Tuesday, July 28, 2015

About that Armed Citizenry

Every time a lunatic opens fire in a theater or school, fans of guns say that it wouldn't have happened if more people were armed. The National Gun Victims Action Council arranged a study to see what would happen if average citizens with guns actually encountered crisis situations:
They recruited 77 volunteers with varying levels of firearm experience and training, and had each of them participate in simulations of three different scenarios using the firearms training simulator at the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland. The first scenario involved a carjacking, the second an armed robbery in a convenience store, and the third a case of suspected larceny.

They found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, people without firearms training performed poorly in the scenarios. They didn't take cover. They didn't attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy -- they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people, or not itchy enough -- they didn't shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at.
Gee, that sounds like a great solution. The Post has videos of some of the amateurs in actions.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Escalation of violence is pretty much always the wrong answer. Where ever possible, you want to defuse a violent situation - not strike a match and set it off.

For example, there's a very good reason why banks quietly give armed robbers money - it's simply not worth risking people getting wounded or killed to prevent the robbery. They can rely on their security to help the police catch the perpetrator once they've left, without putting anyone's life in undue danger just to protect a bit of property. Even in the rare cases where a robber evades capture, the bank still would rather outright lose a relatively small amount of insured cash than risk their customers or employees being harmed.

Of course, there are sometimes situations in which you cannot defuse a violent situation. Sometimes certain people are just set on hurting others, and aren't going to listen to any kind of reason. But such cases are extraordinarily rare, and overwhelmingly when they occur, you don't have any time to attempt to defuse things anyway - bullets are already flying.

Even with highly trained professionals, in the vast majority of violent confrontations you have to be very careful about employing the threat of force to deter violence breaking out in full. Humans are unpredictable creatures when desperate or scared, but one constant always remains - the Flight or Fight instinct. If you back someone into a corner and they feel like they have no other options, there's a very good chance you will provoke them into choosing "Fight" when they otherwise wouldn't have.

So yeah, maybe if you draw your gun and threaten to shoot someone they'll just drop their weapon and surrender. But there's also a very good chance they'll just panic and start shooting instead. This is a problem even trained professionals wrestle with getting right. I for one don't trust any random schmoe off the street with a concealed carry permit to not simply make things worse and get people killed.

Even if it was just their own life on the line, it's still not their call. Holding a gun in your hand doesn't give you any right to decide who lives and dies. Even violent criminals are still human beings - they deserve to suffer the consequences of their actions, but there is still an overwhelming moral obligation to attempt to resolve a conflict peacefully if at all possible.

And even when a peaceful resolution isn't possible, there is still an obligation to attempt to do as little harm as possible. A victim of violent crime has no more right to determine life and death than their attacker does.