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Blue The Nation | September 2, 2014

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Good Guys With Guns Fail to Stop Bad Guys With Guns

Good Guys With Guns Fail to Stop Bad Guys With Guns
Jonathan Nathan

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” – Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association

It’s always been the underlying morality of the anti-gun-control zealots. Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, merely put it into a succinct, sound-bite-able form. And it’s not just the morality of the gun nuts. It drives right to the heart of the philosophical infrastructure of the entire conservative/libertarian ethos. When they look out their windows, they see a terrifying, dangerous, scary world. They see a war. They don’t all agree on what that war is, but whether it’s a war on freedom, a war on men, a war on white people, a war on Americans, or even a war on Christmas, they believe that there is a war on. They believe the world is made up of good guys and bad guys. And for a group of people who love to bag on “Chicago-style politics,” they’re mighty firm believers in the Chicago way: They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.

The thing is, we already know that LaPierre is at least half-wrong. A good guy with a gun is not the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun. A good woman, 100% unarmed, was able to stop a bad guy with a gun just last month.

And now we know that LaPierre is all the way wrong. Because while humanity’s recent track record shows that good people without guns can stop bad people with guns, it does not bear out LaPierre’s belief that good people with guns can do as well. 12 people are dead and numerous others are wounded after a gunman–possibly multiple gunmen–opened fire today on the Washington Navy Yard, which is filled with good guys with guns, both military and police.

The shooter or shooters wore military-style dress, so don’t be shocked to find out he was or they were affiliated with a militia or a sovereign-citizen group or some other wingnut movement obviously related to conservative politics.

But good guys with guns did not end up being as successful as a good woman with a good heart was a month ago. She prevented a body count. Good guys with guns got killed at the Navy Yard today.

Nobody is saying that police should not have returned fire. Nobody is saying they did their jobs wrong. Nobody is even saying that, in this instance, Antoinette Tuff could have done a damn thing to talk these shooters down. Given that they’re probably from a militia and therefore probably racist, they probably would have just shot her.

But the point is, good guys with guns don’t stop bad guys with guns. The only way to stop bad guys with guns is to create a culture and a society that just doesn’t produce as many of them. And until we recognize that, we will continue to be plagued by bad guys with guns.