Ok, since you and TSM are dredging up this 2-yr-old controversy, let me just spell out the fears of the non-gun-carrying community.Hi Barry, and thanks for writing! The worst thing that can happen to any of us is spending too much time breathing our own air. Let me take a shot, so to speak, at this, and I would also ask some of my regular readers to weigh in.
That, if more and more people start carrying weapons on their person, readily available, that regardless how much "training" they've had, there will be a gun fired in anger.
Unless you can stand here and prove to me that proper training removes the potential of humans to kill or injure one another out of hatred, revenge, rage, or just plain insanity then I will never consider allowing the general CCW possession of firearms safe or desirable.
We had an incident here in town yesterday where two (probably drunk) yahoos were tailgating each other on the highway - they stopped, one got out and started wreaking some mayhem on the other's car. He finished and started walking away, and the other guy capped him. From behind.
Self-defense? No, the guy was leaving. Proper apprehension of a subject? No, he wasn't a cop or even trying to restrain.
Anger. Pure rage provoked a shooting. The guy's lucky he only winged him in the leg.
So you see, you can't train out hostility or genuine human emotion, and a firearm makes it too easy and too safe to inflict deadly harm from a distance.
And that's just the people who do have some training. What about the people who obtain firearms and carry them around, but have no training to speak of?
In truth, I can't repeal human nature. We are truly the children of the killer apes, both for better and for worse. Our genetic legacy — intelligence, adaptability, aggression — has given us the planet and may yet give us the stars...as akido master George Leonard has noted in his wonderful book Mastery, we are the most formidable predator to ever walk the planet, and our potential is by any rational measurements unlimited.
That same legacy has given us uncontrolled aggression, spree murderers, serial killers, road rage...all the way to genocide.
Let's move from macro to micro. The reality is that the criminal class, the people my mentor Walt Rauch refers to as otherhumans, are already armed. They have always been armed, whether with guns, knives, crossbows, staves, a big piece of leg bone, because they are our predators. They prey on us.
One of the realities of nature is that predators who prey on predators have to be extraordinarily vicious — think of saber-toothed tigers who hunt other lions and tigers as opposed to cattle — because the prey itself is potentially dangerous.
When we talk about CCW firearms carriers, we are talking about a very specific subset of, for lack of better words, the good guys. Remember, the bad guys are already armed. The very people you don't want carry guns — hell, sharp sticks for that matter! — are already carrying them. They are unaffected by laws regulating firearms carry because their entire careers are outside the law.
CCW carriers as a group share certain characteristics:
1) They have already given thought to the issue of potentially lethal response to attack.Essentially, you have created a self-selected group of people who are very unlikely to perform criminal acts, including acts of violence. Can I "prove" this to you? No...I can certainly deluge you with statistics about the low rate of acts of violence among CCW holders, but "proof" is a mathematical concept and poorly suited to human discussions, where the very nature of "facts" is subjective.
2) They have considered their own personal limits in terms of response to an attack.
3) They have sought additional training with a firearm to prepare for a potential attack.
4) They have opened their lives to a higher level of official scrutiny than non-CCW carriers. I've seen my police file, which is about an inch-and-a-half thick — more than your average career felon — and the biggest "crime" I've ever committed was a speeding ticket in college.
Remember, the bad guys are armed anyway! Those jackasses you referenced in your post will be armed with or without official sanction. The only question is whether you will be armed when you run into one of them.
That still leaves us with "crimes of passions," the escalation of anger into violence. Barry, I'm afraid this is a world-view issue. As a journalist (including years on police and court beats), as a self-defense trainer and as a person, a civilian, with an extremely high level of access to military and police trainers, administrators and experts, I have found that when you scratch the surface of a "crime of passion," you almost always find a long history of increasingly escalating violence. The idea of people "just snapping" is much, much rarer than television would have you believe. I''ve personally interviewed murderers who "just snapped," (a man who beat his fiance to death with a claw hammer comes to mind) and what I saw in each case was a history of violence, usually over years and years, steadily increasing. I refer you to Gavin De becker's great book The Gift of Fear. De Becker is probably one of the world's top authorities on violent behavior; read what he has to say about crimes of passion.
So can people just snap? Back in the Dawn of Time, when I went to college, after I got over my obsession with math and physics, I studied mass media and statistical analysis. I believe that, given a large enough sample, anything is possible. Someone does win the lottery; someone gets struck by lightning three times in a row.
However, I want to be sure that should I be present when such a thing happens, or when one of the armed criminal class decides to target me or mine, or when the enemies of my country decide the Acme Mall might be an interesting place to make a statement, that I HAVE THE SKILL, THE TRAINING AND THE TOOLS TO SAVE MY LIFE AND THE LIVES OF OTHER INNOCENTS! I am truly sorry you are uncomfortable with my decision, but that doesn't change my decision.
Again, thanks for writing! I suspect we will have to agree to disagree...