Swickard column: Real safety versus political safety

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “As journalists, because you don’t carry a gun, you sort of become this observer.” Tim Hetherington
            Over the years as a journalist I have been around gun violence without being armed myself. Two observations: crap happens quickly and when you least expect it. No, I was not injured.
            In those journalism years I was involved in one way or another in five shooting with me somewhat in the middle. It was frightening though I agree with Winston Churchill, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”
            Americans are having some bad gun moments at this time because of recent attacks upon defenseless citizens both in the United States and in Europe resulting in many deaths and injuries. It is very much in our national consciousness. People really want to find a way to be safer.
            So we want to talk about these violence issues but we cannot really. Unfortunately, the political people on both sides no longer listen to understand, they only listen to reply. So nothing I say in this column will be heard by the partisans of either side. Sad. Political programs are just people shouting and not listening.
            The topic should be “Gun Free Zones.” That is where these extreme assault problems seem to occur because perpetrators know they will be the only ones with guns until the police arrive. So it is relatively easy for them to kill many people. Those victims have no way to fight back.
            It is not rocket science that when people are defenseless and other people are evil, bad things will always happen to the defenseless people. The rule makers who created Gun Free Zones had to know what would happen. It cannot be a surprise to them.
            You don’t see these same people making Gun Free Zones in Congress. Congress and others in Washington are well protected by people armed and ready to counter evil.
            George Orwell noted, “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” Exactly. The force of evil is balance by the force of good. Guns can be a force of evil or good depending on who uses the guns and why.
            Would we sleep safe in our beds if we could not be protected? No, an evil part of our society would take advantage of our helplessness. The forces of evil must be countered. There is no other way for normal citizens to remain safe. The problem is that citizens may have seconds to live while the police are minutes away.
            Some people even think that the Gun Free Zone sign will make a crazy person say, “Oh, it’s a Gun Free Zone. I have a gun so I can’t go there.” It would seem no one could be that stupid to think that ever could be the result of declaring Gun Free Zones. More likely the evil ones say, “Good, they can’t shoot back.”
            Many of our legislators both nationally and locally live to pass more rules, regulations and laws. So there is a constant push to “Solve” the scourge of gun violence simply by passing the right laws. Top of the list for many politicians is to ban all weapons assuming that with all weapons banned everyone would be safe.
            In reality there seems little connection between reality and these thoughts. The media tries to ignore when guns are used to make a victim safer. Yet that is what happens often when criminals try to pick on more fragile people. The gun gives the smaller and more frail person a fighting chance.
            It is very apparent at public schools that a sign is all that protects them when evil attacks. Better would be a few well trained people in schools, shopping malls, theatres and other public places who could instantly counter an attack.
            It would be lovely if everyone would play nicely and there was no more violence in our world. But it isn’t going to happen. So we must protect ourselves and our loved ones and not let politicians take that protection away while they, themselves are protected by people with guns.



Mary Spence said...

As one of those who read what journalists write, I watch. I feel your pain.

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