When I was very young, a typical Saturday morning would involve getting up before my parents, going downstairs and putting a video of Star Wars on.
When I was about 15 or so – still a child by most measures, but a slightly older one – I watched Star Wars again for the first time in quite a few years. I remember being struck by the realisation that “Empire” and “Rebel” weren’t just arbitrary labels attached to the goodies and baddies (like ‘Autobots’ and ‘Decepticons’ in Transformers), but had an actual meaning that wasn’t about morality. Sure, the Empire was evil, but that didn’t mean that everyone in the Empire thought that they were evil. And ‘Rebels’ - well, that only identified that they were rebelling against something.
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist.
So, at some point before then, I must have realised that there was no such thing as ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ in the real world. Good and Evil weren’t about who you were, but what you did. ‘Bad people’ could still do good things – maybe even redeem themselves. ‘Good people’ could still do bad things.
Reading a transcript of the speech that the CEO of the National Rifle Association gave last week, I was left with the impression that he (if not the organisation he speaks for) hasn’t yet reached that level of maturity.
He believes in monsters;
The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day.
(The weasel word of course being ‘unknown number’ – might be thousands. Might be two or three. And of course, zero is a number…)
And he also believes in ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’;
The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
So, lets say that this is true – a ‘bad guy’ with a gun cannot be stopped by another ‘bad guy’ with a gun, or a ‘good guy’ without a gun (no matter what 790 episodes and 11 incarnations of Doctor Who might lead you to believe.) In a world where bad guys have guns that can’t be taken away (because if you tell people that they aren’t allowed guns, you will only be taking them away from the ‘good guy’ s – bad guys don’t do what they are told.)
There is plenty that can be pulled apart from the speech, as I’m unfamiliar with US gun culture and can’t wrap my head around the principle that an individual owning a gun will be able to make a stand against an out of control US government, I’m going to think about the moral argument here for a moment.
If a school with a ‘good guy’ with a gun is safer than a school without a ‘good guy’ with a gun, then what happens if that ‘good guy’ in the school, for whatever reason, becomes a bad guy?
Well, obviously, you need another ‘good guy’ with a gun – right away. So, if you need one ‘good guy’ with a gun in every school, then you actually need two ‘good guys’ with guns in each school. (Ignoring holiday cover etc.)
Would they know who each other were? If they did, and one of the ‘good guys’ became a ‘bad guy’ (that is, one of the ‘genuine monsters’ who ‘walk among us every day’), then I would think that their first target would be the ‘good guy’ with a gun. The obvious solution to this problem would be a third ‘good guy’ with a gun. Obviously, all three would need to be in constant radio contact with one another – just in case the second ‘good guy’ got shot with a silencer or something and nobody noticed. (Or worse still, they had something unimaginable, like a quieter weapon than a gun.)
But the third ‘good guy’ would still be an obvious next target for the now-revealed-to-be-a-monster guy, so perhaps a system would need to be in place so that the guys with guns wouldn’t know who all the other guys with guns were. Maybe they would have to be in disguise – maybe as cleaners, or cafeteria workers, so that nobody would know that they were really the armed guards protecting the school. (Carrying concealed weapons, obviously.)
Except… concealed weapons means handguns – far less accurate than rifles, especially at a distance. So you would probably need more than 3, depending on the size of the school. Basically, enough armed guards patrolling the school grounds that any person in the school could have a gun pulled on them at a moments notice.
I’m not sure whether the ultimate conclusion of the ‘good guys with guns’ concept is that all school teachers (or all school staff) should be allowed to carry guns or not, but it seems like a fairly reasonable logical step to make. After all, having armed guards patrolling every corridor and classroom would get quite expensive. (Presumably, the real problem at Columbine High School was simply that there weren’t enough armed guards Which then leads to the expectation that all teachers will be carrying guns… But once you get there, then there is no need for the armed guards – because the school staff who aren’t monsters must surely outnumber those who are. (Otherwise, everyone is in big trouble…)
So… either, every school has a minimum of 3 armed guards on patrol in constant contact with one another, or everyone in a school is allowed/expected to carry guns.
Because otherwise, American children won’t be safe from the monsters. Which, of course, is a totally different issue to being safe from guns.