be committed with knives or swords or bows or clubs or a stick, right?
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    My point being: Taking away a criminal's gun doesn't magically cure him of being a violent, disturbed person.
  • Ahh yes, I see your point and agree with it... our homicide rate is actually below the world average despite such a high gun ownership rate... and we didn't even rank in the top 20 for rapes. Even though we top the list in general crimes, we are in mid field, below the UK, in violent crimes.
  • Telly03Telly03 Veteran
    edited December 2011
    Intersting that the 3 countries listed here with the lowest burglary rates are also in the top 10 gun ownership countries

    image
  • edited December 2011
    I am a mild gun advocate myself. An owner at least.
  • edited December 2011
    I think there's something to the point that violence on TV and in movies shapes attitudes toward guns, and may influence somewhat unstable people to resort to gun violence under stressful circumstances. I've been around in Europe, and the US has the most violent TV programming by far. Many Europeans comment about how strange it is that American parents worry about movie ratings regarding sex, to protect their kids from "unwholesome" influences, but they don't care a whit if their kids go to violent movies. Viewing violence desensitizes people to suffering.
  • it seems like there's an imbalance in the US.
    You can say that again - on SO many levels...
  • Intersting that the 3 countries listed here with the lowest burglary rates are also in the top 10 gun ownership countries
    Association does not imply causality.

  • Well, gang, I just heard on the news this eve. that a gunman killed some people in Liege, Belgium today. So it happens in Europe too. That was on the radio, I don't have details.
  • What do you all know about Switzerland's situation?

    I grew up with the lore that every Swiss boy, at the age of 14, was required to have a clean, oiled, loaded rifle, kept in an unlocked, accessible case and know how to use it; and that overall crime in Switzerland was low. I think I read it in National Geographic, lol.
    Not every Swiss boy. Men, in their 20's were required to do military service every year a few weeks. After their yearly training, they take the uniform and gun home. It stays home in the closet until the training next year. Never a problem.

  • Intersting that the 3 countries listed here with the lowest burglary rates are also in the top 10 gun ownership countries
    Association does not imply causality.

    That cuts both ways, you know.
  • TheswingisyellowTheswingisyellow Trying to be open to existence Samsara Veteran
    Tolerance seems to be for only for the things we like and that which we identify with.
  • I have 3 guns and saving up for a 4th. In the Buckeye state, and in almost every state for that matter, you are allowed to carry a gun on your person with a permit.

    I carry a 9mm sidearm everywhere I go in public (concealed at my side) and keep a shotgun by my bed. I'm not a paranoid person; I'm just not a sap, especially given how home invasions are not uncommon. I've never used my guns on anyone. I feel much safer in fact since I work in a rough neighborhood.
  • MountainsMountains Veteran
    edited December 2011
    I carry a 9mm sidearm everywhere I go in public (concealed at my side) and keep a shotgun by my bed. I'm not a paranoid person; I'm just not a sap, especially given how home invasions are not uncommon. I've never used my guns on anyone. I feel much safer in fact since I work in a rough neighborhood.


    At the risk of sounding argumentative, factually, statistically speaking, you most assuredly are paranoid. For one thing, there is no accepted legal definition of "home invasion". Such a thing is not a crime in any jurisdiction that I'm aware of in the US. Statistics, given the lack of a clear definition, are at best highly unreliable. Even using the most all-encompassing definition, such things are extremely uncommon in the vast majority of places in the US.

    As long as you feel safe, that's fine. Just so long as you know that statistically you and your family stand a MUCH greater chance of dying of a gunshot wound than I do.
  • Well your statistics are well and dandy. My best friend's home was completely emptied last year. Another friend was beaten senseless in the street. I was beaten senseless a few years before that. Outliers are only a comfort until YOU are the outlier. I go through my day like anyone else, except that I have a semi-automatic on my hip, which no one can see. I just like being alive, that's all.

    Well yes, actually breaking and entering (I'm not lawyerly inclined, so perhaps there's a difference) is common where I live. I'm more knowledgeable of the Castle Doctrine, which basically states in Ohio that you may shoot intruders into your household providing that you feel in great danger of physical harm or life.

    And to play the statistics game, if you own a swimming pool and have children, I believe they are about 100 times as likely to die from drowning than to die from my guns and no pool.

    I
  • TheswingisyellowTheswingisyellow Trying to be open to existence Samsara Veteran
    So Buddhist shouldn't own guns?
    Yet another concept of what a Buddhist is.
    I guess we have to define Buddhism properly.
    Buddhism is a way of living to me.
    The 4NT's, 8Fold, the three marks and karma here an now.
    Where in any of this is protecting my family prohibited?
    We have and cling to our concepts, our likes and dislikes.
    Clinging, even it's to one's ideas about Buddhism is still clinging, it's still Samsara.
  • ThailandTomThailandTom Veteran
    edited December 2011
    Burglary is not the issue here, it is people shooting other people. That does not happen often in europe. Okay, you may get something stolen or in a very rare situation of a burglary hurt. Most burglaries are done at night or when people are out, the criminals mostly do not want to be seen(europe).

    Also, we have established that switzerland has a lot of guns, but very few shooting among people. There are very few shootings among people in the EU in general, so what is the problem? If the swiss can have guns and not go around blowing people away so often, it must be the population in general. Yes brian, you have never shot anybody, but you are one person among many millions in your country who could easily do such a thing.

    Also, as I have stated previously, comparing the murder rate of America to undeveolped countries is not really sufficent for a discussion of this nature, compare it to the other deveolped countries and sure, there are your stats and figures you should be looking at.
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