The Exchange Continues

Barry, of Inn of the Last Home, is still defending himself against the reactions other people had to his comments about concealed carry. The LeanLeft post on the topic has developed a comment thread 96 posts long. (And I mean long.)

So yesterday, Barry left this comment on my post below:

Nice, going around and assuming people who don’t agree with you have a mental defect. Nice.

That drew a response from me, followed by an email from Barry, and a return response from me. Here is that exchange for your edification:

Barry, I’ll e-mail you a copy of this response, too, but you’re the one who said that carrying a gun would affect your mental balance.

If that’s true, it’s a mental defect by definition.

I just pointed out the fact.

No, I never said anything like that. I never said it would affect your mental balance, and even if I did it doesn’t fit the definition of a “mental defect”.

I said that its presence on my person would have an effect of increasing discomfort and nervousness, AS IF it had been emitting radiation. AS IF – it’s a metaphor, implying that increased exposure to something I don’t like would mean increased discomfort.

That’s all – end of story – nothing mentally defective at all.

Unless, of course you consider anyone who is uncomfortable carrying firearms as being mentally defective – in which case there’s no point in explaining.

But thanks for writing.



This is precisely what you said:

“If I were to take a live, armed weapon and carry it on my person, in public, it would eat away at my sanity just as if it were emitting lethal radiation.”

Your words.

“…it would eat away at my sanity…” is not the same as “…increasing discomfort and nervousness…”

What you said was that having a handgun on your person would affect your mental balance. Whether or not you meant that is irrelevant. It is, incontrovertibly, what you wrote.

In your post on your blog you wrote:

“First of all, the “radiation” comment was a metaphor I was attempting to use to illustrate the effect possessing a gun on my person would have on my mental well-being.”

Again, while I’d agree that this is more mild than “affecting (your) sanity,” it’s still more emphatic than “increasing nervousness and discomfort.” You’re backing away from what you said, not explaining it. I think you really meant what you wrote and were surprised by the storm of reaction it garnered.

From my perspective what you have said here is that you believe that carrying a gun will make you unstable: “it would eat away at my sanity”. Believing that, you project this instability onto others, as you did in your comment at Hell in a Handbasket:

“Say I’m eating in a restaurant with my family. The guy in the next table over is carrying a concealed weapon. Someone bumps a waiter who spills hot coffee on his son. Enraged, the guy jumps up and notices either the waiter or the guy who bumped him is black – in his mind, the combination of circumstances: injury to his son, deep-rooted prejudices, you name it, combine to create in his mind a lethal situation. An argument ensues, names are called, nationality and circumstances of birth are questioned. He pulls the weapon and confronts the waiter. From that point on who knows what might happen?”

And as you did in your original comment:

“What scares me most is the arbitrary nature of self-defense. What line must be crossed to signal to you that there is imminent danger or threat? Is it a criminal pulling a gun on you? In which case, unless you’re a gunslinger, you’re not going to outdraw him. Is it someone pulling a knife? Threatening words? Bad language or rude gestures? Where is that one point where you decide, “Yes, my life or the life of my loved ones is in danger and I must now take it upon myself to take the life of another person.” What if the guy is reaching into his jacket, and you are sure, absolutely certain that it is a weapon. You pull your gun and shoot–and see he’s reaching for his wallet. Or worse, you miss and hit a child running in the street. Where is that line?”

As I said, you mistrust yourself. Since you believe that you are unable to carry a weapon without being an active threat to innocents, you must (for your own self-image) believe that no one (except, for some reason, people with badges) can do so. You must assume that people who are willing to get a CCW are dangerous to everybody. You’re not alone, either. As I quoted in my comments on LeanLeft:

“We’re just flat-out against concealed carry, especially under a law that hides the names of those packing the guns. Ohio doesn’t need more people carrying guns in public, along with its certainty of more maiming and killing, accidentally or otherwise.”

But this fear is unfounded, because in the 36 states with “shall-issue” CCW, it hasn’t happened. And in these 36 states, people who have acquired CCW licenses have used their handguns on numerous occasions to stop crimes in progress.

You wrote:

“I understand completely that you have the best of intentions, the best training, the best gun money can buy, and the best reasons in the world to want to defend yourself. But I’m sorry, I don’t have insight into your character from my vantage point and I can’t assume you can be trusted with a gun any more than I can assume you’re not going to attack me anyway without a gun.”

Apparently you don’t understand. You (again) project that someone who has a concealed weapon (legally) might go postal on you. Why? Because they obviously must be mentally unstable, or they wouldn’t want to carry a gun. Or, conversely, carrying a gun will affect their mental balance, as you wrote that it would affect yours.

It’s the only conclusion that can be drawn.

You wrote:

“I don’t trust you.”

That’s the difference between us, Barry. The only people I don’t trust with a concealed weapon are the ones who do so with criminal intent, and I’m aware that these people represent a tiny fraction of the population. I’m also aware that I cannot prevent these people from doing so. They aren’t going to bother to apply for a permit. The ones who jump through the legal hoops to get a CCW? I trust them far more than the general public, because the people who make the conscious decision to carry a weapon for self-defense are far more likely to understand the gravity of that decision.

Now, if you’re still paying attention, there’s something I wrote quite a while back that I think you ought to read and comment on.

It’s here:


Kevin Baker

To this I will add only one thing: I was probably in error in accusing Barry of being a hoplophobe. He may not be afraid of firearms per se. What he seems to be afraid of is people who are capable of violence. To Barry, apparently, the only people who can use violence legitimately are government employees.

Barry illustrates the idea behind this quotation:

To be civilized is to restrain the ability to commit mayhem.

To be incapable of committing mayhem is not the mark of the civilized,

merely the domesticated.
– Trefor Thomas

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