Are we safer by making it easier for citizens to carry guns? The Ohio General Assembly thinks so. At least six bills seek to expand the rights of gun owners. There’s ample data to suggest that more guns don’t promote safety and that with more guns the number of unintended deaths increases.
Legislators don’t seem to care about data. Then maybe they should take a minute and listen to what fighter pilots have to say about self-defense in the air.
Fighter pilots live by the paradigm, “Keep your head on a swivel.” It’s the enemy aircraft you don’t see that will shoot you down. Some 80 to 90 percent of downed pilots never see their attacker—until it’s too late. Tied to this paradigm is, “The first guy to get a missile in the air wins.” Start a dogfight in a defensive posture, and you’ll likely die.
How do these paradigms relate to guns and self-defense?
All the guns in the world won’t save you if you’re not alert to your surroundings. If guns alone were the answer, we wouldn’t have armed police officers being ambushed and killed.
On occasion we hear about an armed citizen stopping a shooter, but those situations likely involve a shooter who was caught off guard. An armed judge in Steubenville, Ohio, with help from a probation officer, killed his attacker, but that’s the exception.
A third fighter pilot paradigm is, “fight like you train.” When the shooting starts, it’s too late to think about how to maneuver your jet. If you’re unable to react instinctively, you’re going to die. Fighter pilots regularly practice aerial combat maneuvering, memorize the capabilities of their weapons, and study the strengths and weaknesses of enemy aircraft.
If you don’t regularly engage in repetitive training under a variety of high stress scenarios and think you can take out a shooter and not kill or wound bystanders, your arrogance will be your undoing.
Time Magazine carried a sobering article on Jan. 16, 2013, about how the brain reacts and bullets get sprayed in gunfights. New York city cops involved in gun fights typically hit their targets only 18% of the time. When they fired at a shooter outside the Empire State Building in the summer of 2012, they put 10 bullets in him but also hit nine bystanders.
The story of a gun fight in an apartment illustrates how disorienting things become when the shooting starts. While running for cover and dragging his wounded partner, veteran Chicago cop Jim Glennon didn’t realize he had dropped his gun. After taking cover behind a corner, Glennon pointed at the shooter with what he thought was his gun, but he was just holding his hand out in front of him, pointing it in the shape of gun like a kid at play.
Responding to the question whether teachers should be armed, Glennon expressed his concern. “Cops aren’t trained well enough, so what do you think they’re going to do with the teachers? It’s not enough to carry a gun.” Ryan Millerbern, a former policer officer in Colorado, talks about how he has struggled under gunfire to perform basic functions. He thinks it’s “very unrealistic” to assume armed teachers would perform competently in a gunfight.
The gun lobby has created the fiction that “only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad gun with a gun.” The reality is, a gun will protect you only if you don’t let the bad guy get the drop on you. But it’s impossible to be vigilant all the time. Full-time vigilance would freeze your ability to do anything else.
What’s the answer? The nation has to become proactive.
The gun lobby says that by carrying a gun, you’re being proactive. No, being proactive means taking steps to prevent a problem from occurring.
Let’s be proactive and get the guns out of the hands of bad guys.
Mandating background checks for all gun sales would be a good start. Recognizing that gun violence is a public health issue—some 30,000 people die annually from gun homicides and suicides—and funding research of the factors that contribute to gun violence would be a good second step. Next, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms should have an updated system to track the source of guns used in crimes; the present system is inadequate.
But the gun lobby doesn’t like any of these ideas. Its existence and financial well-being depend on inciting fear and spreading the fiction that more guns alone are not the answer.
[This post was published in the Columbus Dispatch on Oct. 3, 2017.]
Jack D’Aurora write for Considerthisbyjd.com
Also published on Medium.
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