Firearms: Evil in the wrong hands, good in others

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.


38 comments Add your comment

Not Blind

August 5th, 2012
11:13 am

The injustices showered on the native Americans is totally irrelevant to today’s issues so yes, I am still ready to intelligently discuss crime control [ gun control doesn't control the lawless so there is no discussion there ]. Until our society loses it’s aversion to harsh punishment for violent criminals we will be at the mercy of the criminal element.


August 5th, 2012
9:21 am

I’d just like to correct something that has been a long-standing fallacy, through revisionist history.

“This nation was founded by strong men with guns”

“This nation was STOLEN by EVIL men with guns”

There, that fixes it. Now we’re accurate. We can continue the debate if you wish. I’m guessing you probably will not want to though.


August 5th, 2012
6:58 am

Do you think the AJC could manage to find a more inconvenient way to organize its blogs? This is in reply to Houck.

I am not sure I follow the business about World War II. But in any case, you need to keep in mind that the vast majority of times firearms are used successfully in self defense, the bad guy is not killed, or shot, or even shot at. If you hear my shot gun go click — click you will retreat.


August 5th, 2012
6:41 am

“Every firearm starts out from their its manufacturer with a recorded serial number and is shipped to a federally- licensed firearms dealer. ”

Looks like an editor intended to change the plural “their” to the singular “its” but forgot to delete the “their.”


August 5th, 2012
1:39 am

“Sneiderman a sheepdog when he tracked Trayvon”


Mike in Columbus

August 4th, 2012
10:23 pm

Alice Johnson and others seem to think there is some way to ‘wish the genie back into the bottle’. Here’s a newsflash…there are tens of millions of firearms in this country, and there is no way that passes constitutional scrutiny or a common sense test to get them out of the hands of those who would misuse them. The ONLY real way to ensure your safety is to be prepared to defend yourself and those you love. It has been shown repeatedly in various court cases that a) the police have no duty to protect an individual citizen and b) the police are usually not able to respond in time to stop an attack in progress. The police are pretty good at taking the report (if you are still alive to give it) and sometimes they are able to catch the perpetrator…who often is back on the street within days, if not hours.

Don’t depend on anyone but yourself to protect you…otherwise you might die of disappointment.


August 4th, 2012
6:03 pm

Well, This nation was founded by strong men with guns. Not weak minded fear ridden gun banners.
I pray I never have to defend my self, family or home but if it ever becomes nessasary I will and I will do it with a firearm, As far as what type of fire arm I can have,, it is none of your business. And if you don’t like it come try and take mine away. This is the United States of America not Nazi Germany.

Dr. Pangloss

August 4th, 2012
5:40 pm

As for the knife-gun comparison, that’s equally specious. A knife can’t kill someone100 yards away. If you drop a knife, it can’t go off and injure or kill someone. They’re just not the same. If they were, we could take care of the national debt by arming our soldiers with knives instead of those expensive guns.