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RE: [at-l] Itinerary/Safety

Dean -

Let me start with your last comment -

>p.s. jim wrote: "I knew there was at least one of you out there"
>        Jim, I have the utmost respect for your views and I expect the
>        same respect.  This is not personnal it is a discussion.

I apologize if you took offense - none was meant.  What I did
mean was that I knew when I wrote the original comment that
there was at least one person out there with the same viewpoint
that I once had - and still sometimes have.  It wasn't meant as a
personal comment or insult.

>What I'm talking about
>here is removing a variable, however small it may be, by being prepared
>for that very defined situation when that force would be necessary and
>realistically feasible.  There are a lot of variables that we have no
>control over, fix the ones you can.

OK - let's go back and redefine the conditions we're talking about.
I'm talking about a thruhike - nothing else.  Weekends, dayhikes,
2 week vacations - those are a different subject.  And I'll be happy
to talk about them if you want.  But for a thruhike - even ignoring
the legalities - a gun is physically too heavy to carry.  And the
mental attitude involved in carrying one is even heavier.  Yes,
I've carried one, and I still do in some situations.  But not on the
trail.  And yes, there are other viewpoints about this.  But I don't
think very many thruhikers manage to get to Katahdin with the
piece still in their pack.

Secondly, if you were to carry the "equipment" to remove or handle
all the possible variables on the trail, your pack would weigh
somewhere in the 200+ lb range.  And you'd never make it
through Tennessee.

>Anyone that is drunk and handling a weapon should be considered "bad
>guys" simply for the fact that anyone that ignorant/irresponsible points
>out serious character flaws.  I was tought at the age of 8 how to handle
>a weapon and the respect that it deserves and then again when in the
>military.  Never point a weapon loaded or not, if you're pointing your
>weapon at something you need to be mentally ready to shoot it, and for
>gods sake never, NEVER handle a weapon, LOADED or UNLOADED when you've
>been drinking.  Now you see why I question the drunks with guns?  My
>generalization about "rednecks" was improper and I apoligize.  (hell, I
>live in virgina!) :)

There are two things I'd sort of disagree with here.  The first is that
ALL guns are ALWAYS loaded unless I've checked them personally.
There's no such animal as an "unloaded" gun in some else's hands.
That was the third rule of gun safety that I taught  my kids.  The
second isn't so much disagreement as a difference in the definition
of  the term "bad guys".  By my definition, their being drunk doesn't
necessarily make them "bad guys".  Being drunk and handling guns
doesn't do it either.   But they'd become "bad guys" if they decided
those guns were playthings and started pointing them - at me or at
anyone else.  The "bad guy" designation doesn't come from being
drunk - or from handling guns, but from the WAY they handle the
guns.  I know people (but not many of them) that I'd trust with a
gun when they're falling down drunk.  I also know people that I
wouldn't trust with a gun when they're stone cold sober.

Where my attitude differs from yours, Dean, is that those "good ole
boys" REALLY don't want to point those guns, loaded or not, at me.
While I still don't want to carry either the weight or the attitude
of a gun on the Trail, my instincts are such that pointing a gun at
me is a fast way to get me REALLY pissed - and I'll likely to put
that gun in a very inconvenient place for the pointer.   And the
answer to the question is - yes, I've done it before.

But a better solution is to look at the situation when you get to
that shelter - find out if they're really drunk or maybe tired
- or maybe just happy cause they got their turkey.  Find out
if they're gonna stay for a while or if they're gonna pack up
and leave in 5 minutes.  Are they really "handling" the guns -
or are the guns stacked in a corner?  What's the emotional
level in the shelter?  What's their attitude toward you when
you approach the shelter?   Each situation is different - and
preconceived notions about people - even people with guns -
is a good way to push a neutral situation in the wrong direction.

Ginny suggested yesterday that faced with this situation, you
might want to simply stop for a drink - or at most, to cook dinner -
with the attitude that you haven't decided whether or not to stop
there for the night - that you just might move on.  Then you can
use that time to evaluate the situation.  If you don't like what you
see, you can quietly move on (so you can make a few more miles)
and nobody's feelings are hurt.  If you come into a shelter and
immediately setup for the night, it makes it a lot harder to
justify packing up and moving on an hour later - just because
you weren't smart enough to evaluate the situation before you
committed yourself .

We did this in PA at one time - we pulled into a shelter and
didn't like the company.  So we stayed long enough to get a drink
and refill the water bottles.  Then we left (at 5 PM) and walked
another 8 miles to the next shelter.  It turned a 17 mile day into
a 25 mile day, but it was better than staying someplace we didn't
want to be.

So - are there times on the trail when carrying a gun might have
been useful?  Maybe - there have been 7 AT related murders in
the last 60 years.   But if you take a close look at each of them
I think you'll find that the gun would have been useless in each
case - either because of the circumstances or because the victims
lacked the attitude necessary to use it.   If you want to know the
real circumstances related to each of the murders, go find
Warren Doyle - he was involved with a number of the cases
and keeps files on them.  Not all of them were as advertised
by the press and/or the grapevine.

Anyway, it's time for me to get back to work.

Walk softly,

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