Originally posted on: 2007-04-17
Original location: http://blog.chrisheath.us/whom-do-you-shoot/
There you are, in school (work, on the street, the grocery, at the beach, whatever) and someone pulls a gun and starts shooting. What do you do?
You pull your gun, of course, shoot the guy and you're a HERO! Yay!
Second scenario: There you are when you hear gunshots. You pull your gun and turn to look for a target. Wait! There are two guys with guns and they seem to be shooting at each other! Whom do you shoot?
Third scenario: You turn, gun in hand, looking for a target and there are five people, men, women, black, white, hispanic, all shooting at or towards each other. It's a fire fight! Whom do you shoot?
Fourth scenario: Some other guy is drawing a bead on some guy with a gun and that guy happens to be YOU because he doesn't know who the bad guy is either. Who gets shot?
Given that trained police officers, in several recent incidents, fired dozens of shots at several people and missed most of their shots, and, furthermore, given that no matter how cool and tough and certain and heroic you are or think you are, you CAN make a mistake, what the hell are you thinking?
Life isn't a movie and you're not Clint Eastwood. Target acquisition is a serious problem in any fire fight. The bad guys don't always wear black hats to make them easy to identify. People keep getting killed by mistake in combat (can anyone say Pat Tillman? or Giuliana Sgrena?). How do you identify the "Bad guys?" A few years ago an undercover New York cop was shot dead by a transit cop becasue one of them failed to obey the rules of engagement and know the signals identifying undercover cops.
In any fire fight, you can't always be sure you know the players. That's one reason cops and soldiers wear uniforms. And look what keeps happening in Iraq as the bad guys keep killing people while wearing good guy uniforms.
It's not like on TV. You never really know what's going on. You don't have a handy editor composing the shots so you cam keep track of what's what. Where are the shots coming from? Who's hidden? Who's working together? When six people are shooting and none of them know each other, how do you know whom to shoot?
And given the state of race relations in the US, how many white people will just assume that it's the black guys?
And when shooting, how can you be sure you hit your target? You can't. Bystanders get shot. Little girls get killed in drive-bys. Bullets don't care. No matter how many times you go to the range, a fire fight is different. The light is bad, you're pumped on adrenaline, there's noise and echoes. There might be smoke or fire. Explosions. People are running around. It's terrifying and confusing. People get killed and it might be you.
No matter how much you think you're the hero.
I'm tired of listening to gun-nut's wish-fulfillment fantasies about being the hero of the day.
One of the first rules established in the old west was that nobody carries in town. It took about three days for that rule to pass in every town, right after the first drunken brawl when someone got shot or killed. It was very much NOT like we see in westerns.
The constant, TV- and movie-fueled fantasies of the gun crowd really get to me. We know what happens when war planning is based on chicken hawk fantasies learned from the 4:30 movie rather than the war college. We get Iraq. Why should we set public policy based on Gunsmoke or Dirty Harry? It's insane.
And by the way, I'm former co-captain of my school's rifle team, a damn good pistol shot, a former war games designer for the DOD and have researched and written extensively about black powder, guns and their history. I'm not anti-gun. I like guns. I'm just tired of the Dirty Harry bullshit.
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