One More Gun. Really?!

A number of my (now former) Facebook friends have been expressing sentiments like this one:

“The shooting in Aurora would have gone a lot differently if people had been allowed to concealed carry. There would be only one death, the perpetrator.”

Just as those in favor of gun control tend to come out of the woodwork during a violent tragedy, so too come the gun supporters. I don’t necessarily think our national policy on gun control should be decided by our visceral reactions to tragedy, but by the same token thoughts like the one above need a reality check.

He was in full body armor

If someone had been concealed carrying and had tried to take James Holmes down they would have had a difficult time of it. His chest, head and neck were protected by SWAT grade body armor.

Who is the criminal?

It took a trained eye by the officers on scene to recognize discrepancies in Holmes’ armor and identify him as not part of their team. In a tense chaotic situation like the one in that theater, is it not reasonable to assume that anyone firing a gun might be assumed to be the cause and not the solution? Our vigilante hero might get a bullet for their trouble.

You’re not Rambo

I think what really gets to me about people who make this remark is that they are not the sort of people I would count on in a real crisis situation. They like to think that they’d be a hero, that they could take the criminal down, but it’s all talk. Until you’ve been in a tough situation you have no idea how you’d react, if you’d be able to assess the situation correctly and shoot the right target without hurting anyone else. We watch action movies and we think we can be part of them. I don’t care how much time you’ve spent on the range, how much training you’ve had, if you’ve never been tested in real life, then I don’t want you to have a gun.

It dishonors real heroes

There were heroes in that theater. Boyfriends who protected their loved ones by shielding them with their bodies. Best friends who gave life saving first aid, and carried their friends out of the fray. They weren’t armed, but they saved lives, sometimes by sacrificing their own. Anyone who fantasizes about saving those people through more violence dishonors the memory of the dead and the living.

It’s not a constitutional issue

You know what, the constitution was written more than 200 years ago. Maybe, just maybe, parts of it need to be revisited in the light of modern day. The 2nd ammendment back in colonial times would be like having the right to buy computers in modern times. Guns were tools, and tools far less capable of dealing mass death as the automatic weapons Holmes was legally able to get his hands on.

It’s not alright to disagree

In reply to my comment that statements like the one above were incorrect and insulting one former facebook friend said that he’s sorry I feel the way I do. He said that it’s okay that we disagree and that he would fight for my right to say what I want just as he’d fight for the right to keep his gun. Thanks, but no thanks. My first amendment rights are doing fine without your help. And sometimes ignorant and arrogant sentiments like this one need to be called for what they are. I support your right to be foolish, but that doesn’t make you any less of a fool.

As you can tell I’m a bit angry. Ultimately it’s Facebook. I can just unfriend this person and they’ll disappear from my life forever. But reality is there are plenty more who think the way he did. It’s not okay. We need to think more about the things we say (that’s why it took me a week to decide to even write this post). Maybe our twitter and 24 hour news based society has causes us to “shoot from the hip” (if you’ll parson the expression), but that’s never been a particularly good way to discuss anything. Whether you agree with me or not on gun rights, you can see how comments like the one above do nothing to help the current situation. We should be better than this.

Thankfully, many of us are. There have been more posts with prayers and thoughts going out to the families then I’ve seen for any recent tragedy. Christian Bale visited victims. It’s not all a bad world.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “One More Gun. Really?!

  1. My thoughts go out to all the families of aurora. But i can’t help the feeling that the US government is doing too little to stop it.

    When you have more gun shops that McDonalds, you should really stop and think to yourself where is the world going?

  2. Very well put, Ben. I don’t usually talk about gun ownership. I don’t really like guns myself, but I do know how to use them. I feel that sane, law abiding citizens should have the right to own firearms. In Maine, people use them for hunting deer and moose, as well as protection from bears and coyotes. But I have friends that own certain guns that hold no value other than the fact that they “look cool” – they can’t be used for hunting and, if used to defend against a home invasion, would blow more holes in their walls than in the perpetrator. Carrying a concealed weapon wherever you go, unless you work in law enforcement, seems a tad ridiculous to me.
    Of course, if the apocalypse occurs in my lifetime, I know where to go.

    I will say this: the triggers on James Holmes’ gun didn’t pull themselves. And he may not have had a criminal record, but I’m sure he had a mental health record that went completely ignored by his loved ones. Even his mother was quoted as saying, “You have the right man.” They knew something was wrong. Maybe they didn’t know to what scale, but they said and did nothing about it.

  3. Well said Ben, but I’m a little disappointed in you, unless I’ve misunderstood what you have to say. It is most definitely ok to disagree, particularly on an issue such as this.

    If you were talking about the original comment, like you, I’m not convinced that a person in the crowd with a gun could have done anything other than more damage/harm. However, it is a possibility that someone in the front rows could have done some serious harm to the shooter or at least disoriented him for long enough to get there and make it a hand to hand fight. There are probably exceedingly few people around willing to take that sort of personal risk, but it wouldn’t be the first time in history (even outside organized law enforcement) such a thing has happened and could have saved a few more lives than the hero’s whose image you feel you are protecting.

    If you are simply talking about your views on gun rights, that would really be the most arrogant view I’ve ever heard in my life. Simply shutting down a conversation with the assumption that you’re right and can’t be wrong is everything that is wrong with American politics today. I sincerely hope this isn’t what you mean.

    I also take issue with two more of your points. First, while having the argument now is in bad taste, I don’t believe saying that a civilian with a concealed weapon may have changed things dishonors anyone. The comment you started the article with is certainly inflammatory, so perhaps that is what you mean. Second, this is a constitutional issue and will be until the country decides to amend the constitution such that it isn’t. We don’t get to ignore the constitution when ever we like. It is the source of the governmental power, more importantly it is the defined limits of that power and if people keep saying it is archaic and no longer serves a purpose, both conservatives and liberals are going to latch on to that sentiment and make many more changes that the public won’t like. For now, the constitution says I have the right to keep and bare arms… I don’t care if you don’t like it, I don’t care if you think your opinion can’t be disagreed with, you’re simply wrong.

    That last bit also gets me angry because very few people know, or at least understand, why the 2nd amendment exists. The true historical purpose is to afford the people the right, the tools and the ability to overthrow an oppressive government like the colonies did with the British. Any limit on gun rights, whether it be places you can carry or types of weapons you can own curbs that right. Saying that only the government can own automatic and heavy weapons basically guarantees that the government will win if the population ever revolts… not good in my opinion. In truth, I have no idea how to balance this against the damage guns can do to the public. I also I can’t say that pulling guns out of society (something that is likely impossible in practice) will do anything to reduce violent crime or mass murder in the long run. Evil is evil and will find a way.

    • Couple of things:

      1) Speculation is one thing, and hero fantasizing is another. The original comments that prompted the post fell more in the second camp than the first. I think it’s in poor taste to do either at this time, but speculation is a natural human impulse, just one I think people should keep to themselves for now.

      2) While I understand that the 2nd ammendment could be interpreted as allowing people the right to overthrow the government I think that is an irrational view for a modern society to have. Our society is democratic, and we change our regimes without violence every four or eight years (less if you count shifts in congress). I’m not saying it’s impossible that the need might one day arise, but I am asking this question:

      Why would a government make it legal to arm a citizenry for the purpose of its overthrow?

      3) Funny thing is I never mentioned my particular views on gun rights, in part because they are evolving. I think guns for home protection and hunting are one thing, and assault rifles are another. As discussed in point 2, if you’re only argument for me owning an assault rifle is that I might one day need it to overthrow the government, then frankly I am disappointed in you too sir.

      4) You’re right that evil will always find away, but so will good.

      5) In terms of “it’s not okay to disagree” I mainly mean some comments are patently insensitive and should be called out as such. Obviously it’s okay to have different views on the issues, but I have the right to tune out foolish voices and to call them so. Some comments are inappropriate period and that’s what we shouldn’t disagree on. I also found it kind of funny that the immediate response was with the first ammendment and not the second. Again obviously this person can say what they will, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen.

      And yes in the words of John Mclaughlin (“I’m right and you’re wrong!” 😉 )

      Thank you for your commentary Adam.

  4. matt

    I enjoyed most of your article and respect many of your views. I was disapointed this issue has seperated us, I think any disagreement can be solved with words, and healthy debate can help us understand this complex issue. I agree with you, my comment may have been insensitive. If you don’t think the government is engaged in a full scale attack on our freedoms read up on operation fast and furious, or operation north woods. You make very good points in your article but I am offended at your Rambo comment, I felt that was directed at me. I agree with you fully that the majority of people may not be able to handle it, but I like to think the Marine Corps would not give me medals for “just talk”

    • Thanks for taking the time to read the blog post, Matt. Just to clarify, the blog post was not directed solely at your comments, and Rambo was a more generic than specific reference (coulda just as easily gone with Die Hard). Frankly, and I’m sorry to say this, I didn’t know you were in the Marines, but there are plenty of others who make those sorts of remarks who have a good deal less experience. (Seriously though, and I mean this as no offense, but how is it that you and Powell are the big military guys from HS 🙂 ?).

      I probably will have to disagree with your interpretation of operations like Fast and Furious (botched more than malicious), but I do agree respectful dialog is a good thing and I’m sorry my immediate reaction was so harsh. It’s probably a bit of having heard a lot of nonsense before you and your comment just being the one that set me off. The fact that gun sales increase after events like this is an example of the kind of thinking that drives me crazy. I’m more moderate than my behavior here might imply, it’s just hard not to react when it seems like so many people are not really thinking about what they say.

      Again, thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

      • matt

        No worries Ben. im sure the way you remember me and how I am now are like night and day! Trust me if it were my choice all weapons should be melted down, or better yet never invented. There is a rough side to us as a species that we will have to work through. I like to think if we all worked together instead of fighting we could be colonizing the stars right now, but we have to start somewhere. you probably already know this with your background but a Nvidia Tesla supercomputer would crank you out fractals like an easy bake oven. your only obstacle, the 10 grand price tag..

  5. Pingback: Another [expletive deleted] post | Ben Trube

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