Ask Andrew W.K.: Should I Buy a Gun?
Photo by Frank Longhitano
[Editor's note: Every week New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or -- no surprise here -- a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]
I've always been a staunch opponent of guns, but my home has been broken into twice in the last six weeks. Now I'm thinking about purchasing a gun to protect my family and home. My wife is very much against this idea, and we fight about it often. I completely understand where she's coming from, as her views on the dangers of owning a gun used to be my own. But now I just don't know what to do. What do you think? Should I get a gun?
- One Shot
See also: Our Ask Andrew W.K. archive
Dear One Shot, Guns are intense. Not only as a powerful extension of a man's hand, but also as an extension of his will and ability to kill.
I had a dream a few nights ago where I had acquired two hand guns illegally and was trying to sell them on the street to some underground gun dealer. I was stressed out and fumbling with these black crumbling pistols. In the end, I realized that both of the guns were toys and didn't really work, much to my relief (and to the dealer's irritation). As the old saying goes, "guns don't kill people, I do", and just having the guns in my dream seemed to bring me one step closer to actually killing someone.
Firearms may be just another weapon made to cause significant harm with significant ease, but they themselves aren't able to cause harm without someone deliberately using them to do it. We've all seen the damage people can cause with knives, cars, and a myriad of other implements (including teeth and fists), but no weapon seems to combine lethal force and efficiency quite like guns.
In your situation, it's perfectly natural to want and protect your family and your property, and a gun is one way to do it. But just go through the possible scenarios that could play out: If someone breaks into your home while you're actually there, are you going to confront them with the gun? Are you going to shoot them if they don't leave? What if you miss? What if you actually kill them? What if they weren't actually an intruder, but a family member you mistook for an intruder? What if they grabbed the gun and shot you?
At first it seems like it might be easier to put a sign on your front door that says, "This Home Is Protected By A Gun," but then that might actually attract more attention from a gun thief. Maybe just get a security system installed?
On all sides, it seems we can agree that guns are just super intense objects. But what is even more intense is man's willingness to harm others for fun or profit. The problem isn't guns, the problem is our violent nature, and if someone wants to hurt someone badly enough, they're going to find a way to do it, gun or not. In your case, you don't want to shoot someone, you just don't want your home to get broken into. If you do get a gun, I suggest having everyone in your family take lessons on how to use it. It should be treated with an incredible amount of respect and maybe even a little fear.
The idea would be never to use it, or have to use it. I don't believe that having a gun in your house somehow "attracts" bad vibes into your home, but it does suddenly allow for a whole range of possibilities to occur that simply wouldn't be possible if a gun wasn't there. Fathom those possibilities, and weigh your options heavily. Everyone has the right to protect themselves and to feel safe, but there will never be total security or safety -- life is precarious and fragile without burglars or guns. Each situation is different, and no matter what, guns and other weapons will always exist. If we put less energy into fighting about weapons, and more energy into figuring out why we're fighting in the first place, we'd probably save a lot more lives. We must value each other's life as if it was our own. A gun can't love someone or have compassion, but you can. Whatever you decide to do, just take great care. I hope you never shoot anyone.
Party hard, Andrew W.K.
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