Orders Of Magnitude Of Insecurity. I’d Rather Live with My Own Set of Risk


Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens

Fayetteville, AR – -(AmmoLand.com)- Christopher Hitchens was one of the most perceptive commentators on politics and culture. Born in England shortly after the end of the Second World War, he came to the United States in the 80s, growing enamored with our defining values, while at the same time pointing out our moments of inconsistency and absurdity.

One example of this is his discussion about our attitudes toward freedom and government activity at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2010. His specific argument is that Americans don’t want universal healthcare but do want access to guns because we prefer dangerous freedom. He saw this as a continuation of our frontier spirit that drove people to pick up and go west whenever things got too regulated back home.

In the manner of many converts—Hitchens became an American citizen in response to the 9/11 attacks—he displayed here a clarity in his analysis of the group he joined. And what he had to say asks us to think through what are often settled assumptions about how we address the relative risks in life.

Gun control advocates constantly declare that owning guns is a risk. The number of expletives that I use in reply depends on the day I’m having, but the essential point is that I am not being told anything that I didn’t know already and choose to live with.

Is a gun owner more at risk of being shot than someone who doesn’t possess firearms? Yes. But as with so much else in life, we can’t reasonably stop the argument there.

Any calculation of risk can focus on one narrow question—risk from owning or not owning alone—but we have to be open to acknowledging other factors that are associated with that risk in the real world. If I am trying to figure out how much danger I am in by having guns in my presence and want a complete answer, I have to include the number of defensive gun uses alongside the number of suicides or accidents that involve guns. The former is difficult to be precise about, but the lowest estimates come in well above the number of people who die from gunfire.

And then we have to ask how much choice we ought to have with regard to risk. My current state of residence does not require adults to wear helmets while riding on motorcycles. I understand the impulse, but I have to go here with a comment that I saw once from left-leaning libertarian musician, Neil Peart, that though he didn’t support helmet laws, he always wears a helmet. The saying, your mileage may vary, applies. Some people like to climb mountains. Others enjoy mind-altering substances. Still more buy cars without reading Consumer Reports. Levels of risk that are acceptable differ widely by person, and that’s okay.

What I want, to bring things back to Hitchens’s observations, is access to the tools of mitigating risk, not demands that I employ any particular example of them. Helmets, Sudafed, and AR-15s are all useful for this purpose, and gun control advocates hope that we’ll ignore all the elements needed for the calculation and limit ourselves to their assessment of the dangers.

About Greg CampGreg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

  • 23 thoughts on “Orders Of Magnitude Of Insecurity. I’d Rather Live with My Own Set of Risk

    1. “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.”
      Translation: “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery”
      -Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, January 30, 1787

      I tend to agree with Jefferson

      LIBTARDS are some of the most immoral people on the planet, who are they to LECTURE ME on what is or is not immoral? As God fearing men, I find it highly doubtful the Founding Fathers would declare the Second Amendment as a right protected from government if it were immoral.

    2. Motorcycles are dangerous.
      No one needs a motorcycle to go to work.
      “Regular” citizens should be limited to small fuel tank Mopeds.
      Active and retired law enforcement officials should be “exempt” from all restrictions – they need to retain the ability to effectively get somewhere far and fast on two wheels.

    3. Riding without a helmet? Please make sure you have enough insurance to cover the cost of fixing you up or buying you a wheelchair.

      1. Car drivers in accidents have so many more head injuries, we should mandate helmets for them ..And skiers, and skateboarders and all bicycle riders too! Maybe it would be best to mandate wearing an approved helmet at home too, just in case of a fall for elderly Medicare recipients..Heck, we all should wear helmets all the time to lower our insurance costs?

        Pffft! ..My head,my choice!.

    4. I loved riding a motorcycle as much as I ever loved anything in my life. Age, wear and tear. both knees worn out and I love to drink, have brought this to an end. I hated a motor cycle helmet with a passion. But we have so many educated idiots in our government that know so well how to protect the rest of us. Same way with the guns. They need to protect us from our guns. Yet they can do nothing to protect us from the criminals in our society, Bring on the illegals and the gangs and criminals from other lands and I will share my views on life with them.

    5. The premise that you are more at risk of being shot if you own a gun than not is completley without basis in fact. The fact statistics show that most felons who have guns are shot by other felons with guns…take the law biding citizens with guns out of that equation and the risk of not having a gun will more likely get you shot than not having one. See CRPA statistics in the last newsletter. Don’t forget that in WW2 the Brit’s asked US citizens to send/loan them guns so they as citizens could protect their homes in their neighborhood because the English Gov. banned gun ownership!!! Then after the war they banned them again and the same thing is about to happen to them again…Wake UP!!

      1. Great point that most people shot by felons are felons…The gang and drug culture skews the figures tremendously! Remove them and you come back to the study that shows the public CCW holders are more law conscious than police officers! We are perfectly safe to own guns!

    6. The remark I most commonly hear is “Why does anyone need a (fill in the blank: AR15, assault rifle, high capacity magazine, etc.)?” This is a nonsensical question. It’s no one’s business or place to stand in judgment. I don’t need to justify to you why I “need” anything. I might reasonably respond with “Why do you need a ____ (television or dog or wife, etc.)?”

    7. Attitude determines more about how likely you are to get shot if you own a gun opposed to no gun. Most generally, people that carry guns are more polite and observant than those that just act like progressives and run their mouth too much. If you are carrying a gun do so after you have enough training to be able to use it, if necessary, and know you will use it if the threat occurs. There are a few that post on this site that I would be doubtful if they have the restraint to contain their emotions and their attitudes would get in the way.

    8. “They had a mind to tell us how we should live, and we had a mind that they wouldn’t.”.

      So stated one of the men who stood on Lexington Green along witih Captain John Parker as they stood up against the British Regulars two hundred forty four years ago this Friday, when he was asked some forty years after the event, “why were you men out that morning to confront the British?”

      Nothing has changed, There are those with NANNIE so deeply embedded into their DNA they simply MUST dictate how others should live, think, act. And they will always conflict with we who prefer to make our own decisions and bear the consequences of those choices ourselves.

      GOvernment tell me I MUST have a lawnmower that turns itself off or stops the rotating blade whenever no one’s hands are on the pushbar. I have a bad shoulder and to yank that cord and restart the stupid thing fofty times in an afternoon would have me back in hospital. So I defeated the government mandated one size fits all
      saaaaaaaaaaaftey device”. I start it once, then just murder the grass. Run out of fuel, start it one more time. Lawn dealt with, no trip to hospital.

      Works for me. Should work for them.

    9. This IMHO is one of the better articles I have read here. Short, simple food for thought. I say this because of the very few
      comments made. So….Many are still wondering, rereading and thinking, and that is a good thing. So far the comments I
      see are on point. Excellent.

    10. “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

      Shame on every Gun Owner who votes Democrat.

      1. When you need it, and don’t have it, you sing a different tune. – Burt Gummer, Survivalist Extraordinaire.

    11. Let those that ride, decide. I’ve had too many friends go over the high side, survive, but never be the same again. That being said, If I think I should be wearing a helmet under certain conditions, it’s gonna be an open beanie with leather ear flaps. Full face is fine, but after a while they make me feel bullet proof. I’m not. Besides, all the wonderful ER nurses always refer to my ride as a donorcycle, who am I to disappoint them? -30-

    12. “Is a gun owner more at risk of being shot than someone who doesn’t possess firearms? Yes.” No, this is FALSE. It’s like saying: “Is a car owner more at risk of driving drunk and getting into an accident as a result of that? Yes.” You get the picture. Getting shot isn’t about “gun owners” any more than driving drunk is about “car owners”. The technical term is “conditional probability” – you’re no more at risk of getting shot for owning a gun, not unless other risk factors are present. Same as with owning a car and drunk driving. I really wish I didn’t have to explain this to people who should know better.

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