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Eric Raymond is taking good care of himself

This is fascinating, and must strike the Briton of today, with the UK’s draconian restrictions on the use of guns, as a very alien sort of blog post. I got some insight into the sort of ideas and methods he is discussing when I did a 4-day defensive handgun course in Nevada back in the September of 2002 with an American friend of mine.

One thing that strikes me is how some of Eric’s observations on the need to be “tactically aware” of your environment when seeking to be safe can apply not just to anyone thinking about firearms, but more generally. For instance, when I have entered a nightclub or pub, or thought about entering one, I tend to avoid those places where I cannot see any easy way to get out, or if there are folk in there who almost radiate menace. It does not have to be an issue of physical appearance, either – the tone of voice often sets my alarm bells off.

And one good piece of advice in the comment thread: if you want to drink booze, do not carry a gun. It seriously interferes with reaction times. And even in the UK, where you can still do stuff like shooting clays, avoid the sauce if you go on a sort of jolly day out. I have heard of some right twerps getting nearly killed because they were guzzling alcohol on driven game shoots, etc.

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20 comments to Eric Raymond is taking good care of himself

  • Dale Amon

    In the words of Robert Heinlein: “Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors… and miss.”

  • I try to be tactically aware, when I think about it, or when something spooks me. But probably not enough. As commenter Nancy Lebovitz asks “How does reading in public fit with maintaining situational awareness?” I frequently miss trains, or my stop, by being too engrossed in a book.

    I rather enjoyed the treatment in the comments of pacifist Bennett, too. “I cede to pacifists a right to sacrifice themselves for their ethical position, but I do not cede to pacifists a right to put their feelings before my safety or that of my neighbors.”

    The surprising thing about this is that he’s only been carrying for 14 months. I read his Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun essay years ago, when I was first discovering that libertarianism existed and it wasn’t just me. That’s an essay that would blow most Britons’ minds, too.

  • pete

    I read lots of Heinlein as a child but thankfully I didn’t end up as odd and paranoid as this chap is. Perhaps that’s because I also read the library’s entire collections of William and Biggles books.

  • Rob Fisher: I’ve only been carrying continuously for 14 months, but was doing so more occasionally long before that.

    I’m glad you liked my essay on ethics: did you recognize that it was part response and part tribute to Jeff Snyder’s A Nation of Cowards? That is also well worth reading.

  • “…the need to be “tactically aware” of your environment when seeking to be safe…” Especially when driving; this is perhaps the single most lethally potent activity anybody does on a day to day basis. Where I live, “tactical” awareness on the road inputs to my entire range of action.

  • M. Thompson

    Save the hard stuff for the party afterwards. And make sure one guy is sober.

    It’s about the only good idea the road safety ninnies have.

  • Jerry

    I don’t think he’s odd or paranoid at all.
    He’s a realist.
    The world is a place where there are dangerous areas and dangerous people who WILL hurt you. They sometimes do this for obvious reasons ( robbery etc.), sometimes for reasons you are unaware of ( you leered at his girlfriend etc ) and sometime for no reason at all ( they’re mentally screwed up ).
    Sometimes those areas and persons overlap and sometimes they do not – most cities have certain sections it’s best to avoid however people DO GET robbed/raped/murdered/beaten in the nicest, so called ‘safe’ sections as well.
    Unfortunately, there are no signs ( flashing neon or otherwise) that state ‘You Are Entering a Dangerous Area’ or on people stating ‘This is a Dangerous Person’.
    Therefore, one MUST assume that one may be in a dangerous area or near one or more dangerous people and act accordingly.
    If that’s paranoia so be it.
    I, for one prefer to say alive and hopefully undamaged and to accomplish that I carry as well. When and where I carry is up to you, if you are someone who means me harm, to guess !!

  • Kim du Toit

    Funny thing about being situational aware: when you first start doing it, you feel like a paranoid wally. After a while, it becomes automatic, like looking left and right before crossing a street.

    I’m no longer even aware I’m doing it, until my wife tells me to get “that hitman look” off my face.

    Of course, I’ve been carrying a handgun since about 1975…

  • Jerry

    ‘I read lots of Heinlein as a child but thankfully I didn’t end up as odd and paranoid as this chap is.’

    I don’t think he’s odd or paranoid at all.
    He’s a realist.
    The world is a place where there are dangerous
    areas and dangerous people who WILL hurt you. They
    sometimes do this for obvious reasons ( robbery etc.),
    sometimes for reasons you are unaware of ( you leered
    at his girlfriend etc ) and sometime for no reason at
    all ( they’re mentally screwed up ).
    Sometimes those areas and persons overlap and
    sometimes they do not – most cities have certain sections
    it’s best to avoid however people DO GET
    robbed/raped/murdered/beaten in the nicest, so called ‘safe’
    sections as well.
    Unfortunately, there are no signs ( flashing neon or otherwise) that
    state ‘You Are Entering a Dangerous Area’ or on people stating
    ‘This is a Dangerous Person’.
    Therefore, one MUST assume that one may be in a dangerous
    area or near one or more dangerous people and act accordingly.
    If that’s paranoia so be it.
    I, for one prefer to say alive and hopefully undamaged and to
    accomplish that I carry as well. When and where I carry is up to
    you, if you are someone who means me harm, to guess !!

  • Verity

    Kim – Hello and glad to see you again after quite some time!

    Question, here in Mexico, we’re only allowed to own a .22. Is it worth going to target practice? In fact, is it worth buying a gun?

    Many thanks.

  • jsallison

    you say ‘hitman look’ like there’s something wrong with that. The jackals do pick up on subliminal signals, don’tcha know.

    Funny thing about being situational aware: when you first start doing it, you feel like a paranoid wally. After a while, it becomes automatic, like looking left and right before crossing a street.

    I’m no longer even aware I’m doing it, until my wife tells me to get “that hitman look” off my face.

    Of course, I’ve been carrying a handgun since about 1975…

  • Britt

    Question, here in Mexico, we’re only allowed to own a .22. Is it worth going to target practice? In fact, is it worth buying a gun?

    Many thanks.

    Posted by Verity at September 28, 2010 12:51 AM
    _________

    Remember the first rule of gunfighting… ‘have a gun.’-Jeff Cooper

    A .22 is better then sharp sticks or strong language. Plus I would hope that in Mexico one could carry a better gun and also a few crisp bills to make things right with local cops if you get caught.

  • Robin Goodfellow

    @pete “I read lots of Heinlein as a child but thankfuly I didn’t end up as odd and paranoid as this chap is.”

    There is some context missing from this article. Specifically that Raymond took a large role in creating the anti-Iranian regime “NedaNet”, and due to that has received death threats, including threats that the FBI considered serious. There is not a drop of paranoia in Raymond’s actions. When people who are capable of killing tell you they want to kill you it is wise to take them seriously and take appropriate precautions.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Eric, thanks for the link, appreciated.

    Robin Goodfellow: yup, that certainly puts his article in full context. Of course it is easy to sneer or mock, and I wasn’t surprised when one or two folk thought that Eric’s actions were paranoid.

  • ESR: I did not make the connection. That’s another good essay. I’ve never liked the advice to not resist criminals, sensible as it seems on the surface. It’s the sort of advice you might expect from monopolists… I find it odd that in the UK I am more afraid of the police than I am of the criminals — I must be, otherwise I *would* carry, wouldn’t I?

  • razorbacker

    In the semi-civilized wilds of Arkansas I choose not to carry a gun. I feel safe. Oddly enough, when I lived in certain areas of Houston and Little Rock I did chose to carry a gun. Strangely, I felt the need when living in cities and not while living in small town America.

    Now granted, perhaps one reason that I can feel safe unarmed is that many of my fellow citizens chose to carry handguns. I am aware of the statistics that indicate that crimes committed by legal conceal carry people approach zero.

    My choice also has nothing to do with a dislike of firearms, rather it has to do with not wanting to bother with the responsibility of toting around a pistol.

    One should not assume that because I chose not to exercise my right that I would be satisfied with someone taking that right away. I would be most unhappy should that be contemplated.

  • Bod

    Like razorbacker, I live in a town with very low crime rates, and I’ve elected to not bother with carrying. I know a few people in the town who do, and I’m very grateful of that. Our cops aren’t a bad bunch either, and the town’s very small, so all in all, the risk to me and mine is minimal.

    If the town were more dangerous, I and SWMBO would carry. But the least I can do is to support the people upon whom we ‘free ride’ on is to support their 2A rights.

    If the anticipated move to VA comes off, I’ve promised myself a firearm purchase. In relative terms, it’s still a very safe part of the state, but it’s still several times more dangerous than my current hometown.

  • johnlocke

    I’m sure others have noticed the constant undercurrent of anger one feels when in the UK (or at least in London). It feels ready to spill into violence at any time. I’ve no doubt this is partly because people have been entirely disarmed, and told to walk on by if they see a crime being committed. This is, of course, entirely the opposite of what Raymond is talking about in these essays. It’s the anger and resentment of slaves.

    Remember Tony McNulty’s advice about doing nothing if you see an old lady being kicked in the head? Wicked, hateful and immoral.

  • David Gillies

    CCW ain’t paranoid. Always have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

  • Paul Marks

    A good solid article by Mr Raymond – thank you for drawing my attention to it J.P.

    Mr Raymond, I hope you can guard your safety without undermining too much of your quality of life.

    There are times when a person likes to relax – not have to check for exit routes, and lines of sight and so on.

    And, sadly, these times of total relaxation are denied to you.