- February 20, 2014 in Columnists
Hotheads and handguns
Someone annoying you? Kill ‘em. Shoot them dead. That’s apparently what we’re doing in America.
What do we get in exchange for having a nation awash in firearms and many people carrying them concealed? We live in a country where a man is shot dead in front of his wife for texting in a movie theater. A man fires 10 shots into a car holding four teenagers, killing one of them, because their music was too loud for him. Also, a 15-year-old girl was shot and killed after egging a car as a prank. The homeowner saw the teens egging his car and ran out of his house shooting.
It doesn’t stop with those cases that have received the national spotlight. Shootings over laundry disputes, parking, driving, dog feces, Facebook arguments and more dot the country.
In many cases, these are your “law-abiding citizens” with guns. Of course, everyone is law-abiding until they’re not. All of these cases and more like them are senseless deaths that would not have happened if the perpetrators did not have guns.
I’m not arguing that these people should’ve been prevented from buying their weapons. I’m not talking about laws. I’m talking about people looking at themselves, their temperament, and their shaky conflict resolution skills and thinking about whether they should be carrying a loaded weapon. And if their cranium is so far up their rectum that they’re sporting a sphincter necklace, then their friends and families should step in and tell Cletus he doesn’t need to carry his Glock in his shoulder holster.
We didn’t need a “Stand Your Ground” law, because standing our ground is what that gun on our hip encourages us to do anyway. I’m a big man and most people would probably avoid a physical altercation with someone like me. That is, unless that person has the great equalizer on him. The presence of that gun suddenly turns eunuchs into studs. Why should you back down if you have a pistol in your pocket?
Disputes that would’ve resulted in an argument or fisticuffs at worst, now escalate into murder. Having a gun means we no longer have to be annoyed by others.
Maybe you think you’re different. Lawrence Blum, PhD, a police psychologist and Joseph Polisar, former Chief of Police in Garden Grove, California, wrote an article for policechiefmagazine.org entitled, “Why Things Go Wrong in Police Work.” In it, they write, “Under conditions of imminent, unanticipated, or rapidly changing threat, the spark and fuel for brain activity in the thinking brain is shifted to the reactive brain, to generate the individual’s emergency response (fight, flight, or immobility).
In the moment it takes for police officers to reorient themselves to what they have actually encountered, they are most vulnerable to error or some degradation in their performance. During the unexpected moments of police work, many officers experience a sense of urgency to catch up in order to take control, and may use degrees of force, for example, that are found to be improper or excessive. “
And these are professionally trained officers. Do you think you’re going to handle a sudden stressful situation with a gun in your hand better than they?
I’m not pitching a new law that I know is never going to pass as long as politicians’ balls are safely tucked away in the gun lobby’s pockets. And I think there are valid reasons a citizen should be allowed to carry a weapon. The overwhelming majority of gun owners and gun carriers will do so without incident. But it’s not for everyone. I’m asking those who choose to carry weapons to think long and hard about it ahead of time.
Years ago, if you would’ve asked the theater texting shooter or the loud music shooter if they could see themselves taking someone’s life over texting or loud music, I’m sure they would’ve said no way. No calm, sane person could see himself or herself doing that.
But put them in a high stress situation with that gun by their side and things change. We often say things we regret in an argument. Who has kicked something, broken something, punched a wall or hurled an object in anger? What if you’re extremely angry and you have a gun on your person? Can you guarantee that you can control yourself when that fight or flight response kicks in? You’re gambling on your life and someone else’s.
What if you’re wrong?