I was 4 years old the first time I held a pistol in my hands and until I started moving around the country 40 years ago, guns were an ongoing part of my life. I was taught how to use them, when to use them, and how to care for them. And I was sufficiently skilled that I was able to gain the respect of my father-in-law who was a policeman and a marksman of some skill. But the one thing I have never done is confuse myself with a person who is capable of taking on the criminal element and coming out on top.
The NRA lies when it says that the only thing that is necessary to take down a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, as the article below so clearly demonstrates. There is so much involved mentally and physically with being able to make the judgments necessary in cases where a bad guy is threatening others with a gun. Many people insist in the bravado of ignorance that they could take care of business. No, they cannot.
It is one thing to have the gun and possess the skills to use it on the firing range. It is something else entirely to have the coolness of mind necessary to be able to employ the skills required to gain and maintain tactical superiority when facing one or more criminals in a public or private setting. As much adrenaline as flows in those moments, and it can be overwhelming, responses MUST be based on rational evaluation and judgment, not the chemical high that comes from the body’s fight or flight responses. Adrenaline skews our judgment in important ways that can get us killed.
Even if one can remain calm and rational to this point, there always the problem of overcoming the natural adverse reaction to drawing down on a person and pulling the trigger. If we are normally moral people, we are intrinsically wired to abhor death and the killing of another human being. We will avoid it at nearly all costs. We cannot do it naturally. It takes conditioning in order to be able to look at someone, especially face-to-face, and tell them to drop their weapon or we will shoot.
Even if we can get the words out of our mouths, the shaking of our hands will tell the criminal that we do not have the internal strength necessary to do it. They will not believe us and rightly so. To kill another human being means to lose all that we were up to that point and enter into a life where the reality we have killed someone will be a constant thought in everything we do. If we are fortunate, it will be below the surface, but it will change us in way we cannot possibly comprehend.
Very few can handle the consequences of taking someone’s life. For most who do, there is something inside of them that becomes hardened to life and distant from all around them, even when the killing was not only justified, but necessary in order to save other people’s lives.
These are some of the things that the NRA does not tell people in their ongoing campaign to make guns and other weapons available to the general population. There is a tremendous human cost whenever anyone is injured and dies in shootings like Charleston and Newtown. But there is also a tremendous human cost to those who respond whenever the criminal is killed as well.
WHAT IF THE CIVILIAN FEELS LIKE THERE IS NO CHOICE BUT TO CONFRONT THE CRIMINAL?
It is frightening to see and hear the number of people who seem to think confronting the bad guy is as easy as spaghetti westerns make it look like it is. There is nothing easy about it and the vast majority of people need to recognise and acknowledge the fact that as much as they want to believe they can do it, their lack of skill and lack of training makes them as much, or more, of a menace than the criminals.
A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE
Once upon a time in 1974 we had some agitators from St. Louis come into my hometown and try to start some racial trouble. This is a small town of then around 20,000 people. The situation became so dire that the governor was set to send in the National Guard in less than 24 hours if it did not stop. Fortunately, it stopped before he had to take those measures.
I was living alone at the time. My then husband was in basic training for the USAF and I was living in a location where no one would have heard anything if someone had wanted to break in and commit crimes. The location was somewhat isolated and my closest neighbors were all elderly ladies who were deaf as posts. They would not have heard a 50 caliber gun go off on the USS Missouri in broad daylight when they were completely alert.
My co-workers at the time were aware of where I lived, how close I was to the action, and were exceedingly concerned for my safety. My comment to them was that I had a six-shot revolver, a shotgun and a bedroom with one door in that was back lit. If eight people wanted to come after me, they were welcome to try, but the first seven would not succeed. The only thing I did was take the revolver out of the holster. Fortunately for all of us, nothing ever happened.
You can say things like that when you are 20. At 61, I would say the same thing, but I understand now that it is far more complicated than I realised at the time.
I have had several situations along the way where I was confronted by someone who wanted to kill me. They were far from pleasant, but the one redeeming factor in all of them was that no one had weapons. If they had, I seriously doubt if all of us would be alive to tell the tale, including me.
So, it is not as easy as it looks in the movies. We need to get real in our discussions about gun violence and understand that having the equipment to go to the OK Corral, being correctly prepared to go, and needing to go are at least three vastly different scenarios, none of which may require the use of guns.
Link to the 10 June 2014 CDN article by Susan L. Ruth.