Good Guys (and Gals) with Guns

back of woman at shooting range

I’ve been asking myself a question lately, and I’m not really coming up with an answer. So I’ll put it out there and see what you all think.

I am a pacifist by nature. Perhaps this is because I came of age during the Vietnam War era, or perhaps that would have been my nature anyway. Regardless I believe people should avoid violence as much as possible.

However, as someone who has been the victim of violence in the past I also feel strongly that we have the right to stand up for ourselves. And the reality is that there are lots of people out there who are violent. They may have no qualms about doing me harm to get what they want. Therefore, I have no qualms about defending myself against a physical attack.

But I truly am a pacifist by nature. I’ve come to terms with this seeming contradiction in real life. I’ve taken self-defense classes. I own a gun and I know how to use it properly. I would never, ever start a violent confrontation, and I believe that I would only use whatever force necessary to protect myself (or other innocents present). But I would protect myself, and I don’t think I’d feel guilty about it afterwards.

So what exactly am I feeling angst about?

Most of my fictional characters carry guns these days!

My series didn’t start out that way. In Book 1, Kate Huntington and her friends are ordinary people forced to face an extraordinary situation when someone develops a murderous grudge against them. They are so unused to physically defending themselves that they have to hire bodyguards to keep them safe as they attempt to solve the mystery. For the most part, the cops and bodyguards are the only people with guns in that story.

silhouette of woman at sunset

(photo by Nevit Dilmen CC-BY-SA 3.0)

(This is how I originally envisioned Kate!)

I started writing mysteries because that’s the genre I like to read and therefore know best. I didn’t really stop to think about the implications for me as a pacifist. I also didn’t realize back then, when I was a novice author, that stories and characters have a tendency to take on a life of their own. They don’t always go in the direction you think they will.

The last few weeks, as I’ve been putting the final polish on Zero Hero, Book 6 in my series, I’ve been contemplating this reality. Most of my characters now carry guns! Kate and her friends, the Franklins, are the only ones who are rarely if ever armed. And Kate’s now sick and tired of being attacked by bad guys and having to depend on others to protect her. So she’s taken up martial arts and has become a good bit more kickass herself.

I started out saying I don’t have the answer. Now I’m not real sure what the question is.

I guess I’m wondering why a pacifist is attracted to good guys with guns? So much so that I’ve populated my books with them (plus a couple of gun-toting gals) — books that were originally supposed to be mysteries solved by an unarmed amateur sleuth.

I know I’m not alone. If I were I’d have no readers. 🙂 Why are we attracted to good guys with guns?

Is it about empowerment? Balance? Fairness? We humans need to believe that good will eventually triumph over evil. Ask any producer of a super-hero movie if that ain’t so!

There is certainly plenty of evil in the world. And the good guys don’t always win in real life. So I guess I’ll let my fictional good guys keep their guns. I just wish there was another way.

What do you think? Are you attracted to good guys with guns?

Let’s try to avoid the issue of gun control, please. I want to hear how you all feel about violence in self-defense. How far would you go to defend yourself or others? Would you feel guilty about it afterwards?

P.S. The new book will be officially launched on Thursday, but it is live on Amazon already, so I’ll give you all a sneak preview.

cover of Zero Hero

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11 the media replays the videos of that day’s devastation, and a national hero’s life begins to unravel.

When the first responder, already struggling with delayed PTSD and addiction, is accused of murdering his former drug dealer, psychotherapist Kate Huntington finds herself going above and beyond to help him. As she and her P.I. husband set out to clear him of the charges, they are thrust into a deadly world of drugs, prostitutes and hired killers, and end up questioning who they are and what it means to be brave.

On AMAZON now!!  Introductory sale price ~ just $1.99

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

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8 thoughts on “Good Guys (and Gals) with Guns

  1. Shannon Esposito

    Yeah, I can definitely relate. My husband is a Marine and we own guns. He’s taught me to use one, but I still wonder how I’ll react if I ever get in the situation where I need to protect myself. I’m pretty sure I would pull the trigger if it came down to it, especially if my kids were in harms way. But, I also know I’d probably feel guilty about it and need a lot of therapy afterwards.

    By the way, this is a great read so if you haven’t yet… grab it!

    Reply
    1. Kassandra Lamb Post author

      Aww, thanks for the plug, Shannon! Glad you enjoyed the book so much.

      I truly don’t think I would feel guilty afterward if I shot someone who was attacking me. I think I got to that point as a result of several conversations I had with my brother (who taught me to shoot). He pointed out that you shouldn’t even let on that you have a gun unless you are willing and able to pull the trigger without hesitation. The worst scenario is the bad guy gets your gun away from you and then uses it against you!

      I realized I needed to get past my emotional resistance to harming someone else and get clear that if they intended to do me harm, then they were suffering the consequences of the situation they had created.

      Would I feel regret that the whole sorry situation occurred, yes. Would I feel remorse? I don’t think so. Hopefully I’ll never have to find out if that is true!!

      Reply
  2. Piper Bayard

    I don’t mean this as a criticism, but only as an observation. I think many pacifists are attracted to good guys with guns because on some level they know that their shunning violence does not protect them from violence, so they are drawn to others who are willing and able to protect them. As my son recently found out reading some research, many people have neither a flight nor a fight response. Those folks seriously need good guys with guns if they are going to survive. It would be wonderful if we were born in a world where warm, fuzzy feelings were enough to keep us safe, but we were born in this world, and that’s something I think pacifists know on some level. Survival response? Surround with good guys with guns. (If you look, every politician and Hollywood star adamant about gun control has armed bodyguards.)

    Many people I’ve known who are adamant about gun control have told me that they are afraid of what they themselves would do if they owned guns, and they attribute that same character to those of us who do. I see that as a complete lack of understanding of firearms and their place in the lives of us who grew up with them, using them as tools like any other tools that require respect for safety.

    For what it’s worth, my writing partner is the most pacifist person I know. He is also a 40 year field intelligence veteran and a senior member of the intelligence community. You’d be hard put to find a more experienced or capable good guy with a gun. He doesn’t sleep at night. Not because of anything he has done to defend innocents such as yourself, but because of all of the ones he couldn’t save.

    As for me, I do my best to walk away from fights. It’s what I was taught simultaneously as I was taught to pull the trigger. Should I ever have to pull a trigger in defense of myself or someone else, I only hope I succeed in protecting those innocent from those who would harm them. I genuinely believe I would only feel guilty if I fail.

    Thank you for your thoughtful article.

    Reply
    1. Kassandra Lamb Post author

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Piper!

      As a psychologist, I’d have to disagree with that research your son found. Everyone has the fight or flight response. It’s biologically programmed into our systems. Our bodies kick into overdrive when we feel threatened. But the key word is OR. Some people only experience the fear (i.e., flight) side of it without the anger that would give them the courage to fight. So if they can’t get away, they are immobilized.

      I think the biggest problem with some of the more zealous pacifists is naivete. The ideal of peace and love for everyone doesn’t always happen in the real world. But I also know some pacifists who are realistic but firmly believe that no matter what, they would not lift a hand to harm another. It is a matter of principle for them and I respect that. But having known the horror of being attacked when I couldn’t defend myself, I promised myself I would never let that happen again if I could help it.

      Reply
      1. Piper Bayard

        I’m so sorry that happened to you. That sounds terrifying.

        I would agree about the naivete. There is also the correlating naivete of believing that just because a person owns a gun they are safe. Not so. It improves the odds, but it’s not a slam dunk.

        And I’m with you. I respect those who stick by pacifist principles when their own well-being is on the line. More often, though, people tend to spout judgements and rules for others, while their own principles have never been diametrically opposed to their survival. So easy to say what others should do.

        Reply
        1. Kassandra Lamb

          So true that a gun doesn’t make it a slam dunk that you’re safe. I actually have more confidence in my self-defense training than I do in a gun. And even though my protagonist is surrounded with good guys and gals with guns, she uses martial arts to protect herself.

          I would only go for my gun if I’m sure I have enough time to get it and use it effectively, before an assailant could get it away from me. Otherwise, I’ll rely on my ability to kick his knees out from under him (or other more painful parts of his body).

          And the people who buy guns and have no idea how to use them, or store them, safely. They’re pretty scary too.

          Reply
  3. Karen McFarland

    Interesting dilemma Kassandra. It’s such a contradiction and perhaps the reason why you have this internal struggle. I, on the other hand, don’t feel like a pacifist, yet I do not own a gun. Nor do I want to own a gun. I do not expect someone else to protect me. I do realize that bad things happen in our world and hope that I make sound, wise decisions and actions that minimize the probability of something bad happening to me. You bring out the point that you write what you like to read. I think that’s common for most writers. And I too write in the genre that I read. Although it seems like I will never finish my first book. Do you remember those days? *knocks head against wall* At this point I will be happy to finish it before I die. lol.

    Reply
    1. Kassandra Lamb Post author

      Hang in there, Karen! You’ll finish it. The first one is the hardest because the self-doubt keeps kicking in. I rewrote the first three chapters of my first book so many times I lost count.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

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