blog post I wrote nearly four years ago explains why. But there's a more fundamental reason for me to not own a gun.
Owning a gun means I have formulated the intention to kill. I may never kill anyone or anything while owning a gun, but the intention would be there, for why else would anyone own a gun?
First, let me clarify something. I do not begrudge people who hunt, nor do I view them with any form of disdain, and nor will I attempt to take their opportunities to hunt away from them. Having said that, hunting involves killing, regardless of the purpose, or, more precisely, the intent. The Buddha teaches that nothing occurs without consequence - "when this is, that is ... when this isn't, that isn't" - and that all actions are preceded by an intention. This is the core of his teaching on kamma.
But while kamma has everything to do with cause and effect, it is not linear; rather, it's more like loops of feedback that occur in our lives because we always have the opportunity to eliminate our kamma with the creation of every new intention and subsequent action. The Buddha's teaching about The Salt Crystal is pertinent here. As the Buddha teaches, if you put a teaspoon of salt into a glass of water, the water will taste salty; but if you put a teaspoon of salt into the Ganges, the water will not taste salty. So a single act within the greater context of your lifetime - or multiple lifetimes - holds negligible consequence because of all the other actions you can take to "dilute" the salt's presence.
That's important to remember, that we can "dilute" our actions, but we can never eliminate what has already happened; the salt does not disappear, it just cannot be tasted.
Hunting, to me, is like the teaspoon of salt in a river, but even that depends on the reasons behind why a person hunts. A person who hunts to provide food for his or her family creates kamma different from the person who hunts for sport.
Killing another person? That's a tablespoon of salt in a glass of water. Even with saying that, however, all homicides are not equal and the kamma created will be as varied as the intention behind the act. The point is, no one is immune from the consequences of killing, regardless of intent.
Which is why I will not own a firearm. Particularly a handgun. There is no other purpose for a handgun other than to kill another human. Even if self-defense, owning a handgun is done with full knowledge that it may be used to kill another person. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding him or herself.
And this is why I believe that Michael Dunn is guilty of murder, plain and simple. I have seen some comments on Twitter following the jury's verdict wondering how difficult it will become in the future to prove intent behind premeditated murder when it comes to self-defense. For me it's quite simple. Michael Dunn had formed the intention to kill someone long ago, and I suspect his intention was to specifically kill a black youth. All Dunn was waiting for was the right opportunity.
That is why I will not own a firearm of any kind.
A person unknowing:
the actions performed by him,
born of greed, born of aversion,
& born of delusion,
whether many or few,
are experienced right here:
no other ground is found.
So a monk, knowing,
greed, aversion, & delusion;
giving rise to clear knowledge, he
all bad destinations.