February 21, 2013 1 Comment
Police don’t believe Oscar Pistorius’s claim that he felt threatened by the person locked in his bathroom, who turned out to be his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, now dead, but it doesn’t strike me as very different from the paranoid fantasies with which gun owners now routinely argue their need for limitless firepower. Gayle Trotter recently testified before congress that women’s safety requires the ability to instantaneously repel multiple violent attackers in their homes, though the only support she could come up with from the whole history of violent attacks was one that had been handily repelled by a woman with a non-assault weapon.
Just as some woman might some day face multiple intruders determined not to flee until she’s killed each one, so could an armed intruder in Pistorius’s bathroom have been about to shoot him through the door. This possibility forced him to shoot first.
Until gun owners learn to distinguish between their fears and reality, no one is safe. As Steenkamp, Trayvon Martin (whose shooter feared he might be armed), and many less publicized victims have shown us, it’s impossible to avoid looking as though we might be about to threaten someone’s life.