Should I Buy a Gun for the Coming Civil War?

The hard-to-get Crossfire MK-1, essential for the coming civil war, if it's actually coming. Photo courtesy of

The hard-to-get Crossfire MK-1, essential for the coming civil war, if it’s actually coming. Photo courtesy of

Believe it or not, even though I live in the sticks where it’s not uncommon for bears, mountain lions and coyotes to wander across my property any time of the day or night and its perfectly reasonable to possess a rifle or a shotgun in case one of these critters goes loco, I don’t own any sort of firearm.

This isn’t due to any principled opposition to guns or anything. I grew up hunting, still go every once in a while and I’m a solid 2nd Amendment supporter.

I don’t own a gun primarily because I’ve internalized the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s axiom regarding guns in drama—if a rifle appears above the mantle in the first act, it must go off by the third act—and transformed it into a sort of perverted superstition, perhaps even a phobia.

Chekhov was saying, if the gun doesn’t go off in your play, if it isn’t necessary for the dramatic action, then take it off the mantle. My superstitious mind tells me if I keep a gun around the house, sooner or later it’s going to go off, probably by accident, and someone’s going to get hurt, probably me, cleaning the damned thing or something.

I know all about gun safety, I don’t think I’m afraid of guns, but the fact is, sooner or later, any given gun is going to go off. That’s what they do, a reality that sunk in for me recently when I learned my parents stopped keeping a 20 gauge for home protection after mom accidentally discharged the shotgun while rummaging around in the closet.

I discovered this because they just moved into a new house in town and we moved into their old house in the country, and I found an old box of shells. I might have inherited that shotgun if they hadn’t gotten rid of it, and I would have kept it. We really do have bears, lions and coyotes out here in eastern Shasta County, and although they don’t seem to pose much threat to humans most of the time, there have been a few incidents over the years, mostly gruesome livestock massacres, as my mom is fond of recounting.

One of the best things about Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck is they despise each other. Photo from

One of the best things about Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck is they despise each other. Photo from

At any rate, I don’t yet have livestock and I’m not so scared of the wild things that I go around worrying that I need to buy a gun all the time. What really got me thinking about my gunless condition was another thing we have out here in the sticks, conservative talk radio, specifically Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

I have to listen to them in the garage, because the misses will not allow Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and Michael Savage in the house. I myself sometimes find listening quite difficult and am apt to yank the cord out of the wall socket. But, this is where red state America gets its marching orders, and by extension that means Shasta County, which is, as the radio station I listen to frequently points out, a red county in a blue state. If you want to know what your conservative friends are thinking and why they’re thinking it, this is one place to tune in.

While there are fairly wide areas of disagreement between these four hosts, I think that it’s fair to say that they, and conservative talk radio hosts in general, promulgate the notion that America is embroiled in a cultural civil war that’s been going on since at least the 1960s. It’s been mostly a cold civil war in recent decades, but now, with the rise of Trump, it could be going hot. And for that my friends, you need to be prepared.

Along that vein, both Hannity and Beck in recent weeks have preened about their prowess with handguns and the necessity for every law-abiding citizen to obtain a concealed weapon permit. I think in part they’re playing to advertisers, which includes gun stores and the NRA on the channel I listen to. Beck also hawks a line of survival food products and adheres to Christian end times theology, which makes the idea we’re on the verge of second civil war seem all the more plausible, if you swing that way.

I don’t, but nevertheless recently found myself desiring a gun, mostly for the aforementioned wild animals, but also because the idea that a real shooting civil war might erupt in the United States doesn’t seem quite as absurd as it did two years ago, before the rise of now-President Donald Trump.

Now, I’m not much of a consumer, I don’t go out purchasing a lot of big ticket items, and by big ticket I mean anything more than $100. I’m practical, which is not necessarily the same thing as cheap. For example, instead of buying a street bike and a dirt bike, I compromised and for the same price bought a bike that doesn’t excel at either but can do both adequately.

Naturally, I would want the same qualities in a firearm. A pistol was out of the question and I subsequently found myself in the market for a combination over-under rifle/shotgun. The Crossfire MK-1 depicted at the top of the story is way beyond my price-point and not readily available; however, it turns out Savage Firearms has been making affordable rifle-shotgun combos for eons that are fairly easy to find.

So a couple of weeks ago I went down to one of our local gun stores in search of said weapon. I’ve never even attempted to purchase a gun, and I was nervous about passing the background check you hear some gun advocates complaining about. “Got any felonies?” the guy behind the counter asked. I don’t. “Then it won’t be a problem.”

I had hoped to find a Savage Model 24 in the .357 magnum/20 gauge iteration. That’s enough firepower to stop the sort of predators or game I might encounter out here in the woods, and would easily down any human threat.

The affordable Savage Model 42 is the most widely available rifle-shotgun combination in the United States. Photo courtesy of Savage.

The affordable Savage Model 42 is the most widely available rifle-shotgun combination in the United States. Photo courtesy of Savage.

But it turned out Savage hasn’t made the Model 24 since 2010. The only rifle/shotgun combination they manufacture today is the Model 42 Takedown, which with its 22 long rifle and 410 gauge shotgun barrels, is still lethal, but considerably smaller. The gun store guy handed it to me across the counter: a nice, compact weapon, almost a kid’s gun, something you’d get on your 12th birthday.

In fact, as I broke open the gun’s breach, I recalled the 16 gauge I was given at a very early age growing up in Idaho. Like that 16 gauge, the Model 42 is a single shot: you break open the breach, insert a bullet or a shell in one of the two chambers, close the breach, fire the weapon once, then reload it.

That got me thinking.

Suppose all hell did break loose, beginning in the cities, a real civil war, breaking down along cultural and racial divisions. An armed and obviously hostile mob arrives at the top of my driveway. With practice, I might be able to load, fire, unload and fire maybe three times before they reached me—I’ve got a long driveway. Clearly, I’ll need more firepower if it ever comes to that. Much more. Land mines, perhaps.

But then I thought of a much more plausible but still unlikely scenario. Suppose instead of a mob standing at the top of my driveway, it was but a single person, a homeless transient, let’s even say a dirtbag junkie thief of the worst order, who’s traveled 30 miles out of his territory not knowing I have absolutely nothing of value to steal and certainly nothing I would kill anybody over. He’s standing at the top of my driveway, it’s dark but I can see him under the single streetlight, and I’ve got my trusty Model 42.

Is that gun going to go off?

Chekhov’s law, at least my interpretation of it, says yes and the Model 42’s single-shot action doesn’t leave much room for warning shots. A 22 long rifle slug in the skull will kill you just as dead as a .357, and I’m not a bad shot when I practice. In the heat of the moment … well it’s not going to come to that today.

I closed the gun’s breach and held it out with both hands. It was light, short, manageable, totally lethal—and affordable. I liked it. I handed the gun back to the clerk and told him I’d think about it.

I’ve thought about it, amid all this hysteria swirling around Trump and the Russians and collusion and treason and Resistance and the Alt-Right and the onrushing civil war and I’ve actually been able to come to some conclusions that at the very least satisfy me, for now.

First, there’s not going to be a second shooting American civil war, some awful bloody conflict between blue state city slickers and red state rubes that settles the score once and for all. When it comes to territory, neither side has anything the other side really wants. There’s nothing that’s being fought about at the present moment, geographically, culturally or otherwise, that any of the various factions involved actually believe are worth dying for.

There will always be outliers on the right and left who, like the Bernie Sanders supporter that recently went on a shooting spree, critically injuring a Republican congressman and several others before dying in a hail of gunfire, demonstrate they are willing to both kill and die for a cause. But they are just that, outliers, politically-minded men (and rarely women) who for whatever reason choose to violate one of our civilization’s most sacred laws, thou shalt not kill, even at the expense of their own life, for a cause.

Whether we call such men “deranged” or “uncivilized,” we can rest assured that they are rare. When people actually start dying en masse for causes in this country, I’ll change my assessment, but until then I suspect we’ll all continue to “go our own way,” as the kids are saying these days. Yet somehow we’ll miraculously remain the United States.

Maybe we’ll look a little different. As the state of California wishes to secede from Trump nation, the State of Jefferson wishes to secede from California. There’s a solution in there somewhere (let everyone secede?), perhaps one that will even make it to the ballot box soon. That’s how we do things in a democracy. In America, anyway.

Yeah, I still believe we live in a democracy, more or less. And I’ve decided against buying the Model 42. Where I live, with the bears, lions and coyotes, a single-shot just isn’t going to cut it. I need a little more firepower as well. So now I’m in the market for a pump action 12 gauge with the largest capacity permitted by law.

Because Chekhov’s law is inevitable and I like giving lots of warning shots, no matter what animal is at the gates.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

91 Responses

  1. cheyenne says:

    When Colorado passed the law banning larger than ten round magazines a bartender at a biker bar in the Poudre Canyon was upset.  He had only one arm and stated he needed a larger magazine because he had no quick way to reload.

  2. Ronald chiodo says:

    QI’ve always wanted a CANNON placed in the corner of our front yard. Found one out of concrete. Painted up real nice. Yellow wood color on the wheels. Black on the barral   But I could not figure out how to get it past my wife or get it home. Alas I feel intimidated by anyone at the top of my driveway.

  3. name says:

    All you really need is a good shotgun, and a good .22 rifle.  You can do just as much damage with those (if you know what you are doing) as a guy can with the MK-1.  Less expensive to shoot, also.



    • T J Gold says:

      You have expressed the same thoughts I have had over the years…I spent a good bit of time in the “Black Powder” world of pre-1850.  Wonderful play acting of what the Americas were like pre-1850…BUT that is not today.

      Like you…I don’t own a weapon that is built to kill people. There are many available and many of my friends collect them and display them…and refer to them as investments…but then brag about their “killing” power…I do not understand.

      Thank you for the article…You said it very well.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Obviously I haven’t been around guns a lot lately, or I would have thought have that single shot issue through before I went to the store.

        I find weapons pretty fascinating and have met people over the years with interesting gun collections.

  4. trek says:

    Can’t go wrong with the Remington 870 pump, standard or magnum. Standard size shell-2 3/4″ may allow for 1-2 more shells verse the 3 1/2″ magnum depending on type of magazine you want.

    • Justin says:

      Aguila makes even shorter shells which would increase that capacity even more.

      • trek says:

        12 Gauge Minishell / Buckshot
        NO. 1CHB1288
        Our 1 ¾” Minishell nearly doubles the capacity of shotguns. We are the only manufacturer offering the Minishell buckshot for hunting or defense purposes. The pellets of this 00B(12) buckshot travel at 1,200 ft/sec.

        SHOT SIZE

        4B (7p) 1B (4p)

        1 3/4




    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I do like the 870, and it comes in a lot of flavors.

  5. Justin says:

    Nice one Schiede.

    • Justin says:

      oops fat fingered and posted too fast…

      Nice one Scheide (I mean that sincerely when I say it, and lead off with it on purpose.)

      I think I am as pro 2A as can be, but those talking heads are…drive me…ugh. Even when I agree with them, its too much and they drone on endlessly about stuff that is really beyond our control.

      The idea that everyone should own a gun or worse get their CCW is crazy.   I appreciate your honesty and analysis of the decision.  In a sense it is much like the decision to consume alcohol, its not for everyone, it comes with some serious responsibility and serious potential consequences.

      I really wish more gun owners would explore the use of lethal force.  Too many people think they will need to pull their gun out to defend their stuff… it seems to me that no citizen in this country should need to use lethal force over stuff.

      Not everyone needs guns to be a prepared…consider those preppers who are all ready for TEOTWAKI, what will they do for a dentist? Pull their own? YIKES!  Perhaps you are one of the people with skill and a few tools that might not need a gun…

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        What’s interesting about three out of the four hosts is they all still have basically establishment Republican politics. Hannity goes out on a limb defending Trump against this Russian nonsense … and then turns around and supports the establishment Republic position (and Democrat for that matter) on Syria and Iran. Trump won the election in part by running against such foreign interventions, saying we should work with the Russians. One conservative talking head that’s not buying the warmongering is Tucker Carlson on Fox News … who I used to despise!

  6. Truthismessy says:

    Here’s are the legal exclusions from gun ownership:

    It does not have to be a Felony, any crime which *could* be punished by more than a year in prison, even if you were sentenced to probation.  There are, of course, exceptions for certain white collar crimes.


    For an interesting story, look into the long history of xenophobia, racism, & classism in gun control laws.  The earliest prohibitions were against Native Americans and it was not uncommon in the wild west to make out of towners check their weapons with the sheriff.  During reconstruction, the south was prevented by the 1866 civil rights act from passing laws that prevented blacks alone from owning firearms.  To get around this, they passed laws that prevented everyone from having firearms (but just never enforced them on whites).  In 1941 Justice Buford wrote bluntly:  “The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of Negro laborers in this state drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the act was amended in 1901 and the act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied.”

    During prohibition, bootleggers had lots to lose and no legal recourse so they’d often buy mail order tommy guns.  To crack down, the feds levied a $200 tax ($3600 in today’s dollars) on automatic weapons which ensured such weapons stayed out of the hands of poor white trash.

    During the Civil “unrest” in the 50s & 60s white folk began to get increasingly afraid, especially with Malcolm X talking about bullets & ballots.  Strange how an armed opposition takes all the fun out of oppression…

    Anyway, they put their (pointy white) thinking caps on and came up with the Gun Control Act of 1968 — complete with support from both LBJ and the NRA.  It, and subsequent gun control legislation, brought back such Jim Crow hits as the poll tax & test — tweaked into the background check fee & handgun safety test.  If you go to the DMV you can easily find driver’s license handbooks in dozens of languages, but good luck finding a Spanish copy of that handgun safety test at your local FFL.  And denying people with a minor criminal record?  Well that’s racially discriminatory in housing, HUD says:   Making people drive/bus 30 miles to vote?  Discriminatory.  Making people drive 30 miles to the closest Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealer? No problem (seriously, overlay the locations of gun stores on the NY times demographic map of the USA).  Making folks come back in 10 days to pick up their gun?  And each & every time they want ammo?  no problem…  Don’t forget you’re prohibited from riding on most public transit systems with a gun, even unloaded.

    And funny how automatic weapons weren’t banned until 1986, after the crack epidemic put plenty of cash (and uzi’s) in the hands of the bloods & crips.


    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Many home defense experts say that if you’re to own only one firearm, it should be a shotgun. They offer a bunch of tactical reasons why that is so.

      I offer another reason: shotguns would likely be the last firearms to be banned (except perhaps black powder guns). If memory serves, most countries with the strictest gun ownership restrictions still allow shotguns.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Yes, I knew there was more to the gun restrictions than what the clerk told me, but he was correct, I would qualify easy, according to the link you provided.

      I know that it’s very hard to buy a gun in many big cities back east because of local firearms ordinances. Yet where is most of the shooting occurring these days? Truth is messy, indeed.

  7. cheyenne says:

    The shotgun comments make me chuckle.  For real insight on shotguns ask the hunting partners of Dick Cheney or Bobby Knight.

  8. Beverly Stafford says:

    My husband cringes at the term weapon for a gun.  We were flying out of Anchorage and were returning a shotgun to my father in California.  It was packed per airline rules so was OK to be checked as luggage.  At the check-in counter, the agent asked, “Is this a weapon?” to which my husband replied, “No, it’s a firearm.”

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Heh. I get why your husband would feel that way. However, I’m still indoctrinated from Army basic training in 1975, when, by gawd, that M-16 was a weapon, not a gun or a firearm.

      That mindset led to a bit of an awkward exchange in the late nineties. I had a concealed carry permit then, and I got stopped for an inoperative brake light in another county. I handed the deputy my permit, and the deputy asked, “Sir, are you carrying now?” I said, “Yes, deputy, my weapon is on my hip in the 4 o’clock position. How would you like me to proceed?”

      I’m not sure, but I think I saw the deputy roll his eyes ever so slightly. “Sir, would that ‘weapon’ be a firearm, a knife, or a hand grenade ?”

      Obviously, that deputy never had to deal with my old drill sergeant.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Good point. I mean, it’s not like I don’t own a steak knife, which is a weapon. Or can be.

  9. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    Firearms are no panacea, but living as we do in an area where wild predators make the rounds, I feel that the pros of owning guns outweigh the cons, if owners adhere to gun safety rules and stay familiar and proficient with their firearms.

    As my primary home-defense weapon, I chose a Mossberg 500 20 gauge. It puts out about three-quarters of the projectile mass of a 12 gauge with about half the recoil, making it more manageable for my wife and son. The main disadvantage I’ve found is that there isn’t the variety of loads you’ll find with 12 gauge, especially in buckshot.

  10. Truthismessy says:

    Some trivia:

    The average Superpower lasts 250 years (the US is 241 years old).

    Statistically the average American has a ~32% chance of seeing a dissolution/revolution during his 79-year lifespan.

    From a cursory scan, it looks like only the governments of England, Oman, & San Marino are older than the USA.

  11. Anita Lynn Brady says:

    In this discussion, I would sincerely like to see some coverage of where the weapon is stored. With theft seemingly on the rise, please consider secure storage as a necessity, not an option. Otherwise that gun meant for varmints can and will be used on people after it is stolen and resold.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Agreed, Anita. I know folks who are otherwise very conscientious about firearm safety who get a bit casual about storage.

    • Truthismessy says:

      Secure storage is an illusion.  Most ~$1,000 gun safes can be pried open in under 5 minutes:

      $5,000 safes can be cut open with a $15 harbor freight angle grinder in 20 minutes:


      IMO, the best defense is concealment:

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        A toddler isn’t going to break into a gun safe in 5 minutes.  Off the top of my head, I can recall several stories involving local toddlers and kids being shot dead or maimed permanently after getting their hands on unsecured guns.

        Years ago I was riding in a car with a local government big-wig from a neighboring county.  The topic of discussion was guns.  Big-wig was complaining that in today’s political climate, you had to keep all of your guns in a safe, because if one of your kids got ahold of one of your firearms and someone got killed, at the very least you might lose all your guns.

        I remember thinking to myself:  That pretty much perfectly sumps up the mind-set.  Zero concern for the hypothetical dead kid.  One hundred percent concern about how an event like that would impact your gun-humper lifestyle.  

    • Gary Tull says:

      Good point, Anita. I’m from a non-military background so the notion of readily available guns never seemed a good idea anyway.

  12. Carter Slade says:

    The decision to own a gun is a personal decision and can be based on a lot of reasons. To own or bear arms because you believe talk radio is predicting a civil war, well, maybe you should examine the pending civil war claim legitimacy first.  It could be more of that fake news everyone talks about…

    By the way RV, IF there were ever to be a civil war, it’s not the firearm choice that will be critical. It will be ammunition availability. The first thing the government will do is seize and or control all ammunition- end of revolution/civil uprising. Consider military or law enforcement class weapons. Munitions will always be available. If we’re really in the shit, a compound bow would also be mandatory ala Uncle Ted.

    Fast forward- civil war has begun but lucky me, I have my weapons of choice.  Damn, I forgot to stash food and water. Oh no, I do have a flash lite but the batteries are dead…I wonder if Safeway is still open…? If not, maybe Hannity or Beck have some extras they can lay on me, seeing as they predicted this whole mess to begin with. Everyone all together now, repeat after me – “This is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for fighting, and this is for fun…”


    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Well, I admit the headline is bit click-baity, but at the same time, both liberal and conservative pundits have been throwing the “civil war” term around real loosely. Here’s the famous liberal journalist Carl Bernstein on CNN doing just that last Sunday, as reported by Breitbart. He calls it a cold civil war that could get hot, after I wrote this. But he’s just the latest journo that’s been throwing it around. I can’t vouch for truthismessy’s probability posted above, which states there’s a 27 percent chance for a revolution in my lifetime, but I would guess that it’s lower than that. Unless we already had it!

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Whoops. Here’s that link.

      • Carter Slade says:

        A bit? LOL. CNN also throws words like treason, collusion and traitor around also. Bernstein is similar to CNN’s resident attorney spokesman Jeffery Toobin. Both are chasing long gone fame. As far as the civil war conversation, the Armageddon “what if” has been around a lot longer but so far…

        But you need to get off the fence Scheide.  Is the left predicting the civil was or is it the right? Bernstein is CNN which is left. Stupidly/paranoidly left. You might as well quote Wolf, Cooper or Lemon. On the other hand, Beck and Hannity entertain the right. Highly entertain. Curious, if you’re off the Trump train as you claim, why are you going to the trouble of listening to Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh out in the garage??  Reminds me of the alcoholic who sneaks out to the garage where he has a bottle stashed. Last time I checked those 3 take turns feeding the boiler on that long black train…

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          Well, I’ll get back on the Train when Mr. Trump signals that he’s implementing the non-interventionist foreign policy he ran on. The recent meeting with Putin was an excellent first step. But I don’t have to be on the Train to notice the MSM is behaving as irresponsibly as I’ve ever seen in my life. I know Trump is a pretty freaky dude, but damn, the media is off the hook, and Hannity has been having a field day with them. He was the only one who actually talked to DJT Jr, he’s one of the few who’s talked to Julian Assange, too. I don’t know how Hannity handles the cognitive dissonance of his own views. It is hard not to listen to, sometimes.

          • Marc Carter says:

            Well, it’s who you choose to listen to that seems a bit revealing.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Neither the United States, Russia, or China are going to suddenly veer into non-interventionism.  The best you can hope for is some sort of warming of relations with authoritarian Russia, which will come at the expense of others.

            Trump, after all, is proposing massive increases in military spending.  Chekhov’s gun above the mantle, writ large.

            As for Hannity being the only one who gave Trump Jr. a platform for implausible deniability, I think you know that others in the MSM would have jumped at the chance to ask Junior the tough questions.  That appearance on Hannity was Junior’s handlers putting him in front of a guy who would coddle him like a newborn infant.

          • Tom says:

            Slightly in awe over the line “Chekhov’s gun above the mantle, writ large.”

          • Truthismessy says:

            So are you back on the train RV?  Trump ends CIA support for Syrian rebels:

            1 war (or rather “executive action on terror”) down, 134 more to go…

  13. Steven Johnson says:

    The Remington 870 is simple, safe and time tested for dependability.  One does not need a reason to own a firearm, family leaders have had state of the art weapons since the dawn of time to protect themselves and their families.  Your questioning your own reasoning whether or not to own one tells me you are more than a little bit influenced by your “democracy” instead of realizing we have a republic (maybe not in California anyway) which so few people know the difference between.  There in lies your second civil war.

    • Truthismessy says:

      If you decide on a Remington 870, be sure to get an old one (pre 2007).  Remington’s quality has gone waaaay downhill under the tutelage of Freedom Group (aka Cerberus Capital Management).


      Google “remington 870 problems” for more info.  For more lulz, search youtube for “remington rp9 problems”

  14. Carol says:

    This is totally off subject but….Maybe you should do both your wife and yourself a favor and turn on a good oldies station on the radio and enjoy some good music instead of listening to either side of the aisle trying to further their cause. Life is short and so are most oldies records!

  15. Carter Slade says:

    Buy a bazooka and a box of hand granades, settle down in the easy chair and tune in the oldies – “There’s something happen here, what it is aint exactly clear…As John Wayne once said: Windage and elevation baby sister, windage and elevation…”


  16. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I deal in statistics for a living, so I have a good feel for both descriptive and inferential statistics and seek them out when I’m pondering issues such as the efficacy of guns when it comes to self-protection.  When it comes to guns, there is absolutely no question:  If you have guns in your home, you and your kin are less safe.  You are far more likely to have someone in that home die of a gunshot from one of your guns than to have someone die from a hostile interloper or wild animal.

    And for various reasons, people don’t care.  They don’t think it’s possible that someone in their family will turn out to be they guy who kills one or several family members in some sort of blind/drunken rage.  They don’t think it’ll be their toddler kid or grandkid who finds a gun and ends up dead, or kills another kid.  They don’t think they’ll get depressed and use the most irreversible means available to an early end.  They don’t think that it’ll be their grandpa who goes senile and kills them or some innocent neighbor for no goddamned good reason other than senile dementia-induced paranoia*.  They don’t think a moment of carelessness in their house will end up causing the death or permanent maiming of a child.

    (*My grandpa died in a state prison mental hospital in Colorado after killing a neighbor and maiming another with his gun because he was bat-shit crazy with dementia.  Local family members had tried to get his guns taken away prior to the shootings, but it turns out you can’t do that in Moffat County, CO because this is ‘Murica.)

    You don’t even have to be a statistician to have a feel for the odds.  All you need is a newspaper subscription, a long-term memory, and a reasonably good gut sense of the ratio of in-home gun tragedies to stories of self-protection. (Self-protection stories that aren’t purely delusional, that is.  I’ve had guns pointed at me twice in my line of work as a biologist, and both jackasses who did the pointing would say that they were justified because I was somehow threatening, armed as I was with binoculars, a camera, and a clipboard.)

    Having guns for self-protection isn’t really about balancing risk and safety.  It’s about feelings.  Some of those feelings are in the neighborhood of paranoia—the inflated feeling that it’s you who will someday be threatened and will need a gun for self-defense, regardless of the odds. Some of those feelings entail a sense of superiority that while some of your neighbors may be careless with guns, or may have family members who might go nuts, you and yours are relatively immune because you’re careful, and even though brother Spud inherited dad Cletus’s anger and impulse control issues, and you all live under the same roof, nothing bad will happen.  (I’m sure the local cop whose toddler found his service revolver and shot himself dead with it felt that he was highly trained, responsible, and careful.  I’m sure Shane Miller’s wife didn’t think his constant raging and prepper paranoia would lead to him murdering her and her kids.)

    Guns are viewed in certain subcultures of America as a legitimate means to solve personal problems and interpersonal conflicts.  Most gun violence in rural America is self-inflicted.  Most of the rest occurs between family members and acquaintances. So I say: Knock yourselves out. Fill your homes with guns, and feel safer.

    I’ll just toss in this parting advice to women, especially those with kids:  If your husband is a gun-humper, and he’s shown any tendencies toward being a wife-beater, kid-beater, or other form of rage-a-holic, get the hell out.  Do whatever it takes to get away.  If you don’t, and he goes Shane Miller on you and kills you and your kids—sorry lady, but you’re complicit.  Not that it’ll matter to you and your kids at that point, because you’ll all be deader than fried chicken.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      All that you say is true, Steve.  However, my first thought was for the piece in Freakonomics about pool drownings versus deaths by gunshots.  The author lost his toddler to a pool drowning.  His research showed there were more deaths due to drowning than by gunshots.  Dead is dead no matter how it happens, but gun owners are easy marks for those who make laws.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        True, Beverly.  There are many sources of risk that are far greater than the risks imposed by guns—mom driving the kids to school, for example—and for that reason I’m not someone who engages in knee-jerk clamoring for slathering on additional gun-control laws.  That said, I’ll state once again that your personal risk is far higher than modal if you live with a dude who has guns and anger issues.

        My comments were directed more narrowly at the delusion that having guns in your home puts the people in that home at decreased risk of meeting a violent end.

        We have a pool, and my wife and I are paranoid about the risks to our grandchildren when they visit.  Unless we’re outside with them, doors to the back yard are locked and alarmed. We are not delusional about the pool putting our grandchildren at reduced risk of drowning because they are learning how to swim in that pool. It’s a danger that we accept for the lifestyle value.  I’m just saying that gun owners should be equally cognizant that they’re taking on additional risk for a lifestyle decision—that’s all.

        • Justin says:

          The pool is a good analogy for the responsibility and some other aspects… I suspect if the “common people” had an honest conversation on the topics of guns, there would be more middle ground and we could find places where the laws could be made more effective.  The problem is that both sides are too whipped up by the ends and the fud the ends use to try and make their point.

    • Justin says:

      Statistics are a great tool for deception. Getting a “feeling” for the odds by listening to the stories in the news seems like bad science.  The news media report what sells, not statistics.  I wonder what the FBI has to say about “gun crime” over the last 20 years?

      I love cops, but the idea that they are some sort of gun experts is misleading. The cop who let his kid get his “service revolver” was neither well trained, responsible or careful.  I believe the reality is that most cops are not really “gun people”, their gun is just another tool on their belt.  Policing in general has changed in our lifetime as the need for a “gun expert” has been surpassed by the need for “social workers”.  Look up the average ratio of hits that officers make compared to the number of shots fired, you might be surprised.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Statistics are often used to deceive people who aren’t statisticians.  I lectured in statistics and methodology at UC Davis—I’m reasonably certain when someone is misusing the tools.  Both anti-gun advocates and the NRA cherry-pick data and analyses to make their respective cases.  I don’t really care what either side has to say.

        As for gut feelings being bad science, I wasn’t claiming that having gut feelings is any kind of science.  But that doesn’t mean that gut feelings are wrong.  Evolutionary psychologists have interesting things to say about gut feelings being evolved predispositions for making sound decisions.  It’s adaptive to have a means of weighing risk/reward that is rational, even if it’s subconscious.  Someone in this thread pointed out that people have been using weapons to defend themselves and their families for millennia.  Far, far longer than that, actually.

        It feels weird at a gut level to know that many of your neighbors (many of whom are strangers) are armed to the teeth, and you’re not—especially if one of those neighbors is an aggro tweaker (been there).  It makes you want to arm yourself.  I’ve experienced the more specific feeling of nauseating vulnerability of twice being in asymmetrical contests when having guns pointed at me.  It’s extremely hard to overcome the gut feeling that owning a gun in a land flooded with guns makes you safer, even when that’s objectively not true. Guns aren’t spears, and people today in general aren’t as violent as they were 250,000 years ago, or a thousand years ago, or a hundred years ago, or 50 years ago.  Our gut feelings about the threats we face grossly overestimate the current risk relative to when those gut feelings evolved.

        • Justin says:

          Science was my poor choice of words.  My point was that one can not develop a “reasonably good gut sense ” based on the biased information presented in the news media.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Thanks Steve Towers, for confirming my gut feelings about this issue … I’ve read studies like you’re citing that show statistically, yeah, that gun is going to go off, and you better hope you’re in the right theater when it does. Your long comment makes me feel better after I posted this story in the r/gun_politics subreddit where I was brutally savaged then kicked off the subreddit for life. My feelings! My feelings! Anyway, thanks dude!

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Steve, you make some good points, and I commend you for showing that you don’t take a black or white view despite the emotional burden of what happened to your grandpa.

      I’m in favor of gun rights, but I try to keep an open mind. You could be right: maybe the U.S. would be a safer place if nobody had guns in the home. But, I suspect that wouldn’t be the case, because I believe there are far more occasions when a firearm is used successfully for self defense than is reflected in statistics from sources such as the Center for Disease Control. And here’s the thing: in most of those cases (over 90 percent is the figure most mentioned), a shot is not fired. Despite alarming stories of meth or PCP addled perps charging people despite a gun being displayed, most people, upon seeing a gun, will stop or run. I believe that the majority of those episodes do not get reported to law enforcement.

      Am I saying that the statistics are misleading? Well, perhaps not, but I certainly don’t think they tell the whole story.

      Sadly, as with so many other issues that divide us, the pro and anti-gun forces seem more focused on agenda than a search for the truth.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I am also wholly in favor of gun rights, but I also think those rights ought to be revoked immediately and permanently if you prove to be a crackpot or moron when it comes to guns.

        The cop whose toddler killed himself with his service revolver?  Under California law, if your kid accidentally kills himself with your gun because you left it where the kid got ahold of it, you can’t be charged with manslaughter. The law presumes that the kid’s death is punishment enough for you—the law explicitly states that.  That cop didn’t even lose his job.  Contrast that with the local woman who reached for her ringing cell phone, hit the shoulder, overcorrected and lost control of her car, rolled the car, the crash resulting in the death of her daughter.  The mom was charged with vehicular manslaughter and spent time in a state prison.


        I would go so far as to say that the irate landowner who pointed a gun at me and threatened to shoot me because I was on his property ought to have permanently lost his right to own guns.  I was under an Amador County bridge on a county road, in county right-of-way, doing county work, and he had been informed that people would be on-site that day conducting studies for the proposed bridge replacement project.

        We vigorously protect gun idiots in the name of gun rights.

        I’ve encountered the theory that the cost/benefit ratio is tilted toward the benefit side because the use of guns for self-protection is underreported.  I don’t buy it, in part because I’ve never seen any compelling data to support it.  Based on a purely anecdotal observations: I have many relatives, friends, and acquaintances who pine for the day that they get to use a firearm in self-defense, but I’m only aware of one case where one of them claimed to have actually done so.  This was a story told by a younger guy, and it was so convoluted and implausible that it didn’t come close to passing the laugh test.  On the other hand, I’ve lost count of the number of gun-related suicides, homicides, serious injuries, and narrowly averted tragedies among that same cohort of relatives, friends, and acquaintances.  I also know a couple victims of gun violence and, based on the accounts of all of those events, neither of the victims would have had any time to pull a gun. And both times I had guns pointed at me, had I reached for a gun, I’d almost certainly be dead.

    • Truthismessy says:

      Steve, I wholeheartedly dispute your contention that having a gun in the home makes you less safe. As someone who deals in statistics, and even taught such a class at UCD, you are undoubtedly aware of the folly in conflating causation and correlation, yet you make such an error here.

      To illustrate, let’s replace “guns” with “cars.”  Statistics also show that you are far more likely to die in a car accident if you have a car in the garage.  But if you somehow convinced someone to give up his car and walk instead, you’d actually increase his chances of dying in a car accident!  (Pedestrians are 4x as likely to die as motorists, per mile traveled)

      Your statistics don’t account for the fact many people first buy firearms because they feel threatened.  A valid statistical analysis would have a control group of people who feel equally threatened, but don’t have a firearm.

      Finally, your statistics use suicide as proof of gun violence (over 2/3 of gun deaths are suicides).  Virtually all gun suicides are by men and men overwhelming choose suicide methods with high mortality.  Removing the gun does not magically remove their desire to die.  At best, it means they go from an 83% mortality rate in firearms to a 65% rate by hanging.  And even then, it neglects the fact that 30% of suicide survivors will make subsequent attempts.

  17. Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    Once a log time ago , when I lived in another house in Redding, I owned a nice little 22 pistol..One night in the middle of the night I heard a noise , someone was entering my house.  So I grabbed my gun , and naked took my crouched shooting stance.  When I voice cried out , dad, dad it’s Eric your son.

    I still have a gun, a 25 Beretta, but you bet a bunch , I will think long and hard before pulling the trigger.  Which probably means I would loose.

    One other consideration , contemplating a civil war, would I have enough fire power to keep off a hoard?  Most likely not.  Sure I have fantasized ingenious schemes to keep the hoard away.  Well placed propane bottles and a rifle too shoot them, effective for a time.  All kind of schemes came to mind all just a temporary solution to the obvious end.


    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      A similar story occurred in my extended Colorado family, but it involved an uncle sneaking out into the living room on Christmas morning in the middle of the night.  He found a new bike with his name on it that he decided to take for a test spin around the block.  When he returned he came very close to taking a bullet, courtesy of his dad.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Yikes, I forget about that story Dad!

  18. Tom says:

    I’m not a gun guy, I’m in favor of sensible and national controls on gun ownership and proliferation, and I tend to find most folks that really love guns are the same ones that shouldn’t.

    But I do own a gun.

    It’s locked up and the shells for it are stored away from it. It hasn’t been loaded in god-knows-how-long. There is exactly zero chance I would shoot a human being with it to protect my stuff (though, to protect my wife and dogs would be different) and even less of a chance that I would shoot an animal with it. If I can go less than a less than zero percent chance for a moment, there is actually less than a less than zero percent chance I could get to the gun, get to the ammunition, and get a good, straight shot off before an intruder were upon me. I made my peace with all of that a long time ago.

    But I haven’t gotten rid of it, either. Know why? Because sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, I hear a noise, I feel spooked, and I get back to sleep with the knowledge that (a) the dogs didn’t bark, and (b) I have a gun if I need it. Kinda dumb, but you can’t put a price on a 3 am re-sleep, eh?

    Another great entry, RV. Way to stay on schedule. 😉

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      An aluminum baseball bat under the bed would serve you better than a locked-up gun and separately stored ammo, don’t you think?

      Though again, we’re talking more states-of-mind than practicalities.  As someone who occasionally suffers from a tendency to go weeks waking up every night between 2:00 and 3:00 am and not be able to get back to sleep, I say:  Whatever causes your eyelids to drop is the golden ticket. 

      • The Old Pretender says:

        I had the same nighttime experience, Steve, and it ended when I got off the sugar.

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        Another truth from you.

        The retired police officer/SWAT instructor who taught our first and subsequent CCW classes said that, of course you have to be diligent, but not having a pistol at the ready is a useless pistol.  I have a very small .380 that is literally a pocket pistol.  I was leery of carrying it locked and loaded until an instructor, who always carries the same small pistol in his front pocket, said that he wouldn’t risk neutering himself if he thought the gun could go off accidentally.

        • Beverly Stafford says:

          My comment was in regard to Steve’s not TOP’s.  However, I may cut back on sugar.  But I confess that I really don’t consume much sugar.

  19. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    I posted this story on the r/gun_politics subreddit which it turns out is really really pro gun and the moderators did not like this story. It was actually getting good comments, put they pulled the plug on it and me as far as posting is concerned. But one thing I learned from one of the commenters before I was booted is that there’s actually a name for the alleged superstition/phobia I made up for this story: Hoplophobia, which I guess is an irrational fear of guns. Or is it rational?

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I’ve never hung out on Reddit—I’ve never been motivated to hunt it down.  Clearly not because I dislike the sound of my own voice making my opinions known.  But now that I’ve read your comment, it strikes me as one of those websites where the moderators make sure it remains an echo-chamber, where opposing opinions that are reasonably coherent and compelling are promptly deleted.


      • Carter Slade says:

        Steve…Your stuff would never be successful on reddit simply because no one would understand your first sentence, let alone your last. (a compliment) You operate in the deep end of the pool. Reddit is more in the kiddie pool area…kinda/sorta

        • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

          Hell, Steve keeps using words I have to look up. Sometimes, after reading one of his comments, I have to take a nap.


      • R.V. Scheide says:

        Yep that’s Reddit Steve.

  20. Carter Slade says:

    I thought this was a story about buying a gun because of an alleged pending civil war? Funny, no one can prove the civil war claim of the story so lets just hammer the crap out of the gun argument.  Like that topic will ever get settled here…

  21. Carter Slade says:

    RV, as far as posting your story on r/gun politics subreddit, take a minute, lean back and read your own story with an objective view. You briefly mention politics, include a more or less self concluded upcoming civil war which could be seen as a tad paranoidal and then focus largely on the best firearm you should get to shoot something. The only thing you left out is asking if anybody wants to get together for a softball game. I would imagine, with all the terrible things that go on outside our little Shasta County/Mayberry RFD format, most on line forums are being very careful these days regarding debates or stories that include guns and politics, good comments or not…

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Oh, I know I deserved to be savaged! I didn’t even read the subreddit before I posted. Some of the comments were positive, but it’s not really a 2nd amendment story. Reddit is vicious!

      As far as the civil war part goes, I just keep hearing pundits from both sides saying it, which is why I came up with the headline, and as I was writing the story, and as usual reading hundreds of different sources, because that’s what I do, I came to the conclusion that the notion of a hot civil war is far-fetched at the moment.

      I think we’ll solve this the old-fashioned way, through elections. I hope. I think my comment near the end,  that “just as California wants to secede from Trump nation, the State of Jefferson wishes to secede from California,” is interesting, because as a state, we’re a microcosm of the nation. Urban verses rural. I think these two groups do want different things, and I see know reason why both can’t have what they want. We’re still a very rich country.

  22. cheyenne says:

    Using statistics, as Steve points out, Wyoming leads the nation per capita in suicides.  While the national trend for suicides per shootings is 60%, Wyoming is closer to 80% though 140 suicides pales in comparison to more populated areas.  This last year a neighbor, 9 acre lots means neighbors are spread out, shot his wives German Shepard, his wife and himself.  He had boarded the house up with plywood over all windows.  The police, after the wife’s Nebraska relatives called them, made a welfare check and found the grisly scene.

  23. Gary Martin says:


    ‘But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao                                                                                                                     You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow’

    From “Revolution”  by John Lennon

  24. Chuck Prudhomme Chuck Prudhomme says:

    Having grown up in the bush of East Africa surrounded by often deadly wild animals I scoff at fears of wild animals in this area. The only animal in this area that is worthy of concern is an animal with two legs! I also wonder how many of the gun fanatics out there have actually killed another human being? I had the misfortune of doing just that at close range of my M-60 machine gun in Vietnam and it rests with me to this day! I advocate a powerful weapon where one has to chamber a round with authority with the corresponding noise to hopefully change the aggressors mind. If that doesn’t work then a center of mass fatal shot is the only answer if threatened with bodily harm. The sound of chambering a round with a 1911/ 45 Cal has turned a potential aggressor away on two occasions in my experience in this area.

  25. RV-Steve Tower made some great and expert  points. Personally, I have known four people that have died from gunshots. I don’t know anyone anywhere  who has killed a bad guy, or even shot at one, and I have two relatives in law enforcement. One friend of mine who died was murdered  His name was Shayne York. Shayne was an off duty LASO officer who was killed in a take-over gang banger robbery in a Buena Park  hair salon while getting his hair cut. He was murdered in front of his fiancee-now his gang banger killer is on death row. The gangbanger’s accomplice got life. The next two friends both accidentally shot themselves to death. One was Peter , 19, who was carelessly fooling around with a found handgun at a friend’s house. The other friend was Glenn, 12. Glenn and I had both taken a Boy Scout gun safety course in Burbank, Calif. One night Glenn’s dad heard a “prowler” in the backyard.  For some unknown reason, Glenn’s father sent Glenn to a bedroom closet to get their handgun. Somehow the gun discharged as Glenn was bringing the gun to his dad. There was no prowler that night-the noise they had heard  was caused by an opossum rumbling around in the bushes. Glenn died for nothing. I understand that the deaths of both Peter and Glenn basically destroyed their parent’s lives. My last friend who died from a handgun was Bill–who in a fit of depression, took his own life.  I believe handguns in a home are far too dangerous, and kill more innocent people than they save.



  26. Gary Tull says:

    Thank you, Bob. This unfortunate story provides solid reasoning, logic and support to your last statement in the end. I believe you are absolutely correct and would hope many in Shasta County can pause and take notice.

  27. Common Sense says:

    Should R.V buy a Gun for the Coming Civil War? Perhaps…….with #45 Trying to get Sessions to Quit by his NYT Rant….and Sessions lying at least 5-6 times now under oath….the Fuse is getting Closer to the Dynamite!

    As projected….Spicer is out……Kelly Ann is in the back ground…Grab a Beer….This Circus is Just about to Get REAL interesting!

    Next Step?….Look for Sessions to either be Fired….or Resign……

    You Can Pardon the Christmas Turkey or Thanksgiving day Turkey….but it is NOT going to work to pardon yourself and your Family!……

    Look for more news on the Money Laundering soon….More leaks……

    Flynn probably Cut a DEAL already…..

    History in the Making folks……

    So….Yes…you should probably Get that Gun R.V! LOL>>>>>

  28. Frank Treadway says:

    Oh RV, stop this macho madness, if you’re truly scared of all those big bad animals, you need to come to downtown Redding for a few days and see the 2-legged mammals in action. You’ll skee-dadle right back to high country and join the wolves, mountain lions and oh my the Bears too.  Come on commenters, it’s OK, Henny Penney ain’t gonna drop the big one on ya !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *