Thursday, January 27, 2011

If Only I Had a Gun

Almost every time some horrific shooting plays out in America -- think Tucson, Columbine, Ft. Hood or Virginia Tech -- one comment I hear over and over again is: "This is why we need more liberal gun laws. Them criminals would think twice about committing such acts if they KNEW a lot of the people around them were packing heat."

Really? Ya think that would make a difference?

Most of the individuals who commit these kinds of atrocities aren't, as we say, in their "right mind." Many expect to die after committing the act by a police bullet or their own gun. Do you genuinely think they care at all about whether or not people around them might be armed?

As Gene Lyons points out in an article posted at Salon.com, even though police officers are trained in the use of guns and deadly force, when caught off guard, they end up getting killed like others who are unarmed at the time of an attack.
In Hollywood films, shootouts are carefully choreographed. Villains can't shoot; heroes rarely miss. Nobody panics. Melodramatic violence metes out justice and redeems the world.

In reality, as Americans seem fated to experience again and again without learning anything, a gunman walks into a Detroit police station and shoots four cops before himself being killed.

Two cops serving a warrant in St. Petersburg, Fla., are killed and a U.S. marshal wounded by a suspect who escapes.

Two sheriff's deputies are shot at a Walmart near Seattle before a third officer kills their assailant, whose motives remain unknown.

A policeman in Waldport, Ore., is shot by an unknown assailant during a routine traffic stop. He remains in critical condition.

At another routine stop, an Indianapolis cop is shot four times, twice in the face. He's in critical condition too.

All of these events occurred within 24 hours between Jan. 23 and 24.

It's worth emphasizing that the 11 victims were trained, experienced law enforcement officers. But their assailants, who'd found semi-automatic weapons easier to acquire than whiskey, gave them no chance...
I realize it will be pointed out that, in two of the cases cited above, the police eventually killed the assailant and so some will continue to argue that the attack would have been worse if no guns were present. While that may be true, it's of little solace to the officers who were killed or wounded.

However, as Lyons and others have pointed out, armed citizens don't receive the training that police officers do and so one can never be sure if an armed citizen during an attack will shoot the would be shooter or some poor defenseless person caught in the line of fire.

For example, it has been well-publicized that one of the first citizens responding to the shooting in Tucson was armed and almost mistakenly shot the man who first wrestled the gun away from Jared Loughner. This gentleman had a split second to make a life or death decision and he has stated publicly that he feels lucky that he decided NOT to shoot.

More guns on our streets is not the answer. We don't lived in the over-glorified Wild West anymore. While it might be romantic to think that, if we are armed and faced with the prospect of a deranged person shooting people indiscriminately, that we can become the guy in the white hat to save the day, recent history has not borne out this storyline. It only plays out that way in movies or on TV.

1 comment:

  1. I guess last weekend some guy walked into a Detroit police station and opened fire. They're saying it was "Suicide by cop" as he was finally taken out. No officers died but some were wounded.

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