People are funny creatures. We are as consistent as our inconsistencies allow us to be. Up in arms over one thing, but in denial over another similar situation seems to be all to common.

Over the years I’ve watched the debate over firearms, a topic that seems to bring out the paranoid in many. Devoted bird hunters often look askance at modern semi-automatic rifles. Those who hunt with rifles may look with horror at those who shoot handguns. All the above sometimes shudder at the thought of light weight full automatic firearms and nearly pass out when crew served weapons are mentioned.   Yet each of the little niches will fight tooth and nail to defend their own little specialty. This division amongst those who have a love of shooting sports of one kind or another is what has allowed those who abhor ANY type of firearm to write laws stigmatizing certain weapons and limiting freedom for all of us who enjoy one or more aspects of the shooting sports.

This same mentality leads to people looking askance at dogs of certain breeds and stereotyping those who own them.  Over the years I’ve seen doberman pinschers, german shepherds, rottweilers and most recently “pit bulls” pushed into a category of “horrible, dangerous, insanely vicious” – because of one or more well publicized incidents involving the breed.  People who happen to own one of these breeds are looked down on by those who own “safe” dogs like poodles, schnausers, cocker spaniels, pekineses and other “cuddly furballs” – breeds that often are snappy with children and are unbalanced due to the owner’s anthropomorphic identification of the canine as “my baby”. More children go to the emergency room after clashing with the fur balls than after attacks by the “dangerous” breeds, but this does not make the news due to not matching the narrative that certain large and powerful breeds are inherently “dangerous”.

The truth of the matter is, firearms are no more dangerous than the person that handles them.  I’ve got friends who own firearms from the entire spectrum – from muzzle loading primitive arms to fine double shotguns to single shot hunting rifles to fully automatic weapons of a variety of types. And none of them are dangerous to society.  Since they have sought training (on their own, not government obligated) and have used their brains to analyze the matter, their choice of sport does not imply a danger to society or a tendency towards violence.  On the other hand, I know people who abhor weapons, yet are dangerous due to their mental instability.

The same holds true with canines.  The owner and handler is what makes a dog (of any size or breed) dangerous or not.  There are very few exceptions, especially among the more traditional breeds.  The ability to understand that a canine is not human and operates on a different psychological level than we do is key.  Any dog that is treated as “my baby” is likely to be dangerous or unfit to socialize with other canines.

Recently a new regulation was put in place here that requires “dangerous breeds” to be muzzled when in public.  Yet our pit bull cross has never attacked anyone or any other dog.  She has, however, been attacked many times by poodles, miniature pinschers, beagles, cocker spaniels, jack russel terriers, pekineses and other “cuddly” breeds.  Any dog that attacks another unprovoked should be muzzled in public, yet these “cuddly” breeds are allowed to roam free and attack others at will, but our pit bull “is dangerous”.  How does she respond to aggression?  In the way we taught her from a puppy, deescalating.  She seeks to play and to win over those which are aggressive.  She assumes a submissive posture.  She does everything but attack the nasty little things.  We’ve even seen her try to break up an impending fight between other dogs in a way that suggests  she’s saying, “Come on guys, let’s all play and be friends!”  Yet the ignorant still claim she’s “dangerous” because of the irresponsible actions of those who MAKE their dogs dangerous.  And many who cry for the end of the pit bull and other “dangerous” breeds have potentially dangerous balls of fur that they call “my baby”.

We’d all be better off if folks would educate themselves and learn to differentiate between what IS and ISN’T dangerous.  Weapons are NOT dangerous (they are, after all, inanimate objects) – it is the person that is dangerous.  Dogs are not inherently dangerous (even the little ones), it is the owner that creates a dangerous dog.  In both cases it comes down to the human and their use or renouncing of reason.