Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Your Brain in a Shootout: Guns, Fear and Flawed Instincts

In the roiling national set-to over whether guns would make schools safer, most of the debate has been a caricature of itself. One side wants to install guns in every school, and the other wants to banish them. “I wish to God [the principal] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up,” Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas said on Fox News after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, “so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out … and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”

But the research on actual gunfights, the kind that happen not in a politician’s head but in fluorescent-lit stairwells and strip-mall restaurants around America, reveals something surprising. Winning a gunfight without shooting innocent people typically requires realistic, expensive training and a special kind of person, a fact that has been strangely absent in all the back-and-forth about assault-weapon bans and the Second Amendment.
This is a fascinating analysis of the phenomenon of a gunfight.What do you think?

Please leave a comment.


  1. The article goes on to use the NYPD as evidence. It lost all credibility there, since it failed to note the woefully deficient training for New York cops. It's an article written in the typical manner of the all-knowing shill for the official position.

  2. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, however big the number, of armed citizens successfully defend themselves in gunfights every year. Many -- quite likely even most -- of those citizens have minimal training. And those armed citizens who defended themselves manage to avoid shooting bystanders. The fact is that operating a firearm is so simple that even a four year old can do it. And at close distances -- which is where almost all gunfights happen -- it is quite simple and easy to hit your intended target. If you can point your finger at someone, you can point a gun at someone. So the premise of the report is wrong.

    Even if the premise of the report were right, I would have absolutely no reservations whatsoever knowing that an average parent with minimal training was armed and ready to intervene at my daughters' classrooms. First, bullets fired in random directions are rarely fatal. So the odds of an armed parent unintentionally harming one of my daughters is basically zero. Second, an armed parent shooting at a deranged school spree killer would seriously hamper the killer's ability to summarily execute children. And that would GREATLY improve the odds that my daughters survive. And it would seriously reduce the death toll.

    Allowing a maniac who is determined to kill small children to act without any onsite resistance is asinine. Having armed parents, teachers, and staff on site to stop a maniac who is determined to kill small children is a no-brainer as my high school match teacher used to say.

    1. "Dozens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, however big the number, of armed citizens successfully defend themselves in gunfights every year."

      It's probably only dozens. You're overly dramatic qualifier of "gunfight" makes it so. Remember 95% of the supposed DGUs are the brandishing kind. It's total bullshit, but that's what your side says. Of the others, most are not in "gunfights" but rather in situations of supposed threat. Then you take those and figure that most were actually unnecessary, in some cases actually criminal.

      Your daughter's school is extremely unlikely to have a spree shooter attack some day. Much more probable is that one of the armed teachers or other guardians will fuck up in some way with their defensive weapon, and one of those incidents could harm your daughter.

      To me that makes you irresponsible and stupid for wanting such a thing. You're like many gun lovers. You love your guns at the expense of your family. You don't make them safer, on the contrary, at home, and if you get your way, at school too, your family is at greater risk than they have to be.

    2. ".. You love your tuns at the expense of your family." - Wow.. talk about bullshit.

    3. So, Mikeb, spree shooters are rare, but they justify banning classes of weapons and restricting who gets to own guns, anyway?

  3. It is true that there is no substitute for frequent and regular training and practice. It is also true that those who are inclined to commit crimes with firearms are no more fond of being shot at than the rest of us. Spree killers are no different. They are, obviously, far more likely to surrender, commit suicide or be incapacitated when confronted by armed civilians than they are if unopposed or opposed by the unarmed. While I fully support as much training as possible, the idea that teachers, staff and parents should be as well trained as a professional is absurd.

  4. What we keep hearing from you guys is that guns are killing machines that make it so easy to murder someone, but at the same time are incredibly difficult to kill someone justifiably. So they truly are supernatural devices of evil then?