21 July 2012

Gun Free in Colorado; Thought Free in America

Thank heavens for the Internet. In all the confusion over the Colorado theater shooting, all I need to do is come here and the truth shall be revealed to me.  That One Correct and Moral Answer to violence in society will be laid before my wondering eyes.
I wonder why the answers are all so different.

And so, the curtain rises for that grand Kabuki theater we have every time a criminal nut goes on a shooting spree and makes page 1 of USA Today.

We can round up the usual suspects expressing horror. Hizzoner the Mayor of New York is venting his pious anger and “I told you so’s.”. The NRA stays on message but others who identify themselves with the NRA are wandering all over the communications map.

The funeral homes are busy. Trauma doctors have a few extra patients. Bomb experts are moving very slowly and deliberately, which is a wise thing to do. The paramedics probably have their rigs cleaned up by now.

All is not right with the world.

When has it ever been?

I favor the responsible carrying and use of firearms by civilians willing to do so.  Always have. I have no reason to believe that I’ll change my mind.  That’s not to say that I’ll quit listening to competing opinions - only a moron does that.

Everybody has an opinion.

The first people we really need to hear from about firearms and violence are those who’ve experienced combat in some form.  What do the medics who have both seen combat and treated immediate firearms wounds have to say about Colorado?  I really want to know.

I’m fairly far down on the whole totem pole in terms of experience here. Oh, I’ve seen several gunshot wounds and provided field-level treatment, but there are a whole lot of people with a much wider experience base. I really would like to know what they’re thinking.

A couple of things do strike me.

A “gun free zone”? You have to be shitting me. 

Fundamentally law-abiding citizens will respect a gun free zone. That will have some effect on crimes of passion, although those usually are in private settings. The armed guy who sees his wife’s boyfriend in a gun free zone may have left his pistol back home or in the car.  He'll beat him black and blue but won't shoot him.

For those law-abiding citizens who are also incredibly stupid, a gun free zone could have some effect on reducing firearm accidents. There was a news item a few months ago about a gentleman who took a pistol to church.  He pulled it out to show it to someone.  An accidental discharge killed a bystander.  That was a criminally negligent departure from the great responsibility of handling a firearm.
So to say that gun free zones will have no beneficial effect whatsoever just is not so.

One incident does not prove much at all, by the way.  It is a data point.  Ignoring it is also a bad idea.

Gun free zones are still a dumb idea.  An occasional topic in state legislatures is whether the state will have the ability for people to carry concealed firearms. That is really a stupid discussion.

There are concealed firearms everywhere. Criminals have been carrying firearms since the first pistol was invented. It’s the honest citizen who obeys the law.

The theater in Colorado was in a gun free zone. The “Joker” had weapons.  The patrons didn’t.  Had this occurred where I live, of the perhaps 50 people who would’ve had line of sight to the shooter, two or three of them would have been armed. This does not guarantee a good result. Most civilians do not practice or train sufficiently to maintain a really good skill level. Shooting among a crowd is really, really dangerous.  Add a dark room and confusion?  Wow.  It may be justified to take down the rare random killer, but it’s still dangerous and the thought should scare the living hell out of any responsible armed person.  The few people I know who have fired a weapon at another person lawfully all say that it was necessary but was still a memorably bad experience.

Some people in the blogosphere remind us that taking on criminals and running around armed is the job of law enforcement. Part of our Kabuki dance is to say once again, accurately, that a bullet travels a helluva lot faster than a police car.

At the end of the dance, we still have several dead people and injured people.  And lots of self-righteous loudmouths are weighing in with their “it’s so simple” solutions. 

It’s not so simple.  Because [fill in the blank], the willingness of some in our society to do unprovoked violence is increasing steadily.  Because [fill in the blank - I think the general “wussification” of America, but you fill it in as you please], our willingness or ability or effectiveness as a society to deal with violent offenses is slipping. 

I do wish that a responsible armed person had taken a shot at the Joker.

Oh - carrying a firearm openly is still a bad idea.  It’s impolite and it tells the criminal, “Hey, I’m dangerous, so shoot me first!”

If you want simple answers, go somewhere else.  Try FairyLand.


Anonymous said...

Do not discount the edged weapon as an offensive weapon to stop the killing. Flanking the active shooter can be accomplished, and to be real, in the chess game of combat there comes a time when we must trade pieces to win the game. As you know, strategically placed cuts can render the body unable to stand, much less attack, in seconds.

You are right, as a society, the engraining of the warrior spirit is vanishing. We revert to huddling together like sheep, hoping that the lion's belly will fill before he comes for you.

There is no better time than this moment to reflect deeply into your heart and soul and ask yourself two questions. "Am I going to be the sheep, the wolf, or the sheep dog?" And most importantly, "Do you know where you will go once you've taken your last breath?" If you can immediately answer the second question without a doubt, the first question becomes so easy.

Always a sheep dog, John Murphy

Roger D. Curry said...

Brother John, the idea of the sheep dog is an entirely new dimension to the old sheep-wolf thing. Thank you.

Jim N said...

Hey Roger,

Real assessment of our situation in this post, as usual. I like particularly the line: "...the willingness of some in our society to do unprovoked violence is increasing steadily." Often, it seems that the distinction between "feeling and doing" has become blurred in our society, and the reasons for that are probably legion. Sure, we all have moments when we feel like killing (no matter our degree of piety), but we also exercise the capability of not allowing our feelings to control our actions.

(An experience of serving on jury duty once comes to mind: despite the evidence, a few dominant personalities around the table wanted to acquit because they just "felt" the defendant wasn't guilty--just one example of what happens when we can't distinguish between feelings and making good choices--it took much discussion to persuade the adamant jurors of the difference:(

John's analogy of the sheepdog is so on target. I only hope that if ever caught in a situation needing both intelligence and courage, that the sheep dog image will come to the forefront.

As a kid who had plenty of times of being bullied, I'm sure that if I could have gotten my hands on a gun, I might have done harm to others or self. Fortunately, finding a "second home" through the congregation where I attended (especially the youth group) provided a healthier balance. Churches these days seem far more interested in property, propriety, and pre-eminence to be much interested in making a difference in the lives of kids.