“More Guns” Theory Disproved During Presser

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, December 21, 2012 17:32 EDT
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Because I’m tired of illustrating these posts with mean-looking guns.

During his presser today, Wayne LaPierre touted the hoary old fantasy that the gun industry has been using to sell more guns for decades now, that if an armed civilian or security guard was on-scene during a shooting, that’s all you need to bring it to a swift end.

The only way — the only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

I don’t know why LaPierre was bashing Hollywood so hard, because this notion that a “good guy with a gun” offers “absolute protection” comes straight from the silver screen, where bad guys all have terrible aim, good guys always get the drop on them, and no one is ever hit by friendly fire.*  In real life, being the good guy doesn’t automatically give you better aim or mean that you’re able to prevail in a shootout. In fact, with these mass shooters, armed civilians are usually not going to stand up very well since they are usually not wearing bulletproof vests and wearing a mini-arsenal, unlike the bad guys. The fantasy of taking out the bad guy usually assumes doing so in one shot, because guess what? As soon as you whip out your handgun, he’s turning that AR-15 or whatever on you.

But fuck the hypotheticals. The claim that “more guns” neatly solves the situation when it comes to taking out madmen with guns was actively put to the test while LaPierre was talking. As reported by Gawker, a dude in Pennsylvania started running up and down a rural road, killing people seemingly at random. He shot a woman who was hanging Christmas decorations at her church, killed another person at their house, ran into someone with his car, got out, and shot that guy dead, too. Then the good guys with guns showed up:

Following a separate head-on collision with a state trooper who was injured in the crash, Michael began shooting at responding troopers and was subsequently shot and killed. In the exchange, one trooper was wounded after being struck by a bullet in his wrist, and another trooper sustained injuries from broken glass.

So yes, they put him down. No one denies that shooting a shooter dead stops him from more shooting. But it’s not the quick, nearly effortless process that gun manufacturers and their lobbyists would have you believe. Just as with the armed guard at Columbine, we find that exchanging gunfire with a shooter is a terrifying process with no set outcome.

This might be why British law enforcement is so supportive of their current system, where guns are banned generally and law enforcement officers very rarely carry guns.

With a rate of violent crime higher than we have in the US, one might think that sworn police officers in Britain would be inclined to be armed. This leads to a safer society, in the words of the recently wounded by metaphor Wayne LaPierre. However, in Britain, 82% of serving officers, the Police Superintendents Association, and the Association of Chief Police Officers are all opposed to the routine arming of police officers.

The very people responsible for policing a more violent society do not want to be armed. They put their lives at risk on a daily basis, yet predominantly do not want the ability to shoot back…..

[T]he overwhelming majority of British police officers, believe the fewer firearms in circulation, the safer the society.

The gun lobby likes to tell its loyal customer base that simply by owning guns, they are ready to live Hollywood fantasies where their unerring aim and the angels at their back would mean the swift putdown of a criminal who shows up ready to kill people. The reality is that it leads to shootouts that may or may not lead to the bad guy getting killed before the good guy does. The NRA’s notion that the best way to end violence is to escalate it owes way more to Westerns than reality. Gunfire exchange can and often does eventually lead to an end of a shooter going on a rampage. But it would be better if there wasn’t anything for the shooter to rampage with in the first place.

*I’ve been rewatching “Battlestar Galactica” and I recently watched the episode where Starbuck accidentally hits Apollo during a gun fight and nearly kills him. It stands out as a moment mainly because it’s so rare that you see Hollywood products portray armed confrontations so accurately. Even very good shots can hit friendlies in the chaos of a shootout.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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