In the Tucson shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and many others on January 8, 2011, there was one very lucky gun owner present. He was just coming out of a Laundromat nearby when he heard the shooting begin. Lucky for him he never drew his gun! If he had, he could easily be dead today, by his own mistake.
According to his own account, he ran into the fray, and grabbed the arm of a man with a gun. As he did, other bystanders shouted at him that he had the wrong man, and pointed to the actual assailant. The gun owner, his pistol still in its holster, then assisted with holding down the assailant until first responders arrived.
The man he grabbed initially was a bystander himself, who had already wrested the pistol from the actual assailant.
In the gun debate, gun advocates in the USA say that they would like good people to have guns, when something like the Tucson shooting occurs, so that they can shoot back. The reality is quite different. The entire event was over in about 15 seconds, according to reports at the scene.
Here is what could have happened. Instead of running into the fray gun holstered, our gun owner could easily have grabbed for his weapon to render assistance. If he had, he could easily have mistaken the first bystander, who already had the shooting pistol away from the assailant. If our gun owner had fired at the person with the gun, he would have shot the wrong man.
What could have been even more tragic for the gun owner himself is that in the commotion, if he had his weapon drawn, first responding police officers could easily have mistaken him for the actual assailant, or an accomplice, and fired on him. At the very minimum, he could have found himself at the jailhouse trying to explain who he was and what his role was at the scene.
The gun debate under the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is very simply silly. Venal politicians try to distract average Americans from matters affecting their pocket book by scaring gun owners into believing that the government might try to outlaw their weapons. The realities make this ludicrous. Even old statistics tell us that there are over 200 million guns in the United States. 1 in 4 Americans owns a gun. Even if the government wanted to and could ban guns, which it cannot without causing major social upheaval, very few of those would be turned in. Any one of them could be used for violent crime.
The real issue is not whether we have the right to own and keep guns. The real issue is what you do with them if you own them. It is said that if you own a gun in your home, your chance of dying in gun violence is multiplied by 17 times.
Beyond that, if you carry your gun to a public event, and something bad happens, what are you going to do? Are you going to draw your gun and start firing? Who will be your target? Will you be firing at the perpetrator of the crime, or an equally innocent bystander, who just happened to get to the assailants gun before you came on the scene? If you have a gun in your hands, will some legitimate authority mistake you for the perpetrator and begin firing at you? If you own a gun, or are thinking of acquiring one, these are legitimate questions to contemplate.
The legal gun owner in Tucson was indeed extremely lucky! He left his weapon in its holster, and thereby avoided two potentially tragic mistakes. If he had started firing, what would have happened? Would you do the right thing in such an event? It seems to me that it would be too easy to believe that it is useful to draw your weapon. But that might be the last thing you ever do.
Guns are archetypal! This explains why the debate about them is so divisive and noisy. We need to examine the Shadow in our soul about what guns really mean to us; and whether owning them is in our best interests. We need to defuse the debate over gun rights. It doesn’t get us anywhere.