Monday, 16 April 2012

The Dilemma

When planning for the zombie apocalypse I consider all the usual things:
  • How and where to establish a stronghold
  • How to gather and protect loved ones
  • How and when to form alliances with other survivors
  • Identifying safe routes
  • Establishing and caring for sustainable food supplies
  • Provision of clean water
  • How to source or simulate medicines and medical care
  • Morale/mental health
  • Weapons
This last one presents a bit of a problem for me.

Not because I would have an issue dispatching zombies, self-preservation and terror-adrenaline will have me primed to do my best not to be eaten or infected.

Because I'm an Australian.

And I honestly have no idea how I would get my hands on a gun or what would do with it if I did.

Well, obviously point the bang bang end at whatever you need to shoot and pull the trigger but loading, maintenance, gun discipline...

Add that to the fact that I live in a country that isn't particularly big on guns, doesn't have a super huge range available openly to the general public, and that I would feel a bit like a nervous crackpot if I tried to purchase a gun and I'm in trouble.

I don't think the zombies will calmly wait for me to learn how to shoo before they attack, they're not known for their social niceties.

My relationship with the idea of firearms is a bit complicated.

On one hand I would really quite like to learn how to shoot, just as a technical exercise.

I think I might be good at it if given the chance.

For instance, I had the opportunity to fire a simulation F88 Austeyr at an actual Army base Weapon Training Simulation System facility (where active Service members qualify and renew qualifications on their weapons) and this was my grouping firing an official qualification serial.

This was the first time I have ever fired a gun that was not attached to a game system and which was built and weighted to ape reality, so I was understandably pretty stoked.

If you click on the picture to get the big version you can see the cluster size of my groupings, including the scribbled note down the bottom that my three-shot zero grouping had a spread of 62.4 or 64.2 mm*.

That and my awesome nerf gun story both have me convinced that if I had a proper crack at it, I could be a decent markswoman.

But on the other hand, the idea of actually owning and operating a gun in a pre-zombie world for any reason other than pure unadulterated pride in accuracy and precision makes me feel deeply uncomfortable.

If I could be guaranteed a clean kill shot, I might be OK with some types of hunting.
I'm an omnivore, I eats the meats, I'm aware of where it comes from and the part I play in that system so responsibly killing your own game as long as you're going to utilise it properly and aren't just into killing animals, is theoretically fine.

But the idea of wounding or causing suffering to an innocent animal that I would then have to run bawling after in an attempt to put it down mercifully gives me a major case of the sads.

And pointing a weapon at another human being?

I would have to be sure, DAMN sure that they actually meant me or somebody else unequivocal harm before I pulled that trigger because otherwise the guilt would consume me.

I feel guilty enough about boring, mundane everyday stuff like forgetting somebody's birthday, I'm not sure the bar graph goes high enough to show how bad I would feel about injuring or killing someone who didn't have to be impaired or killed.

I know gun enthusiasts say that guns themselves are just tools and that in the hands of responsible owners they are safe (or useful) and are not inherently evil and sure that's technically true.

I know I thoroughly enjoy Erin Palette's Monday Gunday posts and her passion for the technical side of gun ownership and operation.

The fact still seems to remain that unlike cars, gardening implements, cricket bats and other things that could at a pinch be turned into weapons against the living or the undead, guns were specifically designed to kill or injure.

It isn't a side effect or bonus feature, it's what they're designed for.
Just because you aren't using them for that and God/Gods/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Universe-willing never intend to use them for that purpose doesn't take away from the fact that's what they're designed to do.

So the idea of going out and purposefully purchasing something that could be used to quite easily kill someone... someone who wouldn't have a chance to get close enough to fight back or defend themselves... it doesn't sit quite right with me.

They seem to make it too easy to make a mistake or do something you'll regret.

At least with a knife you have to get close enough and have the intent fully lodged in your mind before you can do actual damage.
You have to mean it.

This discomfort and reluctance clashes pretty badly with the cultural conditioning that I've received at the hands of movies, books and other media that guns can be used to Save The Day.
Of course they're also usually being used to menace the day which makes them a neutral third party in the conflicts...

Just to mess with me, my brain has no problem with the idea of owning a fully functional set of Japanese ceremonial katanas.

Maybe because you couldn't have one on your person walking down the street.
Maybe because they're such a well-established historical item that I really do see them as predominantly decorative rather than immediately functional these days.
Maybe because they're pretty.
Maybe because you would need to train like hell to be proficient with them and to be guaranteed to hurt others rather than clumsily maim yourself.

The thing is, guns are pretty.

The antique ones are gorgeous examples of workmanship, craft and function.

The nicely designed modern ones are elegant with nice clean lines and smooth surfaces.

Image of Glocks found whilst trawling aforementioned Monday Gunday posts

I like the look of them.

And yet my brain keeps coming back to 'But you don't want to kill anyone do you? DO YOU!?'

And I really don't.

At least not until they reanimate.

*By the time I got my printout I'd forgotten which one it was :-P


Erin Palette said...

Before I get all impressed at your grouping, I need to know at what distance you were from the target, if you were using any optics, and if the rifle was supported by anything other than your hands.

Other than that -- nice shootin', Tex! It's fun, innit? A thing of power wot go bang, and it's yours to control, and you get immediate feedback as to how well you're doing it. :)

That said...

I know you know this, but when you say "someone who wouldn't have a chance to get close enough to fight back or defend themselves" I feel compelled to point out that in a self-defense scenario, you're DAMN RIGHT you don't give them a chance to fight back. If you are in fear for your life, then by God, you cheat as much possible. Never, ever let your attacker have anything resembling an even break.


That said, I feel that with your mentality, you WOULD be a person I'd trust with a gun. You wouldn't use it improperly, in the heat of the moment. To paraphrase the Bible, "Fear of the consequences of your actions is the beginning of wisdom."

Now I am hardly an expert on Aussie gun laws, but while I know pistols are heavily restricted, you should still be able to buy rifles or shotguns. Think about getting a bolt-action .22 rifle -- they have hardly any recoil, are inexpensive to shoot, and while it's possible to kill a human with one you need to be a VERY good shot, or have very good luck.

But they're great for subsistence hunting of small animals, and as Max Brooks taught us, a great anti-zombie round if you can hit them in the head.

C'mon, Fi... join the gunblog community. I'm sure there are shooters in Oz who will be happy to show a talented, winsome lass like yourself how to shoot.

One of us... one of us.. one of us... ;D

Ricochet said...

It was shot from 100 m, in the prone position with the gun supported only by hand (no stands or extraneous bits), sighting through a scope :-)
I couldn't tell you what kind of scope but it was the standard Army issue with the F88 Austeyr.

My instructor was an awesome Army Major and she told me all about the difference between squeezing and pulling the trigger, how to regulate my breathing and other useful tips that I've half forgotten now but which really worked at the time :-)

I guess you're right. If I was ever confident that somebody was dangerous enough that I had to shoot them, I wouldn't want them to be within arms reach.

Hmm... Well if Max Brooks says it's a good idea...

I've just looked up Victorian gun licence requirements and the only one that has me wondering if I'd be considered eligible is "Able to demonstrate and maintain a 'genuine reason' for needing a particular licence type".

If you click on the link for 'genuine reason', sport/target shooting counts as genuine but I just envision myself saying "Is 'because I'm curious' a genuine reason?" and getting nudged gently out the door :-D

Walking into a gun store would make me feel like such a deviant that I'd probably act suspiciously and be sending out all sorts of danger signs to the staff!

But I'll try...

Erin Palette said...

So.. a spread of 2.5 inches at 100m? Daaaaamn, girl, you scary. :)

These were electronic rifles, yes? Was there any simulated recoil and/or noise?

Regarding the gun license: again, I don't know how it works in Oz, but in the UK you can join a shooting club and shoot the club's rifles to gain proficiency. Then, after about a year of membership, you've demonstrated both dedication to the sport (IE you're not going to go out and shoot someone) and you know what you're doing with the rifle. From there you can prove that you are indeed a sport shooter, and should be able to get one with only mild hoop-jumping.

I've just made friends with an Aussie shooter in Perth. Wrong state, I know, but at least it's the same country, and maybe she can help you navigate the red tape. Shall I introduce you two?

Erin Palette said...

Oh, you'll love this. Ricochet, meet Jigsaw:

She's the shooter from Perth I was telling you about. She says she'd be happy to help out, and her email address is there on her blog. I've also passed along your blog address to her.

I hope you two can work something out!

Julie said...

Hi Ricochet :)

(Thanks for the intro Erin).

As Erin says I'm a shooter (& occasional hunter) and live in Western Australia. Even though we are supposed to have "national gun laws" there are some significant differences between the legislation in various States but I'm happy to share my experiences and also fill you in on some of the basics.

Erin has given you my blog address and if you visit you'll notice I have a category called "Firearms Licensing". In here you'll find brief outlines of legislation (WA biased) and also my experience with applying for various firearms.

Getting back to the points you raise on this post however I feel that the two main issues (rel to firearms) are:
a)Why should I own something that is designed to kill (given that there are currently no Zombies around)?
b)How can I go about finding out more? Licensing requirements etc.

Rather than filling up your comments section with a mini-blog post I will actually write real posts on these topics and look forward to your comments.

Ricochet said...

Hi Julie, nice to meet you :-)

I guess it might have something to do with the different histories of our states. I figure New South Wales and Victoria having always had larger populations in smaller areas don't have as much of a tradition of hunting surviving into modern day (not enough space, not enough animals to make it sustainable). That and the fact they don't make licensing and other information immediately available or transparent doesn't make it very accessible to a slightly shy newbie like me.

It'll be interesting to see the experiences of someone in my country who is familiar with firearms :-)

Thanks for the intro Erin :-)

Erin Palette said...

My pleasure! Believe me, I did it for purely selfish reasons. :D

Julie said...

Ricochet - this happened just near where I work (when I go into the office) ... the March 30th attack (as far as I recall) was never publised ...

Nathan Tramp said...

Ricochet, you sound like exactly the sort of considerate person who should be armed. Did you see the Sydney shootings recently? I don't think the armed criminals in any of those cases bothered to register their guns and I'm very very sure that none of Australias gun regulations prevented them from going armed to protect their illicit activities and threaten good Australian citizens. You don't have to want to kill or harm anyone to go somewhere prepared for the eventuality of violence. Reason being, by the time you're in a position where you might consider such an action, any moral considerations will undoubtedly be at the back of your mind. I respect pacifism, but if someone is going to make you choose your life or theirs, I'd rather have considerate people like you around for the future.

Ricochet said...

Thanks Nathan :-)

The more I'm hearing from actual gun owners the better appreciation I'm gaining for how seriously a large part of the gun community takes firearm safety and responsibility.

It's definitely helped me examine my own ideas and become a lot more comfortable with the thought of giving it a go and with guns overall :-)