Sunday, July 22, 2012

From a Gunowner: Using Guns Would Not Prevent Tragedy

Let's remember the real heroes in the Aurora tragedy: the unarmed civilians who protected their friends and police officers who chose not to shoot.

Me with my brand-new Ruger that my husband gave me for our anniversary.  As someone who loves guns but hates violence I feel the need to speak up.  (And yes, my hair is wet... he surprised me with it while I was getting out of the shower.  :-) )

So, I love guns.  All sorts of guns.  I love...
Automatic rifles.  This is a friend's M4 that I shot this summer.
308's.  Here, with a friend's 308.  308's are often heavy-duty sniper rifles.
Shotguns.  Some guy I don't even know was polite enough to let me try his shotgun on the range last year.
My own 22 longrifle.  Actually really love this weapon: it's small and the bullets are small and cheap.  It's a great weapon for learning how to fire a rifle.
All sorts of handguns.  Here's two more other than the Ruger in our household: my husband's 10mm Glock and my 9mm.
So, I love guns.

But now let's talk about what I don't love: gun violence and people with fantasies of gun violence.

Wandering around the blogs and news I read, there seems to be three categories of people speaking up right now:

- People who do not own guns and think that the Colorado tragedy is a good reason to get rid of guns.
- People who do not own guns but take the sensible position that this isn't about guns (or even necessarily mental illness) but rather is about a random, unpredictable tragedy.
- People who own guns who are saying that if other people had guns in the theater it would have prevented the tragedy.

Now, I like guns and I do think I have a right to own one.  I won't freak out if they're made illegal, but I'd be really, really sad about it.  Shooting is a really fun way to spend the afternoon and I do believe learning how to handle a gun properly builds character.

But the number of people who seem to think that if they had a gun it would have prevented the tragedy is frightening.

Most gun tragedies are not tragedies like Colorado.  Most gun tragedies seem to happen because an aggressive situation escalates - sometimes driven by things like drugs and alcohol - and somebody does something stupid.

In other words, part of the majority of gun violence is the attitude of "If I feel threatened, I can and should whip out my gun."

Now let's talk about heroes.

For example, Jarell Brooks, 19.  He helped a mom and her two daughters, protecting them in the aisles with his own body while he guided them to safety.  He was shot during his heroic efforts, but lived.

Jon Blunk, a security guard and Navy veteran wasn't so lucky.  He died while sheilding his girlfriend from gunfire - the gunfire that would eventually kill him.

There were many others - search the names Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves and you'll find more stories of unarmed valor - but it's not just the unarmed civilians that were impressive heroes in this tragedy.

Consider also the police officers facing a man carrying an automatic rifle.  I have fired an automatic rifle, as have probably most if not all the police officers facing the shooter.  I can tell you it's a scary weapon, able to rip a massive hole through metal let alone human flesh.

But the officers didn't shoot the shooter - they took him alive and unharmed.  What kind of bravery does that take?  Really think about it: the shooter could have been armed with a bomb.  His apartment was wired, so he could have been, too.  What kind of bravery and self-control does it take to not fire on a man like that?

So I suppose that my take home message here is the idea that guns didn't cause this and guns wouldn't have prevented it.  It happened.  And that the real stories of heroism associated with this story are the stories of people who had no guns and protected others and police men who did have guns and chose not to shoot.


  1. Couple of thoughts:

    ---Columbine showcased some reality to me.

    ---The two shooters had bombs; if guns were harder to come by, they would have had better bombs.

    ---They had armed guards at the school. There is a world of difference between someone with a gun and someone with a gun willing to kill someone with it.

    ---The Sikh Temple Shooting demonstartes how random this is.

    ---If you don't like Muslims, the last people you want to shot are Sikhs, who historically fought Muslims?

    ---If you are a guy who is down with the Aryan nation, why would you shoot a number of people who are literally Aryans?

    ---"Stupid" is very random.

    1. I do actually agree with the idea that people who are obsessed with violence will find a way. The Norwegian shooter planned for his attack for 9 years. If he hadn't had guns, he would have found another way.

      On the other hand, slowing down the process of getting a gun might help a lot of gun deaths, including both this one as well as the more common types. Letting anger cool, giving a person time to find help, etc.

      The Aurora shooter armed himself so fast. He also sought out mental help. If he couldn't arm himself so quickly, maybe he would have found the help he was looking for and tragedy could have been averted.

      The Sikh shooter appears to have just been full of hate. Maybe he hated Sikhs, too - he seemed to hate everyone.

      Mental illness doesn't seem to correlate that strongly with violence. However, hate and self-destructiveness seem to be a very volatile mix. (Also, think of it: it's "not crazy" or stupid for big religious and non-religious groups to kill each other, but it is "crazy" or stupid for individuals? The world seems nuts to me.)

      Wrote a little piece on why I think even intolerance doesn't correlate to violence - just a violent attitude:

      "Why has religion been the source of so much violence and pain? Or: Why the gun-owning, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic Christian fanatics known as the Amish make for such lovely neighbors"