Ask any cop or serviceman and he’ll tell you that gunfights at close range are nasty, brutish and short. They are not the multi-magazined battles of Hollywood’s full-auto imagination, in which two parties duck, dodge, weave, take cover and trade shots for minutes on end. In reality — and aside from spectacular gun battles like the North Hollywood bank robbery (which inspired the heart-pounding robbery sequence in Michael Mann’s Heat, above) — most combat ends after one or two shots. As the old saying goes: “If you need to reload — you lost.”
And yet, the anti-gun Left, which has happily seized upon the Newtown, Conn., tragedy to further its stealth disarmament agenda, continues to believe that resistance to a crazed, evil gunman is, essentially, futile; that any confrontation by an armed, responsible citizen will necessarily result in a prolonged hail of bullets that will take more lives than it will save; and that the best course of action is to let the gunman continue to fire uninterrupted until the SWAT team, the EMTs, and the coroner finally show up.
Nearly half a century after a young woman was stabbed to death in Queens, her dying screams falling upon the deaf ears of her Kew Gardens neighbors, to their everlasting shame, the Left would now make us all into Kitty Genovese.
There are many problems with this attitude but since “progressives” consider passivity the “moral” course of action, let’s start with the morality: fighting back, if only with contempt, is always preferable to supine submission to those who would kill you — even if you die in the process. If you have a problem with that, then don’t pretend to want a national “conversation” about firearms. Instead, why not adopt the sneering ad-hominem attitude of Adam Gopnik, writing in The New Yorker, which under David Remnick has become a parody of neurotic “progressive” thought:
After the Aurora killings, I did a few debates with advocates for the child-killing lobby—sorry, the gun lobby—and, without exception and with a mad vehemence, they told the same old lies: it doesn’t happen here more often than elsewhere (yes, it does); more people are protected by guns than killed by them (no, they aren’t—that’s a flat-out fabrication); guns don’t kill people, people do; and all the other perverted lies that people who can only be called knowing accessories to murder continue to repeat, people who are in their own way every bit as twisted and crazy as the killers whom they defend. (That they are often the same people who pretend outrage at the loss of a single embryo only makes the craziness still crazier.)
Well, pace Mr. Gopnik, guns really don’t kill people — people kill people. With guns, knives, clubs, poison, explosives, pillows and their bare hands, among other things. And yet what George Orwell first dubbed the “pansy left” continues to insist that not only are guns the cause of crime, but that they have no use in the prevention of crime, unless wielded by the police. And so the Left has come full circle since the ’60s, when every right-thinking hippie loathed the pigs — even wanted to “off” them — and was always looking for ways of sticking it to The Man.
But waiting for the Man is not an option. “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away” — in Newtown, they were twenty minutes away. The obscene horror of mass-shooting sites is often compounded by how long the killers have to go about their deadly work in “gun-free zones” (which should be re-dubbed “free-fire zones”) before being interrupted — at which point they typically kill themselves. In the recent Oregon mall shootings, the killer decided to turn his gun on himself when he caught sight of an armed civilian, and the Connecticut monster shot himself once the “first responders” started to arrive.
What would have happened had some civilian at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown or in that movie theater in Aurora, Colo., been armed and had shot back?
The assaults on the helpless and the unarmed would have ceased at that moment.
Nobody, even the craziest of shooters, can ignore gunfire coming in his direction; the instinct toward immediate self-preservation, however temporary, is too strong. The shooter would have turned to assess the threat, perhaps fired back, been fired upon again and possibly hit, retreated to cover — or, more likely, taken his own life — thus giving his victims life-saving moments out of the kill zone, in which to try and escape. But the kids of Newtown didn’t have that chance, nor did the Norwegian youth on that island in 2011, nor the students at Virginia Tech four years earlier. Because nobody was able to fight back.
We know now from bitter experience that the killers plan these assaults carefully, choosing their weapons, selecting their venues — in Colorado, the shooter deliberately selected a “gun-free” theater, even though there were theaters closer to him showing the same Batman movie. But, as military folks know, no plan survives contact with an armed enemy. Because, in the end, most of the shooters are cowards, hopped up on violent role-playing games, whacked out on psychotropic drugs, or just plain nuts. It’s no accident so many of them are young men, life’s losers, caught up in hormonal rages and frustrations, and unable to think past the next sunrise, who live in the moment — and die in the moment, taking as many people with them as they can.
Since the Virginia Tech massacre, there’s been a small trend away from “gun-free” campus zones and toward allowing responsible, licensed concealed-carry permit holders to bring their guns to school. Naturally, the Left immediately envisions running gun battles through the halls of academe, but then they had the same wrong-headed reaction when, in the aftermath of 9/11, pilots were permitted to carry guns in the cockpit. Until the current spate of school shootings runs its course — and they will end only when the prospective victims start shooting back — armed educators and administrators might not be a bad idea; or, indeed, armed civilians in general. As John Lott has argued, more guns, less crime.
Police chiefs and other political animals are against it, naturally, since they want a monopoly on the use of force, but beat cops and homicide detectives love the idea; they’re in the game for justice, not bureaucratic advancement, and in candid moments they’ll tell you they like nothing better than to respond to a shooting call to find a perp stretched out on the floor and a righteous homeowner standing over the corpse with a smoking shotgun. Some muss, less fuss.
For just as the Constitution is not a suicide pact, neither is there an obligation in the civil society to go meekly to one’s death at the state’s behest, or to satisfy its lust for absolute control over its citizens. Recent court rulings have been running heavily in favor of the plain language of the Second Amendment, and rightly so. What part of the “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” is unclear?
Because, in the end, the alternative is too terrible to contemplate. Just ask someone who knows: