Do more guns with more people ensure a safer society or does such a notion simply ensure a steady profit flow for the gun industry?
Wayne Lapierre, the long time Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Rifle Association finally responded to the latest gun violence at the Sandy Hook elementary school last week by essentially blaming everyone else and the anti-gun views they allegedly hold. Though he did take aim at an element of the violent gun culture in this country, berating the movie makers and video game creators who sensationalize gory guns scenes, his only “solution” was to support a program to train and certify volunteers to protect schools that he felt would be able to stop people like Adam Lanza from any spree killings. (click on the RELATED ARTICLE link at the bottom of this post to discover the hypocrisy of LaPierre’s berating of violent gun video games)
This promotes what many gun advocates are certain will stop any further serious threats from mass killings by essentially eliminating gun free zones where more “qualified” people can pack heat. This is like saying that if we had fire fighters positioned around every forest or dry wilderness that we could prevent arsonists from doing any serious damage to our natural treasures.
If it wasn’t clear before that it is the gun industry’s interests that Lapierre’s NRA has covered rather than the public’s safety, this announcement should alter that for many. The notion that we should in effect return to the days of Judge Roy Bean totally disregards the biggest single factor that allows the mass shootings that have occurred some 62 times in this country over the last three decades – easy access to assault-style weapons and high-capacity or extended ammunition clips. Eliminating this component alone will likely save many more lives than any security guard responsible for a heavily populated building.
But such a sensible approach isn’t in the interests of 114 gun manufacturers in this country. Their bottom line may suffer and how then will they be able to supply larger donations to gun advocacy groups like the NRA and their political supporters in Congress and state legislatures?
On the surface, even people who don’t own a gun are inclined to believe that, as Lapierre likes to tell it, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But without addressing the fundamental flaws in this type of thinking we can only hope that some of Lapierre’s “good guys” won’t have a mental breakdown and become one of those bad guys. After all, some of the bad guys were at one time good guys who were buying their weapons for all the reasons the Lapierre’s in this world like to tout.
It is highly possible that tighter security at schools, malls and theaters will discourage some shooters or at least minimize the body count, IF, they see the shooter before the shooter drops them first. Or if they can get to the shooter before he has had time to empty a magazine with 30 rounds in it and reload. But there is sufficient evidence to suggest that arming more people to prevent such actions will likely result in more injuries and deaths than they are intended to stop. People who are mentally imbalanced are not incapable of calculating their risks in such circumstances and likely will simply adjust their tactics to address this risk.
Here is a video of such a scenario that ABC news put together in conjunction with experts at the Bethlehem, Pa. police dept. after a shooting occurred at a northern Illinois school in 2009, killing five students and wounding twenty others.
Though this scenario doesn’t favor a shooter in some settings like a Mall, it does demonstrate that people under such duress are not going to be the cool, calm collective Dirty Harry-types that gun zealots like Lapierre imagine.
Gun advocate claims that gun free zones invite shooters also seem to make a legitimate point when they point out these are the places where such spree killings occur. But there is no empirical evidence that this prevents mentally disturbed people from acting out their horrible fantasies. James Holmes in the Aurora, Colorado shootings anticipated such responses and wore a ballistics helmet, bulletproof vest and bulletproof leggings. Was Jared Loughner fully capable of realizing that his victims were in a “gun free” zone at the Tucson shopping area where Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords was greeting constituents or was it simply that this was the place where large numbers of people were going to be? It was no coincidence that Gabbi Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, was one of Lapierre’s critics following his weak response to the Sandy Hook shootings.
“The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common-sense, reasonable safeguards on deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that aren’t even popular among the law-abiding gun owners it represents.” SOURCE
The notion too that arming more people makes us safer and freer has been aptly disputed by Firmin DeBrabander, an associate professor of philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art
As N.R.A. president Wayne LaPierre expressed in a recent statement on the organization’s Web site, more guns equal more safety, by their account. A favorite gun rights saying is “an armed society is a polite society.” If we allow ever more people to be armed, at any time, in any place, this will provide a powerful deterrent to potential criminals. Or if more citizens were armed — like principals and teachers in the classroom, for example — they could halt senseless shootings ahead of time, or at least early on, and save society a lot of heartache and bloodshed.
As ever more people are armed in public, however — even brandishing weapons on the street — this is no longer recognizable as a civil society. Freedom is vanished at that point.
An armed society is polite, by [the NRA’s] thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.
As our Constitution provides, however, liberty entails precisely the freedom to be reckless, within limits, also the freedom to insult and offend as the case may be. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld our right to experiment in offensive language and ideas, and in some cases, offensive action and speech. Such experimentation is inherent to our freedom as such. But guns by their nature do not mix with this experiment — they don’t mix with taking offense. They are combustible ingredients in assembly and speech. SOURCE
Wayne Lapierre’s ode to simple-minded fixes to stop wanton mass shootings appeals to gut level feelings most of us may hold but in effect does nothing to resolve symptoms of such tragedies in this country. The fear that sensible gun control measures like re-instating the ban on assault weapons will take away any 2nd amendment rights is unfounded. There has been no action whatsoever to limit gun ownership in this country under the Obama administration but the fear that it will has generated the greatest number of sells prior to and following both elections where Obama won.
It’s time to quit listening to the louder but fewer voices that contribute nothing to the public safety. Removing the more deadly weapons from the public arsenal along with equally serious measures to provide mental health services for those in need, better background checks (eliminate the gun show loophole) and addressing the gun culture’s impact on our kids is a comprehensive approach to ensuring that no one else will have to worry about sending their kids to school or if a trip to the Mall or a movie show will end in terror.