You can carry a gun in New Mexico, but you can’t tuna fish.

David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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48 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    Merely imaging myself in a life and death struggle with another human being gives me a dull ache in the pit of my stomach.

    For what it’s worth, my first thought was of coyotes.Report

    • Mike in reply to Jaybird says:

      US Southwest, in the wintertime, you’re more likely to run into drug runners or other undesirable types than coyotes.


      • Robert Cheeks in reply to Mike says:

        The protection of me and my family is my responsibility. The police function as recorders and investigators of the crime, they almost never ‘stop’ the crime.

        It is alledged that 90% of all gun related crimes are stopped when the ‘victim’ pulls a gun. Further, the loud report of a pistol, in many cases, stops the criminal and he retreats.

        I’m way too old to either fight or runaway and because I don’t want to be shot, beaten, or physically/verbally abused by a perp, I’d rather carry an equalizer or two and stop the violence as peacefully as possible. 


        • Kimsie in reply to Robert Cheeks says:


          90%? Most people don’t carry guns. So either people with guns are much more likely to be attacked – which seems really DUMB on the criminals’ part, or your statistics are bunk.

          I mean, seriously?

          The problem with a gun, as it always is, is that you need to be aware of the danger, and draw the fucking thing, and be able to point at the danger, before you’ve actually fixed anything. If someone already has a gun/baseball bat/fist trained on you, you’re going down.

          Naturally, there are weapons that do not require all of these things. They’re much better choices for REAL self-defense. And, naturally, they’re quite illegal.Report

          • Robert Cheeks in reply to Kimsie says:

            Sweetie, you might wanna re-read my opening sentence.

            You make a good point however, about being attacked, particularly a surprise attack. The truth is in a really good ambuscade the ‘fight’ is over before it ever began. However, most criminals don’t achieve that kind of surprise and most/many folks who carry do some sort of training in preparation, knowing that the confrontation is going to occur at a distance of zero to three feet. One isn’t going to get to set one’s feet and use a two handed grip in such cases.

            Also, the handgun is a defensive weapon to be utilized while one is ‘retreating’. If the retreat or ‘runaway’ isn’t possible then it’s recommended that the attacker is double tapped in center mass. It’s best to keep a 20 gauge pump available in the home.

            Keep you powder dry and wear tennis shoes!Report

            • Kimsie in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              tip for ya:

              If you get into a firefight, hit the deck, and Aim For the Lights!

              You’re much less likely to get shot if you’re shooting at inanimate objects, and you’re also disabling the enemy’s ability to aim.

              … the sorts of tricks you pick up from blind fighters, eh?Report

            • Kimsie in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              … also, I’d feel much, much happier about giving everyone a gun if people understood it like you do. I estimate that’s probably less than 50% of the gun toting populace, just judging from personal experience, mind.Report

          • Joecitizen in reply to Kimsie says:

            Kim, what hardware referenced is illegal? I carried slingshots for over 25 years but they lack the report. Adjusting the pull can vary the velocity between lethal and non-lethal. Slingshot skill carries over to pistols reasonably well.

            About the only reason I choose pistol over slingshot are big cats. Most everything else is easily observed/heard and engaged at a distance. This isn’t so with cats. They typically are very stealthy and attack from behind. Their typical goal is to bite at the back of the neck and damage the spine or slowly work the teeth around until they open a main artery. Victims typically have large portions of the scalp torn and many times half the face is torn away.

            Yes, attacks are very rare, but the effort involved in trying to survive is very high. Trying to sling shot a cat on your neck would be nearly futile. A pistol is a much better tool in that instance. I don’t know why but when cats engage they are typically very diligent and won’t stop.Report

            • Kimsie in reply to Joecitizen says:

              About any home defense that can go off when you’re not around is “willfully making your property dangerous”, and at the least is signing yourself up for a lawsuit for willful negligence (exceptions include “faulty electrical work” if only because most can credibly claim “i didn’t know it was bad, officer”). [bear in mind, I live in a city. rules may be different in the countryside, where you can post no trespassing signs]

              About any broad-band/widespectrum/directionless weapon has a similar problem — you can’t defend yourself against the charge that you hurt innocent civilians (and the 10 year old down the street with blood running out of his ears is just jury-bait).

              Yawn, if someone wants to break into your house bad enough that they use sleeping gas — your house is getting broken into. It’s lucky for most people that most criminals are shiftless and lazy.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird says:

      My first thought was of the safety of women traveling alone.Report

    • David Ryan in reply to Jaybird says:

      The policeman was clearly concerned with human malefactors.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

      Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of “carry a gun for self-defense”.

      People who carry guns professionally have what I would call poor marksmanship when shooting at targets.  People who don’t carry guns professionally are worse.

      There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s pretty unlikely that any particular person can predict ahead of time if they’re one of the exceptions or not.Report

      • werbaz neutron in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        You are welcome to your opinion.   I hope you hold that I am welcome to mine and will not interfere with my pursuit of what I consider to be good practice.Report

        • Jung's Collective Unconscious in reply to werbaz neutron says:

          It’s unquestionably true that many, many many, more lives have been saved by the mere presence and occasional,  regrettable,  but necessary use of firearms than had they not been there to protect innocent lives.Report

          • Kimsie in reply to Jung's Collective Unconscious says:

            not sure that follows. plenty of folks get shot/killed accidentally — even a firearms instructor just recently.

            Maybe if you post comparison of “gun injuries” versus “robberies prevented”?Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jung's Collective Unconscious says:

            This is not unquestionably true.

            It is very likely true that lots of property has gone un-stolen due to the presence of a firearm, I will grant you that… certainly.

            However, given the number of guns in this country and the crime rates both for homicide and lesser violent crimes, establishing a correlation between the presence of a firearm and the absence of a murder is hugely dicey at best.

            Murder is just really goddamn rare.  Murder between an assailant and an unknown person is even more rare… to the point of “vanishingly unlikely”.  Between two thirds and four fifths of murders are committed by people known to the victim.Report

            • Kimsie in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              furthermore, of the ones where the assailant didn’t know the victim, a lot of them are “I thought you were someone else, man…” (and do people really think a gun is a good defense against a driveby shooting?)Report

      • Kimsie in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        1) Carrying a gun is a dumb idea for self defense. You gotta sleep sometime, folks. Effective defensive weapons do not rely on you being awake, or able to identify the direction of attack.

        2) If your opponent has a car, the odds are, you ain’t shooting him before he’s hitting you.

        3) I dunno. Assassins seem to do a good job of hitting their marks, when they use guns.

        4) Most of “making the gun do what you want” is not panicking. And there’s a very easy trick to tell who won’t panick. Grab a combat vet.Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Kimsie says:

          1) Carrying a gun is a dumb idea for self defense. You gotta sleep sometime, folks. Effective defensive weapons do not rely on you being awake, or able to identify the direction of attack.

          While you’re asleep, you can have your phone call the cops for you.Report

        • Joecitizen in reply to Kimsie says:

          Not carrying a gun in my neighborhood equates to bad karma.

          – Piney wood rooter (the big ones)

          -mountain lion

          -prairie rattler (the type that will chase you on open ground for no reason)

          -diamond backs


          -hungry feral dog packs >6

          -chicks with hydrophobiaReport

          • Kimsie in reply to Joecitizen says:

            oy. that’s… kinda dangerous. As in, much more dangerous than inner city, methinks.

            I’ve seen rattlesnakes before (within four feet), but those were timber rattlesnakes — ya know, the shy kind.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        @ werbaz

        You have a Constitutionally protected right to bear arms.  I am likewise not a fan of the incessant and (nearly pointless) attempts to scale this back*.  If you want to pack a heater for your own defense, you have the right to do so.  I just don’t think it’s a very good idea, for most people.  * Aside from tank guns, rpgs, and flamethrowers… just about anything under that level of destruction is less potentially deadly than a couple of tanks of compressed propane and a few bags of penny nails, and we sell those at the corner grocery store without a license.

        Buy a gun, knock yourself out.  Hell, I think half the gun safety laws I’ve read are ridiculous, we put fewer restrictions on household poisons and those cause more accidental deaths than gunshots.

        To be fair, there are lots of things that aren’t a good idea for most people and I’m not a big cheerleader for anyone telling them not to do those things, either.

        The cold reality is that cops, who routinely train not only on the range but in simulated combat scenarios, have abysmal hit rates.  Unless you’re within 6 feet and in full daylight and unobstructed view (mid 60th percentile, still pretty poor), your best defense against an armed police officer is turning around and putting as much distance as possible between you and them, as quickly as possible.  Once you get to 10 feet, the hit probability drops to under 20% – this is why cops are trained to empty their weapons if they have to discharge them, because they usually miss.   Now, granted, the motivated cold-blooded serial killer isn’t the same sample population as the cops, but serial killers are responsible for about 1% of murders, which is therefore somewhere around 120-160 or so a year out of 300-million odd people.  Or, about as likely as getting hit by lightning.

        I don’t carry around a lightning rod, myself.

        (edited to add)

        Note: if you are up against the statistically rare cold blooded serial killer, he (or, very much less likely she) is probably going to kill you anyway, even if you’re armed, because *your* hit rate is probably going to be much worse than the cops. Most private citizens typically don’t train enough with their firearms, and most people in general are not equipped to remain calm and center a person like a paper target. Of course, these are all “mosts”, and may not apply to you. I don’t know you from Adam.

        However, most people who carry a gun for defense aren’t very distinguishable from most people, statistically. So, all I can say is, “Most people who carry guns for defense are doing so for silly reasons.” That says nothing about “all” people who carry guns for defense.


        • Liberty60 in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


          “Most people who carry guns for defense are doing so for silly reasons.”

          Pretty much my theory as well; I own a rifle and enjoy target shooting, but the thought that somehow a handgun is going to be useful to me is about as likely as being abducted by aliens.

          In my personal experience, most of the people I meet at the gun stores and gun range are sensible guys who happen to enjoy hunting or shooting.

          But there are the others.

          It isn’t a slur or unfair smear to acknowledge that guns have an outsize psychosexual fetish allure for too many people.

          I’m not sure how laws can be crafted to address this without also infringing upon the liberty of sensible people, but generally the people who are the most forceful about the “need” to carry guns into Starbucks are most likely to be channeling Travis Bickle instead of Thomas Jefferson.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Liberty60 says:

            True enough.

            On the other hand, we let people drive cars with no background checks to see if they’re felons, and you can just as easily kill a bunch of people with an automobile as you can packing two nines and an assault rifle.

            Hell, it’d be a lot easier to get away with it, too, for that matter.

            There are somewhere between 300 and 600 million firearms in the country, and a very tiny number of those are involved in accidental shootings every year.  People look at the accidental gun death rates using very odd statistical windows: by and large, most people are multiple orders of magnitude more careful with a gun than they are with just about anything else.  Guns just aren’t that big of a public safety threat (some exceptions made for very specific neighborhoods, of course).

            Most of the “gun debate” is a lot of strong opinions that are based on poor evidence, in my mind.Report

            • Kimsie in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              poor statistics? nah…

              1) If you’re in a real rural area (3 hours from the nearest cop), you NEED a gun, if you want to have any hope of protecting yourself. (well, either that or some dynamite, but we’re going to pretend you’re restricting yourself to legal options)

              2) If you’re in a low-income urban area, you know people who have been killed by guns. Often cases of mistaken identity. Sometimes driveby shootings. And, you are bloody well sick to DEATH of people trying to make a quick buck by selling blackmarket weapons — trading in blood. You know exactly how dangerous it is, on a gun by gun basis.

              I know people who have been in firefights, in American cities. This isn’t hypothetical.

              The idea that guns are safe/less safe is merely a distraction from a fundamental rural/urban disconnenct. That, and some people are assholes.Report

        • Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

          Pat did you even read the document you linked to?  If you read it all the way you get to this two nuggets at the summary:

          1. It appears that using officer hit ratio data from metropolitan law enforcement agencies has skewed our expectations. Individual hit ratios may be substantially higher than previously thought. Since bunch-shooting data was seldom (if ever) segregated from other officer hit ratios, we might surmise that much of the historical metro police shooting data has been misleading. Shootings involving singular officers appear to have hit ratios approaching (if not exceeding) 50%.

          5. Low light shootings account for at least 60% of police applications of deadly force. They seem to diminish police hit ratios by as much as 30%. Low light also accounts for as many as 75% of all mistake-of-fact shootings.Report

          • Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

            Yes, I read them.

            Apparently, you think 50% is a good ratio?

            Since bunch-shooting data was seldom (if ever) segregated from other officer hit ratios, we might surmise that much of the historical metro police shooting data has been misleading.

            Oh, certainly.  An order of magnitude misleading?  I find that implausible.  Maybe that’s just me.  Bunch-shooting would have to be an order of magnitude less accurate than single-officer shooting; that’s certainly possible, but not (IMO) necessarily likely.

            Low light shootings account for at least 60% of police applications of deadly force. They seem to diminish police hit ratios by as much as 30%. Low light also accounts for as many as 75% of all mistake-of-fact shootings.

            (laugh) Scott, are you implying that low light shootings would form a sufficiently larger percentage of civilian shootings to… what, exactly?

            I would hazard a guess that low light shootings would account for at least 60% of civilian self defense shootings… and in any event, the civilian shooter will still be less trained than the police officer in the general case (and even in most specific cases).  Ergo, I’d expect that low light shootings would have a greater impact on civilian accuracy.

            Maybe you have different expectations?Report

            • Scott in reply to Pat Cahalan says:


              Yes I have different expectations. I would suggest that you put on a bullet proof vest, run 50 yrds in low light conditions and then shoot at someone while they shoot at you.  How many hits do you think you would get?  This is what you expect cops to do and then never miss. True, cops don’t shoot that often but neither do most military members either.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Scott says:

                from the number of people I’ve known who have been in situations like this, it’s 100%. And he’s a terrible shot, too. Happens he winged someone, and they acted all like he meant to do that, and thus was some kinda genius with a gun, when he really can’t aim worth shit.

                –note: I’m assuming that the detterrence effect of “ow, i’m bleeding, that HURTS A LOT” is rather large, and enough to dissuade even most thugs bent on vengeance.Report

      • Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


        Surely you can do better.  You sound like Kimmi with your sweeping generalizations.Report

        • Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

          If you’d like me to write an entire post, I can.  There are numerous citations available on police shootings.  Civilians, not so much.

          However, if you’re going to pull out the “well, guns have done enough via deterrent to render all these numbers moot” argument at the end of the day, I’m not so inclined to spend the time at the moment.Report

    • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      Unless you’re seriously wounded, or a small terrier, coyotes aren’t particularly dangerous. You only need a gun to keep them away from your yorkie.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I saw it as a peace of mind thing more than anything else. It can be creepy hearing the Coyotes call to each other (heck, it was creepy when I heard them calling to each other when I went out for a smoke when I worked at Gigantic Conglomerate and I was practically in the middle of town).

        (There’s also the issue of malefactors knowing that everybody on the road has received the advice to have a gun with them and whether that might instill a tendency towards prior restraint on their part but that’s not exactly measurable.)Report

  2. Kris Kringle says:

    Greetings, Mr Ryan!   Interesting opening remark.   My only reply is fish/sea dwelling mammals, specifically porpoises and whales are remarkably in tune–as a matter of fact, they possess perfect-pitch. And their “songs” can be heard for several hundreds of miles. I would be interesting to create a chorus of their sounds–it could easily be arranged to be both tonal and atonal. Schoenberg and Brahms would be an ideal couple for the might mammals!Report

    • Chris in reply to Kris Kringle says:

      Good to see you, Heidie.Report

      • Kris Kringle in reply to Chris says:

        Well Chris, the plesasure is entirely mine.  I mean two replies in one day?  Maybe even three?   Goodness.  Oh course, maybe you’re luring me in to go for the kill. I’d love for you to discuss the China Room  thought experiment if you should ever feel so inclined or interested. You have a wonderful way with words, and I  imagine you’re a very, very good teacher.  So, Frohe Weinachten lieber Freund!Report

  3. David Ryan says:

    In days of yore it was common practice for merchant vessels to be armed, and I do recall there was some loose talk in the San Diego fleet about self-defense; it’s not like the Ecuadorian navy mounted 16 inch guns on their patrol boat.

    In an upcoming post I’ll recount the story of a friend who was pirated off the coast of Peru in the early 90s, and the advice the Peruvian navy gave him.Report

  4. North says:

     Well both swordfish and especially tuna are a complex and likely very sad story. Their international migratory paths make them prime examples of the tragedy of the commons as they are currently well on their way to commercial extinction (and probably literal extinction after that). Shark hunting is a pet peeve of mine since my own childhood digs are utterly plagued with swarming masses of seals which, being cute and cuddly, are protected earnestly front hunting while their primary predators (being neither cute nor cuddle) are being chased to extinction.Report

  5. wonkie says:

    I used to do long road/camping trips by myself and I was surprised by the number of people who thought I needed a gun to protect myself from nonhuman animals. Such a thought never entered my head but I am fairly competent in handling wilderness experiences. Bears can be a problem, but the best way to deal with them is to get back into the car and drive away. Shooting one will just make it mad.I had a handgun but my intention was to use it for the purpose for which it was designed; to shoot people.

    I took a class on gun use and got my gun regstered. I carried it for several years. Then, after manyt camping trips, I realized that I did  not need it so I threw it  off a bridge into deep water.


    I didn’t need it because it is very easy to aviod getting into a situation where I would need it. I followed this rule: never be alone with a man. If my car borke down, (this did happened once) my strategy was to get away from the car and  hide until help arrived. I had a sign that said “Help! Call Highway patrol” which I put it the car window and I had a cell phone. I just waited for the cops to show up. Of course this strategy only works in moderate weather which is the only time I went caming.


    Now I drive around my home county and oddly no one ever suggests that I need a gun for safety. Realistically my chances of attracting the attention of a wannabe rapist here are higher here than out in Montana orAlaska or Yukon Territory simply because there are more people.


    Irrational fear has a big influence on gun owership decisions.


    • Kimsie in reply to wonkie says:

      Yah, ain’t that the truth.

      I been a lot farther out than you, but having hitchhiked and being twenty feet from a bear — still lived to tell about it. Be a bit picky about who you hang around, and have someone else around to back you up.Report

  6. I agree; I get nervous thinking about having to defend myself. However, such an interesting story that our law enforcement was recommending doing so. Guess it is still the Wild West.Report

  7. dhex says:

    i’m a rootless cosmopolitan effete latte gulper nestled in the crumbling infrastructure of sodom by the sea, but the bizarre fear of self-defense when it comes to firearms is easily as strange as an obsession with firearms as a deterrent from all things. both are, at their root, a bet about safety.Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to dhex says:

      The bizarre fear of self-defense when it comes to firearms is easily as strange as an obsession with firearms as a deterrent from all things.

      This is sort of a false equivalency.

      Most people, statistically, aren’t capable of handling a firearm competently under duress.  Even professionals are bad at it.  In fact, the bad outcomes from possessing a gun can be significant, if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Now, in any particular individual’s case, the truth can be the converse, absolutely.  I’m absolutely certain that I could keep a loaded 12 gauge in my bedroom and no child would ever touch that gun, for example.  I’m not absolutely certain that I could shoot someone even in self defense – although I suspect that I could the only real way to know for certain is to experience a case when you need to handle a firearm under duress.

      If you’ve had this experience, and kept your shit together, then you know from evidence that you can still keep your body quiet even when the adrenaline is going through your veins like you’re a kid mainlining Halloween candy on November 1st, then I have no reason to doubt that you can do it again.  And regardless of whether or not you’ve had this experience, you have the right to defend yourself in this here land of ours, and I won’t gainsay you that right.

      I’m just saying, if you think you can draw and tap center mass twice faster than you can get out of effective range of whoever is drawing down on you, you are very likely to be dead wrong.Report

      • Kris Kringle in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        That’s an excellent analysis, Pat.    The closest I’ve ever been to a gun was when I got pistol-whipped into a helluva concussion and head wound requiring 62 stitches to close up,  while driving a cab in Boston.  Those were the years when I was a hopeless, confused, beleaguered Liberal. You know, thought it would be unconscionably racist to turn down blacks looking for a taxi–even three young black men looking for a ride into a very dangerous part of Boston into a very dangerous housing project–and no, it wasn’t Beacon Hill. What did I learn? Trust your gut, not you brain. In this case, forget the racist crap–they were three dangerous looking thugs and hoods with cold shark eyes. Had I been armed, would I have used it? Who knows–considering the injuries, I’d like to think so. But then again, seeing me with a gun might have meant instant death instead of a busted up head. My only fear of having a gun in the house is I’d use it on myself. Especially if I was forced to listen to John Kerry for any length of time. There are several other Liberals who have that effect on me, but he would be number 1 without question.Report

  8. libarbarian says:

    Mr Cheeks,

    “It is alledged that 90% of all gun related crimes are stopped when the ‘victim’ pulls a gun. Further, the loud report of a pistol, in many cases, stops the criminal and he retreats.”

    Yes, alleged *eyeroll*.  It is no doubt true that many criminals are looking for an easy victim and will run  away if confronted by an armed person defending themselves.   I’m not sure it’s as high really 90% though. Even if it is, however, playing up the idea that you can expect to defend yourself with a gun without having to actually use it, however, gives people false hope and encourages them to get themselves into situations they can’t handle.