So, I’m listening to Warren Olney talking about guns and school shootings with some dude who thinks that there should be more guns in society. Everyone should be armed, he says, because school shootings and crimes with guns have worse casualties when they occur in “gun-free zones” (and, wow, what a lovely euphemism from hell that is). I give the guy a listen, tamp down my rising gorge, and think: has this guy ever been held up? ‘Cause I have, and I’m pretty sure that being armed would’ve made a weird situation a downright bad one.
The week before our wedding, Anne and I, along with Ken, had gone to Ojai for the day to get stuff ready. We got back around 11.30 on Sunday night. It was dark. We were tired.
Just as we cross the property line in front of the house, a black sport wagon zips up and pulls across the center divider lane. A window rolls down, and a voice from inside the car calls out, “Where your money at?”
The part of my brain that isn’t tired flashes through its catalogue of friends’ cars. None of them own black sport wagons. I realize that, good gravy, this isn’t a joke, it’s–
“I’m not fuckin’ around!” calls out the voice again. I hear a click.
“We don’t have any!” I say over my shoulder, and I tell Anne and Ken to get in the house. My keys were already out, so we hustle to the door and get the hell inside. The car has raced off by the time we slam the door and call the cops.
Now, what would have happened if I’d been armed? Let’s say I’ve got a loaded Glock 9mm that I keep in a hip holster. The safety’s on and the holster’s buttoned closed. Let’s also say that I’ve gone through some kind of training course that teaches me firearm safety and how to respond in a situation like this. This class includes a lot of hands-on training, simulators, reinactments, all of that. I am one of those magical Armed Citizens that gives the NRA a massive hard-on.
These are the three possible outcomes I can think of:
1) Best Scenario: I yell for Anne and Ken to duck as I take cover behind a car, all the while pulling my gun out of the holster and flicking off the safety. I pop up and empty the magazine into the car which either a) kills or incapacitates everyone or b) scares them into driving off. The three of us aren’t hurt. I get a mention in American Rifleman and become a talking point for gun advocates.
2) Not-So-Good Scenario: Just like the above, except Anne and Ken don’t respond ’cause they either a) are frozen in fear or b) think I’m kidding. They’re still standing when the bad guys open fire and are either wounded or killed in the exchange. I manage to empty the clip and kill, incapacitate and scare the bad guys away.
3) Worst Case Scenario: Bad guys see me go for the gun and open fire before I can clear the holster. I’m hit, as are Ken and Anne. We become statistics, but not before the bad guys get out and take my gun ’cause, hey, free gun.
I’m not a gambling man, but 1 out of 3 doesn’t strike me as good odds. As dumb as I felt at the time for fleeing, it was the right decision.
Now, the end of the story: we called the cops, and found out that, no, it wasn’t a joke. These guys had already hit up two other people and the cops were waiting for them to strike again so they could get more data points. A pair of cops came over, took our statements, then fled into the night when they got a call on an armed robbery in progress. After the wedding and our honeymoon, I read in the local throwaway paper that a) the bad guys had been caught, b) two were minors and one was nineteen and c) they were armed after all, except it was an airsoft handgun.
So, let’s give me the Glock again. The Not-So-Good and Worst Scenarios can’t happen ’cause all they have to shoot as us are airsoft pellets. I, however, have now ventilated a car full of kids. Granted, they were stupid, thuggish kids, but I’ve now hurt or killed three people.
So, please, tell me again how my being armed makes for a safer, happier society?