Friday, August 29, 2014

When Writers Spread Lies

I recently came across this blog post, "Pistol Packin' Mommas," and my first reaction was: "Awesome! This should be fun and probably informative!"

Because "informative" is what I think of when I see the words "pistol packin' mommas."

After all, I write stories about "pistol packin' mommas."

And then I read the post.

And I got annoyed.

The actual intention of the post, I think, can be found in these lines:
Bottom line, guns make me nervous....

Nevertheless, despite my jitters, I plan to learn to handle guns for the sake of my mystery series....

For Lottie Albright's sake (protagonist in my series) I'll learn to shoot. But as Charlotte Hinger, I doubt that I'll ever learn to like it.
That's all well and good. It's not for me to force anyone to like guns. If they like it, great. If they want one, great.

If they don't like them and don't want one, great.

And if that person is a writer who wants to learn how to shoot and handle guns for their WIP but they personally don't care for guns, that's their business.

But here's the thing: Hinger's post perpetuates a number of lies and misconceptions about guns and those that have/use them. And those lies and misconceptions tend to be accepted by most as "truth."

It's one thing to not care for guns but to do the research anyway in order to add realism to gun use in a story and then write a post about it.

It's an entirely different thing to write a post about it and at the same time continue to spout lies and misconceptions surrounding gun use/ownership.

From the post:
Colorado has a liberal conceal and carry policy. It's easy to get a hand gun permit.
If by "easy" Hinger means "anyone off the street who applies for a permit can get one," that's not true.

But that's one of those things that gets passed around and accepted as "truth" as I mention above.

In Colorado, to get a concealed carry permit you have to apply to the sheriff of the county you live in and pass these requirements (according to CRS 18-12-203):
1. Colorado resident
2. Age 21 or older
3. Not precluded by state or federal law from owning or possessing a firearm (e.g. felony conviction, mentally incompetent)
4. Does not chronically or habitually abuse alcohol
5. Is not an unlawful user of or addicted to controlled substances
6. Is not the subject of a civil or criminal restraining order
7. Complete background check, including fingerprint verification by FBI/CBI
8. Demonstrates competence with a handgun by one of the following means:
a. evidence of experience with a firearm through participation in organized shooting competitions or current military service
b. certified firearms instructor
c. honorable discharge from the Armed Forces within past three yearss
d. proof of pistol qualification in Armed Forces within past ten years, if discharged
e. retired law enforcement with pistol qualification within past ten years
f. proof of completion of a handgun training class within the past ten years
The fee for the license is $105.00 and you will be fingerprinted and undergo a felony background check (which means if you fail to pass Requirements #3, #6, and/or #7 above, you won't get a permit).

"Easy to get a permit," right?

Another from the post:
But here's the thing. Recently a man shot a car load of teenagers because he didn't like their loud music. In another incident a father was killed in a theatre for texting his kid. The idea that a person has license to shoot someone because he finds the other individual annoying is ludicrous.
Actually, the ludicrous part is this:
The idea that a person has license to shoot someone because he finds the other individual annoying
A person does not have a license to shoot someone he finds annoying. According to Colorado law, that's second degree murder:
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection (3), murder in the second degree is a class 3 felony where the act causing the death was performed upon a sudden heat of passion, caused by a serious and highly provoking act of the intended victim, affecting the defendant sufficiently to excite an irresistible passion in a reasonable person (C.R.S. 18-3-103(3)(b))
Furthermore, having a concealed carry license is not a license to shoot anyone. The license allows the licensee to carry a handgun concealed on their person for the purpose of self-defense.

If you do decide to shoot someone, they better be coming at you with with the intent of hurting you badly. Otherwise, you have no cause to shoot them. (More on this later in the post.)

Let's look at one more from the post:
I'm very ambivalent about guns. I have a small collection of shotguns and rifles owned by my late husband. I don't have any handguns, but I believe I have the right, indeed the obligation, to defend myself if someone breaks into my home or intends to do me bodily harm. Still...I simply can't bring myself to buy a hand gun or get a license or whatever is required for a conceal and carry permit.
Ambivalence with a gun will get you killed. Especially if you're trying to defend yourself from a home invasion.

Yes, you can believe you
have the right, indeed the obligation, to defend myself if someone breaks into my home or intends to do me bodily harm.
But the mere fact you are ambivalent about guns speaks to a mindset toward the use of guns.

And if you have a mindset that causes you to second guess or hesitate at that critical moment, you will be another statistic.

Belief is one thing.

Constant practice and cultivation of the proper personal defense mindset is critical and key.

If you have decided to purchase a gun for personal defense, to protect you and your family from assault and/or home invasion, then I believe it is vital you put in the time and practice; you must learn about your particular firearm and how it works, you must learn the proper mental and legal response to a violent situation (i.e., when to shoot vs. when not to shoot, what to say when you call law enforcement, etc.), you must go to the range and practice proper firearm handling techniques (and if you can't get to the range, there's dry-fire practice), you must practice hitting the target in the proper place every single time, you must practice shooting from various positions, you must practice drawing from concealment, you must practice your response to that "bump in the night," etc.

First and foremost, you have to come to terms with the stark fact that, if it comes to it, you will be shooting, likely injuring, possibly killing another human being.

If that's not your thing, don't buy a gun for personal defense.


* * *

Am I making a big thing about this?

Yes, I am.

Why am I making a big thing about this?

Because I'm gun people and these are the kinds of things we gun people have to deal with from non-gun people.

Ignorance of gun information and issues? I don't have a problem with that. I will eagerly provide you with information I have and show you where to get more information about.

But information based on what the Media, Hollywood, TV, politicians, and gun control groups tell you? That kind of thing leads to the lies and misconceptions I just pointed out. That kind of thing leads the majority of non-gun people to believe we gun people are all ignorant, ultra-conservative, Bible-thumping, racist, knuckle-dragging rednecks/old white people.

Sorry. I am Asian with light-brown skin, college-educated, do not belong to an organized religion, value civil liberties, favor small government, and my knuckles drag only when I'm on all fours.

So, yes, I'm making a big thing about this.

My point: learn about the proper mechanics of guns and gun use if your story warrants it and post about what you've learned to aid other writers.

But don't go spreading lies and misinformation.

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