Moderated by Rick Badie
The deadly rampage in Colorado set off a clamor for ideas to stave off such tragedies in the future. Some of us chose to stockpile ammunition and guns. Others called for stricter regulations. A gun-rights activist suggests the focus should be on society’s moral decay rather than weaponry. And a gun-control supporter offers ways to keep firearms out of the hands of lawbreakers.
By Brian Wilson
In our firearm safety classes, I demonstrate an important point about the politics of gun ownership and concealed carry laws: I inflate a balloon, tape it to a classroom table, and take out my pocketknife.
I then ask questions: “Is there any doubt this knife is the mortal enemy of this balloon?” The class nods in assent. I then place the knife next to the balloon on the table, cross my arms and ask: “How long will we have to wait before this knife jumps off this table and kills this balloon?”
The class answers: “Forever.” They are correct.
Knives and guns are inanimate objects. They have the capacity to injure or kill when a human picks them up and uses them as a tool for evil or good. Are guns used more often for evil?
Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist, investigated the impact on crime of residents using firearms for self-defense. He estimated that residents use firearms to prevent a crime or for self-defense an astounding 2.5 million times a year, or once every 13 seconds.
It would seem that the tool, the firearm, is used far more frequently for the common good than it is used for evil.
Retired Lt. Col. David Grossman, an expert on the psychology of killing, argues that there are three types of residents: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. He argues that sheepdogs are the police and well-trained, armed, law-abiding concealed-carry permit holders. Wolves and sheepdogs share identical qualities: speed, strength, sharp fangs and ruthlessness. Sheepdogs use those tools to protect the sheep, not for evil.
It is the intent in the heart of the human that makes the difference. Gun-control advocates would have you think that if we take away its tools, the wolf will slink away, and there will be no need for sheepdogs. The Tylenol killings of 1982 show that psychopaths don’t need guns to commit mass murder. Blaming inanimate objects for crime misses the heart of the issue.
I would ask gun-control advocates a serious question: “What would you have done if you had been in that theater? Let me lay it out for you:
Zero to one second: The shooter brings out his weapons.
Zero plus 30 seconds: 18 shots ring out. The sheep scatter or cower, waiting for death.
Zero to 90 seconds: 12 people are dead, 50 are wounded. Average police response time in Atlanta is 11 minutes-plus.
Tell me, exactly how would you have stopped him?
This was no doubt a tragedy. It would have been a greater tragedy if you had the training and the determination to stop the shooter, but well-meaning and misguided gun-control advocates took away the most effective tool you needed. At my business and numerous similar schools, we train residents to effectively, safely, legally and morally use the gun as a tool for the greater good.
Our students recognize that until society addresses the human, not inanimate objects, we will always need fangs. If we take away the sheepdogs’ fangs, the only option we leave ourselves and our fellow residents is to cower in the theater and wait for our death at the hands of the wolf.
Brian Wilson is co-owner of Atlanta Firearms Training.
By Alice Johnson
It should be clear to almost all of us by now that in this country there are too many guns in the wrong hands.
Whose are the wrong hands?
Convicted felons, youth gang members, street criminals, abusers, the mentally incompetent. How did they get them? A good question.
Every firearm starts out from their its manufacturer with a recorded serial number and is shipped to a federally- licensed firearms dealer. The dealer must keep a record of every sale of every firearm. Each sale requires that the purchaser pass a background check. So if just about every gun starts out “legal”, and the buyer passes the check, then how do so many guns wind up in the hands of the bad characters?
Several ways. They buy them from a few corrupt dealers or through straw purchases where a person who can pass a background check buys guns for those who can’t; or from sales that don’t require a background check; or in a theft from someone’s car or truck or home.
And in the case of the Aurora, Col., shooter, from a system that allowed him to purchase hundreds of rounds of ammunition online.
Corrupt gun dealers represent only about 1 % percent of all firearms dealers, but they account for the majority of illegal sales. Straw purchasers are often girlfriends of gang members and sometimes homeless people who walk into a store, buy the guns, walk out and hand them over to the criminals in the parking lot. But 40 % percent of guns in the United States are sold or transferred without a background check of any kind through a loophole in the law about who can sell a gun. And sadly, ordinary citizens hand their guns over to criminals every day when they leave them in their vehicles or fail to secure their guns in their homes.
We believe that many Americans have come to this logical conclusion: That it is now time to do something about these huge holes through which the guns flow into the wrong hands.
To do that, here are some recommendations. We need:
• Background checks on all sales of guns and high-capacity magazines.
• A system for tracking those sales so that law enforcement can investigate gun crimes.
• Restrictions on some types of firearms. Weapons that discharge bullets like a fire hose should not be available to private citizens.
• Improved oversight of firearms dealers.
But there are some broader questions we must discuss as a nation. Do we want to live in an armed society where everyone carries a concealed weapon and is constantly on the lookout for a threat they can respond to? Do we want guns in schools and churches and parks and recreation centers and libraries? Do we want to live in a society where everyone is ready to kill anyone they perceive to be a threat?
The alternative to taking the law into our own hands is to keep the guns out of the wrong hands.
Alice Johnson is executive director of Georgians for Gun Safety.