Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Can We Now Admit The "Good Guy With A Gun Offing The Bad Guy" Is A Myth?

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Richard Gary Black, shot dead by cops in Aurora, Colorado, in the course of protecting his 11 year old grandson from a crazed lunatic who barged into the family home and took the boy captive.

One of the favorite tropes of the NRA and gun nuts is:  "A good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun."  But a series of recent high profile incidents in which good guys with guns have been blown away by  other "good guys" (cops) puts the lie to this twaddle.   It also verifies once more that in the most realistic situations, i.e.  where good guys with guns face off with bad guys in conditions of chaos, there will be too much confusion to come away unscathed.

One of the most notorious recent incidents involved good guy Emantic Bradford Jr., 21,  at the Riverside Galleria Mall in Hoover, AL,  protecting shoppers on Thanksgiving. Initially, Hoover police identified Bradford as the suspect in the incident which left two people with gunshot wounds. Then they took back that story. A week after the shooting, a suspect was arrested in Georgia.

Let us process that Bradford, who had a concealed carry permit for his weapon, was trying to wave people away from the scene  while alert for the actual murderer, Erron Brown.  The problem is that in any realistic scenario especially involving a crowd, chaos reigns and identities are hard to pin down. In this case the cop that arrived on the scene was unable to differentiate good guy from bad guy - and while Brown escaped (headed to GA) the cop who shot Bradford Jr., took him for the perp.

Conclusion? It's damned dangerous to whip out a weapon to save others in any situation marked by confusion.

 Last week  the Bradford family released the results of an independent autopsy. It showed unequivocally that Bradford Jr was shot in the back and died from a gunshot wound in the head. This would be 'good guy' suffered the ultimate sanction for trying to be a good guy.  What else could he have done? Tried to protect the people and not shown a weapon?  He'd have ended up like most other wannabe good guys trying to do combat with no weapon, shot dead by the perp.

Earlier, as if to accentuate this point, security guard Jemel Roberson was gunned down in cold blood by a cop at a Robbins, IL bar while holding the actual perp (who had engaged in a shooting inside) at gunpoint. While Roberson was ordered to drop his weapon, he himself may not have believed that to be a very wise play given the hostile perp - the actual shooter- was only being prevented from further havoc by his gun - trained on him.

Again, the theme bears repeating: Generally in too many shooting scenes, the degree of confusion - especially in terms of who has weapons and which are real good guys -  neutralizes the ability of the good guy to act uniquely,  without penalty. These situations include the good guy not hearing any cop orders to put down his gun, or cops not identifying themselves in the midst of a dark room, or home.

The last and perhaps most tragic example concerns a decorated, 73-year old Vietnam Vet named, Richard Gary Black - a  white guy (unlike Bradford Jr. and Roberson) shot and killed by an Aurora, CO cop (Drew Limbaugh)  in his own home.  This was while Black  was holding his own weapon on a crazed, meth head intruder (Dajon Harper)  who had burst into his home in the middle of the night and was throttling (and drowning) his 11 -year old son in a bath tub. Gary Black shot the assailant dead, and then the cop -  responding to a 911 call- barged in and shot him dead on the spot.

Aurora police officers heard Black’s gunfire and, as they approached the house, saw Black turn a corner holding a gun and a flashlight. Officers yelled for Black to drop the gun but never identified themselves as police. When Black did not drop his gun, Limbaugh  fired four shots, killing Black. Interestingly,  he'd been involved in a shooting the previous month and had been back on the job for just over two weeks.  One wonders again if Limbaugh had sufficient training to handle the situation, or if he returned to duty too soon.

The scene has been described by Dept, Chief Nick Metz as "violent and chaotic". The intruder Harper had been at a party across the street, and a crowd, which included his mother,  chased him into the Black family home. There was screaming and yelling from the party-goers and the child who was being attacked.

Accounts in The Denver Post in the wake of the incident noted there were up to 11 people in the Black home at the time, it was mostly pitch black, and assorted screaming punctuated the night.  Mr. Black himself was hard of hearing - from war impacts-    and never heard police commands to drop his gun. He was then executed  on the spot.

So much for the vaunted "good guy with a gun".   It sounds good in fiction but in reality doesn't play out because it takes so little account of messy  reality.  That is, in real situations the good guy will often be mistaken for the bad guy when the law arrives on the scene and especially aren't trained to handle such complex shooter situations.

Blogger Kali Holloway has also noted other incidents where putative good guys, mainly educators,  mishandled weapons to their detriment. This is the lot who the NRA and Trump claim can be the main line of defense against school shooters.. As she writes:

"Numerous educators have mishandled guns and shot themselves, often while classes are in session, over the last few years. That includes the Idaho State University chemistry professor who shot himself in the foot, the Utah elementary school teacher who shot herself in the leg and the Long Island University professor (and ex-cop) who also shot himself in the leg. An Atlanta high school teacher intentionally shot himself in the face last year, and since studies show the presence of a gun increases the chances of suicide, that’s something to consider when you start suggesting schools stockpile weapons.

But these teachers will be trained—we’ll just take the money out of children’s health insurance or something, some partisan hack is yelling at this very moment. That will ensure they’ll avoid those kinds of sloppy mistakes! First of all, an NRA employee accidentally shot himself at the group’s headquarters last year, and once you get past the staggering irony of the story, you note that training is no guarantee against mistakes. (Or fear: Recall that four sheriff's deputies cowered in the parking lot as the Parkland shooting went on.) A 2008 Rand Corporation study of New York City police officers found their “average hit rate in situations in which fire was not returned was 30 percent.”

All of which bears consideration the next time you hear someone advocating more "good guys with guns". 

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