Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Something that you don’t hear much anymore is the saying “good guys with guns”. Gun rights advocates argued, not so very long ago, that if there were enough good guys with guns, then mass shootings would be stopped. So, what happened to them?
We’ve reached a stage where mass shootings are happening so rapidly that we barely hear of them anymore. In 2021, we have a mass shooting almost every day. Where are the good guys with guns? Surely these are opportunities for them to be heroes, right? Recently in Texas, a good guy with a gun shot a driver who had stopped in his driveway, probably because he was lost and trying to re-orient himself. Is this really a good guy with a gun? If he didn’t trust that driver’s intentions, why didn’t he get his gun then wait to see what the driver did? Texas laws will be at the center of the trial that claim that a man can defend himself and his home, but does this apply to people for whom he does not know their intentions?
I remember hearing one, maybe two cases where a citizen used a gun to kill a mass shooter. The one I heard was highly publicized in a “See? See? See?” style story. I think there was one other that must have been questionable as I heard about it only briefly. Then, nothing. What I do hear a lot about is toddlers shooting moms, arguments turning into shootouts, and kids taking improperly secured guns and shooting other kids.
Although I’ve not heard of a specific incident yet, there’s also the potential for confusion during police actions. When police show up, anybody with a gun is a risk, and a “good guy with a gun” is not obvious. If someone refuses to drop their gun because “I’m a good guy!”, they’re just as likely to be shot as anybody else, putting themselves at risk.
Now, I’m not advocating against gun ownership. Anybody who reads my posts know me better than this, and they likely know my mantra, responsible gun ownership. Heck, I own four handguns myself that I use primarily for target practice (although there is an element of home defense as well). But I think part of gun responsibility must be to consider common-sense gun laws. As much rhetoric as the Republican party spews about Democrats wanting to take guns, we’ve seen (to the best of my knowledge) no legislation whatsoever from the Biden administration. Ironically, many of the gun laws dismantled by the Republican party were largely their own. The Brady Bill was written and enacted in the Reagan administration, and yet the provisions have been largely stripped from the bill. The irony is so thick you could shoot it with a nine-millimeter.
The thing to remember is that the easier it is to actually buy guns, even to responsible and legal adults, the more guns that can fall into the hands of criminals. That mantra “if you outlaw guns then only outlaws will own guns” is short-sighted. It should be “the more legal guns are out there, the more guns there are for outlaws”. To me, the biggest problem with guns is not gun ownership, but irresponsible gun ownership. Here in Nebraska, there is a lot of red tape that has to be done to purchase a handgun. You need a license from the Sheriff’s office to ensure that you can legally own a gun. Then you need a permit to buy the gun that you want from the police department. Once you buy the gun, it must be registered. It’s quite the ordeal, but you can cut all of that if you have a concealed handgun permit, like I do.
The concealed handgun permit allows you to buy guns without the certificate or permit. I can walk into a gun store today and buy a gun, but to get the permit, you must have a background check, you must register with the sheriff’s office, and you must complete an eight-hour gun safety training program which includes a portion on live ammo firing. To me, this is reasonable. Registering means the background check has been performed, and if you are convicted of a felony afterwards (meaning it is illegal for you to own a gun from that point forward), then the police are aware that you have guns and can insist that you turn them over (which you must, by law, in Nebraska). There’s no guarantee that the felon will, but at least the police will know to be extra cautious when dealing with the felon. I also believe in stricter penalties for irresponsible gun ownership. Parents should be held legally liable if a toddler discharges a firearm, or if a child takes their gun to school.
Let’s be honest. The “good guy with a gun” is advocating vigilantism. This is a step backwards for a law-abiding nation.