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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Are Guns Enough?

Photo: Ben Schumin via Wikimedia Commons

When confronted by a gun-wielding killer, or a group of them, it has been been asserted that if only there were more guns carried by the individuals caught in these events, these individuals would shoot back and - if they have any luck against automatic rifles - would have a good chance of stopping the killers.

Or at least get a good shot in; truly, to shoot a handgun from a distance against automatic weapons is a bit dicey, unless you are in a film named Die Hard.

Furthermore, I think it will be found that when individuals do have guns and do shoot the killer, more often than not those "peacemakers" have a history of training in such confrontations.

Read the Scientific American Blog MIND Guest Blog:
Why Nobody Intervened in the July 4 Metro Murder
By R. Douglas Fields | July 17, 2015
... Bystander apathy is a psychological phenomenon in which witnesses to a person being harmed are less likely to intervene the more people there are present. This is thought to be a consequence of the herding instinct of human beings to do as they see others do. But when many people are present it is a much more complex situation. This leads to confusion. Is the person being attacked a victim or another criminal involved in, say, a gang fight? The Metro riders who saw the assault on Sutherland experienced neither apathy nor confusion, however. They experienced terror.

I cannot know what those witnesses lived through on that train, but I am confident from my knowledge of neuroscience that they did exactly the right thing. Their response was not a matter of bravery or cowardice or apathy—it was a matter of mortal strategy. Engaging the homicidal robber physically could have resulted in mass casualties. From all the situational information those people rapidly assimilated, that was their collective conclusion. So the passengers tried to appease the robber with cash instead and no one else lost their life.

Honed by eons of evolution in a dangerous world of survival of the fittest, the reaction these neural circuits trigger is usually correct; otherwise our species would have gone the way of dinosaurs. ...

"Honed by eons of evolution..."

Well, maybe not eons, but if a fight response is honed by the rigors of training - such as police and soldiers undergo - then the reactions are changed.

So guns are not enough; we need to train people who have guns. We have to train them to respond properly, as well as training them not to shoot the members of their families.


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