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Is a gun necessary on a homestead? Is there any other solutions?

 
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Location: Southaven, United States
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This is my first post on permies!
Ok as a long time (all my 48 years) gun owner, Hunter, competitive and recreational shooter, I wanted to chime in.
The "fact" that you are more likely to get shot with your own gun is simply not true. It is manufactured to scare people who don't know anything about guns.
Ok. Here is my reccomendation, do NOT buy ANY gun!
(Yet) find an instructor in your area, talk to her or him and tell them what you told us, and that you'd like to learn how to handle and use a gun. Ask them to bring some guns for you to try. If the first gun (and it should be a rifle) is anything other than a .22 there is a problem! Same with handguns! start with a .22 ANYTHING else can/ may recoil and have you flinching. And that's no good! Any instructor will have a good selection of guns, heck that's usually why they instruct, because they like guns!
Just make sure you do NOT end up with a jerk redneck who will put a .44 magnum in your hands to watch you wince in pain or put it on YouTube (God knows there is enough of that on YouTube already!)
If there is anything we can do to help do not hesitate to ask. We (the responsibl gun owning community) can have you shooting in an IDPA or steel challenge match in a couple of months! Oh, and don't be afraid to enjoy it! .22s (and later, even .44s) are a lot of fun to plink with!!
Well, as a gun owning redneck, I have to go work on my four wheel drive!!
Norm
 
pollinator
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Norm Hardy wrote:The "fact" that you are more likely to get shot with your own gun is simply not true. It is manufactured to scare people who don't know anything about guns.



Actually, that statistic IS true, but only because they added suicides into the numbers factored in. The chance of being shot with your own gun by someone else is negligible.
 
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There are a lot of interesting points of view in this thread.

I've often considered going for my gun licence and one day getting a rifle in case I ever move to the wilderness. Where I live now, it's illegal for me to discharge a firearm, so I never really gave it any deep thought... just an idea if I moved somewhere more rural.

The original question of this thread is Is a gun necessary on a homestead? Simple answer is no. Just about everything you would need a gun for can be done by knife or bow.

Then again, it depends on where you live, your style of homesteading, and your personal values. In some situations a gun is a useful tool. From a permaculture point of view, would it not make sense to work with nature to reduce the need for guns on a homestead?

Large predators can be controlled through environment - hedges, fences, open areas... basically by taking permaculture ideas and working with nature to create environments that discourage predators. Where I live, almost all predator problems are human created. I have a long rant about that, but I'll skip that and get to the point: if cougar eats your sheep, you leave the kill untouched and let the animal control officer deal with the cat. You don't do everything in your power to spare the poor kitty and let it keep killing other animals, while it works its way up to small humans. This could have been avoided if local farmers talked to each other, if we didn't have warped Disney views on wildlife, and through public education. So yes a gun (in the hands of a licensed professional) was necessary to solve the immediate problem, but it could have been avoided if the cat was relocated before it learned what a good source of food humans are.

Killing livestock
is another area I've considered using a gun for. It is the second 'nicest' way to end a life.... IF it's done right. This takes study, practice, and very steady hand. Miss the sweet spot and the animal suffers tremendously. This is sad, but it also affects the quality of the meat. The gentlest and fastest death I've seen for livestock is Halal. This is a Muslim method of slaughtering an animal, where the animal is calmed first. When done properly, it's one blow of the knife, and the animal is gone within one breath. So again, for giving livestock a gentle end, a gun isn't strictly necessary.

If the lifestyle includes hunting, then there are definite advantages to using a gun. Bow hunting takes more skill than firearms and longer to learn to make a clean kill. For myself, I make friends with neighbours who hunt, and trade my produce for their wild harvest. Handful of people in the neighbourhood who hunt produce enough wild meat for the rest of us.

Other People? I wouldn't want to shoot another person, so I would hesitate, so they would shoot me first... therefore gun useless to me. This is going to be a matter of values, but in every situation I've been in, having a gun on both sides of the equation, just escalates things. It would have to be personal choice if one wanted a gun to defend against other people... or one could use permaculture solutions and create an environment that reduces the chances of such encounters.

My homesteading style doesn't need me to own a gun.

Like every other aspect of permaculture, the solution depends on location and values of the individual. I don't see guns as being a sustainable tool, but like tractors and shovels, they can be useful - when used correctly!
 
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Hau Mark, It is true that even deep in the woods two legs might think to come around to create troubles.

Where are you located? It is very helpful to list that in your profile. Are you of the nations? I notice you use some of our terminology in your post and am wondering, I am Nakota, my wife (wolf) is blackfoot.
 
pollinator
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With a topic this polarizing and complicated, I suspect that the truth(s) lie somewhere in between the extremes. As usual we have only these words with which to convey these sentiments, themselves crude tools that too often become imbued with strange values and meanings.

Does one need to have guns on a homestead?

My knee-jerk reaction is to say yes, but I think reality would say no. What makes it complicated is that the concept of "homestead" is relatively new in human history and is somewhat isolationist as compared to older, more collective dwelling situations. One *can* live within the homestead paradigm without guns, but one can also understand why guns would be reached for more in a homestead paradigm than in a more communal one.

Are there any other solutions?

As alluded to in the previous answer, communal living can reduce the need for guns since many problems might be solved by virtue of many hands, minds, and bodies present within that context. Without the community and without firearms, I just think one has to accept the additional vulnerability in their life, if indeed it could be documented to exist at all.

With regard to "humanely" killing stock, one has to be careful I feel about who's interests are being served by using a firearm. Certainly I would prefer to use a gun to put down stock before I or my wife would use other non-firearm methods, assuming as well that a pharmaceutical solution was not at hand. But this is because I'm (a) not trained/skilled to do it otherwise and (b) would experience the emotional discomfort of killing something more "closely". The first could be rectified over time and generations by re-training those who desired to do so to be able to kill as efficiently as possible without a firearm, the second, a matter (just my opinion of course) of self-honesty about what one is doing. Both of these issues are 'solved' by use of a firearm, but not necessarily for "good" reasons.

The following may stray too far from the OP's intent with this thread and if deemed inappropriate, I completely understand its removal.

@Neil L.: (paraphrasing) "*Why* do Americans seem to feel so strongly about their guns?"
@Mark R.: "What does a responsible person do when the lives of others are at stake? He arms himself and is prepared to defend lives. "

Personally, I think this is a rather important topic for Permies consideration because the possible roots of this might impact general concepts and manifestations of cooperation and conservation in a more permie world. First, as a (Euro-ancestored) Yank, I'm willing to go along for the sake of argument that Americans do at least seem to cherish their gun ownership more than those in other countries. (Wife lived in Canada for a while and definitely noticed that although guns are quite present, the sentiment about them is reduced, at least in the Toronto area where she was living at the time.) I can't argue with the fact that I come into these discussions with a sense of gun ownership and availability almost as an entitlement....that's a testament to the family and culture in which I was raised and I realize it skirts a lot of history in securing that right.

As others have already indicated, part of this possibly-unique sentiment in the US can be attributed to the *conscious* (important!) historical memory of being "under the boot" and not wanting to be there again. Yet as Neil L. pointed out, the fervent nature of this desire seems stronger in the U.S. than in other countries with parallel histories of European immigration. My historical knowledge, even of my own country, remains poor at best and is laid open for criticism here. But I think an important question in this regard is, what was it that was uniquely American in the timing, population composition, and trajectory of its revolution that made it ultimately a competitor rather than a colluder with the British Commonwealth, even as cooperation between the two grew in later decades? And certainly one aspect here was encouragement by the early American elite/founders to embrace the right to bear arms, to use them in 'manifest destiny' of the North American continent to the extent possible, to exhibit 'rugged individualism' in the defense of their homesteads, to dovetail this sentiment with a domestic arms industry that would become unrivaled elsewhere, and in return to use those arms first in defense of the country and later in the defense of US international interests.

Second, while the homestead concept clearly is not unique to the U.S., I wonder to what extent the Commonwealth phenomenon in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to name a few possibly tempers this relationship to firearms a bit.....this isolationist "defense of the homestead" that is such a powerful American vision. I'm neither arguing that sectors of the U.S. were not/never communal nor that some sentiment of rugged individualism was lacking in Commonwealth countries, but rather that a national sentiment...a 'meme'....took hold early on in the U.S. with the blessings of those writing the laws and collecting the taxes.

A final third and less frequently probed factor weighing in on this US gun issue may relate to the *subconscious* (important!) psychology of fear and pain, specifically rooted in persecution/ostracism and fundamentally grounded in powerlessness. Because the early, founding waves of immigrants into the U.S. had both a recent and far reaching generational historical experience with being under the boot or looking down the barrel of a gun and often *needing* to leave their homeland and families, although sometimes *wanting* to leave them as well due to socially-unacceptable developments of the time and culture....divorce, illegitimate pregnancy, unresolvable family/communal conflicts, etc.. Digging a bit deeper as Michael Haneke suggested in his film "Das Weisse Band", and psychological observation has confirmed time and again, the persecuted parent tends (although not unfailingly) to take this frustration out on their powerless children. (This in turn tends to develop later into either repressed hostility or occasionally expressed violent outbursts of power and violence.) These early immigrants generally arrived in America under the servitude of persons or companies, but eventually myriad forces co-mingled leading to revolution. In what might be viewed as a combination of "Stockholm Syndrome" and Freud's "Compulsion to Repeat", the traumatized, powerless mind...in this present musing, the "collective mind" of the subjugated immigrant.... actually embraced the antics of the aggressor and wedded itself to culturally/state-sanctioned sources of power. Pertinent to initial US colonization and subsequent eventual expansionism, this power was realized through gun ownership, frequently manifest in a larger cache than realistically needed. In the ultimate mimicry of the Imperial aggressor, the US eventually emerges to (for a time) out-compete other nations for global resources and wealth by wielding a formidable military stick, a motivation for which was born largely out of unrecognized, and domestically-recurring, feelings of powerlessness.

"The only society more fearful than one run by children, as in Golding's 'Lord of the Flies', might be one run by childish adults"--Paul Shepard, "Nature and Madness".
 
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I am of the opinion that anyone who spends a great deal of time living in or near wild country needs to own a .22 long rifle; in bear country, .30 caliber class centerfire rifle at a minimum. Less than lethal weapons have their place, but all of them need a credible followup; whether or not the offending critter walks on 2 legs or 4. If you are morally opposed to using lethal force while in the woods, you are prey.

That said, it's not legal, nor moral, to even use a non-lethal form of force upon a trespasser. In part, because that crime isn't what most people believe it is. Human beings, as well as wild animals, have a 500 year old common law right of "innocent passage". If they mean no harm, to yourself or your property, they have a right to traverse your property unmolested. The modern versions of this right are expressed in the urban laws that require sidewalks on private property, and in maritime laws that prohibit treaty signing nations from interfering with ships on the open ocean that do not stop at one of their ports, whether they are sailing across waters they claim or not.

Trespass is an add-on charge, that automatically implies ill intent; such as climbing over a fence to access an enclosed yard. A hiker cutting across your woodlot at the edge of your 'improved' area, that does nothing else, cannot be a trespasser.
 
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My grandfather was a crack shot, winning many marksmanship awards in his life (ironically, he spent his stint in WWI as a drummer, and a very good one at that). My grandmother wouldn't allow guns in the house. I don't know why. Personal preference, I suppose. They had a small farm on the shores of the Great Salt Lake (near the Howard Slough, for those in the know). When he needed to use a gun, he borrowed one from a neighbor.

Guns were tools in my grandfather's prime (70 to 110 years ago). I don't think he ever considered a gun in the house as being for defense. They were for shooting animals, wild and domestic. He was also very stingy with the ammo. He always waited until some ducks were grouped tight on the pond before shooting so he could get two or three, or more, with one shot. My grandmother didn't like guns in the house, but she appreciated fresh meat during hard times.

Guns in the home is an argument going back much further than my grandparents. Necessity is relative and there are almost always other solutions, though not necessarily better. Do what does what you need it to do, trying to balance that with what you (and your loved ones) are most comfortable with. Life is full of compromises.
 
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If we were just talking about the self-defense part of this issue, I would say that if you have to ask, you don't need the gun, though that doesn't rule out the freak occurrence where you might need it. Good people living in Iraq probably need guns. During the troubles in Northern Ireland, and lot of people had permits to carry, because they were named on death lists. If you only think you might feel better if there was a gun somewhere, then it isn't necessary.

But as King Lear said "Oh reason not the need!". Maybe you still feel you want one, specifically for self-defense. That's fine, but to make it a less a fantasy purchase and more a real thing, you need to define what kinds of situations you fear; how a firearm would help; and whether you are willing to actually be the person that analysis conjures up. A gun in the house presents some risk. In Canada, while gun ownership is not all that difficult, it comes with serious risks to personal liberty. And having been a kid who poked around at guns that I was told not to touch, something I largely respected, I none the less can see where that might lead. So you need to have a reasonable path to the gun without an unreasonable degree of risk to others in the house. If the gun is locked up and not really capable of being used, then how is it meeting your defense needs. Are you willing to lived strapped for the rest of your life, or keep easily accessible firearms around the place. I have no problem with either, but I do hear a lot of people who get a gun, and there is no plan or lifestyle change that really allows that gun to be part of a solution. So now they have this thing in the house, that no mater how low the risk of something bad happening, is doing no good either.

If you define what a gun would do for you and how you are going to change your habits to be the needed person in the equation, then you need to get some information to proceed. The least of it is how to shoot the gun.

- You need legal understanding of what you are getting into specific to your state, and how local law enforcement plays out. Sure it is better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6, but you can have both in a death penalty state. And you can end up in deep trouble for behavior that never made any sense at the time either. For instance in some cases using a knife will get you in more trouble than a gun, because in some locales there is an assumption that knives are not useful for self defense, so your actions will incite a charge of attempted murder, or worse. Up here a guy was charged for friing a warning shot for people who were trying to burn him out of his house. But he was tied up in court for a long time, and part of the reason is his decision to discharge a weapon when he apparently didn't have a target that was trying to kill or main him at the time.

- You need to know yourself. All drivers on average think they are above average. Well they aren't. Analyze how you react in dangerous situations, like driving, or other stresses. Do you anger easily. Are your decisions in retrospect disappointing. The answers are less important than the questions.

- What tactics will you use. Is it safe to try to clear your house? Or should you wait and see what goes down. This is a huge subject, but you need to know what you are going to do with the gun, and there is a ton of stuff beyond shooting it.

- How do you manage the gun. Carry, presentation, loading, unloading, making safe, clearing jams, retention.

- Then there is shooting.

There are a lot of people out there selling training, and the way you do that is by proving you are smarter or better than the next guy, and a lot of that adds up to complexity. Simple training, on fundamentals is all you need, it can be done from scratch in a day or two. Gunsite, and Thunder Ranch epitomize this. Lots of videos on youtube for those places.

The four rules are all you really need to know relative to firearms safety. Or there would be a fifth rule.

You don't need to be Ernie or Erica, to light a match. I bought their videos, and I hope to get the new RMH set coming soon. People set themselves on fire by falling asleep smoking in bed or on a couch. That is basic bad management, and poor judgement. But a lot of people do it.

Finally, we need to be the change we want to see. Proper self-defense attitude requires one to be on constant alert, and ready to act. This brings a certain mindset into the world, and it isn't the one of the neighbors in Maybury. That may be where we are today. But if you aren't really solving some problem through your self-defense based use of guns, you are certainly adding to a climate of fear and distrust for no benefit. I think people who are more trusting are also part of the solution. They get ridiculed as sheep at times... well that language can go pretty deep. Both sides can add to social cohesion by respecting each others choices.
 
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It breaks my heart to hear / read about women who are afraid of guns. I just don't understand why women who, benefit the most from firearms, have accepted the notion that its better to be powerless and subservient to anyone who wishes to do them harm. Its madness. I have a low opinion of those in positions of authority who propagate this myth.

Women; its OK to want to protect yourself, your family, your friends, and your live stock. There is no shame in it. Get educated, get trained, and stop living in the dark ages of personal empowerment and protection. Embrace that beautiful motherly instinct. Do you think mama bear dials woodland 911 while the wolves maul her cubs? no. She protects them. So can you.

 
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Mark Lipscomb wrote:It breaks my heart to hear / read about women who are afraid of guns. I just don't understand why women who, benefit the most from firearms, have accepted the notion that its better to be powerless and subservient to anyone who wishes to do them harm. Its madness. I have a low opinion of those in positions of authority who propagate this myth.

Women; its OK to want to protect yourself, your family, your friends, and your live stock. There is no shame in it. Get educated, get trained, and stop living in the dark ages of personal empowerment and protection. Embrace that beautiful motherly instinct. Do you think mama bear dials woodland 911 while the wolves maul her cubs? no. She protects them. So can you.



Mark, Well said. My good friend teaches a womans concealed carry class and he has been busier than ever. Many realtors are also carrying now due to numerous realtors being raped or killed in the last few years around the country. Our crime is very low here but the majority of the population is armed with an estimated 30% conceal carrying. A gun is NOTHING to fear when properly trained. (except for the thug that planned on hurting you before he saw your gun.) I have carried a firearm on my person or in my vehicle for 20 years. If i go into the back country i carry bear spray AND a 10MM Semi-Auto. In 20 years i have only had to pull my gun 1 time and never fired it. The guy backed down when he saw i was armed. That said i stay out of the big cities and the only time i had to pull my gun was in a city which at the time had VERY strict gun control but after being robbed once the previous year i didn't care about their ignorant laws because if the thug had a gun i was going to as well. Here is a good video about guns in my state. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK9KuIiugT4
 
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I lived in Los Angeles as a young woman, and would go backpacking alone into the mountains a week at a time. I never needed a gun in the city, or in the mountains. I don't think a gun is necessary, personally. I have never needed one, and if I had one, statistically I would most likely kill myself with it.

 
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I think it goes self, spouse, kids, when it comes to accidentally shooting someone. Probably ranks high on intended victims too.

I have dealt with many who I wish I could shoot. No gun, so just a fantasy.
 
pollinator
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I lived in Los Angeles as a young woman, and would go backpacking alone into the mountains a week at a time. I never needed a gun in the city, or in the mountains. I don't think a gun is necessary, personally. I have never needed one, and if I had one, statistically I would most likely kill myself with it.



Indeed. Something I'd much rather didn't happen, with a firearm or without one. I'm looking at this from outside a country where there are a lot of guns (but I do have some emotional investment, after someone wiped out half a class of primary school kids 5 minutes from where I was living, in my country's last major firearms incident, twenty years ago).

In addition, you are also 11 times more likely to die as a result of someone using a firearm against you than a woman in other high-income countries. If you have an abusive partner, hostile gun displays are much more common by men against women than the other way around. The presence of a gun increases the chances of a homicide by 500%. For every woman who protected herself from an intimate partner using a firearm, 83 were murdered by an intimate partner.

When it goes "self-spouse-kids..." the latter two are more likely to involve a man doing the killing.

Then, of course, you have the ongoing problem where the law tends to blame the victim in cases of attempted or actual rape. "Stand your ground" laws look a lot more ambiguous from that perspective.

Seriously, there is a simple equation: where there are more guns, more women die from someone using a gun.

At a policy level, that means I support my own country's gun laws. At a homestead level, which is what we are supposed to be talking about, you are better off looking for alternatives (dogs, thorn hedges and so on). That goes for men as well, but it particularly goes for women.



 
Matthew Steffen
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I lived in Los Angeles as a young woman, and would go backpacking alone into the mountains a week at a time. I never needed a gun in the city, or in the mountains. I don't think a gun is necessary, personally. I have never needed one, and if I had one, statistically I would most likely kill myself with it.




We have had NUMEROUS Grizzly attacks here the last few years. While pepper spray will likely get you out of a situation i am NOT willing to take that chance and i carry both a Semi-Auto handgun and pepper spray. If the wind is coming at me my ONLY choice is the gun...............
 
Tyler Ludens
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Matthew Steffen wrote:
We have had NUMEROUS Grizzly attacks here the last few years. While pepper spray will likely get you out of a situation i am NOT willing to take that chance and i carry both a Semi-Auto handgun and pepper spray. If the wind is coming at me my ONLY choice is the gun...............



Only Black Bears and Cougars where I hiked. Never worried me for one minute.

Statistically, chances of being attacked by a non-human critter are so low, I don't worry about it, personally.

 
Matthew Steffen
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Matthew Steffen wrote:
We have had NUMEROUS Grizzly attacks here the last few years. While pepper spray will likely get you out of a situation i am NOT willing to take that chance and i carry both a Semi-Auto handgun and pepper spray. If the wind is coming at me my ONLY choice is the gun...............



Only Black Bears and Cougars where I hiked. Never worried me for one minute.

Statistically, chances of being attacked by a non-human critter are so low, I don't worry about it, personally.



We had 7 attacks last year in Montana, 3 people attacked but got away, 4 attacked, One killed and eaten, The other 3 injured, One severely mauled but lived, Another charged, hunter used bear spray in hopes to scare the bear away, but had to shoot the bear in self-defense, Another exact same situation a week later and finally one a few miles from me mauled in her home and died later in the hospital. These where the bad ones, There where also at least 30 other run in's per Fish and Game that DIDN't escalate. My advice, Don't come to Northwest Montana to hike without bear spray AND a backup weapon.....
 
Tyler Ludens
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My hiking days are over, but personally I would not hike in Grizzly territory, because I believe that's where Grizzlies live and that I don't have a right to go into their territory for fun and then shoot them when they try to defend their territory. I sure wouldn't want someone to hike in my territory and then shoot me when I defended it. Seems like the bears are saying to the hikers "Get off my lawn."

 
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I have injured myself many times on the farm while doing auto-mechaniking: skinned knuckles, cut skin, black eyes, stained muscles. If I didn't allow tractors or motor vehicles onto the farm then I wouldn't be injured like that.

I've injured myself many times by being unsteady on the bicycle, and grinding gravel into my knee, or tipping at the wrong time and bruising my legs. If we didn't have bicycles on the farm, then I wouldn't be injured like that.

I've fallen while walking, and got bruises, and cuts, and strains that took a long time to heal... If I didn't walk around the farm then i wouldn't be injured like that.

All the different classes of tools have potential to hurt me and my family: Sharp or blunt objects are inherently dangerous. I still choose to have all different kinds of tools on the farm, including firearms, because in overall balance, It seems like I am safer, healthier, and live easier with them than without. I suppose that I'm more likely to kill myself with a lawn-mower than a firearm. I'm tremendously more likely to be killed by a car than by a firearm.

To me, having firearms gets to the core of homesteading: Am I going to try to meet my own needs, or am I going to go the globalization route? Do I raise my own food? Or do I buy it from a mega-corporation? Do I build my own house? Or do I buy it from the global marketplace? Do I provide for my own defense? Or do I depend on centralized hierarchies for defense?

A dog attacked me yesterday while I was biking. If I were a good member of the community, I would have stopped and shot it, because eventually it may attack and injure a kid. Not my problem though, because I escaped by being faster than the dog. And no, I am not going to call animal control, because it is my policy to never use centralized hierarchies for defense. I believe in taking care of myself and my family where possible. I'm not much interested in defending other people's kids. If a family with kids is walking past that house, and the parents are not able to defend the kids, then I will (attempt to) feel no guilt about it if the dog tears into a kid. And technically, I suppose that the parents will ultimately be at fault anyway for walking into the dog's territory.



 
Dale Hodgins
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I like shooting dogs as much as the next guy, but I really think that this thread has run out of steam. Every side has been well represented. It may be time for Burra to load the shotgun and put it out of its misery.
 
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Dale is right. We have five pages of thoughts on this, a lot of it wandering into cider press territory.

I'm going to lock this thread now.

If anyone with enough apples wishes to continue the discussion in the cider press, please feel free.
 
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