Should I use the candlestick or the lead pipe? June 18, 2010 7:07 AM   Subscribe

A MeFite with no previous history on the site asked us to choose between (what many of us felt were) two rather bad choices based upon a potentially faulty assumption. Chatfilter ensues.

A huge number of comments disagreeing with the framing of his original question (as well as the either/or nature of the question) have been purged thus far. More troublingly, many more comments from fairly early on in the thread were removed several hours after the initial purge, while others inexplicably made the cut. As a result, the remainder of the discussion has become fairly skewed and incoherent.
posted by schmod to Etiquette/Policy at 7:07 AM (105 comments total)

Claws or foreskin?
posted by emilyd22222 at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


"A MeFite with no previous history on the site asked us to choose between (what many of us felt were) two rather bad choices based upon a potentially faulty assumption."

In other words, a new member asked a question about guns and people shit themselves and the thread, as usually happens with gun questions.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2010 [28 favorites]


Are you implying something based on the fact the user is new?

This is one of those situations where I think being reminded you don't have to respond to a question you don't agree with would be helpful.
posted by Hiker at 7:19 AM on June 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


Are you implying something based on the fact the user is new?

My assumption was that he was implying that the user was likely to be unfamiliar with community norms, issues that tend to not go over well, and the ideal framing for a question.
posted by emilyd22222 at 7:21 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you implying something based on the fact the user is new?

He does seem to be debating within the thread a lot. A more experienced member might know not to do that.

The entire question struck me as a chatfilter minefield from the get-go.
posted by zarq at 7:22 AM on June 18, 2010


Or, what emilyd said.
posted by zarq at 7:23 AM on June 18, 2010


I think we need a flag that says, this is going to be a shitstorm if not tended.
posted by edbles at 7:24 AM on June 18, 2010


Based on 20 seconds of skimming the OP is acting pretty reasonable, if you leave your opinions about home defense aside.
posted by edbles at 7:26 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm nearly positive he had a comment deleted. I could be wrong, though.
posted by zarq at 7:28 AM on June 18, 2010


Yes. I'm implying that his question was chatfilter or unintentional flamebait, and should have been pulled and reframed along the lines of:

"I live in a bad area (X), with a history of home invasions and am not in a financial position to relocate. What suggestions do you have for protecting my wife and several young children? I'm considering purchasing a gun or a taser."

My comment that was pulled pointed out that unprovoked violent home invasions are practically unheard of, even in the most dangerous US cities. Given the asker's intent and goals, I don't see why this was worthy of deletion.
posted by schmod at 7:28 AM on June 18, 2010


"I don't see why this was worthy of deletion"

Because it didn't answer the question "Taser or gun better for home defense in a house with kids?"
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:29 AM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well, it's been up for a day now, and it's being tangentially discussed in the MeTa below, so we can assume Team Mod is aware of the thread and monitoring it. Soooo...why are we here again?
posted by slogger at 7:30 AM on June 18, 2010


"I live in a bad area (X), with a history of home invasions and am not in a financial position to relocate. What suggestions do you have for protecting my wife and several young children? I'm considering purchasing a gun or a taser."

OK, so in other words, it's clear from the post what the OP is asking (especially since he followed up almost immediately with plenty of clarification), but you would have phrased it more eloquently than the OP did. So what's the big deal?
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:32 AM on June 18, 2010


People who aren't just like everybody else, i.e., male, white, liberal, west coast, blah, blah, should be welcome. What's not welcome? Disrespect, ad hominem attacks, stupidity, bad writing, thin skins, and, perhaps most important, "inappropriate" use of "quotation" marks. Fi-dollah noobs get hazed. Them's the rules.
posted by theora55 at 7:32 AM on June 18, 2010


I don't like tasers, and I REALLY don't like guns. I never intend to purchase either, and I would not be comfortable with either of them in my house. I'm not particularly comfortable with people feeling that they need to be armed, and it makes me sad. And a little nervous.

So I didn't answer the question.
posted by desuetude at 7:37 AM on June 18, 2010 [18 favorites]


The question wasn't chatfilter. It was a solicitation for advice. AskMe is nobody's soapbox.

While there most definitely are instances where challenging the asker's assumptions can be helpful, they're rare, and this wasn't one of them. You'd have to be pretty naive about people's relationship with guns, particularly on a US-centric site, to go wading in there with all guns blazing (as it were).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:39 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe the question should be rephrased to "Would you rather be shot with a gun, or a taser. I will buy the opposite of your preference."
posted by blue_beetle at 7:41 AM on June 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


schmod writes "My comment that was pulled pointed out that unprovoked violent home invasions are practically unheard of, even in the most dangerous US cities. Given the asker's intent and goals, I don't see why this was worthy of deletion."

Seems pretty obvious you didn't answer the question.
posted by Mitheral at 7:41 AM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I live in a bad area (X), with a history of home invasions and am not in a financial position to relocate. What suggestions do you have for protecting my wife and several young children? I'm considering purchasing a gun or a taser."

Yeah, but that wasn’t his question. His question was “which is better?”

Now, a legitimate answer would be “neither”. There are many of those in the thread already. If the OP does decide to choose between one or the other, then we should be able to give him the best information about his specific choice.

Ultimately, the question should be booted because the OP obviously already has a gun or two, and is only asking this question in the interest of debate or some personal thing.
posted by Think_Long at 7:42 AM on June 18, 2010


Ultimately, the question should be booted because the OP obviously already has a gun or two, and is only asking this question in the interest of debate or some personal thing.

OP said that he had owned guns, past-tense.

Good lord, do you folks scrutinize and assume motives for all AskMes, or just the ones on subjects that bug you? Hey, let's go through today's questions and be pissy about all of them! Or not.
posted by desuetude at 7:47 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


it's being tangentially discussed in the MeTa below, so we can assume Team Mod is aware of the thread and monitoring it

Trust us, we are. And there were a few passes through that thread when it became clear that

1. people were not just gently questioning assumptions but actively hassling the OP in a way that's sort of not okay
2. the OP may have been unclear just now much AskMe is for debate and how much it's for getting questions answered.

cortex and I have been keeping a close eye on it, and I wish the OP had asked a better question originally but he didn't so this is what we have.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:49 AM on June 18, 2010


Askme works best when people make an honest effort to answer the question without passing judgment. That thread had a lot of comments which provided nothing other than an admonishment of the poster for asking an either or on a topic that gets under people's skin.
posted by quin at 7:54 AM on June 18, 2010


Ultimately, the question should be booted because the OP obviously already has a gun or two, and is only asking this question in the interest of debate or some personal thing.

'Flagged as "I'm Pretty You Have Enough Guns Already, Mister Man!"'
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:03 AM on June 18, 2010


I'm pretty, and I don't have nearly enough guns.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:04 AM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not pretty and I don't have any guns. Although I have realtives with replica Brown Bess'.
posted by edbles at 8:05 AM on June 18, 2010


Mods told OP yesterday that it wasn't for debate. Question, answers. No swimming pools. No movie starts. Not a single luxury. Also, is it cold or hot in here?
posted by fixedgear at 8:08 AM on June 18, 2010


Claws or foreskin?

My last cat would suggest that one can do a lot of damage with claws even if someone has rudely cut off your nuts. So I vote claws.

It's a fine question; the answers of "neither" or "move to Europe" or "get a big dog" or "build a bunker" are all fine responses, in addition to the more straightforward gun/taser answers.

I'm sorry that the moderators' time had to be wasted removing chatty and fighty responses; even if it is a predictable outcome to certain flavors of AskMes, I still wish people could restrain themselves and limit themselves to being helpful.
posted by Forktine at 8:09 AM on June 18, 2010


Mount a taser to the end of your shotgun. Done and done.
posted by chunking express at 8:10 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dammit! "...Pretty Sure..."!

If only I had a couple more guns, then people'd stop making fun... or maybe a taser. Hmm...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:10 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone who says I'm not pretty is going to meet my gun.

/doesn't really have a gun
/also not pretty
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:13 AM on June 18, 2010


I've got a gun that shoots tasers.
posted by box at 8:15 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that thread could actually use a few more deletions. There's still some residual nonsense in there, compounded by uncited (and where extant in studies, shoddy) "statistical" evidence.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:18 AM on June 18, 2010


In the future, should mods use a gun or a taser to punish users who post these nonsense questions? EITHER/OR!
posted by mullacc at 8:18 AM on June 18, 2010


The other day I finally got my declawed cat to chew off my foreskin. Quite pleased at this, I grabbed a cilantro mojito and turned on the teevee and there was a show about lady gaga in steam punk parodying hipsters. Anyway, guns or tasers?
posted by special-k at 8:18 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


As a result, the remainder of the discussion has become fairly skewed and incoherent.

Sounds like you're new here.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:21 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've got a gun that shoots tasers.

I read that as "shoots taters," and now I can't figure out if the gun in question fires potatoes, or if it is meant to be used while hunting potatoes.
posted by tzikeh at 8:21 AM on June 18, 2010


Yeah, we're sitting on this one. I told the asker and everybody else to cut it out with the debate-type stuff and stick to the question, and I'd removed a few comments while Jess was out yesterday and she grabbed a few more when she got back. All in all I think we removed ten comments, which is on the high side given the not-epic length of that thread but not a ton. We didn't remove anything from the asker, but I left my comment in there partly because I felt like we'd start having to if it kept going in the direction it was trying to.

Stuff like this where people have kind of charged feelings about the subject matter are almost always extra hard to deal with from a moderation perspective, because we don't want to tell people to be complete robots about a topic but we also need to keep things from going completely off the rails and so almost nobody is going to be happy with a working compromise in the form of the kind of trimming we need to do. Trust us, we wish the question had been framed a bit better too, but new folks are new and they don't always knock it out of the park on the first go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:21 AM on June 18, 2010


It's almost a cliché this has made it to the grey. I also think the OP's choices are a bit narrow, and I think there is some room within the question to debate the either/or question, but the question itself is no worse than many others.

It's mainly flamebait because most people here (myself included) aren't typically gun advocates. The OP was largely restrained but made a curiously fighty initial response which probably didn't help much.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:26 AM on June 18, 2010


> Should I use the candlestick or the lead pipe?

lead pipes can be very effective, and they usually lack the decorative frou-frou that makes many candlesticks (e.g. Empire ormolu) hard to hold. If you have any preparation time, wrap the business end with something--not much, just enough so it'll bash the skull in without breaking the skin and causing you an inconveniently long cleanup. Scalp woulds bleed like a sumbitch.
posted by jfuller at 8:39 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read that as "shoots taters," and now I can't figure out if the gun in question fires potatoes, or if it is meant to be used while hunting potatoes.

Man I wish I could still read "taters" and think "potatoes" instead of:

1. Penises
2. Porn
3. Mystery
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:51 AM on June 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


I read that as "shoots taters," and now I can't figure out if the gun in question fires potatoes, or if it is meant to be used while hunting potatoes.

It shoots hardcore or softcore taters. Near as we can figure it doesn't have anything to do with potatoes.
posted by fixedgear at 8:52 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a big difference between a) not even trying to answer the question and b) answering an either/or question with a well-reasoned "neither". The latter is a completely fundamental part of question-answering, in real life and on AskMe, and I do get a bit tired of the Mefites who seem to believe AskMe is a place for answerers to pretend to be computers with no capacity for a more nuanced engagement with the question.

In this case the matter was exacerbated by the OP trying to enforce this kind of rigidity, not just posing his problem, but also trying to adjudicate in advance among possible solutions to his problem. I see no reason why users should abide by this kind of attempted thread-policing, so long as they don't turn it into debatefilter.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:57 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


The other day I finally got my declawed cat to chew off my foreskin. Quite pleased at this, I grabbed a cilantro mojito and turned on the teevee and there was a show about lady gaga in steam punk parodying hipsters. Anyway, guns or tasers?

Also, Israel is the best, AMIRITE?!
posted by odinsdream at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2010


The arguments in that thread about guns being more dangerous because more children die at home from guns than tasers are good examples of the base rate fallacy.
posted by painquale at 9:10 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also noticed that he was a first time poster and while his profile lists his name as Luke, his user name seems to refer to a Bible verse. Luke 12:49, according biblegateway.com, is "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" Maybe indicative of absolutely nothing, but I thought it was curious.
posted by contrariwise at 9:10 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the Isreal-Palestine conflict, who are the good guys?

This is either/or, meaning I don't want to discuss ethics, terrorism, etc.
posted by schmod at 9:12 AM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


but guys... there's a new Pixar film out!!!!
posted by edgeways at 9:19 AM on June 18, 2010


What most sucked about this question to me was that it was pretty clear from the start that OP knew that the right answer was "guns", and that he really just wanted to argue with anyone who disagreed with him.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:19 AM on June 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


In the Isreal-Palestine conflict, who are the good guys?

Bruce Lee and Samuel L Jackson.
posted by fuq at 9:22 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait. Kato and Cowboy Curtis?
posted by kalessin at 9:34 AM on June 18, 2010


We need an alternative to FIAMO for a thread, something like "JDCIA" (just don't click it asshole) or "CTTAMO" (close the tab and move on.) There's no reason someone shouldn't be allowed to ask a question that you disagree with. Guns, polyamory, how to make a crackspoon, whatever. It would be different if there was a fundamental issue with the question: "My neighbor's yard gnome got stolen and I'm afraid someone is going to kill my entire family plz help me build an arsenal for defense" or "my cat lost a tooth, what's the best way to tell my child we have to put the cat to sleep?".

Also, and I can't agree with what's been said enough:

Just because threadshitters will threadshit a thread, and just because the offended will flag an offending thread, doesn't mean that it should be deleted as such. Delete, temp or permaban the shitters, and go about your day.
posted by TomMelee at 9:34 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and yea, he sort of got touchy there real fast, but he got piled on early by people telling him he was wrong. Ya can't back someone into a corner, indicate that you think they are stupid, and then get your feathers ruffled when they come back with something other than roses.
posted by TomMelee at 9:36 AM on June 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


What most sucked about this question to me was that it was pretty clear from the start that OP knew that the right answer was "guns", and that he really just wanted to argue with anyone who disagreed with him.

I got this sense too, and I kind of got the spidey sense that the OP was trying to overcome domestic objections to having guns in the house with kids. But it was just a gut feeling that he was trying to settle an argument with a spouse or something, and I didn't have anything to add to that discussion, so I just kept that hunch to myself.
posted by ambrosia at 9:52 AM on June 18, 2010


ambrosia writes "it was just a gut feeling that he was trying to settle an argument with a spouse or something,"

Even if true that would seem to be a perfectly reasonable use of AskMe.
posted by Mitheral at 10:04 AM on June 18, 2010


What is he frightened of?

How many here have experienced a situation serious enough where they either used a gun or wish they had had one to use?

Talk / AskMe
posted by pianomover at 10:20 AM on June 18, 2010


Even if true that would seem to be a perfectly reasonable use of AskMe.

Agreed. But we seem to be discussing the framing of the question here. The OP framed it as a "is A or B a better choice for X purpose?" The way OP participated in the thread made me wonder if the intention was to pose the question to a theoretically neutral third party that he could then go back and say "look, I asked this neutral question, and see they agree with me." It may still be a perfectly legit use of AskMe, but it's different in tone, and in respect to the resource that is AskMe, than to pose the question "I want to get A for X purpose, but my spouse is opposed and has suggested B instead. Please help us settle which is better."

I could be completely wrong about this particular question that is the subject of this MeTa thread. I do think a general rule that if you are using AskMe to settle an argument, it's good etiquette to disclose that in the question. People answering the question will take that into account in their responses, which leads to more nuanced, and perhaps better answers.
posted by ambrosia at 10:34 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Taters can be nasty critters to kill. As a M.I.E. (Mainer In Exile) I know this.
posted by pentagoet at 10:37 AM on June 18, 2010


How many here have experienced a situation serious enough where they either used a gun or wish they had had one to use?

I made the flippant comment about the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) above based in part on my interactions with my ex-boyfriend's dad. Ex-boyfriend got his first rifle for his birthday at age 7, and his first handgun at 11 or 12, IIRC. His dad is a former high-powered California lawyer who moved with his high-powered CA lawyer wife to a 500 acre property in the UP. He's currently a federal firearms dealer (even so, he's had some accidental discharges inside the house). He doesn't leave the house without at least 5 knives and 2 guns on his person. They're not for bears, in case you're wondering, although bears are the closest thing they have to neighbors. One Christmas he tossed an unwrapped 3-inch folding knife at me and grumbled, "It's no good unless you carry it on you." Another time he was in the car with ex-boyfriend and suddenly yelled, "FUCK!" Ex-boyfriend jumped and said, "What?!?," to which his dad replied, "I left one of my knives on the kitchen table. What if there's an emergency?"

I always thought this was pretty weird, as someone who grew up in a gun-loathing suburb where no one even locked their doors. I asked ex-boyfriend what his deal was. Apparently, some teenagers once broke into and burglarized their house while they were gone. The dad pressed charges and the kids were sent to prison. They broke out of prison and were caught by the police, armed, on the way back to the family's house.

I still wouldn't feel safe with guns and kids sharing the same house. But I think I would feel differently if I were him.
posted by emilyd22222 at 10:40 AM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why is it our business whether he was just wondering in his own mind or trying to settle a debate with his spouse?
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:52 AM on June 18, 2010


No one here thinks outside the box. Why not get rid of the kids and then get the guns? win win. amirite?
posted by special-k at 10:52 AM on June 18, 2010


It's fairly obvious to me that the poster knew what he was doing with this one. He mostly got what he wanted, and it wasn't an answer to the question as stated.
posted by klanawa at 11:02 AM on June 18, 2010


It's fairly obvious to me that the poster knew what he was doing with this one. He mostly got what he wanted, and it wasn't an answer to the question as stated.

If he had wanted to start a flame war he wouldn't have qualified his question by saying he wasn't interested in a wide-ranging debate on guns. Also, he did get answers to his question as stated. Of course, he also got some tangents; that happens on AskMe all the time without leading to long MeTa threads.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:08 AM on June 18, 2010


How many here have experienced a situation serious enough where they either used a gun or wish they had had one to use?

Sort of.

Someone broke into our apartment through the skylight in the middle of the night, while my wife and I were asleep in the bedroom. The noise of him breaking in sorta vaguely woke me up, but I remember thinking to myself "ah, jeez, the cat knocked something over" and turning over to go back to sleep. Later I remembered we did not, and never had, owned a cat.

There was plenty of time for me to go get a gun out of a locker, unlock it, load it, and get ready before he opened the bedroom door and discovered we were home.

I am really fucking glad I did not have a gun in that bedroom. If I did own a gun I would have had to learn what it feels like to shoot someone; I'd have had to clean blood off of pretty much everything I owned; I'd have spent the rest of my life feeling like a murderer. Because I would have done my best to kill the man, whether he had attacked or turned to run (which in fact is what he did.) I wouldn't have bothered reaching for the phone to call 911. There would have been no question in my mind at that moment that I needed to shoot that man in the face.

I'd never have gotten over that, I don't think. I'd always been sort of ambivalent about gun control up until then. Guns bad, okay; personal freedoms good, okay; shrug. But that moment decided me for good, at least for myself. I'd never really considered up until then what gun ownership actually means. Because I did not own a gun, I had to deal with losing a laptop and a few hundred dollars, instead of losing every ounce of self-respect.

(If I'd had a taser I guess I'd instead be dealing with what it feels like to taze someone repeatedly and then kick his teeth out; not much of an improvement. Adrenaline is a nasty beast.)
posted by ook at 11:39 AM on June 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


and his first handgun at 11 or 12, IIRC.

Just asked him...he was 10, and it was a shotgun. I don't recall correctly, apparently.
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:51 AM on June 18, 2010



Bruce Lee and Samuel L Jackson.
Wait. Kato and Cowboy Curtis?


No.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:02 PM on June 18, 2010


It's fairly obvious to me that the poster knew what he was doing with this one. He mostly got what he wanted, and it wasn't an answer to the question as stated.

It's fairly obvious to me that this sort of blithe assumption is pretty obnoxious, really. How would you like it if someone took that tone with you?
posted by desuetude at 12:30 PM on June 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just give us a new zone called MetaAskMeFi. It will solve everything. I would like the background to be puke-beige, thank you.
posted by polymodus at 12:32 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd always been sort of ambivalent about gun control up until then.

Does this mean you're not ambivalent about gun control anymore?
posted by adamdschneider at 12:33 PM on June 18, 2010


On a more serious note, there's no ethical justification for shooting a burglar.* If they are out to steal your son/daughter/wife, then yes. The original question was bad in that it failed to qualify itself with assumptions such as these. Bad questions receive bad answers.

* Even more strongly, I am now reminded of an article (on Slate, of all places?), that if being mugged or robbed, a demonstratedly effective, but counterintuitive strategy, is to reach out to them by offering to give them what they want.
posted by polymodus at 12:55 PM on June 18, 2010


If they are out to steal your son/daughter/wife, then yes.

Something's missing from that list...
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:57 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess if pressed I'd have to say I'm still ambivalent about it from a legal standpoint. But that people who are all 'grar I needs me a gun to protect the women and chilluns' don't impress me very much.

assuming you weren't making a joke that went right over my head, there.
posted by ook at 12:59 PM on June 18, 2010


"So, I'm writing a novel. Which is better for home defense, a gun or a taser? This is either/or, the character definitely has to have one"

Guaranteed better response.
posted by djgh at 1:24 PM on June 18, 2010


No joke, just curious.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:34 PM on June 18, 2010


How many here have experienced a situation serious enough where they either used a gun or wish they had had one to use?

I was attacked in my own backyard by a 6'5" meth'ed out psycho homeless guy who smashed up my fence and went after me with a broken whisky bottle.

And I had the same exact question the OP did right after it happened. I chose tasers and pepper spray because I didn't want guns in the house with my kids.

I would have answered the OP but it seemed pretty clear that he had his mind made up about owning the guns.

And, by the way, in all the big cities I've lived in, violent crime is a way of life. I've had friends beaten, raped and murdered. I'm sure they all wish they had a gun.
posted by cjets at 1:36 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


On a more serious note, there's no ethical justification for shooting a burglar.* If they are out to steal your son/daughter/wife, then yes.

And when someone breaks into your house at 3 AM, how do you know what their motive is? And why should they get the benefit of the doubt?
posted by cjets at 1:40 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


pianomover writes "How many here have experienced a situation serious enough where they either used a gun or wish they had had one to use?"

There was that time a bear ripped a bear sized hole into the kitchen wall of the house I was staying in. I wasn't home at the time but if I was I might have considered taking up arms.
posted by Mitheral at 2:00 PM on June 18, 2010


"How many here have experienced a situation serious enough where they either used a gun or wish they had had one to use?"

I have. I decided I would probably rather take my chances with keeping a machete by my bed than risking shooting someone. But people are different from me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:33 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You have a machete by your bed? Sweet.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:49 PM on June 18, 2010


Make sure it's a nice one so you don't break the handle on the first whack.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:51 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"There was that time a bear ripped a bear sized hole into the kitchen wall of the house I was staying in. I wasn't home at the time but if I was I might have considered taking up arms."

Details, please! Did you come home to find all the hunny missing? Was the hole an exact silhouette of a bear? You can't just leave us hanging like this.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:09 PM on June 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


And why should they get the benefit of the doubt?

Because when you shoot the drunk guy who is trying to get into the door of the house to the left of the vaccant lot rather than the house to the right of the vaccant lot (where you live) rather than to the left of the vacant lot (where they're wondering where the hell he is) you're pretty much going to look like a dick (and are likely to go to prison for manslaughter).

About the time I stepped out and said, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN MY HOUSE" (in a voice that I am informed sounded remarkably like a young Gandalf telling a balrog to piss off) he became remarkably sober and hastilly departed.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:32 PM on June 18, 2010


And when someone breaks into your house at 3 AM, how do you know what their motive is? And why should they get the benefit of the doubt?

Well, if your jurisdiction has laws against murder, that might give you pause.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:35 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, if your jurisdiction has laws against murder, that might give you pause.

Murder charges for killing someone who has broken into your house? Unless you chase them out into the yard, I thought that was a justifiable homicide.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:42 PM on June 18, 2010


Murder charges for killing someone who has broken into your house? Unless you chase them out into the yard, I thought that was a justifiable homicide.

I know of at least one jurisdiction (where a lot of people on this website live) where defending property is not a defense murder, i.e. you don't have carte blanche to kill someone who breaks into your home.

Now, if you've familiarized yourself with the law in your jurisdiction and you're confidence you can mentally apply that law on the spur of the moment, then more power to you. But if you're just assuming the law is perfectly in line with what you feel like you should be able to do, that's not a good assumption.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:47 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


*not a defense to murder
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:47 PM on June 18, 2010


It's called justifiable homicide, people are pretty big about it around here, although I don't own a gun or machete or anything. Just a baseball bat. I was going to suggest bear mace in that thread, but apparently that will blister human skin and maybe blind someone. I just rely on my alarm. *shrug*
posted by dead cousin ted at 4:51 PM on June 18, 2010


Oh, it would have been good for the bear break-in though.
posted by dead cousin ted at 4:52 PM on June 18, 2010


Actually, I was wrong -- in the jurisdiction I was thinking of (which I don't want to specify), reasonably belief that someone is committing a burglary does give you a defense of self-defense against murder. But people should still check the applicable murder laws before planning to kill someone. (!)
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:57 PM on June 18, 2010


Jaltcoh, I think you're missing the point. I don't want to hurt or kill anyone.

But if someone breaks in at 3 AM (and I've ascertained that it's not a drunk moron neighbor), how am I supposed to know if they are just there to burgle or if they are going to murder my wife and three small kids?

The answer is I don't know. And it is not my responsibility to find out. It is my responsibility to protect my family.

It's not what I feel like at the moment. It's a situation borne of desperation and I am going to do what I can to immobilize that person.

After I was attacked and the person was arrested, I talked to the cops and the ADA who all assured me that if it happened again, I was in my legal rights to do what I could to protect my family
posted by cjets at 5:19 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I decided I would probably rather take my chances with keeping a machete by my bed than risking shooting someone. But people are different from me.

I've seen the results of both machete attacks and gunshot wounds first hand. Machete wounds are seriously, seriously gruesome, without necessarily being incapacitating. I like machetes and have used them for years, but I kind of suspect that you might be getting the worst of both worlds this way.
posted by Forktine at 5:28 PM on June 18, 2010


Actually, I was wrong -- in the jurisdiction I was thinking of (which I don't want to specify), reasonably belief that someone is committing a burglary does give you a defense of self-defense against murder.

I have it on good authority that standing trial on murder charges is neither cheap nor fun, even if you eventually are acquitted on self-defense grounds. It's best to avoid killing people whenever practicable. I am not your lawyer and this is not legal advice.
posted by The World Famous at 5:55 PM on June 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've seen the results of both machete attacks and gunshot wounds first hand. Machete wounds are seriously, seriously gruesome, without necessarily being incapacitating.

Actually, I've been thinking about it and the idea of attacking someone with a machete is incredibly disturbing, whether or not they broke into my house. I've seen what that thing can do to animal flesh, thankfully not a human. Actually, the idea of going after someone with any kind of blade is really personal and worse than shooting them, imo.
posted by dead cousin ted at 6:06 PM on June 18, 2010


I have it on good authority that standing trial on murder charges is neither cheap nor fun, even if you eventually are acquitted on self-defense grounds. It's best to avoid killing people whenever practicable. I am not your lawyer and this is not legal advice.

Also, where I live (and I know this isn't universal) such a case would never make it into a trial phase and wouldn't cost anything. Most of the time.
posted by dead cousin ted at 6:09 PM on June 18, 2010


Also, where I live (and I know this isn't universal) such a case would never make it into a trial phase and wouldn't cost anything. Most of the time.

Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't, depending on myriad factual variables that you have no way of predicting. Texas, for example, does put people on trial for murder when they kill home invaders (see, for example, Jose Luis Gonzalez).

And criminal defense attorneys don't wait until trial to start billing, even in Texas. And they ain't cheap.
posted by The World Famous at 6:23 PM on June 18, 2010


And criminal defense attorneys don't wait until trial to start billing, even in Texas. And they ain't cheap.

This is true :) I meant it wouldn't make at past a police investigation or the DA. But you are correct, maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't. I've seen more wouldn'ts than woulds.
posted by dead cousin ted at 7:07 PM on June 18, 2010


You're right, dead cousin ted.

Just out of curiosity, how many incidents of homeowners killing an intruder with a firearm have you "seen?" I've been under the impression that homowners killing people isn't all that common, even in Texas.
posted by The World Famous at 7:12 PM on June 18, 2010


cjets: I'm not missing your point. I'm saying that just because you might want to kill a person based on a guess that they might hurt you or your family, doesn't mean it's not against the law of homicide. I'm not saying it is or isn't; I'm just saying people shouldn't leap to the conclusion that the law permits them to do whatever they personally feel is the right thing to do. Your comment actually confirms my point because you said you were unsure of the law and asked a lawyer for advice. Good for you.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:18 PM on June 18, 2010


Well I haven't actually been witness to any if that what's you mean by "seen" in quotations. And no, it isn't common. The last one that I can come up with is Carter Albrecht, a well known local that basically went insane and was shot outside someones home. No charges were filed. I wasn't expecting an essay assignment.
posted by dead cousin ted at 7:25 PM on June 18, 2010


Oh, I was just using "seen" because it's the word you used. I used it in quotes because it's the word you used and I didn't know exactly what you meant by it. I didn't take it to mean that you had actually witnessed any firsthand. Sorry if my comment came across as confrontational or as an essay assignment. I didn't mean it that way.
posted by The World Famous at 7:31 PM on June 18, 2010


Eh, no problem. I'll to actually come up with more cases if I can.
posted by dead cousin ted at 7:34 PM on June 18, 2010


"Obviously, I'm leaning towards a gun."
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:46 PM on June 18, 2010


Is there a rule against someone posting an AskMe question where they ask about a decision between 2 options and admit they're leaning toward one of them?
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:06 PM on June 18, 2010


No, people just shit bricks whenever guns are mentioned.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:22 AM on June 19, 2010


It's not against the rules, it just seems a little disingenuous, in bad faith.

"What's better, circumcision or natural for my newborn?"
...and then I argue with all anti-circumcision answerers.

"What's better, vegan or omnivorous?"
...you get the idea.

The thing that is bad is, he isn't really interested in the question as asked.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:59 AM on June 19, 2010


Is there a rule against someone posting an AskMe question where they ask about a decision between 2 options and admit they're leaning toward one of them?

No, but in terms of successful framing a question where there's that sort of pre-existing inclination works best when the asker can from the beginning clearly communicate (a) what their preference is, (b) some of why that is their preference, and (c) notable dealbreaker aspects of the decision-making process.

That way, you can skip the dicey issue of folks trying to read between the lines on point (a), folks can use point (b) as context for any But Why Do You...clarifiying questions they might have and possibly even skip some of those outright thanks to the provided context, and you get less of the asker and the answerer going back and forth with "Why don't you try...", "No I can't/won't because..." stuff.

Which, that's more the platonic ideal of a question than what needs to happen for it to be okay. A lot of people do a pretty good job of doing this; a lot of other people get into the right neighborhood at least, or do solid clarifying comments early on.

Stuff that really misses the mark on that front tends to be bumpier, and the gun/taser question is a good example of that. But questions about guns tend more often to be bumpy regardless of how good the framing is, just because the subject matter is charged. So combine imperfect framing with charged subject matter and it's like doing moguls. People reacting badly to an implicit bias on the asker's part is just one of many not-great bits of all that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:40 AM on June 19, 2010


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