Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Good Guy with a Gun

Following the events in Paris, I have read multiple right wing commentators who speculated that if only Parisians had had guns, there would have been a very different outcome at the Bataclan.  Well, they're probably correct, but I don't know that the different outcome would have been a better one.

I won't argue whether or not a gun ever helps to deter crimes.  I understand there is good data that points that way but there is also good data that indicates that the very presence of a gun makes things more dangerous.  That is what I expect would have happened at the Bataclan.

Imagine the scene with me.  There is a large crowd of people gathered in a fairly chaotic place when all of a sudden one person pulls out a gun and begins firing.  Then a second pulls out a gun.  Then a third and a fourth.  How would you know who is a "terrorist" and who is not?  A fifth person, whom we know to be a "good guy," pulls a gun and begins to fire at one of the previous four, who then fires back.  If that fourth shooter was actually not a part of the terrorist group, he or she likely thinks the fifth is.  Multiply that by many people pulling guns and beginning to shoot at someone else who is shooting, all the while a number of innocent bystanders have been hit.  (After all, none of these shooters are trained to fire at real people in highly stressful situations while others are shooting back at them.) Then the police arrive on the scene only to see multiple shooters with weapons drawn, shooting at others in the panicked crowd.  How do they know who is a "good guy" and who is not?  So they begin firing as well.  Multiply all of that as the number of "good guys with guns" goes up.   What began as an horrific event has turned into the shootout at the OK corral. 

Recently in less crazy settings we have seen incidents that went horribly wrong.  There is the story of the car jacking victim in Houston a few weeks ago who was shot in the head, presumably by a "good guy with a gun" who was trying to help stave off the crime.  Instead, the victim was shot, the carjackers escaped, and the "good guy" picked up his shell casings and fled the scene, no doubt worried that he would be arrested.

I'm reminded of the meme that went around a few weeks ago... A small boy was throwing stones at other children in the school yard.  The teachers knew that something needed to be done or one of the children would likely be injured so, they handed out more stones to the other children.  That makes sense...

Adding more guns to a terrible situation does change things... but not necessarily in a positive way.

1 comment:

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