Thursday, September 19, 2019

I Have Used Up All My Time

     In the midst of a civil exchange on gun control with a thoughtful but not at all pro-gun friend.  I wouldn't say he's anti-gun; he's anti-harm.

     We should all be anti-harm.  Maybe we won't all implement it in the same way -- I doubt there will ever be a gun in my friend's house, even unloaded and under lock and key; meanwhile, Tam and I, childless spinsters, keep the doors locked and stash our carry guns out of our immediate control only when we sleep, and check any gun that passes from one of us to the other as soon as we have hold of it: "not having any" and "maintaining safe habits" are both approaches to firearms safety and both work to reduce accidents.

     A healthy society accommodates both.

    I think a healthy society also looks to the root causes of violence and strives to eliminate them.  FBI's uniform crime statistics show a long-term downward trend in the murder rate that says we are making steady progress but I think we can do better.  One simple way to do so is to treat one another better; to see others as fellow humans.

     The flip side of "seeing one another as human" is to recognize human fallibility: avoid getting into bad situations; many criminals do have poor impulse control.  In the 1970s, a series of anti-car-theft PSAs reminded people to lock their cars and not leave the keys in the ignition (yes, kids, we used to do that, at least in rural/small town America: what if someone needed to move your car out of the way?).  The theme was "Don't help a good boy go bad," and while it is questionable just how good a boy (oh, that was such a long time ago!*) who steals cars might be, there's no question that he'll have a lot harder time of it without the keys and an unlocked door.  The career thief will still bash in a window -- but those locked cars did chip away at the rate of auto theft.

     "Chipping away" sounds silly, futile; but chipping away is how we get things done.  The old line asks, "How does a tiger eat an elephant?" and the answer is, "One bite at a time."

     Be nice to someone today.  Be friendly to people and aware of your surroundings, and don't treat anyone badly that you don't have to.  Maybe it's not much, but it's just one more chip.

     And don't just lock your darned car -- look for ways to expand on that idea.  Try to make it easier for those around you to choose to do right than otherwise.
* My immediate impulse was to add "...or girl.." to that, despite joyriding car theft being almost exclusively committed by young men.


Anonymous said...

The version I know is “help an honest person stay honest.” Basically, don’t leave valuable stuff where it would be all too easy to grab on impulse.

Douglas2/Unknown said...

Once up in Canadia on a boiling hot day I left my windows not fully closed in order to not come back an hour later to black vinyl seats that could cause second-degree burns.

I returned to find a "warning ticket" from the local police -- which did not actually state that I could be fined for not securing my car, but was written to very clearly give me that impression.

Normally keeping the car locked, valuables out of sight or not present, locking the house, etc. is second nature. But I really bristled at the suggestion that I was guilty of enticing crime by wearing such a short skirt or trying to keep my car cool.

pigpen51 said...

My parents didn't lock the doors to their house until the very late 90's. They lived in a small town in Michigan, less than 1000 people, and there was not much crime. They had a restaurant and they would go to the restaurant, and leave their house unlocked routinely. They often had money laying around the house in various places, in amounts that would draw thieves if they only knew. They had 25,000$ stashed in their basement, in a box. Not locked, just a box.
Later on, things changed, when the economy got worse, and crime started to increase. The small town used to have jobs at the city 35 miles away, at the factories there. When they all left town, the jobs in the small town left as well, and the crime rate increased, as did the drug problem, which of course, added to the crime rate, and a vicious circle followed.
Now the town is fighting over whether or not to let a huge marijuana facility in the village limits. It will be a bad thing, but who knows what will happen.

fillyjonk said...

Yeah, there are still people in my town who leave doors unlocked in their homes. When they are home at night! A number of home-invasion robberies (to me, one of the scariest of the not-intended-to-be-violent crimes) happen because a door was left unlocked. In a lot of cases it's people who don't have a whole lot of valuables and sometimes they wind up pistolwhipped for their trouble because the robbers are angry there's no cash lying around...

Of course, the problem is: what if you're an elderly person prone to falling or needing medical assistance, and you don't want the EMS to possibly have to break down the door? I admit as someone who lives alone this is something I've contemplated. And no, I don't have a "trusted neighbor" to leave a key with; I have wound up surrounded by rental houses whose tenants change fairly regularly.

Roberta X said...

One thing I learned in my mother's last decade was that if EMS (or a one of your own children) needs to get in the house, they *will* get in, nearly always in a way that still leaves the house able to be secured. I have had to kick open "security-chained" doors (forget those things, they're decorative). Unless your home is a fortress, getting in is not a problem for someone who doesn't have to worry about how much noise it makes or how obvious it is to the neighbors.

I stopped worrying so much about EMTs not being able to get to me in an emergency -- and starting making sure I was getting along well with anyone who might ever be so angry with me that they didn't care how loud they were getting into my house. One's home might be one's castle, but usually only conceptually and not as a physical fact.

Monty James said...

Maybe this guy can try the 'human fallibility' defense on the judge; he can't do any worse than he did telling the old man to give him his gun:

Burglary suspect shot after telling homeowner: ‘Give me that gun before you hurt yourself, old man’

Roberta X said...

Some men, you just can't reach; but they can be stopped.