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Thread: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

  1. #1

    Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    I'm trying to reconcile my thoughts about owning a gun for home protection with my spiritual practice.

    I've been reading about emergency preparedness and survival recently, and I've decided that it would be prudent of me to get prepared with the usual items....water, canned food, crank radio, etc. Most articles also recommend some type of home protection in case the sh*t really hits the fan and people become desperate enough to harm others to get what they need/want. Therefore, I've been considering purchasing a shotgun for home protection and simply keeping it locked in a safe place in my home for the incredibly unlikely event of an emergency.

    I also read a lot about politics and now that I'm older and understand more about the country I live in (USA), I feel as though it's my duty to exercise my 2nd Amendment right to bear arms (perhaps before this right is taken away by our own government).

    When reading about gun ownership in general, you'll come across a common piece of advice that says, "never point a gun at anything you're not willing to kill". I've been wondering if I would ever really be able to do that, even if I were the victim in a home invasion type of scenario where my life and my wife's life was truly threatened.

    I'm wondering if there are any gun owners in this Sangha or if anyone has any thoughts about this issue?

  2. #2

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Johnny,

    Might I ask you to hold this question, and raise it again next week in our Precepts study course? We will be talking about the Precept of avoiding the taking of life, and "self defense" is a major dilemna of that. Would you please wait with this question, and ask again there next week?

    Gassho, Jundo



  3. #3

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Hi Johnny,

    The USA is obviously very different from the UK, gun ownership if extremely restricted and heavily licenced other than air weapons.

    Is there really a need for a gun for home security and all the other survivalist/end of the world type preparations? I guess if you live in a hurricane/earth quake area may be, but otherwise?

    May be I'm just naive, but over here where ever I've lived I just close the curtains, lock the door (if I remember). Some people have burglar alarms but not all and people I know who have them rarely seem to use them anyway.

    Be interesting to discuss it in the precepts thread when it comes up.

    As for recreational use of guns, i.e target shooting etc, that doesn't bother me, neither does genuine hunting for food. Hunting for the sake of bagging things does bother me though.

    In gassho, Kev

  4. #4

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    I'll remember to bring this up again next week per Jundo's request.

    Thanks!

    John

  5. #5

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    And I promise no jokes about "Johnny from Joysey packin a piece" :shock:

  6. #6

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?


  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Longdog
    Hi Johnny,

    The USA is obviously very different from the UK, gun ownership if extremely restricted and heavily licenced other than air weapons.

    Is there really a need for a gun for home security and all the other survivalist/end of the world type preparations? I guess if you live in a hurricane/earth quake area may be, but otherwise?

    May be I'm just naive, but over here where ever I've lived I just close the curtains, lock the door (if I remember). Some people have burglar alarms but not all and people I know who have them rarely seem to use them anyway.

    Be interesting to discuss it in the precepts thread when it comes up.

    As for recreational use of guns, i.e target shooting etc, that doesn't bother me, neither does genuine hunting for food. Hunting for the sake of bagging things does bother me though.

    In gassho, Kev
    But then what do you do when the zombies attack?

  8. #8

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    :lol: Haven't they already :lol:

  9. #9

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    It's an interesting conundrum for America.

    Higer rates of homicide than other developed nations, i'm sure that the ease of access to guns is a contributing factor. Living in Australia, gun shooting rampages at schools and universities are unheard of.

    So in totality restricting gun ownership would be better for everyone's safety. But if gun ownership is widely accepted and what other option would you have for security other than to own one yourself. In saying that, if someone shoots you in surprise, having a gun on hand won't necessarily be of any use. So, the rate at which others can intervene and stop attacks would be high (once someone is shot), but does nothing for the rate of surprise attacks especially if the victim is isolated (as gun ownership is high).

    Oh well. Thanks goodness I live in Australia.

  10. #10

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    US Constitution

    Amendment II

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    For years people have interpreted that amendment to mean that everyone can own a gun. I've always interpreted it that if you are in the militia, you can have a gun. I'm not in the armed forces, so I shouldn't have a gun. I'm not trying to start a philisophical debate here, just giving a different perspective.

  12. #12

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    But then what do you do when the zombies attack?
    Here in St. Louis we have a group called the Zombie Squad, who educate the public on survivalism in the case of this scenario. They do it to raise charity money, and people attend seminars, camping trips and generally have some fun going over the "what-ifs" of total disaster scenarios (the zombie part is just for fun... at least I think).

    Seriously though, personally I have no problem with gun ownership. I don't own one and probably never will (my wife hates guns so I don't push the issue), but I really enjoy targetshooting, even taking the weapon apart and cleaning it afterward (many of my family and some of my friends do own guns). It's an enjoyable hobby that doesn't have to be inherently violent, and when it comes to self defense, you need not shoot to kill if you even shoot at all. There are other practical considerations: in a total disaster scenario, hunting animals (at least in the short term) could be necessary. And although I'm not a hunter either, game populations (at least here in the midwest) are managed through hunting. We've eliminated all of certain species' natural predators, leaving them free to multiply beyond environmentally sustainable numbers. Among other problems, if there were no population control we'd have far higher numbers of traffic collisions with animals, for one thing... and the list goes on. I'm not an ecologist so I'm not aware of any alternatives aside from a complete paradigm shift in terms of how our society operates, and that's not practical or even possible at this point in time - which is also relevant to the self-defense issue.

    In the U.S., we can argue until we're blue in the face as to whether or not guns are good or bad and if they should be banned or not etc... but the fact is, the right to own them is guaranteed by law, firearms are already dispersed throughout the population, and this right also extends to people who have no business owning them as well. That's how it is here, so make of it what you will.

    Firearms may facilitate quick and easy violence, but the responsibility remains ours. Bear in mind that steak knives, your bare hands or even words can be just as deadly with the operative intention.

  13. #13

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnny
    US Constitution

    Amendment II

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
    I agree also that interpretation of that particular amendment has fluctuated in the SCOTUS. Personally, I don't believe in gun banning, but I also don't agree with the NRA's take that it's just a tool like a hammer.

  14. #14
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    I come from a region of the country where gun use is high, and homicide rates are very low. Tragically, there was a 'whacked out crazy-guy' shooting a couple months back, but such incidents are so low as to render such events as highly unusual.

    Where I'm from, guns are a symbol and tool of rugged self-sufficiency and pride in proficiency. The yearly firearm deer season's first week is practically a religious holiday, and I was raised as a (rather poor) hunter. The very thought of using a gun on a human being was truly terrifying - as we'd witnessed first-hand the power of guns. We knew it wasn't like on TV or in videogames.

    Part of me thinks that it's a failure on our part as a culture that we might think that proscribing gun ownership would be a 'short-cut' to reduced violence in the society. The truth is, such violence is cultural - and its cure is also cultural.

    Chet

  15. #15

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Australian Gun Law Update

    Here's a thought to warm some of your hearts...
    From: Ed Chenel, A police officer in Australia
    Hi Yanks, I thought you all would like to see the real
    figures from Down Under.
    It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were
    forced
    by a new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be
    destroyed by
    our own government, a program costing Australia taxpayers
    more than $500 million dollars.
    The first year results are now in:
    Australia-wide, homicides are up 6.2 percent,
    Australia-wide, assaults are up 9.6 percent ;
    Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes,
    44 percent)!
    In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms
    are now up 300 percent.
    (Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in,
    the criminals did not and criminals still possess their guns!)
    While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady
    decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically
    upward in the past 12 months, since the criminals now are guaranteed
    that their prey is unarmed.
    There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and
    assaults of the elderly, while the resident is at home.
    Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how
    public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort and expense
    was expended in "successfully ridding Australian society of guns." You
    won't see this on the American evening news or hear your governor or
    members of the State Assembly disseminating this information.
    The Australian experience speaks for itself. Guns in the
    hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control
    laws affect only the law-abiding citizens.
    Not sure about the quote above, but it resembles things I have seen elsewhere.
    If you take the guns away from law abiding citizens, only the criminals have guns.

    This is interesting and related: - RULE #1 Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.

    - RULE #2 never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.

    - RULE #3 Keep finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.

    - RULE #4 Keep weapon on safe until you intend to fire.

    I do not like guns, I have been witness to not only what they do to the person shot, but also the effect on the shooter. However I do feel that until we have a more polite society, it is a good idea to have good people who know how to use guns effectively.

    Consider the sheep, without the Shepard being vigilant, they fall prey to the wolf.

    Sorry if that seems all deep in stuff, but I think this situation is highly complicated and that sweeping generalizations like "Guns are Bad, we should ban them" are not realistic.
    Perhaps we should just ban crime and try and stick to that.

    In gassho,
    Jordan

  16. #16

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Re: Gun Ownership & Buddhism ?
    by Jordan on Fri Oct 03, 2008 9:49 am

    Australian Gun Law Update

    Here's a thought to warm some of your hearts...
    From: Ed Chenel, A police officer in Australia
    Hi Yanks, I thought you all would like to see the real
    figures from Down Under.
    It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were
    forced
    by a new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be
    destroyed by
    our own government, a program costing Australia taxpayers
    more than $500 million dollars.
    The first year results are now in:
    Australia-wide, homicides are up 6.2 percent,
    Australia-wide, assaults are up 9.6 percent ;
    Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes,
    44 percent)!
    In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms
    are now up 300 percent.
    (Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in,
    the criminals did not and criminals still possess their guns!)
    While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady
    decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically
    upward in the past 12 months, since the criminals now are guaranteed
    that their prey is unarmed.
    There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and
    assaults of the elderly, while the resident is at home.
    Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how
    public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort and expense
    was expended in "successfully ridding Australian society of guns." You
    won't see this on the American evening news or hear your governor or
    members of the State Assembly disseminating this information.
    The Australian experience speaks for itself. Guns in the
    hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control
    laws affect only the law-abiding citizens.


    Not sure about the quote above, but it resembles things I have seen elsewhere.
    If you take the guns away from law abiding citizens, only the criminals have guns.

    ................ummmm...not true according to statisitics

    In the 12 years since the law reforms, there have been no mass shootings. But there is also evidence of wider collateral benefits in reduced gun deaths overall. While the rate of firearm homicide was reducing in Australia by an average of 3% per year prior to the law reforms, this more than doubled to 7.5% per year after the introduction of the new laws, although to the delight of our local gun lobby, this failed to reach statistical significance simply because of the low statistical power inherent in the small numbers involved.[/
    http://www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20080 ... nsult.html

    australian crime rates from govt sources - http://www.aic.gov.au/topics/faqs/crime_rate.html

    The USA has 14.3 times Australia’s population, 104 times our total firearm-caused deaths (30,143 in 2005 vs 289 in 2003), and 294 times Australia’s firearm homicide rate (12,352 in 2005 vs just 42 in 2005/06). In 1979, 705 people died from gunshots in Australia. Despite population growth, in 2003, this number had fallen to 289.

    Gun lobby affiliated researchers in Australia have sought to repudiate these outcomes using embarrassingly naïve methods that have been heavily criticised in the research literature. While news of the latest gun massacre in the United States remains depressingly common, Australians today enjoy one of the safest communities on earth. John Howard’s first and most popular law reform stands as the world’s most successful reform of gun laws.
    ......and John Howard was the most right wing prime ministers Australia has ever had, so it was not poltical. I'm no great fan of John Howard but Gun Reform and declining crime rates was one of his greatest achievements. (the avg aust also got wealthier which probably contributed to declining crime rate).

    The USA has 14.3 times Australia’s population, 104 times our total firearm-caused deaths (30,143 in 2005 vs 289 in 2003), and 294 times Australia’s firearm homicide rate (12,352 in 2005 vs just 42 in 2005/06). In 1979, 705 people died from gunshots in Australia. Despite population growth, in 2003, this number had fallen to 289.

    Gun lobby affiliated researchers in Australia have sought to repudiate these outcomes using embarrassingly naïve methods that have been heavily criticised in the research literature. While news of the latest gun massacre in the United States remains depressingly common, Australians today enjoy one of the safest communities on earth. John Howard’s first and most popular law reform stands as the world’s most successful reform of gun laws.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    I'll keep my views on the issues of principle for the forthcoming discussion in the Jukai forum, but what struck me about this thread is just how different our cultural perspectives are. To those in the USA, the right to bear arms and a relatively high level of gun ownership seems to be normal, and accepted if not necessarily agreed with. To many of us in the UK, I suspect, it seems outlandish, bizarre and brutal. We are all, to an extent, the product of the societies that made us, and on some issues - and this is one - that may give us very different perspectives. I guess we'll need to remember that when we come to debate the issues of principle on this one.

    Gassho

    Martin

  18. #18

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    ... what struck me about this thread is just how different our cultural perspectives are ... We are all, to an extent, the product of the societies that made us, and on some issues - and this is one - that may give us very different perspectives ...
    It could also be suggested that we're all products of our upbringing as well. As a child of hunters I've been raised to both fear and respect guns, and also admire and be saddened by the taking of life (human or animal) with them. Whether Nan Ch'uan using a knife with a cat or a person with a gun ... perhaps if one true word could be spoken outcomes would be different?

    Nagaruda

  19. #19

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Hi

    I am sure you will hear more from me also during the upcoming study and discussion of the precept of not killing. Having carried a weapon for over 30 years as a federal law enforcement officer in the United States I have had to ponder this question for much of my life. Even now retired it is on my mind as my son now carries that responsibility also a law enforcement officer.

    As for the immediate comment on an issue that seems to have migrated from a question of a conflict between owing a weapon for self defense and the precept of not killing to more a discussion on the right to own a firearm. One experience stands out in my mind that you all may want to ponder. In the late 1960’s there was civil unrest in many major metropolitan areas of he United States within predominantly Black communities. Like the other thread on malicious offering of miss-information on the Muslim community, in the late 1960’s the same mentality existed and misinformation was spread with the same intent to create fear in other communities. My stepfather believed this information and “prepared himself for the invasion of the white community by out of control blacks”. This preparation for home protection included buying a rifle and a handgun. For years the weapons lay loaded and ready for “ the invasion”. In his mind his home was secure. During this time he experienced a chronic illness and became depressed. My mother found him sitting on his bed, weapon in hand, ready to find relief from the burden his illness had placed on him. She was able to talk him out of killing himself. But what irony, a handgun purchased to protect him from perceived life threatening danger from without, nearly becomes the tool of his death by his own hand.

    Think about it. I would suggest that living life fully engaged in your community guided by the precepts we are studying at this moment in time offer our best home security. Its worked or my wife and I for over 45 years living in diverse communities, urban and rural, from Hawaii to Washington DC.

    Jim

  20. #20

    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    I would suggest that living life fully engaged in your community guided by the precepts we are studying at this moment in time offer our best home security.
    Nicely said.
    A universal solution too.

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Gun Ownership Buddhism ?

    Jim,
    Well said. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Gassho,
    Alex

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