The 8h student reflection on the normative question of the role guns should play in (American) society, from my Sociology of Guns seminar, follows. The first seven reflections can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
By James O’Geary
Within contemporary society, issues related to the sale and private ownership of firearms continue to be passionately debated. While the usefulness of such tools in the hands of military and security personnel is understood, many feel that allowing everyday citizens access to such weapons incites an unnecessary risk. The evidence that supports such claims is provided by the statistics surrounding negligent firearm fatalities, as well as the number of modern day mass shootings. Yet, when analyzing the impact of such statistics, it is imperative to factor in another – the number of crimes thwarted by the presence of a civilian’s personal firearm. This paper argues that firearms should serve as a personal protective measure within the United States, and not be limited to military and security personnel (i.e. police and deputies). An in-depth personal reflection follows.
Growing up in Oklahoma City, one would expect my experience with guns to be rather dramatic. However, neither of my parents viewed such items as inherently necessary to our living situation. We lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood, equipped with its own personal police department, and crime was relatively non-existent. In fact, I came to view guns as an unnecessary frivolity, with few positive characteristics. Yet, this awareness and opinion was dramatically altered during the holiday season in 2010.
For those who do not know, Henderson, North Carolina, is a small town located approximately thirty minutes from Durham. While few notable characteristics set this community apart, it is often the site of O’Geary family reunions. My father grew up in this town, and many of our relatives continue to live there. While Henderson used to be a thriving community, many businesses sought to direct their efforts elsewhere during the 2007 recession. Unemployment rates subsequently increased, and many young professionals decidedly left the area. This in turn led to a dramatic decrease in tax revenue, which directly impact impacted the effectiveness of the Henderson police department. With funding and budgetary issues a concern, fewer cops patrolled the area, which lead to a dramatic increase in crime.
On the night of December 10th, 2010, my great aunt Helen-Rose was approached while filling her car up with gas. It was late at night, and few cars were in the area. Now, my aunt has always been a proponent of guns. She often hunts with her husband, and has even taken the necessary steps to obtain a concealed carry license in the state of North Carolina. On this particular night, she was indeed carrying a firearm. During the man’s attempt to rob her, she was able to draw her “Saturday night special”, which in turn compelled the assailant to flee. Had this particular weapon not been present, it can be assumed that the perpetrator would have successfully absconded with my aunt’s property, and likely hurt her in the process. The availability of firearms to civilians is necessary for the protection of personal property and individual well-being.
While I do not own a firearm at this time, I am a proponent of such items being in the hands of competent individuals, who have taken the necessary steps to obtain training in their functionality. Police and other protective measures are not always readily available in times of crisis, and these tools allow less physically imposing individuals to level the playing field against perpetrators of criminality. Through the personal experience of my aunt, I have come to realize that firearms should serve a consistent protective role within society.