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When everyone was packing a gun. When a gunfight could break out at a moment’s notice.

The conservative rhetoric in support of an armed America borders on insanity. One of the best examples I’ve found is in the right wing-nut magazine, U.S.A. Social Condition. There, the author explains how arming everyone in the country helps make everyone safer…

The best reason to not allow gun-control measures to pass and to abolish gun-free zones is because armed citizens can make all the difference during mass shooter incidents. Think about it. It takes the police several minutes to mount a response to a shooter and even longer if the shooter is heavily armed. But if there are citizens at the site of the attack who are armed, then they might have a chance to take the attacker our before he can kill innocent civilians.

That’s assuming that these armed citizens are well-trained in gun use, especially in a combat situation. Most gun owners are competent on the firing range, where conditions are carefully controlled. However, it’s a completely different story when you’re taken by surprise in a deadly situation where your adrenalin skyrockets and sudden extreme stress overtakes you. Some gun owners may handle this well, but most will not. The element of surprise means that your mind doesn’t have time to process what’s happening. Fear sets in, and if you don’t control it, you will make mistakes. Could you accidentally shoot an innocent bystander? Could you shoot as well as you did on the firing range? What is the consequence of missing a crucial shot?

The police are trained for these situations. Regular (armed) citizens are not.

Several decades ago, a mentally deranged man climbed to the top of the clock tower on the University of Texas campus and started sniping students below. But the shooter was forced to quickly take cover when civilians on the ground began returning their own fire from hunting rifles they retrieved from their cars. These mens’ actions certainly prevented more people from dying, and this case serves as proof that gun-free zones need to be abolished.

The author cites one example to prove that, in general, citizens will be safer from street violence. Yes, in this particular case, civilians just happen to be competent enough to save the day. But can we count on this in every, or most, situations? What percentage of gun owners have the wherewithal to act responsibly and sensibly under combat conditions? Those who do not could endanger public safety, not improve it.

Imagine if the majority of citizens were well trained when it came to using firearms such as pistols and shotguns. If this were the case, ordinary citizens would be able to respond to domestic terrorism incidents with the skills they need to survive and help others survive. What we should be doing is training Americans to defend themselves, not taking away their protections.

So what is being done to convert the millions of gun owners in the United States into a well-trained militia (this would have to be controlled and certified by the government to ensure public safety)? Why hasn’t this happened yet?

Such training would have to be as rigorous as provided to law enforcement. Otherwise, we’d have countless citizens who erroneously think they’re prepared for stressful, deadly situations; the only thing worse than not knowing how to engage in a firefight is believing you know how to engage in a firefight when you’re wrong.

It’s one thing to shoot ducks and deer; it’s another thing to shoot human beings.

U.S.A. Social Condition is right about a couple of things. Gun control won’t work. It’s nearly impossible to control the millions of guns that are already in the hands of Americans; people are not going to readily reveal all the guns they own. And the political division over the Second Amendment is too turbulent.

Most unfortunately, the horse is out of the barn. The genie is out of the bottle. Guns are an integral part of American culture. However, that doesn’t mean that gun control is completely useless. Such an effort, in concert with public awareness, can begin the process of reducing the magnitude of the problem, reducing the number of incidents of gun homicides/suicides, and most importantly, changing how Americans perceive guns, changing social attitudes. Gun use should be limited to a narrow range of applications, such as hunting, sport, and professional requirements. There is absolutely no need for automatic weapons nor assault rifles. There should be stricter screening of gun ownership; it’s far too lax right now. We need to get away from the notion of self-protection against crime. This isn’t the Wild, Wild West, where everybody needed to carry a side arm, just in case.

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