Monday, August 27, 2012

Crossfire


So we've learned that all the innocent bystanders injured at the Empire State Building, other than the intended target of the killer, were shot by the police. There were nine of them. Gail Collins makes a damn good point about that:

... This isn’t surprising; it’s only in movies that people are good shots during a violent encounter. In 2008, Al Baker reported in The Times that the accuracy rate for New York City officers firing in the line of duty was 34 percent.

And these are people trained for this kind of crisis. The moral is that if a lunatic starts shooting, you will not be made safer if your fellow average citizens are carrying concealed weapons.

...

People, try to imagine what would have happened if, instead of diving for the floor, a bunch of those moviegoers [in Colorado] had stood up and started shooting into the dark. Or ask a cop.

I suppose you could argue that if a killer-to-be knew that no matter where he went there'd be dozens of people armed to the teeth he might not go there at all; and it may be a good point. But so is the other, and it's the one for which we have some proof. Knowing human frailties, which include hotheadedness, paranoia, hatefulness, and just down-home clumsiness, not to mention stupidity, I'd say there's a lot more mayhem to be had than prevented were everyone to be packing, everywhere.

One of my occasional coffee-buddies, a hunter, owner of many guns, a loader of his own ammo, a proud NRA member, recently returned from a trip to Texas. At the home of a friend of a friend he was asked if he'd like to head to the back forty to shoot a few rounds. Expecting some kind of target practice, he was surprised to see young men running around with assault rifles, playing war. With seriousness and pride, he was shown a cache of forty-thousand rounds of ammunition. Literally. A couple of .50 cal sniper rifles. My friend, with whose love and use of guns I have zero problem (I like shooting, too, got a little training with M-16s at the behest of Uncle Sam), was stunned. Felt as if he were on a strange planet. It wasn't recreation: it was training. For you-know-what.

The good judge of whom I recently wrote is among friends in his home state.

As a realist, I know there's no way gun laws will change significantly in this country; nor do I believe that if they did it would solve anything. That ship has sailed out of the toothpaste. But the idea of arming everyone, which is the way Wayne LaPierre would have it, gives me the creeps.

If my friend, or people like him, were the ones sitting in the theater all weaponized, at least I wouldn't feel less safe. But those good ol' boys down in Texas, with their paranoid fever-dreams and imaginary enemies? They come into the theater, I'm going out.

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