Guns, Ignorance, and Fear


My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones in Aurora, Colorado this weekend. The kind of fear, pain, and horror their loved ones experienced in that theater, and the kind of fear, pain, and horror they are experiencing now in the aftermath have no place in a civilized world.

The urge to do something, anything, to prevent such a thing from ever happening again is a powerful and worthy one.

Like all such situations, allowing ignorance and fear to guide us in our decision-making is a bad idea.

I’ve been reading and reading and reading the internet’s response to the incident in Aurora and I see a lot of ignorance and fear that lead to statements I disagree with and which are, often, just plain wrong. The people making these statements are probably acting in good faith. They just don’t know what they’re talking about.

One of the best responses to most of the anti-gun arguments being raised can be found here at Larry Correia’s blog. I can’t add much to his words on the philosophical and legal side of the house.

However, there’s one aspect to this whole discussion that has bugged me more than any other: the idea that a CCW license holder in that theater would have just made things worse.

Idea 1: “A victim with a gun in that theatre would just have killed even more people with their wild shooting in the smoke and the darkness and the confusion.”

Wrong, and here’s why. Anyone with any familiarity with guns (I’m putting CCW holders in this group) won’t shoot unless they have a clear target and a clear backfield. In this case, if they didn’t have one because of the darkness or the smoke, they simply would not have fired their weapon until they did. You only see crazy undisciplined shooting in movie firefights, which is where the people raising the objection get their information about the use of guns.

Oh, terrorists and gangbangers also practice the “spray and pray” shooting style. Neither group equates, at all, with legal CCW holders, though most of the people objecting to the idea of defending oneself seem to conflate them.

Thus, if it were so dark, smoky, and confusing that a CCW holder would not have fired, we have no change in the outcome, certainly not a worse one. Psycho shoots who he will shoot.

Let’s say, however, that CCW holder did have a good shot. This takes us to…

Idea 2: “The shooter was wearing head-to-toe body armor so your pistols would not have worked. Duh, you scary-gun-people!”

Wrong again. People who get their information about the use of guns from the movies seem to imagine that this head-to-toe body armor granted Holmes invulnerability, the ability to walk unconcerned through gun fire like Arnie as the terminator.

Those of us who have some experience can tell you that being hit with a bullet while in body armor is like getting hit with a hammer while wearing a T-shirt. Not something you can ignore. While pistol bullets  may not have penetrated his armor, they sure as hell would have gotten his attention, knocked him off balance, possibly even knocked him down. Those precious seconds while he was dealing with hammer blows would, unarguably, have saved lives.

Please, let’s not allow ignorance and fear to rule our decision-making about guns.

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