Every time I read an article about the shooting in Connecticut and see the faces of the victims the tears come to me unbidden. I have a 9-year old and a two-year old. I cannot even begin to imagine the suffering of those families.
But I am also angry, so angry because I am seeing the same old arguments against gun control. First there are the 2nd Amendment literalists who not only believe we all have the right to own ANY number and type of gun AND that there should not be any restrictions whatsoever. This class of folk do not even want the pathetic patchwork of gun control we have now. They don’t like waiting periods, they don’t like concealed carry permits, they don’t like gun free zones like schools and campuses, etc. I’ve written on their erroneous interpretation of the 2nd Amendment many times, so I won’t bother here.
As angry as those people make me, there are a still worse creatures. These folk I like to label the Self-Proclaimed Gun Superhero. You probably know one of them, maybe are even related to one. They are usually male, but not always. Usually, white, but not always. To a person, they believe that if they had been on the scene, they would have had their weapon and would have been able to take out the shooter before too many people were hurt. They are often members of the first group. Their favorite saying after tragic mass shootings is “if more people carried guns, fewer people would have died”.
This group forms the core of the anti-gun control movement and they have created the laws regarding guns through arguably the most powerful lobbying group in the United States, the NRA, with the help of cowardly politicians and an easily distracted public. This group of completely delusional individuals basically hold the rest of the nation hostage with their extremist views.
Why do I say they are delusional? Because the facts are very, very clear. Most people who own guns end up having them used against them or they end up hurting someone they love (h/t Bob Cesca). Also because I know from my own professional training with weapons and occasional recreational use over the years that shooting a target in a range is completely different from shooting a real live person.
Let’s use the recent Colorado Shooting as an example. The perp had body armor so a shot to stop or kill him would have to be to the face, neck or legs–a much smaller target area. Lighting was horrible. You know how it is in a movie theater–the lighting from the movie is constantly changing from bright to dim and back again, objects moving so the light affects one part of the theater but not another. If you take your eyes off the screen, try focusing on the people and things around you. You know your vision would be extremely debilitated.
In this incident, the perp set off a smoke or tear gas grenade to conceal himself. All you would know is he is somewhere in that fog BUT so are dozens of innocents that you can’t see. You might be able to go by his muzzle flash but you’d still be shooting blind into an unseen crowd. And that brings up the people. They’d be running, shoving, pushing at you to get by. Or they’re laying on the floor trying to take cover, so you’re gonna step on them.
What cover could you take? The chairs? Not very good cover against the modern assault weapon. Do you know that some bullets actually went through the wall and struck people in an adjacent theater? So no convenient boulder or car or metal dumpster to hide behind like in the movies. So imagine squatting there behind your chair while people are shoving, kicking, climbing over you, panicked to get out.
Oh, and don’t forget the noise. You’re not at the range with ear plugs. You’d hear the full sound of his automatic weapons fire. You’d hear screaming and the continued noise of the movie. What about smells? Think it wouldn’t affect you? You’re wrong. See in times of crisis your senses go into hyperdrive. You notice things in great detail that you wouldn’t normally notice. The rancid butter and popcorn on the floor layered with spilled sugary soda. Possibly the smell of vomit. People throw up in such situations, particularly when they see blood or feel sudden extreme fear. They also piss themselves. So add the smell of urine and of course the smell of blood. Have you ever smelled blood when someone is mortally wounded? You don’t smell it so much as taste it. And finally add the smell of feces. Why? Every battlefield in the history of the world predominantly smelled like shit–for most people killed in sudden violence that is their body’s last act. That’s an ugly fact.
You’d also smell the smoke or be affected by the tear gas. It would make your skin itch, your eyes water and maybe even make you cough. Ever try to shoot while coughing? Good luck. You’d also smell the gun powder of the perp’s weapon. You’d most likely taste and smell the bile that rises in your own throat. Think you wouldn’t be affected by these smells, these sensations? Think again.
Oh, don’t forget that the perp is shooting too. The minute you opened fire he would naturally turn his gun on you. Do paper targets shoot back? No, didn’t think so. Do those moving paper targets on a wire at the range dodge left, right, up, and down AND shoot back. Nope, didn’t think so. Furthermore, I guarantee you that perp came with more rounds and more guns than the average gun carrying person has on them. At most you have one magazine holding up to about 17 rounds (number in the most popular handgun in the U.S., the Glock). If you have a revolver and no reloads, then you’re looking at 5 or 6 rounds, typically. Do you have any idea how fast you’ll fire those bullets? We do. The studies have been done, over and over and over. Did you know that the first shot of a policeman drawing his weapon invariably ends up in the ground? Because his adrenaline shoots through the roof and his trigger finger spasms way too soon. He’s trained and periodically re-certified with his duty weapon and he still can’t help himself. The average hit ratio for an officer is 50% and in low light 30%.
See the average person isn’t trained for this. For crying out loud, the average cop isn’t trained for this. Remember the shooting at the Empire State Building–16 rounds fired, only 10 hit the perp. The rest hit innocent bystanders and that was a GOOD hit ratio!!!! The typical gun owner, going to the range once a month, hell even once a week, isn’t trained for this. Shooting at stationary paper targets isn’t the same. Shooting at moving paper targets isn’t the same. Chasing your friends around and shooting paintball games doesn’t prepare you for it. Playing Call of Duty on your XBox doesn’t do it either. Who is trained for this? Military Special Operations–Delta Force, Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Air Force Pararescue, CIA Special Activities Division and others you’ve never heard of before and never will.
So the next time you hear some braggart talk about how he would have taken the shooter out with his gun, tell him to STFU because unless he has been in one of the Special Operations Units AND has kept up with his training, he’s just flat-out wrong. Besides if he was Special Ops he wouldn’t strut around bragging. Guys like that don’t brag. They don’ t have to. They just silently take action.
This is what really, really bugs me. The U.S. has had 15 of the worst 25 mass shootings in the last 50 years. This hubris, this braggadocio and it’s ugly consequences are buried into the American character like a tick. Everyone can’t be John Wayne or Dirty Harry, nor should they have to be. We don’t all need to own a gun and get Special Ops training. It’s insanity to think that the average person would even be able to handle such weapons training in the first place. That’s why those units are considered ELITE–not everyone can do it.
I don’ t want to live in such country. Do you? Does our 2nd Amendment require us to contort ourselves into killing machines to protect ourselves from each other? It’s an absurd argument and expectation. No, the reasonable thing to do would be to address those aspects of gun control that we can like banning assault weapons, improving the consistency and effectiveness of background checks, requiring more training for those who insist on owning weapons as part of the permit process, etc. These are reasonable limits on our right to own a gun. We put limits on our other rights–you have to register to vote, you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment but we do get punished, etc, etc, etc. Why can’t we discuss some rational, reasonable limits on guns? Why?
Unfortunately, the more polished gun fetishists don’t want to have this conversation, especially not immediately after a tragedy. They have been saying, “don’t politicize this tragedy by talking about gun control right now”. By so saying, they have already politicized it. But ignoring that, it is a political problem at its very core. An interest group using political power to keep gun ownership open and the other extreme uses its political power to try to get rid of guns entirely. The rest of us are in the middle saying, “WTF?! I just can’t hear about one more dead child. I just can’t.”
We, the rational people in the middle, want to know when is the right time? Should we wait a week or a month when the news has moved on to the latest Hollywood divorce scandal? We waited after Columbine. We waited after Virginia Tech. We waited after Aurora….should we wait after Newton, Conn as well? I say we’ve waited too long and nothing has changed–if anything the laws have gotten worse. Enough is enough.
Gun Control is really about Gun Safety. It’s not about some gun nut’s low self-esteem, but about ensuring our right to carry guns AND be safe. And we CAN do a much better job at it. When we do talk about gun control, these assholes who think they’re superhuman and can handle mass murderers with the aplomb of Special Ops trained soldiers do NOT get a seat at the table. Those gun owners who believe there should be no restrictions whatsoever aren’t being rational actors and covet their weapons over the safety of the innocent. It’s not an “either/or” debate and I refuse to let them frame it that way. They don’t get to hold the rest of us hostage any more. Their delusions are not our delusion. If we don’t stand up to these nuts and pry loose their grip on the national gun control conversation, WE will be responsible for the blood spilled at the next mass shooting, which will happen. Don’t wait. Act now. Contact your Congressperson(s)–advocate for rational gun safety and control.