Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What wrong with the NRA's "Arm everyone!" pitch

It is emotionally very, very satisfying to see the intended victim turn the tables on the attacker. That's the essence of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, actually. I hate the fact that nearly all the time it turns out the other way. And with us already the most gun-toting society on Earth, it's very likely that more guns would only make it worse.

I saw a cop give an account of how she killed a mass murderer who'd invaded the church she attended. She wasn't just armed. She had the spine to shoot a bad guy--to pull that trigger--and the training needed to know how to protect herself while shooting him. Training reinforced by being a beat cop day in, day out.

I took an intro flight recently. Got to take the plane off myself after an hour of ground school and do various mild maneuvers up in the air. I'd love to fly, but I realized that no one is safe being a pilot unless they can fly frequently and keep up with their skills practices in various aspects.

You need training to be able to hunt wild game safely. But that's a patch on what you need to be prepared for armed combat. And I bet most ex-military personnel from the combat arms would agree with me. A civilian who buys a gun, gets a few hours' training on the practice range, and keeps it in her purse would be like me, a scuba diver, having a knife strapped to my leg in case a shark attacks. Most of the time once a shark is coming at you in full attack mode and gets close enough for a knife to reach the shark he's going, like 30mph or more. And you might just as well be waving a toothpick for all the chance you have of that knife helping.

Unless you get special training in shark attacks and practice that training every weekend.

Now if we were like Sparta and every single young male--and, this being America, every single young female--got military combat training, and it was with the firearm they'd have thereafter in civilian life, and trained in firearms and other combat every weekend for many hours...that would be one thing.

But that's not realistic. The gun was once called the "great equalizer," but that concept has very real limits in the real world.

And in my experience some people couldn't handle armed combat no matter how much training you gave them.

The cop was in the right place at the right time and though off duty was armed. She is a genuine hero. But we can't possibly have enough trained cops watching out at every single place people gather in groups. It's not practical. And one guard per crowd scene wouldn't be remotely enough for most situations.

Sorry, but the only realistic solution is fewer guns overall, and the ones that are in private hands all registered and the owner licensed in a way that reflects the deadly capabilities of a firearm.

I'm not trying to be hard on gun owners. Some of my best friends etc. Well, that's a lie. I only know one guy who owns a gun, and he's a veteran cop in Sacramento. Oh, and the guy at church who's in the California Highway Patrol. But he's moving to Reno. And I didn't really know him. Oh, and one of my wife's nephews who's in Homeland Security.

I haven't seen combat myself--just boot camp. But even there I remember how different being on maneuvers was from the firing range. So many things to remember about the operation of your firearm. Easy to recall if you practice frequently. But easy to lose that edge, get a little stale.

You can't arm the multitude and expect it to come out well, any more than if I hung scuba gear on everyone, gave them a few hours' instruction, and tossed them in the drink. I've been on over 650 open ocean dives and I still consider myself a beginner because each annual dive trip is like starting over at first.

Training, training, training. And I shouldn't have to mention that a human silhouette on a target flipping up on a firing range is not a guy with crazy eyes aiming an assault weapon at you, about to fire in less than a second.
The NRA's "arm everyone" pitch is great for the gun makers, but it's peddling a fantasy that fails the Real Life test.

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