Church of FI – Gun Rant and Living a FI

Talmud

The epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S makes me seriously sick. I have grown weary of hearing people defend their right to own guns with limited control, as if that right precedes people’s right to live. Honestly, I don’t buy the whole, “I need guns to protect my family” argument. Many first world countries have restrictive gun laws (I’m looking at you Canada and Australia) and we don’t see a sudden rash of home invasions. Here’s a little story…

We own guns. In fact, we have five guns or so in the house. Almost all of these were heirlooms from Mr. TJL’s father and grandfather and carry sentimental value. However, we also have a young child in the house. Mr. TJL often tells the story of how his grandfather hung the snake charmer (a type of rifle-handgun combo) on the back of the front door. Guess what ended up happening? Young Mr. TJL blew a hole in the living room floor. I am sure that not a damn thing was learned from this incident.

The last time we took a road trip, Mr. TJL packed a gun. Initially, he claimed it was for “protection.” Neither of us would actually react in time to an eminent threat, we would probably end up getting shot with our own gun and we certainly were not going to have a loaded gun in the front of the car. I mean seriously, how many of us train multiple hours a day to react to a sudden threat? Hardly any of us, unless you are a police officer or in the military.

Finally, he admitted that we needed it for the apocalypse. In the off chance we broke down in the middle of nowhere and no one stopped or we couldn’t use our cell phones or walk to a place with service, or just walk to the nearest town, we could use the gun to shoot a rabbit or something and blah, blah, blah, blah. Let’s face it, most average Americans do not need to own guns for ANYTHING. They will not protect you. You are not hunting for food. It is not an integral part of your survival and you certainly do not NEED an assault weapon.

It has gotten to the point in this country where people think it is their right to shoot another person. Take one step onto my property, I am gonna blow your fucking head off. What happened to the time when we were neighbors? Have things truly gotten so bad that we can’t interact instead of react?

In my 40 years, I have NEVER needed a gun. I completed 4 years of field work in the backcountry of Canada and NEVER needed a gun. Did I see bears? Sure, and I turned around and went the opposite direction. Do I camp in rural areas? Have I traveled alone cross-country? Do I travel at night? Have I ever been scared about the outcome of an escalated situation? Sure, and I never have needed to shoot someone. Have I just been lucky? I don’t think so, I have been cautious instead. I don’t rely on guns to get me out of a sticky situation, I use my head.

I don’t view this issue as a political one, I view it as a moral one. My right to guns does not supersede public safety, ever. If you are a mechanical engineer working in a car factory in Detroit, and you insist on owning AR-15’s to fight terror and crime, you are an extremist.

gun wall

“Explain to me why Joe in accounting needs one of these?”

I am not against gun ownership. Are you a rancher and use a rifle for your livelihood? Great. Do you live in a rural area, have limited means and hunt for food? No problem here. Are you a businessman, engineer, teacher, plumber, sandblast technician, attorney, physician, retail worker, wait staff, chef, babysitter, or lawn maintenance worker? Give it up man. The argument is ridiculous and paranoid.

Why are guns so valuable and beneficial that it’s worth hundreds of thousands of lives?

I don’t think there is any evidence to support the implied claim that there are millions of people who died because they didn’t have guns to defend themselves. I treasure liberty, but I also like feeling safe in public, and my mother-in-law carrying a gun in her purse does not make me feel safe. Our gun control laws are a cultural relic.

The facts are pretty clear. There is a VERY strong correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths, both within the states and abroad. I don’t dispute that guns sometimes save lives, but it looks like they save a few hundred a year, and cause about ten thousand.

Again: I’m not saying that we should take away everyone’s guns. Why not? Because I don’t believe prohibition works. I think that would just fuel more crime. There are plenty of folks who use guns responsibly, and I would prefer a solution that doesn’t take away something so many value. In fact, I don’t have a solution. It’s clear this is a very contentious issue. It’s also imperative that we find a way to prevent these tragedies. We simply can’t go on having a mass shooting every day. It’s unacceptable. I remain hopeful that folks on both sides of the issue can have civil discourse which will lead to better understanding of the facts, and ultimately that both sides can work together to keep guns out of the hands of evil.

 

Living a FI

That is why I loved this post by Living a FI this week – Unloading Guns From A Portfolio . He has a moral objection to making money off of these tragedies. He makes some excellent points regarding gun manufacturers, their ties to the NRA and the shaping of U.S. gun policy. He has put his money where his mouth is, but beware he may make you rethink the ethical implications of your portfolio.

While you are there, check out Living A FI’s post collections. Specifically:

Drawdown –Part 1 –The Basics

Drawdown –Part 2 –Simulation

Drawdown –Part 3 –Strategy

Drawdown –Part 4 –Examples

Drawdown –Part 5 –Validation

Other posts worth noting are his opus Midlife FI-sis and Definitely Not Purpose. The latter made me cry like a baby. His writing is high-quality, top notch.

 

Canadians and Australians, what do you think of the U.S. gun policy. Do the gun policies in your countries make you feel castrated?

All Church of FI articles are archived in Featured links

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9 Responses to Church of FI – Gun Rant and Living a FI

  1. Thanks for writing this! I agree with all of it, and I keep getting angrier that all the second amendment proponents seem so intent on ignoring the “well regulated” and “militia” parts of the amendment. Grrrrr! Or if you say anything negative about the supposed right to own guns, they try to shut you down — because apparently you can love the second amendment but not the first. We’re still debating how to tackle this in our portfolios — we don’t like profiting off the sale of assault weapons, but it’s not easy to divest, as the Living a FI post shows, and even “socially responsible” funds often have gun holdings.

    • ska@thejollyledger.com says:

      It is not easy to divest. I am having an ethical dilemma right now because we are focused on accumulation and I am not wild about accepting smaller returns. But still I am so disappointed by the lack of action due to people hiding behind their rights. Its time we put compassion first.

  2. Mr SSC says:

    I agree that a lot of the gun ownership “go-to” reasons to own a gun are hooey. Like you point out, are you in a rural area, rancher, etc… then sure, you may need a gun. Do I need one in suburbia for “home protection”, nope probably not. That’s probably why they all reside in a massive safe, with the exception of one which resides in a much less massive safe. 🙂
    I’ve thought about getting a concealed carry, but like you, I don’t think it would make me feel much safer, nor do I feel safer or want your MIL (or equivalent) wandering around with a gun in her purse. I still own guns, all presents or inherited, oddly, I haven’t actually bought one and yet somehow I have almost 20… Mind boggling. I guess with the political climate, I’d be able to get rid of them fairly easily and I should just pocket the profit, but then I know currently they’re doing no harm, but if I sell them, who knows what they’ll be used for? That’s my dilemma and why I’m still sitting on all of them. Until I figure that out, they’ll sit locked up making me think, how to monetize these things and have a clear conscience? 🙂

    • ska@thejollyledger.com says:

      Yes! We have probably close to 5 to 10. I honestly haven’t even laid eyes on them in 5 years or so. All were inherited, so we have never even registered for a gun…but we have plenty. Whose to say WE aren’t crazy Uncle Larry sitting on an inherited arsenal. Totally scary and ridiculous.

  3. I grew up around guns and have always enjoyed them as a hobby. My friends and family are law enforcement and military. That said, most people who want to own guns for self protection are seriously deluding themselves about how they’ll respond to an attack. Flight and freeze are the more common responses, not fight, and even if you do try to fight back, odds are high that you won’t have had enough practice with drawing your weapon at the right distance so that you won’t get disarmed and shot by your own weapons.

    My right to have a hobby that also happens to have a deadly side effect, like the dual use ethical concerns in science, does not trump everyone’s right to not be shot. You know the whole “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” is basically trumped by someone’s right to have a concealed weapon with which to threaten someone’s life, liberty and any ability to pursue anything with a bullet hole or five in them.

    That said, I’m investing actively for dividends and early retirement and you’d better believe that I’m carefully considering the ethical ramifications of each purchase. My retirement is not going to be funded by blood money, thank you very much. That applies to guns, to tobacco, and to companies treating their employees like disposable trash.

    • ska@thejollyledger.com says:

      I wish everyone could be this thoughtful in life. I feel we need a cultural shift in the way we think about guns. I am not anti gun ownership but the situation we find ourselves in right now needs some serious adjustment. I have not found a satisfactory way to divest my portfolio yet, but you better believe that it weighs heavily on my mind.

  4. Hey – Completely agree.

    Guns used to be legal in Australia, but then we had one major shooting incident where 35 people were killed in 1996. After that, 85% of Australians wanted stricter gun controls which resulted in this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Arthur_massacre_(Australia)#Community_and_government_reaction

    Australians reacted to the event with widespread shock and horror, and the political effects were significant and long-lasting. The federal government led state governments, some of which (notably Tasmania itself and Queensland) were opposed to new gun laws, to severely restrict the availability of firearms. While surveys showed up to 85% of Australians ‘supported gun control’,[citation needed] many people strongly opposed the new laws. Concern was raised within the Coalition Government that fringe groups such as the ‘Ausi Freedom Scouts’,[18] the Australian League of Rights and the Citizen Initiated Referendum Party, were exploiting voter anger to gain support. After discovering that the Christian Coalition and US National Rifle Association were supporting the gun lobby, the government and media cited their support, along with the moral outrage of the community to discredit the gun lobby as extremists.[19]
    Under federal government co-ordination, all states and territories of Australia heavily restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading shotguns, and heavily tightened controls on their legal use by recreational shooters. The government initiated a “buy-back” scheme with the owners paid according to a table of valuations. Some 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350 million which was funded by a temporary increase in the Medicare levy which raised $500 million.[20] Media, activists, politicians and some family members of victims, notably Walter Mikac (who lost his wife and two children), spoke out in favour of the changes.
    Much discussion has occurred as to the level of Bryant’s mental health. It is generally accepted that he has a subnormal IQ (estimated at 66, and in the lowest 2% of his age group[21]) and at the time of the offences was in receipt of a Disability Support Pension on the basis of being mentally handicapped. Reports that he had schizophrenia were based on his mother’s misinterpretation of psychiatric advice; Bryant had never been diagnosed with schizophrenia, nor any major depressive disorder.[citation needed] Media reports also detailed his odd behaviour as a child. However, he was able to drive a car and obtain a gun, despite lacking a gun licence or a driver’s licence.[22][23][24] This was a matter which, in the public debate that followed, was widely regarded as a telling demonstration of the inadequacy of the nation’s gun laws.

    I think that was a fantastic change and I feel happier and safer that guns aren’t a thing here in Australia. There hasn’t been a mass shooting since then.

    Tristan

    • ska@thejollyledger.com says:

      Thank you for such a thorough description of the events that led to effective gun control in Australia. It is an extreme shame that here in the U.S. we mostly shove this issue over to mental health (which I agree should be addressed and de-stigmatized) and terrorism (which is also a thing but should not be used as an excuse for blanket racism).

  5. Hopefully you realize that guns save a lot more lives than they ever take in violence. And that even eliminating guns would not eliminate the violence.

    Guns have never been less available than today, yet people refuse to look at the other things that have added to a violent society. Violent video games, and parents not providing supervision. Handing out money without any work or education requirement, thereby enabling an entitlement mentality. If I do not get my way, I will kill you attitude.

    If you want to reduce gun violence, you need to focus on where the violence is occurring. Get rid of the violence first. Maybe it takes a 100% legalization of all drugs to stem it..

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