< Back To Blog Home
February 18, 2018
Bullshit Decoding


Decoding the NRA's "good guy with a gun" talking point.


In every election season a Democrat is accused of wanting to take everybody’s guns away. I’ve lived my entire adult life in New York City or Boston. I’ve never heard any politician talk about ending gun ownership. It’s not on any winnable electoral platform I’m aware of. But definitely a call for gun registration and limits on who can own one. Not that big a freedom killer. And that thing about how we're not out trying to ban cars which are just as lethal: cars are not designed, marketed and purchased for the sole purpose of murdering humans and other mammals and even little birdies. The auto industry even sometimes dips into the piggy bank to develop ways to limit the carnage.

It would be a pretty easy to issue tap the public consensus on some form of reg if not for GOP politicians who call the NRA, Daddy. In rural areas hunting is the norm and there’s a lot of uninhabited (by humans) land for hunting and target practice. Crowded cities don’t have that open land so hunting is not a popular pastime. Tthe crowding in cities create stresses that lead to conflict so there’s more likelihood of gun violence on a large scale.

There’s no one right point of view. In the Mini-Wage Era there's still a need to hunt for food. I’m morally against killing and tormenting animals as a form of entertainment, but the entire country shouldn’t have to conform to my personal view on it. People should be allowed to have guns and there should be stringent controls on gun ownership just as there are controls of dangerous substances and car ownership. That means that most everyone who owns a gun can keep it. But not combat hardware because domestic combat is illegal.

I know it's fun to do target with a real soldier tool but it's also fun to do NASCAR on neighborhood streets. And if the Second suggested that The People be prepared to revolt against a despotic government, that option is no longer viable. When the black helicopters hover, a bunch of little militias with semi-automatics will not defeat the armed forces of the Deep State. 1n 1776 rifles were the empire's state of the art. And the Brits had to send the elite musketeers and their reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean in small wooden boats. And the Second Amendment was written when guns were short ranged, inaccurate and were loaded one bullet at a time.

But if everybody had guns, then the good guys will all be armed.

And they'll outnumber the bad guys. If they all agree on who the actual bad guy is in that chaotic smokey room full of shooters, there's a chance that the bad guy will go down. There’s all the boring stats to blow holes in the good guys with guns fairytale; and the far more persuasive and sexy real time action narrative with the good guys, the bad guy and the body parts.

The boring evidence first. Stanford Professor, john Donohue, who has studied data on shootings refers to the FBI's numbers that pointed to one single example out of 160 mass shootings where an armed civilian – not a cop or security guard saved the day. 21 of the 160 were stopped by unarmed people, mainly while the shooter was reloading. In the case of the Arizona shooting where Gabby Giffords was injured, the shooter was taken down by three unarmed people who were over 60 yrs old. This suggests that – considering the stats that show gun ownership causing far more harm than good – we’d all be safer by getting over our ageism bigotry and bring our elders to the clubs with us and to bars, movies and shopping.

The sexier evidence to vaporize the good guy with a gun joke starts with the claim that these cops keep killing unarmed African-Americans – not because they assume all black guys are killers They say they shoot because they’re scared.

For the sake of the argument on the issue at hand – the good guy with a gun theory – let's offer a total benefit of the doubt. In a normal argument it still has to be accepted that every cop is an individual and there must be occasions when an unarmed black man is shot and killed by a police officer who has no conscious history of racism. Consider a decent non-racist cop who for years has watched nightly local news broadcasts while munchin on a late lunch or early dinner. He’s seen the market-tested black guy perpwalk feature every day for years. Under stress, an unconscious negative bias about the civility of black guys is likely to scare the bejeeziz out of a white guy in a whirlpool of confrontation.

Studies confirm that under the stress of a life-threatening situation our brains shut down to a considerable degree. Our vision goes bad and our ability to process what our eyes and ears perceive is deeply hindered. Clarity is impossible. That means: lots of target practice some combat training info is mostly forgotten in the moment. Like football and guitar playing, there has to be a significant amount of repeated drilling for an extended period before the body can feel familiar with the needs of the instant and act with precision and mastery as a reflex. Our good guy has got to have a fair amount of actual combat experience to a point where being under fire feels normal. Or that guy has to have been born with the rare brain wiring that uses danger as a nirvana fix. How else can we expect some degree of composure in an enclosed area while a deranged guy is spraying bullets? In our daydream about we do backflips to disarm the perps.

So you’re a good guy with a gun. You’re in church looking over at your little one singing along with the choir. Suddenly there’s a huge bang and screaming. WTF?! Where did she go? Duck. Hide, Run. Stand still. Drop flat to the floor. What/who is that lying next to you? Stand up. Gun? Where? Pocket. Which? Before you’re in a zone where strategic thinking is a possibility, most or all of the action is over. It all usually goes down in just a few minutes.

During those few minutes of panic and confusion almost all homo sapiens will NOT be able to do within a matter of seconds what’s necessary to be The Hero:

• cooly survey the scene for zones of shelter and escape

• correctly identify who in the crowd is the shooter and how many there are. And the specific weapon.

• accurately determine the shooter(s)'s level of experience and skills with the weapon and with the arts of killing in a public place; and take note of the areas of vulnerabilty

• determine the zone with the best angle for a clean hit with no innocents in the way

• successfully navigate to that area

• And then take aim.

o repeated combat experience, any good guy – including most cops – would be far more likely to kill or injure innocent bystanders than stop the guy who's spraying 50 to hundreds of bullets in a minute. Since there are far more innocents than shooters in that space, the odds are far greater that your service will go down as a collateral damage story on cable news. And how likely would it be that the darkest-skinned guy in the room will be identified as the shooter by the wannabe hero?

20 years worth of regular target practice equals zero minutes spent in a room full of live bullets meant to kill everyone in that room. The targets and some weeks worth of drills mean nothing when the brain locks.

So which is it with those scared cops who shoot unarmed black guys? Are they severely undertrained for their jobs or are they racist murderers?

And all these good guys aching for a chance to shoot bad guys; and whining like babies about their god-given rights to open-carry – particularly the politicians – why the hell aren’t they with our troops who are dealing with bad guys with guns every single day?

— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, February 18, 2018

© Polar Levine 2018 content should not be reproduced elsewhere without prior permission

Polar Levine

working class college dropout who loves to learn, poke his biases and waste time looking around