for April 17, 09.
Let the killing commence. The economy has turned to quicksand, jobs have vanished, households are in chaos, Americans are afraid. Which means gun sales are on the rise, spurred in some degree by the vast right-wing conspiracy telling their frightened followers that President Obama is coming to take their guns away.
And every few weeks, another headline story about mass killing; deranged gunmen mowing down church worshipers, nursing home residents, killing their families then themselves, armed with a plethora of weapons, guns, guns, guns.
Also commencing again, as these mass killings arrive like the swallows at Capistrano, are the usual weeping, hand wringing and finger pointing. But now, in a scared America, pandering politicians are not calling for gun bans or tighter registration and control, but for more citizens to arm themselves with more guns. Guns for granny, guns for students, weapons hidden in pockets, purses, backpacks, a whole nation packing heat. After all, we are all Davy Crockett, John Wayne and Rambo rolled into one. Frontier Man, Dead Eye Dicks who believe that in the chaos of a random attack by a heavily armed crazy any average armed citizen could stop that crazy in his tracks – one shot!
That’s hokum, of course. More myth standing in for a hard reality that was clearly illustrated in a May 10th 20/20 program titled, “If I Only Had A Gun.” In that program, the producers, with the help of police officers and volunteer college students, set up a little experiment. Many of the students were very experienced gun handlers, fully qualified on the firing range, agile, young, athletic young men and women, with excellent sight, hearing and unimpaired reaction time. Other volunteers were given basic gun-handling training, far more than most average Americans ever receive. With that the basic set up was complete.
Unbeknownst to the volunteer students, the test class was also filled with undercover police officers, several of the volunteer students were secretly given paint-ball pistols and all were suited up in a class that they were told was to be a lecture about using protective gear. Helmeted and padded up, the class was listening to a lecture when into the room burst an “armed” crazy gunman who started yelling and then shooting at the teacher. In a split second, screaming chaos ensued, with students and “cop students” scattering everywhere. In the melee, one armed student got his pistol tangled in his tee shirt and was “killed” before he could get off one shot. Another student fired back while standing exposed and so was also taken down, while another, firing wildly, missed the “killer” but very nearly hit a fellow student racing for the door. In short, not one of these young students, many of whom were crack shots on the range, were able to do anything to stop the “crazy” shooter. Instead, they got themselves “paint-ball” killed, while the only survivors were the trained undercover police officers, who did everything right.
And the reason why these normal, typical students were so helpless is that this kind of chaotic killing field isn’t about guns; it’s about having 24/7 Cop Eyes and 24/7 Cop Brains, which is something that must be honed by proper training, discipline and constant, ongoing practice until it moves beyond the “normal,” into something instinctive that leads to accurate threat assessment, instant eye-hand coordination, increased peripheral vision, the ability (and training) to dismiss all irrelevant “chaos noise,” and to get it all correct in a split second.
All of which takes constant discipline and training. As one of the undercover cops said, if he doesn’t practice and refresh all those skills at least once a month, he’ll lose that edge, thereby putting himself in the same kind of danger as untrained civilians.
Which is something the politicians calling for more guns! more guns! seem to forget. After all, we are a nation facing an obesity epidemic that’s killing us because we lack the discipline to fend off Big Mac attacks. Yet we apparently think we have the ongoing discipline to stick with the constant training necessary to get and maintain 24/7 Cop Brains?
Well, not to worry. Our myths and movies are more important to us than unpleasant reality. After all, we’re Davy Crockett, we’re John Wayne, we’re Rambo. One shot wonders, all of us. Aren’t we? So give us more guns. They’re the only thing that makes us feel safe while actually killing us off in hilariously astonishing numbers.
Bang! Bang! It’s the American Way.