The question is unbelievably simple…”Why does everyone believe that THEY would have saved the day with a gun?”
John McClane. The everyman hero from the Die Hard series who, no matter the problem, the odds, how beat down he was, we knew he would rise to the occasion.
“If only one person with a gun had been there, this tragedy would not have happened”. We heard it after the theater shootings in Aurora, the volume has increased after Sandy Hook. Everyone who argues the anti-regulation side of the gun violence debate says…declares…demands “if only one person with a gun…”. Because with John McClane, as long as he had a gun he ended the violence of those with bad intentions. When asked why he does it he says:
“[I do this] because there is nobody else to do it right now. Believe me if there was somebody else to do it, I would let them do it. There’s not, so [I’m] doing it. That’s what makes you that guy.” – Live Free or Die Hard
And that is what guys are taught from the time they are old enough to play…to be “that guy”. To be the guy who will step up. And there is nothing wrong with that…NOTHING. But, when you add in an element that guns are a big part of the solution it changes. Psychologist Abraham Maslow said in his book The Psychology of Science, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” It is the Law of the Instrument. And with those defending the gun culture, the gun is that hammer. The point of the Law of the Instrument, use the BEST tool for the job, not just the one in which you are most familiar. When addressing gun violence creeping into public venues…there are many tools to address the problems – NOT just the gun. And certainly those with an interest in protecting the gun culture do their best to make the gun the best tool, the only tool in which to solve the problem.
John McClane is a simple guy…he has simple solutions. And he has stunt men, staged fights and a script that guarantees that, in the end, though bruised and beaten, he is still the victor. That philosophy of the everyman hero, and the desire to emulate him has not changed since John Wayne in the 1950s and Dirty Harry Callahan in the 1970s.
“If only one person with a gun had been there, this tragedy would not have happened”. But history says no. At Columbine there were experienced, trained, armed guards at the school. By the time the one responding guard was at a point to engage the shooting had already begun. And he didn’t stop the shooters…they stopped themselves when they were done.
History points to the four fully armed, fully trained cops in Lakewood WA in November of 2009 who were, while at work killed by a single gunman. Or the FIVE cops who have been killed by gunfire SINCE Sandy Hook, just nine days ago or the other 250 cops killed by gunfire in just the past five years. They were all armed, on duty, trained…DEAD.
At the shooting rampage at the Tucson Congressional Meet and Greet where there were six killed and 13 wounded, including a US Congresswoman there was that guy, the “one person with a gun” – Joe Zamudio. But there were a couple of problems. As he came around the corner to intervene he saw a man with a gun. Zamudio demanded he “drop the weapon”. Problem was the man with the gun had just taken it from the shooter who was now on the ground. Besides not being EXACTLY in the right place at the right time he very nearly killed the man who disarmed the shooter.
Sometimes the right tool for the job is the gun…sometimes arming teachers or installing guards at ever door of every school is the right answer. But history, and the ever growing pile of evidence shows that it is not the only solution. Besides looking at reactive solutions [a guard, teacher, or concealed carry civilian waiting to react] we have to go to the roots of the problem. The roots are many…they include addressing mental healthcare, bullying, workplace violence, domestic violence and external stimuli such as First Person Shooter video games…AND, specifically that one common denominator in all of these mass murders…the gun.