Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The 'good guy with a gun' theory is a myth

Army veteran Charles Clymer wrote for NBC that the 'good guy with a gun' theory is a myth.  Here is an excerpt:
 Our nation’s love of firearms, combined with our history of arrogance and hyper-masculinity, has produced a culture in which millions of (particularly younger) white men now believe they could, at any time, be the only thing standing between good and evil. A quick search on YouTube will provide countless videos of these would-be superheroes strolling down city streets with powerful rifles on display, begging for law enforcement to challenge their constitutional rights.
This is not simply an issue of Second Amendment rights, however. The world is a dangerous place, and these would-be crime stoppers claim that a good guy with a gun must be ready and willing to stop a bad guy with a gun. As evidence, they point to high-profile stories like the recent Texas shooting at First Baptist Church, in which a good Samaritan with a gun chased and ultimately wounded the shooter as he left the church. He did not prevent the massacre, but maybe he could have, if he had only gotten there earlier — at least, that’s what these people argue.
The problem with this narrative (besides a lack of research or data suggesting more guns does indeed prevent violence broadly) is that killing another human being, even a “bad” one, is not easy. This is not “Call of Duty”: Despite the damage that modern weaponry can inflict, there is a reason that soldiers and law enforcement officers receive thousands of hours of training in firearms and tactics. This training is physical, mechanical and, most importantly, psychological, because in order to efficiently and effectively kill other human beings in high-stress situations, one must be conditioned to negotiate that stress.
I should know, because I went through it. As an U.S. Army infantryman, I spent thousands of hours, beginning in basic training and continuing throughout my service, becoming comfortable with killing and learning how to do so in a responsible manner. The psychological strength required to act quickly and effectively in a mass shooting comes from the kind of monotonous training that over several years builds up muscle memory. It is tedious and often boring, and that’s the point: it enables soldiers to respond in stressful situations as though it’s second nature.
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