Poynted remarks

IssueAugust - September 2022
Comment by Claire Poyner

‘Guns don’t kill people – people do.’ ‘The only thing that will stop a Bad Guy with a gun is a Good Guy with a gun.’ ‘If only all those teachers had been armed, no children would have died.’

No doubt you’ve recently heard these and similar statements. Oh, and not forgetting ‘Thoughts and Prayers’.

I think some people, well, let’s be honest, we’re talking about Americans here, have unrealistic expectations of what their guns can do.

I do wonder if some people believe that possession of a gun will offer a sort of invisible shield over the user, in the manner of a Star Trek spaceship.

I’ve read rationalisations such as ‘I keep a gun in case of home invasion’ (this would appear to be the US equivalent of a burglary when there’s someone at home).

I have visions of a burglar entering a room with a gun and the resident saying ‘Stop right there, I have a gun’ and expecting the burglar to wait patiently while the gun-owner opens the locked cabinet and loads up. Or else he or she has the gun under their pillow (surely not advisable – what if they move around a lot in their sleep?) and makes the burglar wait while they reach for it. I guess that might happen.

I do know some UK country folk who have a gun. A rifle, I believe, and its main use is scaring off foxes. It’s locked in a cupboard and not loaded either. I know nothing about guns but I would think in this scenario there’d be no need for a gun loaded with live ammunition as long as it emits a noise.

Anyway, having a gun locked away would be useless if there’s a burglar, unless you can get to the cupboard and load up without the intruder hearing or seeing you. If the burglar does catch you reaching for your weapon, you could bluff that it was loaded, I guess. Risky.

The other option, I suppose, is to permanently carry a loaded weapon.

Everywhere? To the bathroom? To bed? To the swimming pool? And hope you can ‘go for your gun’ faster than the Bad Guy. Hmmm. I’m sure I’ve seen that film. Was it a Clint Eastwood film? Or Blazing Saddles?

Note that this can be ‘open carry’, referring to the practice of visibly carrying a firearm in public places, as distinguished from ‘concealed carry’, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer.

Either way, the firearm is kept readily accessible on the person, within a holster, for example. Carrying the weapon in your hand, however, can be seen as ‘brandishing’ and you’re liable to be shot by the police – unless you’re a privileged white person like George Zimmerman, who was put on trial (and acquitted) for shooting dead an African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Shockingly, almost all US states allow for open carry either without a permit or with a permit/licence.

In the case of a mass shooting in a school, it seems unbelievable to me that teachers are deemed to be trusted with loaded guns, seeing as how they don’t appear to be trusted to choose relevant and appropriate books for their students, or to teach appropriate subjects.

Again, it seems to me not to be a good idea for teachers to routinely carry loaded guns around children who can be unpredictable. Mind you, adults can be unpredictable too.

So, if all ‘good guys’ (I expect ‘guys’ includes ‘gals’, or women even) carry a gun, just in case, does that apply to everyone who is labelled ‘good’. Who gets to decide who is ‘good’ and who is not?

I’ve noticed a number of comments after the latest murder of an African-American by a US police officer, that ‘well, he was carrying a gun’, implying that he somehow deserved it, that the suggestion that everyone carries a gun does not equally apply to all sectors of the population.

I suspect that the term ‘good guy with a gun’ rarely applies to anyone who is not white and that it is easy to tell which is a ‘good guy’ just by looking at them.

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