Being armed is no guarantee of safety

Dianna Rivers’ letter “Disarmed Californians could not stop killer” (Herald, June 3) encourages the notion that you are safer in public if you are armed with a gun. My reply? If you go armed into a public setting, you are probably more of a danger to yourself and others, unless you have fired thousands of practice rounds (up to 10,000) and conditioned yourself to bypass the section of our brains that powerfully inhibits us from taking the life of another human being.

When I point this condition out to concealed-carry advocates, the typical response is huff and puff: “I know I could do it if I had to. I grew up with guns.” However, hundreds of studies have been done on how the brain functions in situations where a person might have to use a gun to apply deadly force. Many of these studies have focused on infantry behavior during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, our present wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and on how officers of the law respond to threatening situations.

The war statistics are a revelation. In combat, historically, 75 percent to 80 percent of soldiers have not been able to fire to kill at the enemy. Why? Here’s the answer as put by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, in On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, In Chapter 9 – Why Johnny Can’t Kill – he says, “The average and healthy individual has such an inner and usually unrealized resistance to killing a fellow man that he will not of his own volition take life.”

Note well the “average and healthy” modifiers in this observation. For those of you who do assume that you are safer by going armed, I ask: What makes you think you could shoot when a statistical majority of highly trained soldiers couldn’t? If you insist on going armed, you’d be well advised to seek and resolve the answer.

Thomas Wright


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