I have been working on this post all week, and then this happened:
“The Republican-led House voted Thursday to repeal an Obama-era regulation that required the Social Security Administration to disclose to the national gun background check system information about people with mental illness.”
“The rule sought to limit the ability of those with mental illness to purchase guns but drew criticism for casting too wide a net and not providing the opportunity for due process. Opponents of the rule, including the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, also said the broad range of reasons that could be used to designate someone for the SSA database include conditions that should not stop a gun purchase.”
I’m actually relieved about this. However, I have a lot of decisions and reflecting to do.
When people think of or hear about mental illness the first thought that comes to their mind is usually a dehumanizing one. Media representations and stigma has created a complete misunderstanding of mental health and those who deal with it every day.
I need to lay down some facts and dispel some myths.
Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.
I want to be able to protect myself. I want to be able to hunt for my food. After doing much reflecting and heated discussions with my significant other, this has lead to a bit of existential dilemma.
I mentioned in my first post about having bipolar disorder. Indeed, it is something I did not ask for, but it is something I have learned to cope with and deal with in a healthy way. I take my medication, take care of my body, I do not use drugs or alcohol, I go to the doctor and therapy. I recently got a well paying job. I graduated college. I am a productive member in my community and very involved. I’m stable. My partner has a .22 rifle and I have never touched it or sought it out because it’s hers. I have shot guns before, as I have grown up on a farm. I understand the responsibility of a gun and that it certainly is not a toy. It’s a tool. It’s a weapon.
Four assumptions frequently arise in the aftermath of mass shootings in the United States: (1) that mental illness causes gun violence, (2) that psychiatric diagnosis can predict gun crime, (3) that shootings represent the deranged acts of mentally ill loners, and (4) that gun control “won’t prevent” another Newtown (Connecticut school mass shooting). Each of these statements is certainly true in particular instances. Yet, as we show, notions of mental illness that emerge in relation to mass shootings frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race/ethnicity, social class, and politics. These issues become obscured when mass shootings come to stand in for all gun crime, and when “mentally ill” ceases to be a medical designation and becomes a sign of violent threat.
Yet surprisingly little population-level evidence supports the notion that individuals diagnosed with mental illness are more likely than anyone else to commit gun crimes. According to Appelbaum,25 less than 3% to 5% of US crimes involve people with mental illness, and the percentages of crimes that involve guns are lower than the national average for persons not diagnosed with mental illness. Databases that track gun homicides, such as the National Center for Health Statistics, similarly show that fewer than 5% of the 120 000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.26
Gun crime narratives that attribute causality to mental illness also invert the material realities of serious mental illness in the United States. Commentators such as Coulter blame “the mentally ill” for violence, and even psychiatric journals are more likely to publish articles about mentally ill aggression than about victimhood.5 But, in the real world, these persons are far more likely to be assaulted by others or shot by the police than to commit violent crime themselves. In this sense, persons with mental illness might well have more to fear from “us” than we do from “them.” And blaming persons with mental disorders for gun crime overlooks the threats posed to society by a much larger population—the sane.
^these are all facts. Facts are still true whether you believe in them or not.
We(my sig o and I) talked about how my owning a firearm would up the percentage of endangering me-myself. I said that it was my choice and my right, and for every gun owner there is that statistic. I told her I trusted myself and that I do not want to be a target or a sitting duck. But my partner pulled this card on me: So, hypothetically, if you did own a gun, you would be ok with increasing my risk of danger?
I did not know what to say that. She said that if I wanted to own a firearm that we could not live in the same house.
Her points are valid. However, so are mine. Since she already owns a .22, the percentage of danger to us both is already up, because, statistically speaking having a gun in the home increases everyone’s(in the home) chances of gun-related accidents.
I really wish people would take a look at it from my perspective instead of quickly dismissing me with a label and think of me in terms of stereotypes. It’s frustrating to feel as though I have no right to protect myself at all, on top of my humanity being denied.
Seriously, who wants to be a sitting duck?? Who wants to be dehumanized and seen as ‘other’? Who wants to constantly have to be dependent on other people to ‘protect’ you? Do you know what it feels like to have your rights taken away? Your right to protect your body? When you did NOTHING wrong? “Sorry, you’ve been diagnosed with (insert any illness here), and that comes with revoking your 2nd amendment right. And here is a heaping helping of stigma and dehumanization to boot! Have fun with all the people who cast you away as a miscreant of society, and be blamed for the majority of violence in this country even though statistically speaking it’s 3-5%….no one wants to own up to the other 95-97% so the finger will be pointed at you.” Furthermore, no wonder people who are struggling with mental health don’t seek out help when they should, because of losing these rights, and also being stigmatized, and dehumanized, and not ever taken seriously or seen as someone worth having around (seriously, people love to demonize the mentally ill and use them as scapegoats.). As far as I’m concerned, people with many diagnosis’ own firearms and they’re fine. Media sensationalizes. If veterans with PTSD can keep their guns, I should be allowed to prove myself competent and responsible to own one too, as it will be my right. And in some states, the ability to appeal and prove ones stability is possible.
According to this new overturning of the Obama Background check bill, the NRA believes that the determination about who is mentally ill should be left to the courts. I would be okay with a grace period to prove my stability, and I’d even be okay with negotiating on someone else holding my ammo, as long as there is accountability and civility, equity and humility about it, I’m willing to negotiate.
Anyway, I’m not really interested in this debate anymore. I haven’t made up my mind yet as to whether or not I would buy one now that this law about background checks will pass. I’m not really interested in a handgun, but more so a rifle to hunt for food.
Anyway, this recent news totally sidetracked my main point of this post, which is how to defend oneself if you can’t own a firearm. (If you’re similar to me, or are a felon, or whatever, no judgement here).
Whenever I’ve talked to some people about mentioning ways to protect oneself without a firearm, I get instantly dismissed and told to just buy a gun. “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” they say. And they’re right. I’m pretty much screwed. Nobody seems to offer any alternatives however or gives much of a shit. You either can own a gun or you can’t and if you can’t then you’re ostracized and not welcome. That is just the worst feeling. But fuck what anyone thinks. I will find alternatives. My body is a weapon and so is my mind. There has to be some ways.
Full tang katana, foam practice nunchucks(saving up for metal/wooden), machete, LED flashlight, aersol pepper spray, 600,000 volt stun gun, and pocket knife are what I have so far.
These are just ridiculous and would be completely useless in a gun fight. It’s hard to not just throw up my hands and say “screw it, may as well not try,” but that’s where I’m different. I’m resilient and my will to live is very strong. I’d rather do something than nothing. Sigh.
I’ve practiced martial arts off and on for 5 years. I learned Taekwando in college. Where I reside currently there isn’t much around in terms of a dojo for me to learn. I’ll keep my eyes open though, and I’ll keep feeding my head. Knowledge is a blade worth sharpening.
I ordered a better one online, but it somehow ‘got lost’ in shipping. So I got a refund. Where I live stun guns are legal and require no permit. The other day I called around to 3 different gun stores to see if they had a stun gun—all three were sold out except for the last store I called. I drove 15min to another town that’s a sister city to my town, and got their last stun gun. According to the fella at the counter, he said they’ve been flying off the shelves.
In one of my martial arts/self defense classes one instructor discussed how a high powered LED flashlight can be an effective weapon, especially when dark. A quick blinding flash right in the eyes can give you an upper hand to stun(after blinding, use a move to stun them) and run.
This pepper spray shoots up to 12 feet. I’m also considering getting a canister of bear mace.
Just a general pocket knife. I’m going to look for something more tactical in terms of self defense.
These are foam practices nunchucks. I’ve been practicing with them for a couple years. I will be upgrading to a metal or wooden pair in the future.
Here is a full tang katana blade I bought when I was a teenager. You would think I’m a flippin’ mall ninja. I don’t match the criteria though. I’m full well grounded in reality, and as I stated above these are pretty much useless if I faced an attacker with a firearm. you know, like in that scene from Indiana Jones.
Here’s a pretty decent machete that will be good for camping at least.
When in doubt, blow out an eardrum.
This is what I have so far in regards to weapons. Exercise and building strong muscles, dexterity, and agility are also among the ways I can protect myself. Being faster and able to run can give me at least a small chance, and learning more self defense/martial arts. Cameras and recording acts of violence being committed are a powerful way of self protection in some situations. Using my mind and being able to read situations, how to avoid certain situations, evade, talk my way out of things, are also ways of self defense. i’m honestly not one to go looking for trouble or a fight, I’m also not interested in being a macho man with ‘something to prove’ in a fight, I’m more interested in surviving and getting away. In my martial arts classes it was taught that the best thing to do in a situation is to get away as fast as possible. Martial arts and self defense aren’t like what you see in movies. And people who use it to talk tough are just trying to impress and compensate for their insecurities.
The flight instinct is just as powerful as the fight instinct. It takes wisdom to know which one to use.
I have stated in previous blog posts that I plan on moving back to my college town. When that time comes I will make my decision on whether or not to learn how to operate(taking numerous safety classes) and handle a firearm and purchase one for hunting and self protection. This will be my choice and my right. I do realize that there are perhaps other items/alternatives I can use, such as crossbows, slingshots, or hunting-grade air rifles. Investing in a strong security system and reinforcing my home with cameras and security windows are other methods too. I also acknowledge that forming a strong community is another way I can protect myself. In a community everyone has a role to play. If I don’t have a firearm, a friend might and so do others, and that is their role, whereas I can be a Swiss Army Knife of skills that are just as important and useful.
Either way, my goal of this post is to try to create some bridge of understanding for people in the kind of situation I am in.
I refuse to be a sitting duck.
Until next time,
Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. -Bruce Lee