No Safety in Being Armed, Why Does Myth Persist?

Friday, 01 March 2013 11:55 By Martha Rosenberg, National Gun Victims Action Council | Op-Ed
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If being armed made you safe, no law enforcement officer would ever get killed. President Reagan would not have been shot and Chris Kyle, arguably the best shot in  America, would have not been killed.

Rather than a High Noon, duel like scenario in which the armed opponent approaches from two blocks away, the violence that befalls law enforcement officers and befell Kyle and President Reagan is unexpected and cannot be defended against.

Of course gun extremists always have an answer for why armed good guys did not come to the rescue and prevent bloodshed. There was an armed guard at Columbine but he was out to lunch. Virginia Tech had an armed SWAT team but they didn’t get there in time. Ditto for the trained and armed personnel at Fort Hood who did not get to the room when Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was shooting in time.

To find out why armed good guys always seem to have the sun in their eyes when it comes to protecting themselves and others, ABC News set up some test scenarios in 2009 in an expose called, “If I Only Had A Gun.” To determine once and for all whether an armed person in the room can prevent bloodshed, ABC News planted gun carriers, some with 100 hours of training, in a lecture hall and told them an armed intruder would soon burst in. It was an embarrassment. The gun carriers failed to stop the gunman and he also would likely have used their weapons against them. Even being armed, ready and forewarned wasn’t enough for the carriers to defend themselves and others. Oops.

Clearly the element of surprise trumps the proximity of skilled and trained marksmen when it comes to gun violence. Why else would President Reagan have been shot when surrounded by guards trained for that exact event? Why would Chris Kyle have been shot while he was himself shooting at a range?

The myth of armed good guys preventing violence is as tenacious as the myth of a firearm providing safety at home when it is more likely to cause homicide, suicide and accidents within the family.

Worse,  all those armed good guys put society in general at risk. In a real incident, the self proclaimed Rambos will likely hit themselves and innocent bystanders if they even get a shot out.

And there is another danger of the good guys with guns myth. The myth that they can defeat bad guys keeps the focus off straw buyers and crooked gun dealers who arm the bad guys and who the gun lobby supports with friendly and toothless laws. (Hey, sales are sales.) 1,300 firearms seized on Chicago streets were traced to one dealer, Chuck’s Gun Shop, since 2008. Clearly we need good laws not good “guys.”

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Martha Rosenberg

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. Her first book, "Born With a Junk Food Deficiency," has just been released by Prometheus books.

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