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Bad guys with a gun and good guys with a gun - America's waking nightmare
On the day after another incomprehensible school shooting shook American society - this time at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on 25 May, where nineteen students and two teachers were gunned down - this story from the United States added further troubling complications to that country's grim gun violence:
A driver who became embroiled in a dispute with partygoers after they accused him of speeding, sprayed bullets into the crowd—but was shot to death by one of the revelers.
The shootout happened at around 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday night (May 25) at an apartment complex on Renaissance Circle in Charleston, West Virginia.
Charleston Police Department say several people had confronted Dennis Butler, 37, over claims he had driven dangerously through the area while children were playing outside, according to local news channel WSAZ. The police report, seen by WSAZ, says Butler left the area but then returned shortly afterwards with an AR 15-style rifle and started shooting at the group.
A woman who was attending the joint-birthday and graduation party drew a pistol to return fire and fatally injured Butler, who was shot multiple times, the report said.
Chief of Detectives Tony Hazelett said: "Instead of running from the threat, she engaged with the threat and saved several lives last night."
The British tabloid, Daily Star, was quick of the mark being the first to generate a headline that will no doubt resonate with the National Rifle Association (NRA); Republican Party; Fox "News"; right wingers, and much of Conservative America:
A common theme from pro-gun advocates is that the more "good people" who are armed, the less damage "bad people" can do, supposedly deterring mass shooting, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said:
“I’d much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it’s not going to be the last time.”
National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO, Wayne LaPierre, parrotted the usual mindless cliche:
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
And seemingly oblivious to the the bizarre lunacy of their dogma, repeatedly call for teachers to be armed, as (again) Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called for:
“We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things. We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer.”
This would effectively militarise American schools.
Returning to the lead story above - the Charleston, West Virginia woman who stopped another mass shooting when she shot an (alleged) armed offender. This un-named woman epitomises the NRA/Republican position that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
This scenario of an armed populace - reminiscent of America's Wild West history, heavily popularised and glamourised in mass entertainment - would make that country's waking gun violence nightmare infinitely worse.
The un-named woman who shot the armed offender, according to Charleston Police spokesperson, Tony Hazelett: "did not have any law enforcement background":
“She's just a member of the community who was carrying her weapon lawfully. And instead of running from the threat she engaged with the threat and saved several lives.”
Now let's explore the scenario of every American in the United States, over 18, carrying a firearm: 258 million people.
So the un-named woman is attending a joint-birthday and graduation party and the armed offender turns up. He opens fire; she shoots back. Others at the party start shooting.
Bullets fly, and miss their target. Where do they go? Across the road? Into a tree? Through windows into neighbour's houses? Are the bullets lodged in walls, doors, or other human beings?
A neighbour is wounded or killed. Other neighbours draw the weapons and fire back at where the shooters appear to be - at the party. People at the party are now under fire from neighbours. (The neighbours are oblivious to the original armed offender who provoked the urban fire-fight.)
Then police turn up.
Who do they point their guns at?
Americans forget that, unlike movies, we do not have a "Gods-eye View" of who the "bad guy with a gun is and who is the good guy with a gun.
Take the same scenario to the recent shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on 16 May.
On this occassion, a security guard fired at the alleged shooter - but he was wearing body armour and the security guard, in turn, was shot and killed. Nine others lost their lives.
Should they all have been wearing body armour as well as carrying guns, to defend against shooters?
Considering that some Americans rail against the simple, relatively unobtrusive wearing of cloth face mask to protect against covid - how many would strap on heavy, bulky, uncomfortable, movement-restricting body armour? And would it co-ordinate with other accessories?
But let's assume shoppers - good guys with a gun - at Tops Market had had time to draw their guns and fire back at the armed offender. Police arrive. Who do they shoot at? Can they see the armour-wearing offender? Do they shoot at "good guys" who are all holding guns? If a plainclothes police detective enters the building, are they at risk of being shot by frightened "good guys with a gun"? Will the police detective shoot at the first "good guy" who points a gun at him/her?
If a police officer mistakenly shoots an innocent "good guy with a gun" - are they legally liable?
If a "good guy with a gun" mistakenly shoots another "good guy with a gun" - is the first"good guy with a gun" liable?
As bullets are flying in a school, or shopping mall, or party, how will police be able to quickly determine "a bad guy with a gun or a good guy with a gun"?
Do they wear black cowboy hats to denote "a bad guy with a gun" and white cowboy hats to indicate "a good guy with a gun"?
Will "a bad guy with a gun" wear a black hat, as per the rules? or maybe... they can get real tricky and wear a white hat? Where would that leave real "good guys with a gun"? In some difficulty, I guess.
Now take these scenarios from a police officers point of view. They arrive at a school, shopping mall, or party, and people are engaged in a full-blown fire-fight. People are exchanging fire; "good guys with a gun" are shooting at other "good guys with a gun", and perhaps one of the shooters is the "bad guy with a gun". (Or the "bad guy with a gun" got bored and went home?)
This is would not be a civilised society. This would be a society teetering on the precipice, verging on a failed state as Somalia once was.
Americans are at war with each other. There is no other sane, rational way to describe the preponderence of millions of lethal firearms in that country - 393.3 million weapons by one count.
As for the children and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde? Sandy Hook? Columbine? And elsewhere?
Fort Worth Star Telegram: Are Texas teachers armed? And what role do school resource officers play in protecting students?
US Census Bureau: Population Under Age 18 Declined Last Decade
Brady United: Which Senators Have Taken the Most NRA Money?
Previous related blogposts
Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch
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